Celebrating Mentoring Days Keynote on Digging Deeper and Doing Better

The NORDP Mentoring Committee presents Celebrating Mentoring Days Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. Come celebrate mentoring! 

All NORDP members are invited to attend. The complete program and registration information is available at https://nordp.memberclicks.net/celebrating-mentoring-days

Dr. Kelly Diggs-Andrews, Diggs-Andrews Consulting LLC, will deliver the opening keynote on “Digging Deeper, Doing Better: The Science of Effective and Inclusive Mentoring in STEMM” at 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 29. 

The content of this keynote is applicable to Research Development (RD) professionals, as we mentor both formally and informally across a variety of disciplines. In her keynote, Dr. Diggs-Andrews will provide an intellectual framework to accelerate the acquisition of mentoring insights to cultivate effective mentoring relationships.

Mentoring is a critical aspect of academic training and research progress, yet is often learned and perfected only through trial and error. Participants will learn about evidence-based approaches to broaden participation of culturally diverse groups in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) fields. Overall, RD professionals will gain confidence in working with mentees from diverse backgrounds, add new strategies to their mentoring toolbox, and gain access to available resources to support quality mentorship in their professional careers and at their home institutions. Participants will be able to continue the discussion in breakout group discussions immediately following the keynote on 1) Digging Deeper – the science behind effective mentorship, or 2) Doing Better – mentoring across diverse dimensions.

Kelly Diggs-Andrews, PhD is the founder and CEO of Diggs-Andrews Consulting, LLC, a consulting and media company whose goal is to broaden accessibility to science careers through science outreach, diversity training, and professional development. She is also a senior Master Facilitator with the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), where she leads both in-person and virtual workshops for research mentors across career stages and disciplines nationwide. She has led trainings at national scientific conferences for the American Society for Microbiology, International Mentoring Association, the Society for Neuroscience, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and others as well as numerous colleges, universities, and medical institutes. Her curricular expertise includes Entering Mentoring, Facilitator Training for Entering Mentoring, and Culturally Aware Mentoring.

NORDP Presents RD Champion Award to NSF’s Panchanathan

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan

The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) recently presented the 2021 RD Champion Award to Sethuraman Panchanathan, Professor, Arizona State University (LOA), and Director, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

At NORDP’s annual conference in May 2021, Panchanathan delivered a plenary session, “Strengthening the Symbiosis of Exploratory and Translational Research @ Speed & Scale,” sharing his insights on the future of research and the vital role for research development (RD).

During that online session, Dr. Kimberly Eck, President of NORDP an Associate Vice President for Research at Emory University, presented the award that recognized Dr. Panchanathan’s support of the RD profession.

Prior to joining NSF in 2020, Panchanathan led Arizona State University’s (ASU) advancement of research, innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement and strategic partnerships, and international development to dramatically increase research expenditures.

 “The framework for seeding bold, large-scale innovative research with meaningful societal impact is part of the DNA of NSF,” Panchanathan says. “Research development is integral to both NSF’s success and how we foster success in the research community. It’s about building the capacity and tools to advance knowledge more efficiently, and about building platforms and ecosystems that spur innovation.”

Eck says this award recognizes Panchanathan’s tireless, 20-year-long effort to transform ASU from a teaching-focused institution to a world-class hub of innovation and research.

“Dr. Panchanathan’s investment in RD at ASU and encouragement for the ASU RD team to engage nationally has benefited NORDP and our members greatly. With him at the helm of the NSF, we are very confident in the future of science and engineering in the US,” Eck says.

The RD Champion Award is presented annually to an individual in recognition of their substantial efforts to advance the research enterprise and their advocacy of research development as a critical component of the research ecosystem. In 2020, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, former Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was the inaugural recipient.

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.

NORDP Fellows Award Cameo – Jacob Levin

Who: Jacob Levin

Where: Founder & CEO, LGG Research Funding & Strategy Services

Number of years in research development: 20+

Length of NORDP membership: 12 years

What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer? 

I would say that NORDP as a whole is what I am most proud of. I was part of the initial founding group and honestly we struggled in the early years. I sometimes wondered if we would survive during our first four or five years. It has been amazing to see NORDP’s growth from a plucky little startup to a reputable, full-scale professional organization, through the efforts of its dedicated, diverse, and collegial members. We have many great programs, but I think we still have not hit our full stride. 

Of all the things we do, I feel that the listserv is still NORDP’s most valuable asset. It has continually provided a wealth of valuable information to broad spectrum of members, and is a great example of the open and supportive communication that is a hallmark of our group. I have been involved with a number of other professional organizations throughout the research enterprise and no other community is as collegial and supportive. 

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

It has been enormously impactful. NORDP is intrinsically entangled with my career. My service and engagement with NORDP has benefitted me professionally in countless ways, and motivated me to engage in activities take risks professionally that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve worked on well over 1,000 grants, with 2,000 plus faculty, and dozens of universities, but I consider NORDP my most impactful professional accomplishment, and the one of which I am most proud. I literally cannot imagine what career I would have had without NORDP. It has driven much of what I have done and vice versa. 

How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

Back in early 2009 I received a phone call from Holly Falk-Krzesinski out of the blue. She was truly the driving force in getting us all together. There were a number of people doing RD seemingly alone at universities across the country. It was a new idea that everyone had simultaneously. Holly had looked through directories of major universities for RD related job titles and began reaching out to people. When she first called me we talked for over an hour. Soon the listserv began, we had our first meeting, and we undertook the process of incorporating as a 501(c)3. I actually came up with the name for NORDP back then. Holly had suggested calling it the National Research Development Professional Association, but nerds as we all may be, I wasn’t sure that NRDPA would be a draw. Sorry Holly!

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

My closest professional friendships are people that I have met through NORDP. I am still in touch with colleagues who have moved on from my office, and those I have worked with for years at universities across the country. RD is really my field now, despite my original training as a physicist and biologist. Research development is a network of networks that has opened up many opportunities for me. There are numerous things that I would not have done without my involvement in NORDP. Nothing else has been quite like it in terms of opening doors and developing professional relationships & lasting friendships. 

Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined.

At the start we were very grassroots with everything done basically by hand. Back then the Vice President was responsible for putting on the annual meeting which I did for the second one which had 200 people. It was like putting on your own wedding (and it was actually in the same place I was married!). I had my family and work colleagues bringing in food, setting up signs, making badges, and working registration, while I was directing and introducing people, managing invited speakers, interacting with the hotel staff, and presenting in 5 sessions! The entire conference I was running around in chaos. It was like that for a few years, but it was what was needed at the time. 

Now we are truly a professional organization. Our most recent conference made me proud. Successful conferences do not come easily and are not a given, especially when they have to be done virtually. NORDP 2021 was the best online conference I have attended.

I think we are still only halfway there, however. We have become an effective entity and are now serving as sponsors at other group’s conferences, like the recent INORMS 2021. Research development is now considered a basic function at many universities. Vendors now see us a one of their primary customer bases.We have earned a level of professionalism and respect in the research enterprise and we are known throughout it. 

What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

Just do it. Just start. Whatever it is that interests you, or you have experience with. You couldn’t find a more welcoming community. Everyone is so collegial, and they know what you are going through. NORDP pays you back in ways that you do not expect.

RD is a field that lends itself to volunteerism. We are all used to working on teams and on things that are not quite done yet. RD work like NORDP engagement is always in progress. 

NORDP is accepting of people and their interests. If you have an idea that is helpful to you, chances are it will be helpful to others. Get involved in any way you can. I promise you will not regret it!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee


  1. Levin, J. 2011. The Emergence of the Research-Development Professional. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2011. http://chronicle.com/article/The-Emergence-of-the/126906/
  2. Rainey, R.F. 2013. Jacob Levin brings in the research money. AAAS Member Spotlight, Feb 1, 2013. https://www.aaas.org/jacob-levin-brings-research-money
  3. Currie, E. 2011. Off the Path – Jacob Levin, UCSF Synapse, 25 May 2011. https://synapse.library.ucsf.edu/?a=d&d=ucsf20110525-01.2.10&e=——-en–20–1–txt——txIN–

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Stephanie McCombs

In a partnership with InfoReady, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant initiative, which began funding grants in 2018 to support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.   

Awardee Feature

Who: Stephanie McCombs

Where: Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Proposal: Developing Best Practices for Evaluating the Outcomes, Success, Impact, and ROI of Internal Grant Programs

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? Since institutional resources are often limited, leadership must be accountable for decisions to invest in internal grant programs and be able to show appropriate return on these types of investments. Associated with this is the evaluation of the outcomes, impact, and return on investment (ROI) of research funding expenditures. Measuring and evaluating the ROI and other objective and subjective outcomes of internal funding programs, especially those that can lead to determinations of success or impact, can be a key aspect to ensuring the institution’s internal grant funds are being used in the most beneficial manner. This research seeks to answer the questions:

  • How are the success, impact, and ROI of an internal grant mechanism truly defined?
  • What outcomes, metrics, and methodology should be used in order to accurately evaluate the above aspects of internal grant programs?

What is the status of the project now? This project was recently funded and is currently in the IRB submission stage.

Do you have any suggestions for NORDP members considering submitting to the 2021 competition? Start on your application early and reach out to potential team members as soon as possible to plan the submission. Everything always takes longer than expected.

What did you find the most challenging? I have never really done much with the IRB prior to this project and I was unfamiliar with many of the required processes.  Getting all documents completed was definitely a challenge!

What did you find the most surprising? I was definitely surprised by the length of time it took to do the preparatory steps. I had seen much of this from the administrative side, but it was enlightening to experience from the researcher side. This experience has given me a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into the pre & post award side of projects as well as all of the details and people you have to consult with to get a proposal ready.

What would you say is your main takeaway from this experience? I have gained a newfound appreciation for the work that our researchers do in writing, submitting, and managing awards.  The experience has given me a holistic view allowing me to see things from a different perspective.  I understand that not everything is under the PI’s control.  They are often dependent on other individuals or institutions.  I believe this awareness will make me better at my job and help me improve the management our internal grant processes here at EVMS.

What are your plans for sharing or disseminating what you learn in this project? I hope to be able to have enough good information to put together a manuscript for publication.  I plan to present to the EVMS community as a first step and I will likely present at the next NORDP conference in 2022. 

Has this experience changed how you approach your RD work? It has absolutely changed my approach.  As I mentioned above, I now see the grant process from the other side as a PI myself.  It has invoked a humanistic understanding side of me, and I am now coming to my RD work from a different vantage point.  The experience has also overlapped with the Doctor of Health Science program I am finishing up currently.  I have gained insight into the human side, become more understanding of PIs who may need more time due to personal lives, teaching & committee responsibilities, or maybe being stretched too thin overall.

What are/will be the outcomes of your research? The main driver of this project was to improve our processes here, but after reaching out to other NORDP members I learned that many people did not have measures in place.  Ultimately, I hope to help my RD colleagues be effective stewards of their resources with my project. I saw a need to develop a lexicon that the RD community can refer to with a standardized set of definitions.  For example, when I was putting together a roundtable for the 2021 NORDP conference the term “seed grant” was one that has different meanings at different institutions.  Is a better term “internal grant”?  I hope to be able to provide insight on defining terms and evaluating outcomes through this project and eventually look to evaluation best practices in the next stage.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell

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.

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Michael Pruess

In a partnership with InfoReady Review, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant Initiative which began funding grants in 2018 that support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.

Awardee Feature

Who: Michael Preuss, EdD

Where: Exquiri Consulting, LLC

Proposal: A focus group investigation of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes desired in Research Development (RD) directors and proposal specialists.

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? This is the third step in a sequence of studies. The first considered more than 400 RD job announcements to understand how RD was defined and described. The second was a survey of active NORDP members to understand demographics, institution types and distribution, as well as roles and responsibilities of RD professionals. This final study involves focus group discussions of what distinguishes RD directors from proposal development specialists and what they have in common. This dichotomy was investigated, as there were statistically significant differences in the survey data (second step in the sequence) between the roles and responsibilities reported by these groups.

What is the status of the project now? The data gathering is complete. Focus groups were conducted at the Northeast Region meeting in 2019, at the Great Lakes Region meeting in 2020, and with a group of Research Development and Research Administration professionals in the University of New Mexico system. Two interviews were also conducted with notable RD professionals on the West Coast, and work is underway on an article to report the findings. It would the third in a series. The first two are (1) Describing Research Development: A First Step in Research, Management Review, volume 23, issue 1, published in in 2018, and (2) Research Development and Its Workforce: An Evidence-Based Compendium for Higher Education and Other Environments in the International Journal on Studies in Education ,volume 2, issue 1, published in 2020.

What suggestions do you have for NORDP members considering the 2021 competition? If you have not conducted an independent research project before, look for a mentor or a colleague with experience who will work with you. Seek to answer a specific and well-defined question that is based on, at a minimum, a good volume of experiential or anecdotal evidence. Be sure you know the standard for substantial or significant evidence for the research method you are proposing. Ask an RD professional you respect to comment on a draft of your proposal and prepare far enough in advance for them to be able to do so to the best of their ability. Anticipate that there will be challenges and competing priorities by keeping your project tightly focused and planning an appropriate but less-than-aggressive timeline.   

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.