Conference Cameo: Sowmya Anand

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. 

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Who: Sowmya Anand, Research Development Manager
Where: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Number of years in research development: 2
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
How do you unwind?: Reading (some more), cooking, or watching cooking shows

I came to Research Development either 1 year ago or 24 years ago, depending on how you define it. My first experience with Research Development involved helping a faculty member write a small piece of a project narrative for a proposal in the year before I graduated with a PhD. After a brief career as a marketing research professional with Gallup, which seemed ideal as I am a trained social psychologist in conducting research in the area of attitudes and measurement, I came back to academic research (and to the US). The second time around as a postdoctoral researcher, I helped prepare and submit two proposals to NSF that were selected for funding. This preparation helped a lot when I moved to the University of Illinois to be a Project Coordinator with the Survey Research Laboratory, where I prepared many, many more proposals for all sorts of sponsors: large and small, for- and not-for-profit, private and public. Working in a small unit, on many projects I was the proposal developer, the grant administrator, and the research scientist. About a year and a half ago, amid concerns that the lab was going to close permanently, I saw a job posting for a Research Development Manager (RDM), and thought, “This is exactly what I do now, minus the research implementation.” I applied for it, and here I am.

SAnand_pic1During the job interview, the only RDM in the office at that time discussed NORDP and the great experiences and opportunities for learning she had attending the conference. So, when another RDM and I joined, we immediately signed up for NORDP membership and made plans to attend our first conference (in 2018). While RD was not new to me from my previous positions, in my first year as RDM, I sometimes felt like I had one foot each in two boats going in different directions – am I a survey methodologist or a RD professional? At the NORDP conference, I met more than one person with a ‘split personality’ like mine, and I even found other survey enthusiasts! I learned a lot about developments in the RD world, which I feel helped me ‘catch up,’ and at a poster session I found people eager and willing to share their solutions to a process problem I was grappling with. There was no question I’d be attending the next conference.

To get the most out of the conference, I would suggest connecting with people at the sessions you attend, at the poster presentations, and at your lunch table. I also plan to take lots of notes to share with people back at my institution as the information will help us implement plans we are thinking about to advance RD on our campus.

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For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

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