Conference Cameo: Sherry Knighton-Schwandt

Who: Sherry Knighton-Schwandt, Assistant Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington and Executive Director for Research Development for IU
Where: Indiana University
Number of years in research development: 10
Length of NORDP membership: 5
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 4
How do you unwind? Gardening, bird watching, cooking, traveling, and spending time with my husband, friends, children and grandchildren. Truth be told, I also binge watch the BBC series, “Call the Midwife.”

My route to research development has been circuitous. After 12+ years of working in administration, student recruitment and public affairs for the IU School of Education at Bloomington, I found my way to the IU Office of the Vice President for Research as a lead for communications and special projects. That role quickly led to deepening engagement with IU Bloomington’s and IU’s internal and external funding competitions, and my research development career began.92

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the development and creation of IU Bloomington’s Proposal Development Services group, which consults and collaborates with researchers to help plan, prepare, and manage applications for external funding. I also continuously oversee more than two-dozen campus research centers, institutes, and museums that often play a role in collaborating with faculty on grants.

I’ve also had the excitement of being involved in the inception and implementation of two large-scale grant programs that have generated myriad research development benefits (and challenges!) to the university: IU’s Grand Challenges program (three initiatives, a total of $200+ million in funding) and IU Bloomington’s Emerging Areas of Research program (five initiatives, ~$20 million in funding).

In 2019, my responsibilities in research development expanded to encompass all of IU’s seven campuses, and I am currently engaged in strengthening relationships among all of the IU staff involved in research development activities and collaborating with them to create a strategic plan that focuses on how IU can refine and expand our research development activities and the ways we support IU faculty. I have the utmost privilege of working with super smart and dedicated staff who work tirelessly to advance the university’s research goals. As with all successful endeavors, it takes a committed and enthusiastic team working towards the same goals.

As the concept of research development has emerged in recent years, in large part due to the work of NORDP, I’ve been pleased to attend several NORDP conferences. The information, education, and networking provided by the conferences has been invaluable. I’ve learned so much about how to build and strengthen our university’s research development resources, and I look forward to learning more this year! I’m also excited that in October 2020, IU Research Development will host the NORDP Great Lakes Regional Conference at IU Bloomington.

My NORDP tip is, if possible, bring colleagues with you to the conference. There is much to do and absorb. Strategize about who will attend what sessions, and make sure to compare notes. Above all, take advantage of the like-minded professionals gathered together, and enjoy yourself!


We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held May 17 – 20, at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, TX. The conference room block can be accessed HERE

For more information about the conference or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2020 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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