The NORDP Rising Star Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding, early volunteer contributions to NORDP and strong potential for future contributions to the organization and the profession or the field.
Who: Daniel Arriaga, Assistant Director for Research Engagement
Where: University of Texas at Austin
Number of years in research development: 6
Length of NORDP membership: 6
What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?
I would say the re-envisioning of the Leadership Forum would be the initiative I am most proud of. The updated Leadership Forum came in response to a call in NORDP’s strategic plan. Our group worked on the effort for a year, evolving from the initial call for applications to meetings to topics, to the final product. We engaged many veteran and senior NORDP members throughout the process. I feel that we truly absorbed what they shared, and we were able to inject new ideas from fresh perspectives as well. It was truly a two-way street of ideas that came together.
We are hoping that it can become a central tenet of the professional development that NORDP offers, and have strived to make it relevant to help prepare current and future leaders in the field. We hope that it helps reinforce the importance that Research Development plays in our institutions as well. How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?
My service has benefited my career in many ways. The most impactful area has been to allow me to explore diverse perspectives from across the U.S. and beyond. It has been interesting to learn how different RD colleagues approach various challenges and opportunities. I believe that diversity is something to be celebrated and applauded. At times academia can be a very siloed environment, so having access to the hugely diverse membership of NORDP has been incredibly valuable to me.
How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?
At the beginning of my RD career, I was encouraged to join by my then supervisor, Jaclyn Shaw. In the beginning, I was somewhat loosely affiliated, participating in professional development sessions and the 2017 Conference in Colorado, but not much beyond that. When I was looking to transition to UT Austin, part of what attracted me to the role was the fact that Jennifer Lyon Gardner, UT’s Deputy Vice President for Research, was very active in the organization. Almost immediately after I came on board, she encouraged me to join the Professional Development (PD) committee. I followed her advice and took advantage of my prior PD related work. Ultimately, the experience of riding shotgun with her propelled me to even more involvement, which has culminated in me joining the Conference Committee for 2023!
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?
There are many examples that come to mind, but my work with Kelsey Hassevoort and Nathan Meier for our last conference presentation have really helped to expand my vision of what a research impact arm can do. The strategic partnerships that I support on behalf of the UT research enterprise rely heavily on
the relationship building skills that NORDP helps to foster and support. Because of my relationships with these and other NORDP professionals, I feel more confident in growing out our research impact arm to facilitate community-based research & interaction, and more broadly engage with researchers here at UT. Additionally, if it was not for NORDP I would not have learned about ARIS (Advancing Research Impact in Society). I am participating in the current ARIS Organizational Research Impact Capacity (ORIC) cohort. My hope is that this will help me learn how to better connect our local community with researchers and explore ways to scale up our partnership building capacity so that our efforts are sustainable long term. The collegial environment of my work with the PD committee also connected me with Becca Latimer
who inspired me to join the conference committee. NORDP has a reinforcing positive culture where I admire the work of my peers which only encourages me to continue my volunteer work. Overall, the biggest reward from my NORDP engagement has been the support and structure which have helped me tremendously.
Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined
When I first joined it was a challenge to filter all of the content coming at me. It is less daunting now with tools like the LMS. NORDP truly embraced the virtual world we were forced into with the pandemic. The conference planners have put together amazing virtual conferences over the past two years. We are more put together, think more strategically, and are more willing to adapt and change. In the beginning I did not feel as connected or that I had as much of a say. I think we are now more welcoming to new ideas and fresh perspectives. I believe everyone should have a stake in the organization and I think that NORP has created an environment that welcomes new points of view.
What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?
I would say to take a bite out of every committee. Go to an information session, check out the
Professional Development activities, think about changes you would like to see, figure out what you are passionate about, and explore where you think you can make an impact. Challenge your own biases and perspectives. So much of our work is relationship based and engaging with NORDP will help you build capacity of your own networks to enhance the quality research happening at your institution. There is never a shortage of ways to get involved and you will find it rewarding if you take advantage of your engagement!
Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee