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

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.

PUI Member Cameo: Jennifer Glass

As an organization, 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 for decades to come.  

To further enable a richly diverse and robust national peer network of research development professionals as well as organizational representation, we are highlighting members from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) in a new blog series.

Our first cameo introduces Jennifer Glass. 

Who: Jennifer Glass, Ph. D. – Research Development Officer
Where: Office of Research Development & Administration, Eastern Michigan University
Number of Years in RD: 5
Length of NORDP Membership: 5 years

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

I have been in RD for 5 years. Before jumping into RD, I was a research faculty member at the University of Michigan, where I studied the effects of factors like age, drug use, and chronic pain on attention and cognition. My position at UM was broken up across several departments, which was fun and interesting, but it became a problem when funding was short. In 2014, Eastern Michigan University was advertising for a Research Development Officer. I did not know what that was, but I read the job description and knew I could do all of the things listed, so I applied!

At EMU, I helped to create a faculty grant writing fellowship. It involves a semester long grant writing seminar that I lead, where the faculty fellows work on honing their specific aims (or equivalent) and sketch out the framework for the rest of their proposals. The seminar has a mix of formal workshop presentations (some by me, and some by outside  consultants) and peer writing sessions. I think both are crucial to helping faculty become adept grant writers. We also make a trek to Washington D.C. to meet with program officers. In addition to the fellowship, I conduct workshops, publish a weekly update   with grant funding news and opportunities, publish regular award reports, plan social events (e.g., research happy hours, celebration picnics), and work one-on-one with faculty.

How do you see RD as being different/similar between a predominately undergraduate institutions (PUIs) and more research-intensive university?

I think that RD can be extremely impactful at PUI. It can also be very different than at a   research intensive institution, where RD professionals are more likely to specialize. At a  PUI, you have to help with all kinds of proposals and in some cases also help with research administration. Personally, I enjoy wearing lots of hats, so it works for me. I also really enjoy working with the faculty here. They are passionate about their research, but with the high teaching loads that come with a PUI job, they struggle to find time to write proposals and might get discouraged that they can never be successful. My job is to help where I can, and empower faculty to put together a competitive proposal. It is very fulfilling to help with the research endeavors at EMU because they are so critical to the quality of education that students receive here.

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

When I was hired at EMU, my supervisor (Caryn Charter) knew about NORDP and encouraged me to join. So I have been a member since late 2014, and have attended each conference since 2015. I have been involved with the Mentoring Committee for several years and have been (and currently am) both a mentor and a mentee. Last year, I became the chair of the newly organized Affinity Group for PUI’s, which is really exciting because there are quite a few of us, and we have independently been doing a lot of the same RD activities. We have a nice list of activities to tackle in the coming years, such as   a white paper documenting RD at PUI’s, PUI focused presentations at the conference, help with recruiting to NORDP, to name a few. I also sit on the Inclusive Excellence Committee. This is really interesting for me because there is so much to learn about inclusiveness and it is more important than ever.

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

Through mentoring and committee work, I have met many talented people, and RD folks are very helpful and friendly. Some work at large institutions, and some at small institutions. The affiliation through NORDP makes it easy to reach out to people at places where I previously would not have known anyone.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has certainly enhanced my career, since I started out not knowing what RD was! Even just looking at the website listing of RD activities was helpful as I began my job at EMU. The conferences are full of really good information and I always go back with some new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. The webinars are a great source of information, and the list serve is really amazing. If you ever have a question, just put it out there and within hours if not minutes, you will have great input and insight.

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

Because of the ways that RD at a PUI is different (e.g., multifaceted, jack of all trades) I think that everything that NORDP has to offer is doubly valuable to RD at PUIs. You might not have a colleague across campus who is an expert on Department of Energy (or fill in your favorite here) funding, but someone at NORDP will be there to answer your questions!

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly PUI members – to get more involved with NORDP?

For anyone, the best way to get more involved is to join a committee. If you are from a PUI, then also join the PUI Affinity Group!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

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

Why formal RD training?

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

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

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

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

How does NROAD to RD work?

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

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

Doc1-b
Figure 1: Decisions to be made while designing an NROAD-based RD training program.

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

Doc2
Figure 2: NROAD’s recommended curriculum modules

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

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

Interested in NROAD to RD?

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

Acknowledgements!

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

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

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

Submitted by Samarpita Sengupta

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

MSI Member Cameo: Brooke Gowl

As an organization, 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 for decades to come.  

To further enable a richly diverse and robust national peer network of research development professionals as well as organizational representation, we are highlighting members from minority serving institutions (MSIs) in a new blog series.

Our second cameo introduces Brooke Gowl.

Who: Brooke A. Gowl, Ph.D., Research Liaison Officer
Where: University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work
Number of Years in RD: 10+
Length of NORDP Membership: 6 years

What attracted you to NORDP?Brooke Gowl.jpg

I was attending a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas conference, and a colleague mentioned NORDP, asking me if I had heard of it. I had not, but I looked into it and joined the trial access listserv. I really liked what I saw in the listserv and became a member.

How does your NORDP membership enhance your own career? Your institution’s or departmental goal-setting related to advancing research?

NORDP has truly enhanced my professional life through networking at the conference, participation on the Member Services Committee, and serving as Regional Representative in the Southwest since 2017. I have also been involved in the mentoring program both as a mentor and mentee, and both roles have enriched my own RD experience.

My college and university have benefitted with the access to the wide range of resources NORDP has at its disposal. We were able to bring an NIH K Award expert to campus who I had heard present at a prior NORDP conference. Membership has also helped us educate our campus on what the RD profession is and also recognize our value to its mission.

What have you enjoyed most about your NORDP membership?  

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people from all over the U.S. and the world. It has gotten me out of my shell to network and make connections and gather resources. NORDP allows us all to bounce ideas off and ask questions of colleagues about RD as well as career development, especially on the listserv!

Have you implemented something you’ve learned at the annual Conference in your RD career?

I implemented the Houston Research Developers Network (HRDN), an informal network that provides Houston area RD professionals a way to stay connected, ask each other questions, bounce ideas off one another, etc. Although HRDN is not an official part of NORDP, I attribute the idea for the network to discussions I had with colleagues at the 2017 NORDP Annual Conference and my experiences serving as Southwest Regional Representative and member of the Member Services Committee.

What recommendations do you have for other Research Development professionals from similar institutions considering NORDP membership?

I would say just take the plunge and volunteer! I have always found NORDP to be enriching, but that enrichment grew exponentially after I became more involved. However, if you are not sure just how involved you want to be initially, then start small.  NORDP will take whatever time you can give. Don’t feel like you need to commit to being a board or committee member. Volunteer at the conference. Seek out committee chairs to see if your expertise can help on a project. We truly value our members and want you to feel connected however works best for you.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee