NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Jeremiah Paulus

Members come to NORDP via many paths. This cameo is part of a series featuring members who came to NORDP following postdoc experiences.

Who: Jeremiah Paulus, Grants & Contracts Specialist
Where: The University of Texas at Austin
Number of Years in RD: 5 years
Length of NORDP Membership: 6 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

As I was finishing my postdoc in 2014, I was trying to decide what to do next. I had always enjoyed discussing other people’s research and how to improve it during lab meetings and conferences, but wasn’t sure how those skills could translate into a career. Paulus PhotoFortunately, my postdoc organization, the Medical College of Wisconsin, had a fantastic career seminar series for graduate students and postdocs. From there, I learned about research administration and development, and by talking to a number of people I already knew, I learned about NORDP. After learning even more about the field at my first NORDP meeting, I was confident about the type of job I could apply for and later that year started my career in research development.

At the University of Texas at Austin, I am a Grants & Contracts Specialist in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. I perform all the administrative duties involved in grant submission, including submitting internal paperwork, uploading documents into submission portals and acting as a liaison with our central sponsored projects office. In addition, I also find and evaluate funding opportunities, edit documents for grammar and responsiveness to the opportunity, draft budgets and other documents and make model figures.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I attended my first annual NORDP conference in 2014, while I was still trying to decide whether research administration was the correct career path for me. While there, I had many opportunities to network with people in the field, as well as have more formal meetings with attendees that had similar backgrounds to my own. This experience helped me to decide to go into research administration, including using the job boards to find my first position. Since then, I have attended the annual NORDP conference 3 more times (in 2015, 2016 and 2018). I also gave a poster presentation in 2018, and sometimes engage in the listserv.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

I primarily built up relationships at my first meeting when I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I called on those connections I made to learn more about their particular job duties as well as the culture at their institutions. This helped me more fully understand the diversity of RD careers, as well as help define my job searches. I have also made connections with a group of science writers, who have been able to provide more specific advice to the types of job duties I have.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

Every conference I’ve attended has produced a wealth of notes that I have taken back to my colleagues. With the information I have gained through NORDP, I have helped improve the grant submissions I work on, as well as more fully understand the different sponsors. This has helped me excel at my job and helped as I studied and received my Certified Research Administrator (CRA) Certificate.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from post doctoral positions?

I think NORDP can help instruct postdocs on the various bureaucratic and administrative aspects of research development that they may not have had much experience with. In addition, NORDP can be beneficial to helping postdocs translate their research, communication and planning skills to research development position they may have never known about or previously considered.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

I would recommend staying involved with the community. That could mean contributing to the listserv discussions, and attending the meetings.

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

I would highly recommend becoming a member to have access to the listserv and job boards. Those proved invaluable as I was transitioning to a career in research development. I also recommend attending the meetings, or even reviewing the slides and notes from previous meetings. I’ve learned so much and continue to do so.

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.

NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Diana Sama

Members come to NORDP via many paths. This cameo is part of a series featuring members who came to NORDP following postdoc experiences.

Who: Diana Sama, Proposal Development Officer
Where: University of Kentucky
Number of Years in RD: 4 ½ years
Length of NORDP Membership: 3 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

I became interested in science communication during my training in biomedical neuroscience. Throughout my training, I helped my mentors and collaborators write proposals with increasing involvement as time progressed. I also received my own individual fellowship and really enjoyed the application process. While in my postdoc, I served as a ghostwriter my university’s health care marketing team and worked on recruiting materials, stock power point slides, and articles for their quarterly _DSC7929DianaMathisSamapublication. This gave me experience writing for a lay audience and interacting with clients. When it came time for the next career step, I decided to try my hand at RD and found a position outside academia with small educational nonprofit. I quickly developed skills in team building, networking, and grant writing outside my field of expertise. I also became well versed in scoping out potential sponsors. While I loved working with that group, I missed science and ended up returning to the university setting. I’ve been in the University of Kentucky Proposal Development Office for about three years now, and I feel like I’ve found my niche. Our most popular service is proposal review, where we read content for clarity, flow, organization, adherence to guidelines, and perform a gap analysis. Our other services include consultations for proposal guidance and advice, collaborator searches, funding opportunity disseminations, personalized funding searches, and grant-related workshop training for the campus community. We work on individual investigator proposal, as well as complex/multicomponent proposals.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I have been a member of NORDP for 2 ½ years. I have attended the national conference, as well as the SE regional meeting. I found the presentations in both settings very informative for my current position. Topics included best-practices to innovative initiatives to networking with others in the field. I plan to become more involved over time as I learn more about NORDP and all of the committees. I have participated in surveys and conversations with a few committees, providing input where able.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

At my first NORDP conference I attended a networking dinner with other RD professionals who transitioned from postdocs, and the group has sporadically stayed in touch, thanks to the organizer of that dinner (Samar Sengupta) who rallies the group together every so often for NORDP-related input and conversation. The interaction with colleagues from similar training backgrounds has helped me feel welcomed and like I have a place and identity in the organization.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

I still have a lot of progress to make in this area, BUT I think just having a group to identify with—both NORDP as an organization, and former postdocs as RD professionals—has helped me validate my career choice. I think postdocs often struggle with the decision to leave their subject behind, but seeing many others in the same situation has eased my mental journey to this career.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from post doctoral positions?

What I find interesting and unique about RD and RD professionals is that it is such a mixed group, in terms of training and career backgrounds. Coming from a disciplinary background, we always considered our professional societies to be the authority on everything we needed for our career, and I think NORDP comfortably fills that role for RD professionals. Finding such an organization felt very natural and helped ease the transition from my discipline to the RD profession. I know I can rely on NORDP for invaluable resources, conferences centered on professional learning, policy updates, innovative research, networking, career mentoring and advice, and job postings. The list serve is full of resources and advice, and I highly recommend signing up, just to see what questions other RDs pose and to see the vast historical, regulatory, and professional knowledge that the collective membership offers. I think NORDP helps all RD professionals feel like we belong and contribute to something bigger than our organization.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

The best way to start getting involved is by attending the national and regional conferences. I highly recommend the networking dinners at the national conference. Find a topic or host that interest you and sign-up early because the dinners fill up fast. Also attend the committee meetings to see what they are all about and consider joining a committee or working with a committee.

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

There are many paths to becoming an RD professional. If the career interests you, try to take advantage of your local network to get some relevant experiences while in your postdoc, even if it is outside the RD field. Work on building skills such as breaking down complex information for a lay audience, writing proposals and papers, or working with clients. Also, don’t overlook volunteer work to help build your skillset. If you enjoy the experience, start looking at job ads to get an idea of who is hiring and where, and what kind of work is available. Also look at national resources for RD information and careers, and keep in mind that the professional society in your discipline may have some information to offer, so ask around at your national conferences. Finally, keep in mind there are many settings in which you can work as an RD professional. Some people find the perfect fit with their first position, but sometimes it takes one or two job changes to get that ideal fit. So, don’t give up and feel free to reach out to those of us in NORDP who have already navigated the career transition.

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.

NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Robert Lawrence

Members come to NORDP via many paths. This member cameo is the first of a series featuring members who came to NORDP following postdoc experiences.

Who: Robert Lawrence, Research Development Specialist, Office of Strategic Research Initiatives
Where: Binghamton University
Number of Years in RD: 2
Length of NORDP Membership: 2

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?

Although I did enjoy working in the lab as a grad student and postdoc, I found that I enjoyed the communication aspect of research as well – the writing publications, proposals, and other materials intended for a wider audience. Toward the end of my postdoc period, I looked for opportunities to do some science writing as a way to expand my skillset and meet the requirements to join the National Association of Science Robert Lawrence photoWriters. In the next phase of my career, I wanted to step toward something that would involve science and research communication on some level. I wasn’t initially aware of research development as a profession per se, but the job descriptions I was interested in led me there eventually. I began working in research development in 2018 at Binghamton University, where I still am now. I am enjoying the diversity of tasks that this field encompasses: shaping the content of proposals, building interdisciplinary teams, drafting internal research communications and developing workshops. I appreciate that these activities are never redundant, and all touch on my experience in research and science communication. They also give me the chance to interact with a lot of bright faculty and be in the academic environment, which I feel like is my natural habitat. 

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I was introduced to NORDP by my supervisor, who is always supportive of our involvement in NORDP. Along with others in my office, I have attended two NORDP conferences so far and enjoyed connecting with new people there and also reconnecting with some of my former colleagues from research that also went into research development. In talking with others at these meetings, I’ve gained a better sense of the range of activities research development professionals are engaged with at different institutions.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

We’ve had postdoc dinner meet ups at the conferences that I’ve found helpful. Having that common ground helped me establish some connections outside of my institution, which are always good to have.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

So far my NORDP service has just been in the form of volunteering to help with different aspects of running the conferences. As expected, this has been a great way to become introduced to others at these meetings and learn from their experience.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from post doctoral positions?

I went from wearing a lab coat over shorts and a t-shirt in the lab to wearing slacks and a button up shirt when I made the transition to research development. I think that change in wardrobe is symbolic of a lot of other changes and adjustments that come with moving one’s career from the lab to the office. It’s not impossible, but you do have to rethink how you organize your schedule, how you fit into the university, and so on. There is a whole new lexicon of acronyms and terminology to learn too. Although postdocs are familiar with some things related to the process of research, there is a lot of unfamiliar territory on the administrative side of research that NORDP and good mentors can help you to navigate.

What recommendations do you have for prior postdoc members to get more involved with NORDP?

Attend and volunteer at the meetings the next time you are able to attend. In the meantime, stay involved on the email chats and don’t be afraid to start a new thread when you have a question. Those threads have been very useful in supporting some of the day-to-day activities in our office. And sometimes they can also be a helpful way to be introduced to someone by name, which makes it easier to introduce yourself to them in person when you have the chance.

What tips do you have for trainee members of NORDP or other postdocs looking to find a career in RD?

Find ways to cultivate a continued interest in research, particularly the work going on that the institution where you work (or plan to work). For me, following particular researchers, research development professionals, media outlets, departments or institutions on Twitter has been an easy way to stay current with what is happening in fields that interest me or are relevant to the work I do. The tools used by researchers as well as research development professionals will always be in flux, especially in this post-COVID era that we are transitioning into. So stay interested in that process, and be prepared to bring new ideas from your experience along with you into the field!

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.

Calling all volunteers

Farmer
Faye Farmer

If you’re like me, you are busy. All. The. Time. I have to take care of (check all that apply: ___ myself, ___ family, __parents, __ pets, ___ plants, ___ hobbies, ___ work). But sometimes, I have a free hour or two and want to do something different. What if I could find a way to do something I’m good at for my professional organization? Now is the time!

Welcome to NORDP’s 2020 strategic plan Key Results Area (KRA) 4.1.b Create ways to leverage the strengths & experience of the community. My name is Faye and I’ll be your KRA CHAMPION going forward. (Read on while you hum the Queen song under your breath.)  My role as champion is to work across the organization to advance the work of the KRA. First order of business: I’m renaming this KRA “Bright Lights of NORDP Talent”!

My January activity, with approval from the NORDP Board of Directors, is to advance you–the Bright Lights of NORDP Talent–by launching a trial process that formalizes and publicly posts volunteer requests across the organization. You will have the ability to post a variety of opportunities (e.g., paid and unpaid, specialist and generalist, short term and long). In fact, our KRA’s will be using this mechanism to seek support for their work.

I hope this process and a regular format can increase transparency into the work that we need assistance with as an organization. I also hope that the new format is flexible enough to adjust to high demand times, incorporate the varied skills sets, and meet our different individual availability across the community.

Starting this week and continuing until June 1, 2020, the membership (committees and members) can draft a volunteer form and post it to the listserve. This form should also be sent to (or cc’d to) jobs@nordp.org. Forms will be posted on the jobs board and archived regularly. The starting point for this improved process is a request for volunteer help promoting our PEERD program. You can download the form here: 2020 NORDP Call for Volunteers

I invite you and your committees to seek volunteers for NORDP activities (like creating a database, processing data, completing blog posts, completing small tasks) and let our collective talent shine!

I will ask for feedback at the end of the trial and adjust accordingly. In the meantime, if you want to work with me to find innovative ways of engaging our members in the work of the organization (a.k.a., the Bright Lights Team) send me an email.
Faye Farmer
faye.farmer@asu.edu

Okay, carry on with taking care of business!!

Returning Member Cameo: Nancy Dufau

Who: Nancy Dufau, Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Programs & Research
Where: Towson University
Number of Years in RD: 20+
Length of NORDP Membership: 5.5

What is your RD work?

I joined Towson University two years ago, where I oversee pre-award, post-award and compliance activities. At TU, we’re building out more support in the research development area, and we have begun offering new services.

What is your professional and education background, experience?Dufau - IMG_0140

I have been involved with grants and grantsmanship for more than two decades. Most has been in higher education, but I’ve also worked with grants for Miami-Dade County and a foundation that was supporting medical research. All in all, I’d have to say my background is eclectic and I think that has served me well. In terms of education, I have a BA in English from Colgate University and an MA in International Studies from the University of Miami. I also was able to work closely with biologists and environmentalists early on in my career. Being exposed to multiple disciplines was great preparation for working with faculty members across all fields and made research development and administration a great fit for me.

What originally attracted you to NORDP?

In my previous work for a small PUI, we focused our efforts on faculty development as it related to grantsmanship. NORDP was offering a distinct focus that was an excellent fit for what we were doing.

How long were you “away” from NORDP?

Two years.

What inspired you to rejoin NORDP?

NORDP has its pulse on the latest in research development and offers a great opportunity to learn more about what others are doing as we expand our services in these areas.

How will your NORDP membership enhance your own career?

I am looking forward to seeing RD practices that we might adopt through the lens of TU. Seeing what others are doing and networking opportunities are tremendous benefits of membership.

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.

Meet the Member Services Committee

What exactly does the Member Services Committee do?

In its most fundamental sense, the Member Services Committee (MSC) manages two important services for NORDP: the recruitment of new members, and the retention of existing ones.

On the recruitment side, the MSC recruits new members through our prospect list. Prospects are folks who have attended past conferences, regional meetings, and/or signed up for our listserv but never became an official NORDP member. Our regional representatives reach out with a personal email, highlighting the benefits of joining NORDP. The MSC is also developing a recruiting campaign focused on the upcoming conference in San Antonio, Texas.

As for retention, Member Services manages membership benefits for NORDP, developing and implementing programs to ensure all of our members feel that what they gain from NORDP is worth the price of membership.

This means that the MSC regularly develops and implements membership surveys (like the member needs and satisfaction survey, or the forthcoming salary survey) to ensure NORDP has a pulse on the types of resources needed to effectively support the membership at large.

It also means that the Committee is a main point of contact and support for regional and affinity groups, working groups for special projects like the recent addition of Trainee and Retiree member categories, and subcommittees like the MSC Conference Activities group, which manages the Conference Ambassadors program

Wow, that sounds like a busy group. Who’s currently in charge?

The MSC is steered by a collaborative group consisting of a Chair and two co-Chairs:

  • Dr. Kay Tindle is an Assistant Vice President for Research at Texas Tech University and serves as the NORDP MSC Chair.
  • Dr. Sarah Messbauer is a Research Development Analyst at the University of California, Davis and is an MSC Co-Chair.
  • Dr. Brooke Gowl is currently Research Liaison Officer at the University of Houston, and as of January 13, 2020, will be Associate Director for Research Development in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University; she is also a MSC Co-Chair.

How did each of you get involved with this committee?

Kay blames Peggy Sundermeyer and Terri Soelberg for her initial involvement in MSC.  Peggy recruited her to be the SW Region Representative and Terri brought all of the regional reps into the MSC.

Sarah has no one to blame but herself; less than two months into her first job in RD at the 2018 NORDP conference in D.C., Sarah attended the MSC business meeting with a list of suggestions for how to improve the conference experience for new members and first time attendees… only to be immediately dubbed the “New Member Liaison to Member Services” by the inimitable Kathy Cataneo.

Brooke received an email from Kay via the Southwest Region listserv asking if anyone was interested in being the Southwest Region’s Regional Representative. She responded that she was interested, and before she could blink, she was listed on the website as Regional Rep and a MSC member.

Now that you’re in charge, what goals do you have for Member Services? What would you like to accomplish as a committee in the near future?

Enhance responsiveness to member needs by soliciting regular feedback from members, taking action on that feedback, and anticipating and creating appropriate programming/actions for new members. Create a welcoming environment for new members.

That sounds like an ambitious set of goals… especially given that you’re doing this on top of your day jobs! Which begs the question: what are the benefits of volunteering your time to a committee like Member Services? What’s in it for you?

For Kay, serving as the MSC chair is an opportunity for her to give back to the organization that has given so much to her in her professional development journey. Sarah enjoys the many opportunities to develop her professional skillset and grow her network of friends and colleagues across the world. Brooke enjoys helping to continue NORDP’s development as an organization and ensuring that new and longtime members know that they are valued and have much to contribute to and receive from NORDP.

And last but not least, what would you say to encourage people to volunteer their time on the Member Services Committee?

Are you interested in learning more about the resources NORDP provides? Are you looking for ways to get more connected with NORDP? Ask the MSC at membership@nordp.org.

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.

Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Krista Kezbers

Who: Krista Kezbers Ph.D., Research Development Specialist
Where: University of Oklahoma – Tulsa School of Community Medicine
Number of Years in RD: 2.5 years
Length of NORDP Membership: 1.5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?KezbersHeadshot

I, like many others, got into research development more or less “on accident.” After my PhD, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in research, but I have always had a passion and drive for helping. I found a job as a research development specialist that really combined both research and helping perfectly! I currently consult with faculty, residents, and medical students on potential research projects, assist with research question development, methodology, and statistical design. I also run statistics for research projects and work on manuscript development. Our office as a whole works together on finding, assisting, and submitting grants as well.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

Working with faculty or students in academic medicine creates an interesting and unique environment. We know that the primary responsibility of academic clinicians is to take great care of their patients while maintaining a high level of knowledge and expertise. We work with these faculty and students to assist them in advancing their research goals while keeping in mind that research may be a smaller part of their career than a traditional faculty member. Academic clinicians are just as passionate about their research areas, but may need additional guidance and support.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

My boss, Heather McIntosh, first introduced me to NORDP in 2017. She explained it as a community of people who are “just like us” and she was right! We have presented posters together and attended both the 2018 and 2019 NORDP conferences. Last year we started the Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center special interest group in order to find other NORDP members in the community.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

Being a part of NORDP has provided such a high level of resources and connections. Having the list-serv is a constant reminder that research development professionals truly care about helping each other. I have found that we can reach out to any number of NORDP members just to chat or to get advice/feedback and it has been a welcome addition to my knowledge base. We have also met so many people through the monthly AMC special interest group calls.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

I think in research development it is easy to feel “siloed” because there are not many other people in your local community that do what you do. Being a part of NORDP has allowed me to make connections, but more importantly learn and grow from other RDP’s that I look up to in the field. I feel more confident as a research development professional due to the education and resources available from NORDP.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

It is nice to have research development conversations with others who understand the medical setting. For me specifically, other academic medicine research development professional have bene able to provide me with situation-specific advice, which I am very grateful to have received.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting – to get more involved with NORDP?

Take a great idea or research project from your office and submit it for presentation at the next NORDP conference. Presenting at NORDP is a great venue for making connections while learning more about the profession.

The Academic Medicine Special Interest Group was created in 2018 with the goal of providing resources and professional development opportunities for research development professionals (RDPs) working with clinician-researchers/educators in an academic medicine or affiliated medical center setting. Often times, RDPs working with clinical faculty face unique challenges including working with researchers who have less formal research training and less protected time to conduct research. With this in mind, our group meets monthly via Zoom to discuss the challenges and successes we face working in this research environment. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Heather McIntosh at heather-mcintosh@ouhsc.edu. You can also join our Circle, Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center.

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.

Announcing New NORDP Membership Categories

I am pleased to announce that the NORDP Board of Directors has approved two new categories of NORDP membership: Trainee and Emeritus. This step is consistent with our goals to: 1) create a pipeline for new members, and 2) retain the expertise and commitment of active members who wish to continue to participate in NORDP after retirement. Many thanks to NORDP’s Member Services Committee for their thoughtful proposal and recommendations to the Board that resulted in this exciting development, especially to Samar Sengupta and Maile Henson.

Click here for details on Trainee and Emeritus Memberships: https://www.nordp.org/membership

Sincerely,

Karen “Fletch” Fletcher
NORDP President

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.

Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Jessica Moon

Who: Jessica Moon, Ph.D.
Where: University of Arizona
Number of Years in RD: 3
Length of NORDP Membership: 3

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Moon - NORDP Photo 2019.jpg

Early in graduate school, I realized that, instead of remaining at the bench, I wanted to combine my scientific background with my expertise in writing consultation. By happenstance, I attended a presentation by the grant proposal manager at my institution and knew it was the right fit. She introduced me to NORDP, and I began networking to determine how its members started in RD, their backgrounds, and skillsets, etc. to carve out a career development plan for myself. I was a scientific/technical editor of biomedical manuscripts for an editing company for a few years and then eventually started a small freelance business providing writing consultations on scientific proposals and manuscripts for research faculty. After obtaining my PhD, I moved to Arizona to be with my husband and obtained my current position as a Research Development Associate at the University of Arizona. As the biomedical science expert in our unit, I primarily support proposal development for the five health science colleges at UA—the College of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, and the College of Public Health.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

Academic medicine institutions seems to have a lot of siloed units, which makes it difficult to determine the effective lines of communication. Sometimes the lines are really obscure, such as a group of faculty that go running every day from 12–1 pm. Thus, institutional knowledge is construed as “insider information.” Moreover, the distinction between the medical center and the affiliated institution is sometimes blurry, which makes it difficult for faculty to determine where to find the right support in developing their research programs.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I attended many of the NORDP NE regional meetings before finally attending my first NORDP National meeting in Denver, CO.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

When I moved to AZ, I wanted to stay involved in NORDP, so I looked up local members on the directory. I reached out to the Director of UA Research Development Services, Kim Patten, and learned that the unit was hiring for my current position. “The job posting closes tomorrow”—it was the quickest CV and cover letter I’ve ever written.

I recently became involved with the Affiliated Medical Centers (AMC) affinity group and have been impressed and enthused by the caliber of discussion and willingness of its participants to share knowledge.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

As mentioned above, the NORDP community was very welcoming and supportive of my career goals. The numerous discussions with fellow members allowed me to carve out a successful career path to RD. I am excited to be involved in the AMC group and attend the NORDP National 2020.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

NORDP is the primary venue to learn and share best practices about RD. It’s helpful to hear how different RD units tackle the same goals in unique ways depending on the needs/structure of their institution.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting — to get more involved with NORDP?

The NORDP Regional meetings are a good place to start if you are in an area that has regular meetings outside of NORDP National, because they’re smaller and, thus, easier to network and find opportunities for becoming involved. At the national level, the Peer Mentoring Group and the affinity groups are helpful for building relationships and starting to think strategically about advancing career goals and best practices to support faculty.

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.

Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Elaine Lee

Who: Elaine Lee Ph. D, Proposal Development Grant Strategist
Where: Boston University School of Medicine
Number of Years in RD: 2.5
Length of NORDP Membership: 2

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Elaine Lee headshot-bw-1024x1024.png

After I finished my Ph.D. and postdoc in Biomedical Engineering, I began looking for traditional academic research professor jobs. During the course of my search, I realized I did not enjoy the repetitiveness of research and I needed more frequent and concrete deadlines. In undergrad, I had matriculated as an English major and worked at a scientific publications department at a hospital, so I started looking for jobs that married the two fields, like scientific editing, and ran across some consulting work and positions for grant writing. I have always enjoyed the idea generation aspect of research, and I am glad to have found a way to help people tell their own stories related to their research ideas.

I started at the Boston University School of Medicine in 2017 and currently serve as the Grant Strategist, assisting faculty with proposal development. I help new faculty, particularly ones for who English is not a first language. I assist them in shaping and crafting their scientific narratives as well as filling in logic gaps in their proposals.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

We work with clinicians who have to bring in funds from seeing patients in addition to their research responsibilities. As a result, we compete for their time to dedicate to research. They want to do things in a particular way according to a particular formula because that is the way they have been trained and have always done things, but research doesn’t follow a linear path. Many of them also have not formally been trained in how to formulate hypotheses. They have ideas about what they want to do, but they struggle with trying to scientifically justify and explain why it is necessary to research the problem and how they will perform a study or experimental design.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I joined NORDP prior to the 2018 conference and shortly thereafter learned about and joined the Academic Medicine Committee led by Heather McIntosh. I also joined the Phase II NROAD initiative led by Samar Sengupta this past year.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

I have engaged with many colleagues throughout the Midwest and West Coast as a result of my involvement with NORDP. Joanna Downer has been a lifeline for me and she has shared her perspective on how to deal with challenges that I have faced, especially those unique to medical schools. I have also forged strong bonds with Heather McIntosh and Krista Kezbers through the Academic Medicine Committee’s efforts.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has given me a great deal of confidence as I have learned that many of us are having similar experiences as we forge a path through this new field. It has provided me a way to get instant feedback from RD professionals going through the same struggles. It has also been nice to be able to crowdsource materials like the NROAD guide created by Samar. I hope to be able to use that as groundwork to expand our operation here at Boston University.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

We work with a population that is very checklist minded. NORDP can provide guidance on how to help faculty without doing all of the work for them. It can also help you to determine when to let them face things without you and move beyond hand holding. NORDP can also help you strategize how to involve your higher ups to get their buy in when you are pitching your plans to your home institution.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting — to get more involved with NORDP?

I would say to find something that aligns with your duties and jump in! My committee involvement has truly helped me learn my role in academic medicine and allowed me to now share my experience to help others. The interactions with like-minded people who  know what you are going through has been extremely helpful. I encourage you to check out the Academic Medicine Special Interest group to see if it might work for you!

The Academic Medicine Special Interest Group was created in 2018 with the goal of providing resources and professional development opportunities for research development professionals (RDPs) working with clinician-researchers/educators in an academic medicine or affiliated medical center setting. Often times, RDPs working with clinical faculty face unique challenges including working with researchers who have less formal research training and less protected time to conduct research. With this in mind, our group meets monthly via Zoom to discuss the challenges and successes we face working in this research environment. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Heather McIntosh at heather-mcintosh@ouhsc.edu. You can also join our Circle, Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

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