For NORDP’s Pacific Region VII, October 2019 marked the first regional conference occurring outside of the national annual conference. The event was hosted by the University of California, Davis on October 24th and 25th. The opportunity to meet regionally drew 75 participants from varied and diverse organizations of higher education, national laboratories, medical centers, research institutes, industry, and independent consultancies across the Western region.
The conference theme was “Leveraging Strengths in the West: Diversity, Excellence, and Partnership.” The Planning Subcommittee developed a two-day agenda focused on extending professional networks, establishing new partnerships, and sharing knowledge of best practices, processes, strategies within the research development (RD) field. Review session descriptions and contributing presenters within the event’s full agenda.
Keynote speaker, Mark Lagrimini, Vice Provost of Research and Extension, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, opened the meeting by embarking on a conversation highlighting the current federal funding trend, and how institutions in higher-education can position themselves to advance research efforts by making institutional investments into research enhancing activities, such as RD. A panel discussion, “Responding to Change: Sustaining Research Development in the Current and Future Funding Environment,” continued this conversation by looking at how research development can position institutions to respond to changing funding environments, and how RD offices implement sustainability best practices to help meet long-term operational goals. Day 1 also offered engaging presentation sessions on strategies for developing complex proposals, gathering competitive intelligence, professional development tactics to consider at each career stage, and strategies for coordinating large center grants. The day concluded with a tour of the UC Davis Manetti Shrem Museum and networking dinners setup around the presentation and breakout session topics planned for Day 2.
On Day 2, an opening panel session, “Seizing the Road Less Traveled: A Panel Discussion on Alternative Career Paths in Research Development,” introduced several alternative career paths for RD work outside the university setting. The panel was followed by interactive presentations, roundtables, or breakout sessions covering strategies for fostering research collaborations, cross-campus partnerships, creating a culture of grantsmanship at predominantly undergraduate and teaching institutions, creating workshops ideas for faculty and trainee proposal writers, building faculty and RD professional resilience, and using Airtable as a project management tool.
The agenda also included knowledge-sharing and networking beyond the meeting sessions. A lunch activity solicited insight from attendees on the best resources (books, websites, tools) used to facilitate RD work and build multidisciplinary teams. The event also allowed time for participants to engage and network with organizations actively recruiting during a Career Opportunities activity.
The conference closed with an open forum on how NORDP can continue to promote regional engagement throughout the year as well as capturing reflection thoughts on the conference’s timing, frequency, format, and setting. There is excitement to continue holding regional meetings, find other ways to connect, and begin planning what the region may want to build towards in the future.
The meeting’s regional setting introduced NORDP to 36 newcomers, nearly half of the attendees. The conference was an excellent venue for showcasing the benefits of NORDP while also giving face to names for those serving together on committees through NORDP. Sharon Franks, Senior Director, Research Proposal Development Service at University of California, San Diego commented, “It was a pleasure to hear from and meet so many new folks, as well as to reconnect with those who’d previously attended NORDP conferences.”
NORDP and the Pacific Region thanks all who attended the conference, and contributed to planning and delivering amazing sessions on both days. Thank you also to the members of the Planning Subcommittee, which consists of Crystal Botham, Stanford University; Vanity Campbell, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources; Susan Emerson, Oregon State University; Mike Gallo, University of California, Irvine; Sarah Messbauer, University of California, Davis; Monica Vidal, Stanford University.
Submitted by Vanity Campbell, NORDP Pacific