It’s Here! NORDP Resource Creates Inroads into RD Careers: NROAD to RD

Why formal RD training?

Research Development (RD) is a career of strategists, planners and figure-it-outers. Most of us “fell into” the role and realized later that what we do is RD. We’ve figured out and honed our skills along the way.

However, the field is growing (if the first-ever sold-out NORDP conference is any indication!), and so a considerable need exists to shorten and ease that learning curve. Similarly, people looking at RD as a potential career may feel unsure about how to get started, or how to “test the waters” given the variability across RD offices.

With this in mind, NORDP launched a working group in June 2018 under the Strategic Alliances Committee to create a resource to help RD offices develop training programs relevant to their own needs. Indeed, the “NROAD to RD” training program framework is based on the idea that some RD-relevant skills and knowledge can be taught – and it offers a menu of options from which to choose.

The NROAD to RD, or the NORDP Resource for Organizing and ADapting a Training Program toward Developing an RD career, is the culmination of a year’s worth of work by the working group (with input from each of NORDP’s standing committees), a beta test at Duke University’s School of Medicine, and a soft launch at the 11th Annual NORDP conference in 2019.

How does NROAD to RD work?

The goals of NROAD to RD are to “provide RD offices with a framework to (1) develop their own training/apprenticeship/internship programs, and (2) employ that framework to introduce, recruit, and train individuals interested in a RD careers.” RD offices can choose among the suggested components and add additional components as necessary to ensure relevance to their individual office and institution’s missions.

The resource provides a guide for decision-making in designing an appropriate training program (Fig 1). Each decision affects the others, collectively defining parameters for the training program.

Figure 1: Decisions to be made while designing an NROAD-based RD training program.

NROAD to RD also offers curriculum modes, or training delivery methods, from which to choose (Fig 2). Most programs will likely include a range of delivery methods, from self-study to shadowing to live or simulated work projects, as suits their goals and mentoring capacity.

Figure 2: NROAD’s recommended curriculum modules

Curriculum suggestions include RD basics; navigating large grants, individual grants, and limited submissions; project management; team science; diversity and inclusion; and other institutional/research-related/career related topics. The curriculum module section is further broken down into sub-categories with recommended reading resources and suggested assignments for each.

Finally, NROAD to RD offers suggestions for program and trainee evaluation to ensure refinement and success.

Interested in NROAD to RD?

The NROAD to RD framework is available to all NORDP members and may be requested via email to Dr. Samarpita Sengupta ( In the coming months, the “Phase II” working group under the auspices of the NORDP Professional Development Committee will create additional resources (e.g., case studies and job simulations), navigate the logistics of hosting these resources on the NORDP website, and evaluate resource usage.


The Phase I working group was chaired by Samarpita Sengupta, and consisted of the following members: Peggy Sundermeyer, Trinity University; Joanna Downer, Duke University; Page Sorensen, then at the University of California San Francisco; Sharon Pound, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Rebecca Latimer, University of Virginia; Nicole Frank, University of Utah; Beth Moser, Maricopa County Community Colleges District; and Sarah Messbauer, University of California, Davis.

NROAD to RD was developed initially using resources generously shared by UT Southwestern Medical Center’s NeAT program (Samarpita Sengupta), University of California San Francisco’s Internship program (Page Sorensen), The University of Tennessee, Office of Research & Engagement’s Onboarding Resources (Jennifer Webster), and University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Onboarding Resources (Kathryn Partlow).

Current Phase II WG members are Joanna Downer, Rebecca Latimer, and Samar Sengupta with several new members: Danielle Matsushima at Columbia University; Elaine Lee, Boston University; Maile Henson, Duke University; Alexis Nagel, Medical University of South Carolina, and Dawn McArthur, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Peggy Sundermeyer remains on the WG as a consultant with supplementary assistance from Jacob Levin, MIT.

Submitted by Samarpita Sengupta

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.

Cranford Addresses Cultural Competency at NORDP’s Plenary Session

cranford“Day to day, what does inclusion look like at your institution?”

This is among the many thought-provoking questions that Jacqueline Cranford, founder of Cranford Advisory Services, will present to NORDP conference attendees at the plenary session scheduled for 11:00 a.m., Tues., Apr. 30.

Cranford’s presentation, titled “Diversity, Inclusion and You: Advancing Cultural Competence within NORDP and the Communities We Serve,” will lay a foundation to help RD professionals understand the concept of cultural competency on both the individual and institutional level.

Cranford will define terms related to diversity and inclusion, create a common language for understanding related issues, and identify ways to recognize issues on campuses throughout the nation and in how we engage with one another within NORDP.

“For example, when you walk the halls at your institution, do you feel represented in the photos on the walls?” she asks. “Is the language that you use with your NORDP colleagues inclusive?”

Cranford encourages RD professionals to come to the plenary session ready and willing to engage in the discussion and experience “how quickly our brains make associations.”  Ultimately, the goal is to provide RD professionals with introspective insights into their own biases, enabling them to be a conduit and help raise awareness of diversity and inclusion at their institutions.

“What can you do to be part of the change?” she prompts.

A graduate of Oral Roberts University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Cranford has spent more than 20 years helping professionals recognize and appreciate the intersectionality of talent management, diversity, and inclusion and guiding them through strategies for effectively managing all three.

In addition to serving clients in the legal and corporate sectors, she has recently focused on the environment of academia, consulting with several business schools and law schools on issues related to cultural competency.  Over the years, clients have turned to her for expertise in diversity and inclusion, recruiting, professional development, performance management, leadership training, business development and global integration.  More information on her firm can be found at

Submitted by Sharon Pound

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 Board Member Cameo – Rachel Dresbeck

Who: Rachel Dresbeck, Senior Director, OHSU Research Development
Where: Oregon Health & Science University
Number of years in Research Development: 20
Length of NORDP membership: 9 years

Dresbeck_Headshot.2018When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do? I had just finished my PhD in literature and was teaching at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Four tenure-track positions were open in my department, and I couldn’t bring myself to apply to any of them. I love community colleges—they are the most innovative thing about American higher education—but I knew that this wasn’t my path. My dean told me that a research institute at Oregon Health & Science University was looking for a contractor to teach science writing to their trainees. I applied, was hired, and never looked back. I had virtually no science background but my training in philosophy and literature, as well as my teaching many undergraduate sections of composition, served me well—I could decode. I could follow a variable through a process and identify inconsistencies and contradictions. I also had grant writing experience, so that helped. I loved the work—I loved learning about all the molecules and models, the norms of scientific culture, all of it.

In the beginning, I worked freelance on science writing and editing and grant writing, eventually turning it into a small business. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, but having my own business was incredibly rewarding. I enjoyed finding and working with clients across the world and helping them make their dreams come true, whether that was an awarded grant or a successfully defended dissertation or publication in a high-end journal. At that time, my children were small, so I also liked the flexibility. Eventually, though, my children were in school—and OHSU had become my largest client. Using our superior proposal-writing skills, my friend and I persuaded OHSU’s vice president of research that he should create an office for research development. We established that office in 2004, and I have been there ever since. The early focus was on finding funding and proposal development, but now we do many more things: run funding programs, provide strategic advice for investment and programming, serve as a resource for institutional positioning, and much more. I am so appreciative that I foster research at the highest levels of the institution. But I still teach that same science writing class! I love it—it keeps me connected to the daily work of the research.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)? I first found out about NORDP from a colleague who attended the first Science of Team Science meeting and thought NORDP would be up my alley. I attended the conference in Chicago in 2011 and was very excited to find my tribe. For the first time, I did not have to explain what I did for a living. I have attended every meeting since then, presenting at all of them in some capacity or another.  I helped with planning the 2013 conference in Austin. I was recruited by Jacob Levin and Holly Falk-Krzesinski as the conference chair for the 2014 meeting in Portland, joining the board as vice president that year. I served as president in 2015-16 and immediate past president the year after that. In 2017, I ran for a second board term, under the election system that the board had put into place when Dave Stone was president and I was vice president.

I have always been on what is now the Strategic Alliance Committee—it used to be called External Engagement—and involved in NORDP communications. We used to publish an actual printed newsletter that we would carry around to conferences and then eventually recycle. One of my favorite accomplishments was converting the newsletter to the NORDP News blog. Currently, I am co-chair of the Strategic Alliances Committee. I focus much of my time on sponsor relations for the conference (and a shout-out to them: we could not have our great conference without them!) as well as engaging in strategic partnerships with national and international organizations. Our partnership with the Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers has been great for NORDP and also has opened up new areas for me professionally. I highly recommend getting involved in committee work. It’s inherently rewarding and there are personal and career benefits too.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)? Some of my most important professional and personal relationships are because of my NORDP work. It’s so much fun to work with smart, talented professionals across the country—and even internationally. Not only is it fun, but it’s also useful to be able to say to your vice president, “Well, my national colleagues do it this way….” It gives you credibility to be well connected and it serves the research and RD missions to show you have best practices and exemplars.

What initiative are you most excited about in your role as a board member?  Besides the work I mentioned above, the long-term sustainability of NORDP is most on my mind. Many of us, as RD professionals, are extremely enthusiastic about starting new things. We are always coming up with lots of new activities. We are ideators and planners—that’s why we’re great at proposal development. Right now, I am most excited about strategies for building sustainable systems that can be maintained over the long term with consistency, to kind of balance out the enthusiasm of the idea generation. We are still fairly new as an organization. How do we strategically build for the future, especially in light of pressures on research in the United States? I am also enthusiastic about our focus on inclusive excellence that Gretchen Kiser spearheaded when she was president and has continued to lead.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a NORDP board member?  Serving as president made me realize that the Board’s role is stewardship of the organization, and that’s something we all do together. Creating a board that is member-elected was a huge board accomplishment, and I remain excited about this because of the incredible talent it has brought to the organization. Our current board is passionate about serving NORDP members!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee.

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.

Conference Cameo: Hilda McMackin

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. Register at

Who: Hilda McMackin, Director of Research Development and Support
Where: Vanderbilt University
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A psychic. I was inspired by Commander Deanna Troi from Star Trek.

McMackin2I was involved in research development before I knew it was a field.  I worked as a lab manager in my first job after getting my PhD and found out about research administration from an internal training program.  After looking for positions in research administration, I was recruited into the School of Engineering to work on an NSF Engineering Research Center proposal and then became the grants manager in the largest engineering research institute on campus.  I heard about research development when a new Vice Provost for Research started at Vanderbilt and was hiring for a position to start a dedicated research development program at Vanderbilt.  I was immediately hooked when I heard of the opportunity, and my grants management experience with large proposals luckily made me a strong candidate.

I am the Director of Research Development and Support, and I founded this office at Vanderbilt, growing from a staff of 1 to 5 people.  My office oversees some services that support research compliance (export controls) in addition to research development.  Our research development programs focus on proposal support for strategic opportunities, managing limited submission opportunities, relationship building with sponsors, and providing workshops for faculty to learn best practices for seeking funding or applying to certain agencies.  We focus specifically on federal agencies and cover all 10 schools and colleges at Vanderbilt, including arts & sciences, engineering, basic sciences, education, and nursing.

I joined the Mentoring Committee at my first NORDP conference without ever having participated in the mentoring program.  It has been a great way to connect with more of the RD community as well as hone some professional development skills.  I presented my first webinar with them last summer and will be co-presenting some sessions at this year’s conference.

At my first NORDP conference I was taken aback by how welcoming the NORDP community is compared to other professional conferences I’ve attended.  I recommend identifying a few people that do work you’re interested in or have experience that you want to learn more about.  Take note of who is presenting sessions that spark interest in you and make a point of connecting with them at the networking events.  I attended a workshop my first conference and ended up seeking out one of the presenters that I was particularly impressed by.  I followed up with her after the conference and asked if she’d mentor me and this past year we participated in the mentoring program as a self-matched pair.  Never be afraid to advocate for yourself!

Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Lisa Youngentob

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. Register at

Who: Lisa Youngentob, Director-Research Development
Where: University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Memphis, TN
Number of years in research development: 3.5 years
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I worked in the lab as a lab manager for 30 years at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. I left the lab and moved to administration when I relocated to UTHSC to become the director of the newly created Office of Research Development.

youngentob2The biggest part of my job is managing our ever-growing collaborative seed grant program (CORNET Awards), which stimulates innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based research. In 2016, we started with a cross-college collaborative, and from there, the CORNETs have grown to include collaborations between regional universities, the UT system, industry, and international universities. We have run competitions focused on cancer, health disparities, regenerative medicine, and substance abuse, to name a few. This program is very competitive and incredibly popular with the faculty here at UTHSC. My office of two also runs all of the limited submission competitions and two internal bridge funding mechanisms, provides funding opportunities to our faculty, and organizes on and off-campus symposiums and workshops.

Last year was my first year attending the NORDP conference, and I was overwhelmed by the collaborative nature of the members! Everybody was incredibly helpful, ready to offer advice, ideas, templates, you name it! I’ve been to a lot of scientific conferences over the years, but this conference had a very different feel…so welcoming…the camaraderie was palpable.

I found creating a schedule was absolutely necessary to get the most out of the conference.  I was busy from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the conference! I also printed out the cameos of highlighted NORDP members that were doing work similar to mine and sought them out at the conference. I especially enjoyed the poster session, where you could pick up a lot of information in small, manageable bites. My best advice is don’t be shy, take full advantage of everything the conference has to offer, and network, network, network!

Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

New Year – New You?

January 1st is an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and make a change in your life. Unfortunately, we humans lack the resolve to stick with our New Year’s resolutions and are caught buying a jumbo-sized box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day and conveniently forgetting about our gym membership. What are your New Year’s resolutions for your RD office and how can NORDP help you be successful? Do you desire to set new strategic directions? Upgrade to RD Office 2.0? Help your institution achieve its goals for 2020?

NORDP’s Program for External Evaluation of Research Development (PEERD) can help your institution follow through with its New Year’s resolutions, implementing and effecting impactful change in 2019. Whether your office has clear goals identified or needs assistance in identifying a long-term strategy, NORDP’s PEERD consulting program can serve as your guide.

For a no-obligation cost estimate, contact More information can be found at

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW), Sept. 17-21

The first ever National Postdoc Appreciation day was held on September 24th 2009, and in 2010, NPAW was nationally recognized when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.RES. 1545. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), in collaboration with its affiliated Postdoc Associations and Offices at institutes across the country recognize the passion, the perseverance, the hard work and toil, and the commitment to their craft that postdocs across the country demonstrate every single day. These organizations host networking events, breakfast and ice-cream socials, motivational speakers, receptions, and game nights, to name a few.

Postdoctoral scholars are highly trained and possess transferrable skills such as project management, effective time management, leadership, communication skills, the ability to speak different “languages,” and many more, and therefore, make particularly talented research development professionals. NORDP hopes to continue our relationship with the NPA to increase awareness of Research Development as one of the non-traditional paths for postdoctoral scholars as well as act as a supportive resource for postdoctoral scholars headed for the traditional academic route.

NORDP is proud to recognize the contributions made by the NPA in improving the postdoctoral experience and providing opportunities for professional growth, creating policies for the betterment of postdoctoral scholars and help them create a balance between personal and professional lives. NORDP also recognizes its several members, who came into the research development through the postdoc route, several of whose stories have been highlighted on our blog recently. Thank you for your contributions and Happy NPAW 2018!

posted on behalf of the Strategic Alliances Committee by Samar Sengupta