Who: Lisa Lopez, Senior Research Development Officer
Where: College of Health and Human Development, California State University, Fullerton
Number of Years in RD: 7
Length of NORDP Membership: 6
When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?
I entered RD after completing my postdoc. I was looking for an alternative career away from the typical research scientist trajectory, but I knew I still loved working in academia. The problem was that I didn’t have anyone in my network who could help me navigate a transition outside of the laboratory. When looking for jobs, I found various RD opportunities, but I had no clue if I would even be qualified for such a position. After a quick Google search, I found the NORDP website with information on the responsibilities of a “research development professional.” I read all I could find about this “new” profession and found that it was indeed something I was qualified for and could find rewarding. Most importantly, I found a community of folks who, while working at their own institutions, had a shared passion for RD and supported each other along the journey. I started to apply for RD jobs and was fortunate to land at a local Cal State, where I’ve been ever since.
In my current role, I perform RD duties at the college level as a member of the Dean’s senior leadership team. I work closely with my colleagues in the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects to put on grant-related trainings for faculty, and I work as part of the Pre-Award team for my college to help faculty submit proposals. In my college, I focus on faculty development. I provide guidance to help faculty position themselves for success in their research and as they seek external funding, and I develop and manage several college programs to support faculty research. I am also involved in a college task force aimed at increasing the hiring and retention of diverse faculty.
What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?
I joined NORDP in 2015. I started to attend the annual meetings and presented a poster in Colorado in 2017. In 2020, I increased my engagement with NORDP and joined the Nomination Committee. This was such a worthwhile experience, and I encourage anyone looking to get started in volunteer work with the organization to consider joining NomCom. Committee work gave me insight into the organizational structure of NORDP and also exposed me to the skills and experiences of the Board candidates. It was through my work on NomCom that I was able to see myself as a future member of the NORDP Board.
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?
NORDP members are such a supportive and engaging group. When I was new to RD, I really appreciated going to the annual conference and meeting and learning from members who had been in the field a lot longer than me. I’ve also been fortunate to meet some really awesome members as part of the Nomination Committee. This year, I’m taking part in the Mentorship Program as both a mentor and a mentee. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and I’m incredibly thankful to have already met so many new folks as a participant in this summer’s Celebrating Mentoring Days.
What are you most excited about as a board member?
NORDP is growing and changing, and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to be part of the leadership that will help shape what our organization looks like in the coming years as we prepare to develop our next strategic plan. I’m also eager to meet more members and learn how others enhance their professional development and how institutions support the profession. I’m interested in exploring the different models of RD at institutions and how NORDP can best meet the needs of our members in varied RD roles and from diverse backgrounds. NORDP is now over 1,000 members strong, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in this organization. I can’t wait to see what we all can accomplish in the years ahead!
Compiled by Sharon Pound, Communications Working Group