NORDP New Board Member Cameo – Lisa Lopez

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

Inaugural Innovation Award Goes to NORDP Mentoring Committee

NORDP recently presented its Inaugural 2021 NORDP Innovation Award to the NORDP Mentoring Committee at the organization’s 2021 annual conference.

Faye Farmer, member of the NORDP Board of Directors, notes that this award was created to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations that leverage unique approaches to kickstart innovation in research development. She describes the NORDP Mentoring Committee as, “setting the highest bar for true innovation in our organization.” For this reason, the committee was selected for this initial award among an extremely competitive pool of candidates.

“We especially recognize the work they’ve accomplished this past year to revolutionize how our organization operationalizes mentoring,” Farmer says.

NORDP’s Mentoring Committee members have leveraged their individual skills and expertise in new and inventive ways, she adds. They established the first-ever metric-based mentor matching system, adapted mentoring materials to the unique field of research development, implemented themed peer mentoring groups, and created new programming to connect research development curious individuals not in the profession to established professionals as a pipeline for member recruitment and retention.

“This committee of innovators is advancing the research development field in ways that generate evidence of promise or demonstrable results, a requirement of this inaugural award,” Farmer says.

“NORDP is so fortunate to have such innovative members who are actively advancing research development,” Farmer says.

If you, your committee, or your institution is interested in preparing a nomination to this or other awards, check out NORDP.org for additional information. The timeline for NORDP Awards, from nomination through recognition, is as follows:

  • Call for nominations issued: Second Wednesday in September
  • Nomination period: September to November
  • Awards Q&A webinar: Final Wednesday in September
  • Nomination deadline: First Wednesday in November
  • Awardee recognition: During the annual Research Development Conference

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 Presents RD Champion Award to NSF’s Panchanathan

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan

The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) recently presented the 2021 RD Champion Award to Sethuraman Panchanathan, Professor, Arizona State University (LOA), and Director, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

At NORDP’s annual conference in May 2021, Panchanathan delivered a plenary session, “Strengthening the Symbiosis of Exploratory and Translational Research @ Speed & Scale,” sharing his insights on the future of research and the vital role for research development (RD).

During that online session, Dr. Kimberly Eck, President of NORDP an Associate Vice President for Research at Emory University, presented the award that recognized Dr. Panchanathan’s support of the RD profession.

Prior to joining NSF in 2020, Panchanathan led Arizona State University’s (ASU) advancement of research, innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement and strategic partnerships, and international development to dramatically increase research expenditures.

 “The framework for seeding bold, large-scale innovative research with meaningful societal impact is part of the DNA of NSF,” Panchanathan says. “Research development is integral to both NSF’s success and how we foster success in the research community. It’s about building the capacity and tools to advance knowledge more efficiently, and about building platforms and ecosystems that spur innovation.”

Eck says this award recognizes Panchanathan’s tireless, 20-year-long effort to transform ASU from a teaching-focused institution to a world-class hub of innovation and research.

“Dr. Panchanathan’s investment in RD at ASU and encouragement for the ASU RD team to engage nationally has benefited NORDP and our members greatly. With him at the helm of the NSF, we are very confident in the future of science and engineering in the US,” Eck says.

The RD Champion Award is presented annually to an individual in recognition of their substantial efforts to advance the research enterprise and their advocacy of research development as a critical component of the research ecosystem. In 2020, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, former Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was the inaugural recipient.

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.

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Stephanie McCombs

In a partnership with InfoReady, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant initiative, which began funding grants in 2018 to support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.   

Awardee Feature

Who: Stephanie McCombs

Where: Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Proposal: Developing Best Practices for Evaluating the Outcomes, Success, Impact, and ROI of Internal Grant Programs

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? Since institutional resources are often limited, leadership must be accountable for decisions to invest in internal grant programs and be able to show appropriate return on these types of investments. Associated with this is the evaluation of the outcomes, impact, and return on investment (ROI) of research funding expenditures. Measuring and evaluating the ROI and other objective and subjective outcomes of internal funding programs, especially those that can lead to determinations of success or impact, can be a key aspect to ensuring the institution’s internal grant funds are being used in the most beneficial manner. This research seeks to answer the questions:

  • How are the success, impact, and ROI of an internal grant mechanism truly defined?
  • What outcomes, metrics, and methodology should be used in order to accurately evaluate the above aspects of internal grant programs?

What is the status of the project now? This project was recently funded and is currently in the IRB submission stage.

Do you have any suggestions for NORDP members considering submitting to the 2021 competition? Start on your application early and reach out to potential team members as soon as possible to plan the submission. Everything always takes longer than expected.

What did you find the most challenging? I have never really done much with the IRB prior to this project and I was unfamiliar with many of the required processes.  Getting all documents completed was definitely a challenge!

What did you find the most surprising? I was definitely surprised by the length of time it took to do the preparatory steps. I had seen much of this from the administrative side, but it was enlightening to experience from the researcher side. This experience has given me a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into the pre & post award side of projects as well as all of the details and people you have to consult with to get a proposal ready.

What would you say is your main takeaway from this experience? I have gained a newfound appreciation for the work that our researchers do in writing, submitting, and managing awards.  The experience has given me a holistic view allowing me to see things from a different perspective.  I understand that not everything is under the PI’s control.  They are often dependent on other individuals or institutions.  I believe this awareness will make me better at my job and help me improve the management our internal grant processes here at EVMS.

What are your plans for sharing or disseminating what you learn in this project? I hope to be able to have enough good information to put together a manuscript for publication.  I plan to present to the EVMS community as a first step and I will likely present at the next NORDP conference in 2022. 

Has this experience changed how you approach your RD work? It has absolutely changed my approach.  As I mentioned above, I now see the grant process from the other side as a PI myself.  It has invoked a humanistic understanding side of me, and I am now coming to my RD work from a different vantage point.  The experience has also overlapped with the Doctor of Health Science program I am finishing up currently.  I have gained insight into the human side, become more understanding of PIs who may need more time due to personal lives, teaching & committee responsibilities, or maybe being stretched too thin overall.

What are/will be the outcomes of your research? The main driver of this project was to improve our processes here, but after reaching out to other NORDP members I learned that many people did not have measures in place.  Ultimately, I hope to help my RD colleagues be effective stewards of their resources with my project. I saw a need to develop a lexicon that the RD community can refer to with a standardized set of definitions.  For example, when I was putting together a roundtable for the 2021 NORDP conference the term “seed grant” was one that has different meanings at different institutions.  Is a better term “internal grant”?  I hope to be able to provide insight on defining terms and evaluating outcomes through this project and eventually look to evaluation best practices in the next stage.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell

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.

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Michael Pruess

In a partnership with InfoReady Review, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant Initiative which began funding grants in 2018 that support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.

Awardee Feature

Who: Michael Preuss, EdD

Where: Exquiri Consulting, LLC

Proposal: A focus group investigation of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes desired in Research Development (RD) directors and proposal specialists.

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? This is the third step in a sequence of studies. The first considered more than 400 RD job announcements to understand how RD was defined and described. The second was a survey of active NORDP members to understand demographics, institution types and distribution, as well as roles and responsibilities of RD professionals. This final study involves focus group discussions of what distinguishes RD directors from proposal development specialists and what they have in common. This dichotomy was investigated, as there were statistically significant differences in the survey data (second step in the sequence) between the roles and responsibilities reported by these groups.

What is the status of the project now? The data gathering is complete. Focus groups were conducted at the Northeast Region meeting in 2019, at the Great Lakes Region meeting in 2020, and with a group of Research Development and Research Administration professionals in the University of New Mexico system. Two interviews were also conducted with notable RD professionals on the West Coast, and work is underway on an article to report the findings. It would the third in a series. The first two are (1) Describing Research Development: A First Step in Research, Management Review, volume 23, issue 1, published in in 2018, and (2) Research Development and Its Workforce: An Evidence-Based Compendium for Higher Education and Other Environments in the International Journal on Studies in Education ,volume 2, issue 1, published in 2020.

What suggestions do you have for NORDP members considering the 2021 competition? If you have not conducted an independent research project before, look for a mentor or a colleague with experience who will work with you. Seek to answer a specific and well-defined question that is based on, at a minimum, a good volume of experiential or anecdotal evidence. Be sure you know the standard for substantial or significant evidence for the research method you are proposing. Ask an RD professional you respect to comment on a draft of your proposal and prepare far enough in advance for them to be able to do so to the best of their ability. Anticipate that there will be challenges and competing priorities by keeping your project tightly focused and planning an appropriate but less-than-aggressive timeline.   

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.

Strategic Alliances Committee Update: Volunteers Needed

One of the first committees to exist within NORDP, the Strategic Alliances Committee builds mutually beneficial relationships with other organizations to strengthen NORDP’s position in the global research enterprise and benefit NORDP members. To continue this work, the committee is actively recruiting volunteers in two areas:

1) Liaisons – The NORDP website describes this long-standing program that taps NORDP members to gather and share relevant and useful information as part of a broad and strategic outreach program. More than 20 NORDP members are currently engaged as liaisons, and more are needed to connect with various professional societies, federal agencies, and other organizations that are potential sources of collaboration and professional development for NORDP members. If you’re interested in serving as a liaison, please contact Karen Eck at keck@odu.edu.

2) Communications – With dozens of liaisons gathering vital information, the committee is looking for members to help disseminate that information. This might include contacting liaisons and drafting blog posts, establishing a calendar of liaison partner events, or assisting with NORDP presentations made at liaison partner events. If you’re interested in helping with this, please contact Sharon Pound at spound@utk.edu.

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 2021 Plenary

NSF’s Sethuraman Panchanathan Builds New Partnerships to Drive Research

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan

For more than 70 years, the National Science Foundation has been powering discovery and innovation across the entire range of fundamental science and engineering research and education. As NSF’s 15th Director, Sethuraman Panchanathan sees extraordinary opportunities ahead for the research community to build on that legacy.

When he presents his plenary session, titled “Strengthening the Symbiosis of Exploratory and Translational Research @ Speed & Scale,” on Mon., May 3, from 11:00 a.m. to noon (EDT), he will share his insights on the future of research and the vital role for research development in that future.

“The framework for seeding bold, large-scale innovative research with meaningful societal impact is part of the DNA of NSF,” Panchanathan says. “Research development is integral to both NSF’s success and how we foster success in the research community. It’s about building the capacity and tools to advance knowledge more efficiently, and about building platforms and ecosystems that spur innovation.”

He notes that research development has sped up the pace of science and engineering, enabling researchers to make more discoveries and bigger breakthroughs faster than ever before.

“When I talk about my vision for strengthening the research enterprise at speed and scale, that’s also a strategic vision for expanding research development. Because our future success is going to depend on the investments we make in people, platforms, and partnerships. We need to strengthen the research community by reaching the tremendous talent that exists throughout this nation,” he says. He especially hopes to reach the “Missing Millions,” those with STEM capabilities from underrepresented communities who don’t yet see a pathway into science and engineering.

“We’ve built up tremendous research capacity over the past 70 years, and that is a launch pad not only for big science and engineering accomplishments, but for building even greater capacity for discovery and innovation,” Panchanathan continues. “My vision relies on partnerships, not just how NSF can create partnerships, but how we can foster environments where collaboration and multidisciplinary work thrives. Innovative, collaborative ecosystems are powerful tools for scaling up research progress.”

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 2021 Plenary

NIH’s Mike Lauer Shares Multiple Perspectives at the Intersection of NIH and RD

Mike Lauer, Deputy Director
for Extramural Research, NIH

When Mike Lauer, Deputy Director for Extramural Research for the National Institutes of Health, delivers his plenary presentation to NORDP, he’ll address research development from a variety of perspectives.

The title of his talk, to be delivered from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Tues., May 4, is “Extramural Research in the Era of COVID-19: An NIH Perspective.” In this context, he says, with three vaccines and effective treatments available, the perspective is that “in some respects science working exceedingly well.”

Lauer uses a sports analogy to stress the importance of diverse teams in research development, both in terms of the science and in terms of the institutional support provided to a team. “A team of quarterbacks, for example, would serve no one well,” he says.

While the term research development is a relatively new one to Lauer, he says he has been a fan of the concept for decades. He recalls a multidisciplinary proposal to NIH in the early 2000s that combined his talents as a practicing cardiologist with a special interest in epidemiology with that of a surgeon, a mathematician, and a statistician.

“We all looked at the world in very different ways, using different terms to say the same thing,” he recalls, noting that he found the mathematician’s perspective especially intriguing.

“We also had help from a colleague, a semi-retired scientist who gave us terrific suggestions. She helped us turn in a very good proposal that got a great score. She helped articulate the story, and provided great feedback on our writing.”

Today, Lauer notes that research development professionals can help researchers being better collaborators, which results in more competitive proposals coming into NIH. He calls this a blessing and a curse.

“Because we get better proposals, we can fund higher quality work that is likely to be productive,” he says. “At the same time, while a tremendous amount of work is funded, much is left on the table,” he adds, noting that the success rate hovers around 20-22 percent, down from a high of around 35% in the 1990’s, and up from a few years ago when it was round 16-17%.

Teamwork is the key to solving major challenges, Lauer says, noting that NIH grants are given to institutions, not individual scientists. Even the smaller R01 funding mechanism, he says, supports a team that usually includes principal investigators, co-investigators, postdocs, grad students, staff scientists, technicians, and others. Beyond that, teams of teams are often brought together for various consortium grants.

“Research development professionals help foster the idea with organizational and institutional support. It’s a team effort, all around,” he says. “The days of the individual scientist, brilliant and alone, is not the way the business is conducted now.”

Lauer’s presentation at NORDP 2021 will offer additional insights from his role at NIH, along with tips to help RD professionals best serve the researchers and teams they support.

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.

Learn More about Expert Finder Systems

Thanks to NORDP member Jeff Agnoli for telling us about the free 2021 International Forum on Expert Finder Systems (EFS) series schedule to run Feb. 11 – Mar. 18! The six-day series, scheduled over six weeks, offers a wealth of information that can strengthen research development initiatives, especially those related to team building. Several RD professionals, including Jeff, are among the list of presenters.

EFS are “directories, profiling sites, or social networking sites that employ knowledge management tools to gather, manage, and publish searchable information,” the event’s website explains. Proper utilization of these systems can support collaborations, bring innovations to market, and foster regional economic development, among other benefits.

The forum’s goals include: explore best practices, share user cases, and create a community of practice. The unique format enables a deep dive into the topic without “Zoom overload” by offering the six separate sessions and incorporating several interactive opportunities, such as “Coffee Talk.” NORDP members can register here.

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 Liaison Report: Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO)

RD professionals and corporate relations officers advance research when they work together

Companies need things from universities: graduates, access to facilities, access to intellectual capital. Universities need things from companies: jobs for graduates, help with commercialization, funding.

Universities’ corporate relations officers help connect companies with universities, but they may lack deep knowledge of the research landscape. They may not know about the promising postdoctoral fellow’s innovation to transform the field, the unique core facility to address a testing need, or the multidisciplinary team to work with on a large proposal. That’s why research development and corporate relations make a great team: their complementary expertise is a natural area for collaboration to strengthen the research enterprise.

This is where the relationship between NORDP and NACRO comes in.

Don Takehara, NORDP’s NACRO Liaison

NORDP’s Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) has been engaging with NACRO for several years, exploring the natural synergies between these two university functions. NORDP’s volunteer liaison responsibility is shifting to Don Takehara, Associate Director for Research, College of Engineering Office of Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

With more than 500 members, NACRO provides professional development and best practices related to university-industry corporate relations. “As higher education plays an increasing role in economic development, and in light of the challenging fiscal environment in which many of our institutions operate, it is more important than ever for colleges and universities to create and maintain dynamic relationships with business and industry,” the NACRO website declares.

In support of his RD role, Takehara has been a member of NACRO for eight years, even before he joined NORDP. He recently agreed to take over the NACRO liaison responsibilities previously held by NORDP Board member Rachel Dresbeck, who is a co-chair of SAC.

The relationship between the two organizations began in ­2017, when Dresbeck and NORDP Board member Peggy Sundermeyer presented on research development at the NACRO conference in Seattle and met with the NACRO Board to explore how the two organizations could work together . 

“This partnership with NACRO fits well into SAC’s strategic priorities by strengthening our reciprocal relationships with sister organizations. We now have a memorandum of understanding between the two groups, providing benefits such as complementary registrations at conferences. Our work informs one another and provides a type of competitive intelligence for both groups,” Dresbeck says.

Serving as a SAC liaison has also benefitted Dresbeck’s own RD work, helping her institution initiate new relationships with local businesses, both large and small. She encourages NORDP members to take advantage of this partnership with NACRO, which can help them work more effectively with their own corporate and foundation development colleagues.

Takehara echoes the benefits of RD professionals engaging with NACRO and their own universities’ corporate and foundation staff. “It’s important for corporate relations and research development members of the two groups to learn how to work better together,” he says.

An example of joint activity includes presentations at the 2018 NORDP Conference in Arlington, where Dresbeck and Eileen Murphy, Kerry Morris (both NACRO and NORDP members), as well as NACRO member Brett Burns presented case studies on the value of working together.  Murphy and Morris have been instrumental in deepening this important relationship. The following year, NACRO’s Co-presidents, Megan Greenawalt from the University of Pittsburgh and Adam Johnson from the Michigan Technological University, led the Leadership Forum at the NORDP 2019 Annual Research Development Conference. And following that, NORDP’s 2019 Great Lakes Regional Meeting, chaired by Jill Jividen and Beth LaPensee, included three sessions about RD and corporate relations and was led by Takehara.  Sessions included center directors discussing how to engage industry partners on large-scale proposals, corporate executives explaining how to engage industry in research initiatives, and a corporate relations panel discussing their perspectives on RD.

Many resources on the NACRO website are significant to strong RD strategy. For example, Takehara served the NACRO Industry Perspectives Subcommittee for its “Research Report: “Industry Perspective on Academic Corporate Relations” that can be found here.

More information on NACRO and the NORDP Liaison program can be found on the SAC liaison page, including a NACRO “Profile” link with members-only information for NORDP members. For more information about serving as a NORDP Liaison, please contact Karen Eck,  who serves as SAC co-chair, along with Dresbeck, Gretchen Kiser, and Ann Maglia.

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.