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: Becca Latimer, Ph. D., Research Program Director
Where: University of Virginia Comprehensive Cancer Center
Number of years in research development: 6
Length of NORDP membership: 6 years
What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?
It is a tie between my work on the annual conference and past efforts with the salary survey committee.
I am one of the co-chairs for the 2023 national conference and I have served a variety of roles on the recent virtual ones as well. I really enjoy this area as it not only provides a way for our members to get together, but also learn important tools, tips and educational content from our experienced membership. I truly appreciate that as a member myself and my efforts with the upcoming and past conferences focus on providing the most valuable, useful, relevant, and current content for NORDP members.
A few years ago, I helped put together the report from the 2019-20 Salary Survey which I believe is a valuable asset to members. It allowed us to collect data to gauge how our membership is evolving and diversifying over time. It is helpful to new members and allows them to see the varied backgrounds and
types of positions in the RD field. It is also beneficial if your institution does not support RD functions. Finally, it is also useful to RD veterans in their work towards merit raises and promotions.
How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?
My volunteer efforts have truly helped me come into my own in a profession I did not know about seven years ago. I came from a bench research background, and I really did not know much about the various careers you could use a research background for beyond that. I came to NORDP with an open mind and it has been helpful since day one. The various service experiences have allowed me to meet many other engaged volunteers. These folks have mentoring characteristics and skill sets that have helped me enhance my own skills as well. Working on projects for NORDP has allowed me to progress in my current career and mentor new people coming into NORDP and at my home institution, too.
How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?
When I started in RD my supervisor recommended checking out the annual conference. In my prior sciences work I really valued attending national meetings and engaging with people that shared similar interests as me – I was pleased with my first NORDP conference experience. It was exciting to be a part
of a group that were interested the same topics as I was and who had similar career goals.
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?
My engagement with NORDP really allowed me to step outside of my own experience. I’ve learned more about interacting with a wide variety of individuals from different institutions, including MSIs, PUIs, and R universities, than I ever would have on my own. I came to realize that we all have the same goal. Everyone I have encountered through NORDP has been collaborative and giving. They are always willing to take time out of their workday and life to help if they can.
Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined
The overall general mission has not changed, but I have noticed in the past few years that NORDP has incorporated a lot more inclusivity work and activities, which has been extremely beneficial. It has provided more opportunities for members to learn how to include DEIB into their everyday practices.
This has been evident through conference speakers, webinars, workshops, and training activities. Additionally, the growth in the membership in recent years is also an indicator that this is a positive community that welcomes people who are interested in learning, collaborating, and practicing inclusivity.
What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?
It actually took me a few years to get involved myself. It can seem intimidating at first, but there are so many ways to volunteer. Think about what you like to do and what seems of interest to you that is going on right now. Think about what group would allow you to learn a new skill sets or a group that would
benefit from you bringing your skills into the mix. I would say to start with one activity and see where it takes you. If you like it and see areas where you would contribute more, consider taking on a leadership position. There are opportunities for any type of work that might be of interest to you. It is also such a great way to meet new people and learn novel and different methods of completing tasks or projects.
As conference co-chair I definitely have to recommend that the conference (May 5-11, 2023 in Crystal City, VA) will be great place to learn about or engage with all of these things. Our theme is Growing Connections – and we’ll have plenty of time for networking. You can connect with committees & affinity
groups, present a poster or during a concurrent session, or volunteer in some capacity. The call for abstracts is out! Consider submitting one. I’m looking forward to seeing you all there – sporting your favorite NORDP gear!