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 https://www.nordp.org/conferences.

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 http://www.nordp.org/conferences. 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 https://www.nordp.org/conferences.

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 http://www.nordp.org/conferences. 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 PEERD@nordp.org. More information can be found at https://www.nordp.org/peerd-consulting-program

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

 

The Transition from Postdoc to Research Development: Gaelle F. Kolb

The following is part of a limited blog series from the Strategic Alliances Committee highlighting NORDP members who have transitioned from postdoctoral positions to careers in research development.

Kolb-Photo
Gaelle F. Kolb, Proposal Development Manager, Office of Research Development, Division of Research, University of Maryland

Describe your work in research development (RD): I am currently a proposal development manager in the Office of Research Development within the Division of Research at the University of Maryland. I am responsible for managing multidisciplinary teams of scientists and leading them to submit highly prestigious, multi-million dollars grants to various sponsors. The teams vary with the open calls and so do the represented disciplines.

Describe your postdoc work: My scientific background is in infectious diseases. During my first postdoc, I investigated the role of a host protein in waking up Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 from latency in infected neurons. The work was seminal in demonstrating that, in fact, a host protein was indispensable for that event to start, and another postdoc demonstrated that it recruited a whole complex of proteins to re-activate the viral transcription. In a shorter second postdoc, I identified a Heat Shock protein as binding to Ebola Virus genome, and in a later publication on which I am a collaborative author, the team demonstrated that this protein was indispensable to viral replication, making it a potential drug target.

Describe your transition from your postdoc/research background to RD: I was very involved in professional and career development during my postdoc, helping other postdocs (and myself) find the career of their dream. I became the grants and training development specialist in one of the NIH institutes, which totally opened up my love for proposal development and helping others better write how much their science would impact our society.

Describe the benefits your postdoc work provided to your skill set related to RD: I was a restless postdoc, always getting involved in “other/administrative” internships. I became a great listener and talker as well.

What words of wisdom do you have for postdocs who might consider an RD career? As a postdoc, you have cultivated the passion for science. Now, keep the breadth and forget about the depth.

What has been your best experience, so far, with your work in RD? Moving to my current position has been the best experience in research development. Before that, I felt that I was only allowed to dabble, expressing other people’s way of doing. Now, I become part of the team every time I support a new proposal development. I am learning about their subject matter so I can provide critical feedback to their proposed research. I continue to read everything about science (I am member of the AAAS, reader of Science magazine, reader of Nature and The Scientist, in addition to NSF and NIH news).

Why do you think RD is a good career choice? Well, I like the fact that I don’t have to drill too deep into one subject anymore; instead, I can dream big with a team, and differently as I move on to the next team. I like the fast pace and flexible hours. I don’t mind taking on a few hours of work at night or on weekends provided that I can work flexibly otherwise.

What other insights might be relevant to postdocs considering an RD career? Be patient and nurture your professional network. Be professional and always give the best of yourself, which is why I feel I was offered my current position!

The Transition from Postdoc to Research Development: Miquella Chavez Rose

The following is part of a limited blog series from the Strategic Alliances Committee highlighting NORDP members who have transitioned from postdoctoral positions to careers in research development.

Rose
Miquella Chavez Rose, Executive Director, Research Triangle MRSEC

Describe your work in research development (RD): I’ve been engaged for about six months now, first as helping coordinate a NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) resubmission, then other various NSF center applications coming from the former faculty from our current MRSEC.

Describe your postdoc work: My postdoc was focused on trying to grow teeth. More specifically, we were using the ever-growing mouse incisor stem cells and trying to create a 3D biomaterial platform to control the homeostasis and differentiation of these cells into enamel producing ameloblasts.

Describe your transition from your postdoc/research background to RD: I transitioned from my postdoc into my current position as Executive Director of the Research Triangle MRSEC, and found that the proposal development and team building aspect of the resubmission was something I very much enjoyed and wanted to pursue.

Describe the benefits your postdoc work provides to your skill set related to RD: Being able to think of the science “big picture” is something really necessary for a good postdoc, and those skills come in handy in research development, as well as the independent nature of the postdoc translates well into research development.

What words of wisdom do you have for postdocs who might consider an RD career? Volunteer to be part of the grant writing process in any form in your current lab (helping write sections for you PI, or submitting your own) will help you in the long run. Also, reach out to your RD office on campus; you may be able to shadow or volunteer with their group to see if you really would enjoy the day to day experience of a RD professional.

What has been your best experience, so far, with your work in RD? Of course, it is great when you hear something you worked on was funded, but sometimes it is a simple as getting the proposal out the door, knowing you helped make it the best it could be.

Why do you think RD is a good career choice? I really like the collaborative nature of the work; when you work with a really good team, it is really fun and exciting. The work is deadline driven and can be long hours during grant season, but as a postdoc we are used to the long hours, and it’s actually less hours than a typical postdoc, and the deadline is actually a nice change from bench work, in which there is always that “next experiment.”

What other insights might be relevant to postdocs considering an RD career? The NORDP group is really a great group of people that are super friendly and helpful, so if you are thinking of this type of career, just keep in contact with the representative and they will help you get connected!

Posted on behalf of the Strategic Alliances Committee committee

The Transition from Postdoc to Research Development: Rebecca Terns

The following is part of a limited blog series from the Strategic Alliances Committee highlighting NORDP members who have transitioned from postdoctoral positions to careers in research development.

Terns
Rebecca Terns, Proposal Enhancement Officer, Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Georgia

Describe your work in research development (RD): I work in the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Georgia. My responsibility is to help investigators across campus develop strong, successful research proposals. I facilitate large, complex proposals including those involving multiple investigators, multiple institutions, and multiple disciplines. I help investigators (both individuals and teams) assess research plans and effectively communicate critical points. I also organize and present programs to help investigators identify funding sources, understand the proposal evaluation process, and improve grant-writing skills.

Describe your postdoc work: In my postdoctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I identified molecular and genetic factors critical for epidermal development in C. elegans. C. elegans and Madison are wonderful!

Describe your transition from your postdoc/research background to RD: Following my postdoctoral work, I co-directed a large research group in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia. We made significant contributions to the fields of small RNA biology, telomerase and cancer, and CRISPR-Cas biology. I obtained extensive experience in scientific analysis and funding, project management, and collaborative research development and writing. I developed and taught graduate-level courses on effective science communication. I developed a strong interest in extending the impact of my work across a broader landscape.

Describe the benefits your postdoc work provides to your skill set related to RD: During the first weeks of my postdoc, I immersed myself in a brand-new research field and wrote an NIH fellowship proposal that funded my postdoctoral studies. My enjoyment of that experience is recapitulated regularly in the work that I now do in university research development. The scientific knowledge base and analytical thinking that I developed during my postdoctoral work and subsequent years is also essential to my effectiveness.

What words of wisdom do you have for postdocs who might consider an RD career? Effective writing is a key skill in research development. All of the great writers that I meet say that writing is a struggle for them at times – that feeling does not mean that you are not a skilled writer.

What has been your best experience, so far, with your work in RD? Without a doubt, it is the extent of the appreciation of the investigators with whom I work!

Why do you think RD is a good career choice? It is a great career choice for scientists with particular aptitudes that complement their scientific training and experience (e.g. big picture focus, project management, collaboration, effective communication). Beyond your postdoc, experience in a faculty position is helpful to develop valuable broader perspectives.