NORDP 2020 Conference Notes: Mentoring Lightning Storm

Over the next several weeks, we will share notes from select NORDP 2020 virtual presentations. Check out the learning management system for details on all of the NORDP 2020 available presentations:

  1. Login with your NORDP member info.
  2. Select the session you are interested in viewing.
  3. Go to the Session Materials box and click on Materials which will take you to the presentation video and slides. 
  4. The session will also appear in your personal course list for future viewing.

MC: Jan Abramson, NORDP Fellow

Thanks to our session scribe, C. Scott Balderson, University of Utah!

Lightning Talks and Presenters:

1. Using Poetry to Mentor Faculty in Developing Research, Eric Wayne Dickey – Western Oregon University,

The Mentoring Committee’s resident poet, Eric Dickey, explains how he uses poetry to create a shared vocabulary and experience with collaborators, as well as utilizing it as metaphor or simile to help explain complex concepts and assist scientific researchers, who may not be avid writers, find greater appreciation for and ease with the creative process necessary to write proposals or project reports. His talk provides some great examples that he uses regularly, and he urges participants to try similar narrative forms like songs and movies that can help audiences open discussion.

2. Mentoring as a Professional Development Journey, Angela Jordan – University of South Alabama,

When Angela Jordan first contemplated becoming a mentor for NORDP, she thought that she had few of the qualities she associated with the role in the context of this organization: she’d been in RD less than 5 years; her background was humanities, not science; she “only” had a Master’s degree; and she’d only been a mentor in our program for a year. Still, she decided to make the leap, and in doing so, she discovered a wealth of things. She had much to offer (her framing of elements of the experience in terms of “appreciative inquiry” and having a “growth mindset” are helpful constructs) yet realized that becoming a mentor was not an end point but a continuing part of her own development journey.

3. Following the Leaders, Erica Pitre – University of Louisiana at Lafayette,

Erica Pitre came to academic Research Development after years many years doing equivalent work in industry and building her skills and approaches to suit the needs of that field. This presentation is a brief examination of her first year in making the transition to academic RD, the obstacles she faced using the tools and techniques she’d refined in her previous career, and the wisdom to cope and prevail that she found in NORDP and its mentoring program.

4. Piloting Accountability Groups for Peer Mentoring Among Early Career Faculty, Kathy Partlow – University of Nebraska-Lincoln,

Ever the lover of data and the power that inferences from them can give to aid in mentoring program design and execution, Kathy Partlow unveils a pilot program for peer mentoring faculty around grant writing at her institution, complete with preliminary results and her thoughts on the meaning behind some of those as well as tips on ways other programs could be structured differently for different results. You could describe this as a natural experiment, in that Kathy allowed faculty groups different options with regard to frequency of meetings and type of accountability and then got to see what, if any, impact this had on faculty proposal submissions. Interesting results!

5. A Concrete Example of the Benefits of Being a Mentor: Creating a CV for Research Development, Jennifer Glass – Eastern Michigan University,

A common concern for some looking to enter into the Mentoring Program as a mentee is focus: how will you use the experience with the mentor? Do you want to refine your skills? Increase your network? Develop leadership? Explore new areas of RD? Transition to a new role? All of the above? It can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Jennifer Glass uses the example of working with a mentee on the very specific shared goal of documenting their RD activities and updating their CVs with a real focus on Research Development. Amazingly, in this very short presentation, she takes us through the process in a way that makes the (perhaps daunting) task feel completely replicable. I’m watching this one a few more times, until my own resume is done!

6. From Novice to Expert in RD – Mentor/Mentee Perspectives, Paula Carney – Loyola University Chicago,

As part of establishing good mentoring relationships, it can be helpful to know what “level” the individuals are operating at in terms of research development. Paula Carney puts her background in psychology (with nods to the developmental psych giants) to good use by adapting a paradigm for RD levels, complete with practical examples, that allows users to ascertain where they are and, more importantly for the mentoring context, the type of professional activities and achievements they might see in mentors having already attained the level they would like to achieve. I think this topic is especially valuable as we consider whether formalized Certifications in our field would be beneficial.

7. Mentoring: Viewing the Engagement from the Mentee’s Perspective, John Barfield – Tennessee State University,

If the previous talk was heavily weighted to an RD application of psychology, John Barfield’s topic takes us down a more philosophical path. Throughout his years, John has accumulated a view of the mentoring relationship as being mentee-focused, yet acknowledging that it is very much a two-person relationship that takes continual effort. As with most of us, he mentors in a variety of ways and settings to different types of mentees, and he has used this diversity of experience to distill some principles of being a good mentor (by always trying to see through the eyes of the mentee) and presents this philosophy in colorful and effective similes and examples.

8. Mentoring with Vulnerability, Hilda McMackin, Vanderbilt University,

Hilda McMackin builds on the previous two talks, blending a philosophy of mentoring with some approaches like active and empathic listening that were developed in counseling settings. Her inspiration came from the book Dare to Lead by Renee Brown, who coins the concept of “rumbling with vulnerability.” Hilda applies that idea for mentoring as a way of establishing trust and connection necessary to the deepest relationships. She advocates having the courage to share, to connect what may not be similar experiences but different experiences that elicit the same emotions. Show the same interest and attention you want another person to have for you and your ides. Be vulnerable and hang in there through things that may not always be comfortable. In that way, trust is developed that allows true curiosity and real expectation setting to flourish without a façade of limits imposed by the fear of sharing ourselves with the person we’re mentoring or being mentored by.

Thanks for your interest in the Mentoring Lightning Storm. Feel free to reach out to any of the presenters, or email for more information.

PEERD Presentation Reflection: Old Dominion University

PEERD Presentation Reflection: Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University (ODU), a doctoral-granting R2 institution located in Virginia, was in the process of conducting strategic planning for their research enterprise. They decided to seek out an external expert opinion on the research landscape, especially at the federal level. A NORDP PEERD Expert gave the presentation remotely to the faculty committee leading the strategic planning process. Prior to the presentation, the NORDP PEERD Expert met with institutional leadership to glean background information, so that the presentation would be tailored to the unique culture of ODU.

The Presentation

The NORDP PEERD Expert gave a presentation about the policies and climate of federal agencies, a forecast of future funding and research investments, and ways that ODU could grow its research to be competitive for future funding. The presentation began with an overview of ODU’s sponsored research trends in comparison with other institutions across the nation, followed by a discussion on national research issues and some examples of significant investments from research intensive institutions. The presentation concluded with an identification of several opportunities for ODU to pursue.

The Impact

Sometimes an outside perspective can be a catalyst in reaching consensus about which strategic direction the institution wants to take. This was a critical point in time for ODU to include an outside expert who brought in new ideas, new funding possibilities, and a fresh perspective on what ODU could do to enhance research and research funding. PEERD Experts have a lot of experience not only at their institutions, but also nationally. The PEERD presentation at ODU gave the faculty committee confidence in the decisions for their research strategic plan and helped move along the process.

The Opportunity

Take advantage of the experience and knowledge of PEERD Experts who can provide an outside perspective during a critical moment in your strategic planning. Including an expert assessment can help your institution to refine where best to make strategic research investments. To learn more about the services provided by PEERD, visit or email

NORDP 2020 Conference Notes: Encouraging and Supporting Multidisciplinary Team Science and Collaborative Proposals – Part 1

Over the next several weeks, we will share notes from select NORDP 2020 virtual presentations. Check out the learning management system for details on all of the NORDP 2020 available presentations:

  1. Login with your NORDP member info.
  2. Select the session you are interested in viewing.
  3. Go to the Session Materials box and click on Materials which will take you to the presentation video and slides. 
  4. The session will also appear in your personal course list for future viewing.


  • Sandra Holden, Ph.D. – Assistant Director, Stanford Research Development Office
  • Babette Heyer, Ph.D. – Director, Research Strategy Development at the Stanford Cancer Institute
  • Sarah Ott – Senior Grants Consultant, Hanover Research

Thanks to our session scribe, Daniel Campbell, Old Dominion University!

Key points from the session 

Institutional level incentives can involve seed grants, faculty release time, recognition in the promotion & tenure process, priority access to RD staff and Red Team review. RD level often does not have the authority to set these items up, but we can support implementation of these programs by administering seed grants, coordinating Red Team reviews and prioritizing support for team science proposals.

RD level strategies can involve encouraging faculty to meet others from different fields, share bios & research interests on internal databases, and RD staff can foster connections among PI’s you work with as an individual.

Important first steps when considering a project include: a detailed review of FOA; ask does the PI have the time to do it right; confirm institutional support; solicit funder input; and establish partnerships.

It is important for the team to be thinking not only about how to write the proposal, but how they will work well together. Team Science Guiding Questions to consider include:

  • What is your rationale?
  • Are you ready to collaborate?
  • How will you address and manage essential team processes?
  • Do you have the technology and resources required?
  • How will you communicate and coordinate?
  • How will team leadership, management, and administration look?
  • How will you resolve conflict?
  • How will you evaluate your collaboration?

It is important to have an institutional level advocate ideally who can be a supporter of the project when hurdles or issues develop.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

When developing the project timeline use the last 1/3 to review combined elements.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member?

Is there an optimal number of team members to make a proposal competitive? 

Response: There is no ideal number. It is really determined with the scope of and what is required by the individual project. The key is to have engaged participants, engagement not number is the most important aspect.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

There are a lot of great resources discussed by the presenters including project management tools, proposal writing resources, document management considerations, and networking activities.

There’s also a Part 2 that is an informal Q&A session that is a follow-up to Part 1.  

Midwest/Mountain Region Launches Virtual Event Series

NORDP’s Midwest/Mountain Region – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Alberta, and Saskatchewan – convened its first meeting outside of the annual conference in September. NORDP’s President, Kimberly Eck, kicked off the meeting by getting the group excited about the value of regional connections. Prior to the meeting, the region participated in an interest survey to allow members to shape regional activities. Of the 56 survey participants from 21 institutions/organizations, 39% joined NORDP less than two years ago and 23% are non-members able to explore the value of NORDP membership through regional activities. Several of our institutions are state universities and most (88%) grant PhD degrees.

Over the next year, the Midwest/Mountain region will be building our community through a series of virtual events that are related to how RD is organized/structured at our institutions. Topics will be prioritized based on level of interest expressed in the survey, including metrics (79%), services (77%), and communication strategies (68%). In breakout groups during the inaugural meeting, most of our discussion gravitated towards how our #1 area of interest was metrics. Being able to pull out the value and impact of RD has become even more important considering budget constraints and fewer resources. In post-event feedback, one participant noted that the discussion on metrics “made me feel less alone.” 

What would you like to get out of regional events? For Midwest/Mountain members, a word cloud of our responses shows our top priorities are networking and making new connections; sharing ideas and knowledge; and learning from each other.

The value of these discussions will be enhanced by including a diversity of voices and improving representation across states and types of institutions, offices, experience levels, etc. The regional events are open to NORDP members and non-members, so please reach out to any of your Midwest/Mountain RD colleagues and encourage them to join us!

The next virtual Midwest/Mountain regional event in our series, which will be focused on Metrics, is on Tuesday, December 8, 12-1 pm EST. Please register for the event here.

Feel free to contact us directly with any questions.

Catherine Determan, Washington University in St. Louis, 

Lisa Nanstad, University of Colorado Boulder, 

Kathy Partlow, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 

Call for Abstracts Now Open for NORDP 2021

Call for Abstracts Now Open! 
NORDP 2021 
May 2021 • Online

The 13th annual NORDP Research Development Conference will be held ONLINE in May 2021.

Abstracts are now being accepted for NORDP 2021. All abstracts must be submitted electronically no later than 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Monday, December 14th, 2020. 

Submissions for abstracts for ALL sessions can be made here (these include workshops, 60 and 90 minute presentations, pre-recorded oral presentations, lightning talks, roundtables, and posters). Please take a few moments to read the instructions before logging in and submitting your abstract. A PDF version of these instructions can also be downloaded.

Stay Connected! 

Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2021 updates, including featured speaker confirmations, exciting topics to be discussed, and more. 

Conference Email Contact:

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.

Save the Date: 2021 NORDP Great Lakes Region Virtual Retreat

2021 NORDP Great Lakes Region
Virtual Retreat

DATES: January 27 – 29, 2021

THEME: Research Development in Pivotal Times

HOST: Indiana University Office of the Vice President for Research


DAY 1:
Diversity and Inclusion
Networking, keynote and breakout discussion groups

DAY 2: Driving Research Development beyond COVID-19
Networking, panel discussion, breakout discussion groups

DAY 3: Keynote: “Telling the Research Story”
Concurrent sessions, Great Lakes business meeting, and happy hour

REGISTRATION: This event will be free, but registration is required. Registration information to come soon.

We hope you can join us in January for our winter retreat, and we eagerly look forward to seeing you. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter and the NORDP News blog for the latest announcements and information.

October 2020 Summary Board Memo

The Board of Directors held their October Board meeting last week and annual retreat virtually last month. Below are a few highlights:

The Board prioritized three objectives that are critical to achieve in the upcoming year:

Objective 3.1 Make RD101 the signature training for all interested in RD. With a successful pilot of RD101 under our belts and given members’ substantial interest, we are turning out attention to ensuring that RD101 can be offered multiples times per year sustainably.

4.1 Create a plan toward inclusive excellence throughout the organization and 4.3 Define explicit structures for intentional access to opportunities within NORDP. Both of these objectives support our goal as articulated in the strategic plan to be a welcoming community that values excellence through diversity, inclusion and equity broadly considered. We have many volunteers from multiple committees developing plans in response to these objectives building on and amplifying the amazing work that the Committee on Inclusive Excellence already does.

I look forward to sharing updates on our progress in the future.

A reminder that I, along with other NORDP Officers, am hosting a drop-in office hour once a month on the first Monday at 11am (eastern). You can find the link to office hours and other event on the NORDP calendar.


Kimberly Eck

Kimberly Eck, MPH, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research
Emory University

President 2020-2021
National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP)

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.