NORDP Postdoc Cameo: Alexis Nagel

Who: Alexis Nagel, PhD, Research Instructor, MUSC College of Nursing
Where: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Number of Years in RD: 4 (Officially)
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?

I transitioned from the bench to RD in 2016. Towards the end of my postdoc tenure I knew that I no longer wanted to pursue a traditional academic career; around the same time, I started working with a senior faculty member who neededNagel,Alexis-AcademicAffairsa great deal of help preparing and submitting federal grants. It was then that I discovered untapped skills in grant writing as well as an affinity for this type of work. A position opened up at my institution’s central RD office about a year later and I was able to land the role based upon that experience. There, I worked primarily on large, infrastructure/capacity-building grants and led grant writing training workshops for early career faculty. I recently transitioned to a new role within the MUSC College of Nursing to help expand overall research funding for that college. I am now providing more one-on-one support to faculty with grant writing and strategy development, which I really enjoy.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?

I joined NORDP in 2017 and have attended two annual meetings. In 2019, I started volunteering for the N-ROAD working group that is building a set of adaptable RD training resources to help research offices implement their own onboarding programs. I also participated in the National Postdoc Association (NPA) annual meeting along with Samar Sengupta, the official NPA liaison. As NORDP representatives, we helped answer questions about the RD career path and promoted NORDP resources available to postdocs. This year I am participating in the NORDP Mentoring Program for the first time, as both a mentor and mentee.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

I have met so many wonderful individuals through NORDP! The organization has really facilitated my ability to connect professionally with others in the field, particularly those who share my passion for building bridges to alternative career paths for scientists. It truly feels like a community.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

The networking and professional education opportunities offered through NORDP have been quite valuable. Learning about different institutional environments, funding priorities, and career options in RD has helped me better assess my own professional goals.

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

The trainee membership option, which offers a reduced annual rate compared to the full membership fee, is a great way for postdocs to try out NORDP resources. I know several NORDP members who worked quite hard to get this option rolled out, and I would really encourage postdocs to take advantage of it!

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

For postdocs who aren’t yet members of NORDP, I suggest tuning in to the NPA’s My Postdoc Monthly webinar on August 5, 2020 to find out more about RD. This will be presented by me, Samar Sengupta, PhD (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center), and Kristen Scott, PhD (Moffitt Cancer Center): https://www.nationalpostdoc.org/events/eventdetails.aspx?id=1396321

Next, talk to someone who works in RD to get a sense of the field and determine what transferrable skills you might possess. Consider reaching out to NORDP members at your institution or find us on social media (LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alexisnagel-phd, or follow: @NORDP_official, @AnonDumboOctopi, and others) to connect, set up informational interviews, and build your networks. As I mentioned above, consider signing up for a NORDP trainee membership to gain additional exposure and access to job boards, numerous career resources, mentorship opportunities, and a lot of great people who want to help!

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: Samarpita Sengupta

Who: Samarpita Sengupta, Instructor, Director of Neurosciences Research Development
Where: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Number of Years in RD: 4.5 years
Length of NORDP Membership: 3.5 years

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

I started in RD in 2015, having been recruited as a Scientific Research Writer in the newly formed Neuroscience Research Development office at UT Southwestern Medical Center. After 3.5 years of postdoc, I was sure that the traditional route of postdoc to academic faculty position did not meet my interests, needs or life priorities. I reassessed the skills I possessed and realized that writing/editing was what I was good at. I did a lot of informational interviews senguptaand decided to apply to this position not knowing what Research Development meant. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that this fit my interests, goals and ambitions so well. We built our RD office from the ground up. We mostly work with individual investigators submitting to the NIH and other biomedical funding agencies, including state and private funding. We also work on large grants and deliver a lot of education.

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

I joined NORDP in 2017. I have attended all three NORDP conferences since, and have presented posters and/or talks at all three. At the first conference, I was browsing committees and heard Peggy Sundermeyer asking for volunteers for liaisons from the Strategic Alliances committee. I volunteered to be the liaison between NORDP and the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), since I had been involved with the NPA during my postdoc. I attended two NPA conferences as a NORDP liaison and through the demands of postdocs we spoke with, I chaired the working group that created NROAD, the resource that RD offices can use to create internship/training/onboarding programs to help people new to RD get a hands-on understanding of the tasks involved. I was also recruited by Kathy Cataneo to assist with the Member Services subcommittee on creating the new member categories. It was gratifying to both create NROAD and make it available to all NORDP membership as well as help with creation of the Trainee and Emeritus categories of NORDP members. I have helped with the Ambassador program for last year’s conference. I currently serve as the MSC liaison to new trainee members. I also volunteer on the NORDP mentoring committee, have participated in the mentoring program as a mentor and a mentee and currently serve as a facilitator of mentor-mentee pairs and on the RD mentor training subcommittee.

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

NORDP has become home and NORDP members are my people!! Before joining this organization, I browsed a couple of organizations related to grants, but at NORDP, I didn’t have to explain to people what I did! It was also very heartening to see the diversity at NORDP, not only in the people, but in the paths they had taken to a RD career. I have learned so much from everyone! I have gained a mentor through the NORDP mentoring program who has helped me enormously. I have also received mentorship from the NORDP leadership, from the leadership of the committees I have served on, and from several senior and peer NORDP members. I am not naming names because of the fear of inadvertently leaving someone off! I have made friendships with NORDP colleagues, and I will be presenting at the virtual NORDP conference with several NORDP colleagues.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

Being a member of NORDP and passively following the listserv helped me gain a lot of knowledge about RD and I have been able to build on programs at my institution using that knowledge. In addition, actively volunteering with NORDP has helped me make invaluable networks throughout the country. I was truly honored and humbled to receive the NORDP Rising Star award last year! This has definitely helped me gain some recognition at my institution.

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

For people interested in RD, NORDP provides several great resources, I will list a few: 1) The listserv, where passively gaining information and knowledge will help postdocs get an idea of the conversations, language and jargon of the field, which will definitely give them a leg-up in a job interview. 2) Networks: Participating in NORDP circles, committees or regions or even knowing who in their institution is a part of NORDP and therefore, doing RD, will help postdocs build valuable networks. 3) NORDP job board: This is self-explanatory! 4) RD101: This is a course that is being offered by senior NORDP members and will be a great resource for those seeking to get a head start in RD. 4) NROAD: This is a resource developed for RD offices to create internship programs. Postdocs can go through such programs in their institutional RD offices and get hands-on training in RD tasks. 5) Other NORDP resources: NORDP website and the blog is a treasure trove of resources, reading materials, videos and articles. One can spend days in there reading and understanding what RD is and how diverse it is. 6) Trainee membership: A lot of these resources are available for NORDP members. Postdocs and others who have not had a RD job can become NORDP members using the reduced fee trainee membership and avail all these resources.

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

Attending the national and regional conferences are always a great idea. This year, it can be done in the comfort of your own home! I am a big believer in volunteering and the immense two way benefits to the organization and your own career that come because of it. I encourage them to seek out opportunities to help and be involved, whether it is on a committee, subcommittee or a working group. There are several ways to get involved. Serve as a mentor, serve as a career navigator for new trainee members, join a circle and contribute, the possibilities are endless and we always need more people!

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

I encourage new trainee members to respond to the listserv, even if it is to ask a question. Since we are all service oriented, we are all eager to answer questions! I encourage them to find committees they can serve on, and build their networks. I am working on a pilot program with the mentoring committee to pair each trainee member with a “career navigator”, people who have gone through similar career pathways as theirs. I encourage them to reach out to these people, build these relationships and use those to their advantage. I encourage them to apply to the NORDP mentoring program.

I encourage postdocs who aren’t members of NORDP yet, to tune in to a webinar we are presenting for the National Postdoctoral Association My Postdoc Monthly webinar next month to find out more about RD as a career path. https://www.nationalpostdoc.org/events/eventdetails.aspx?id=1396321

If they think this is the right fit, then I encourage them to consider reaching out to NORDP members in their institutions or find us on social media (Follow @NORDP_official and me, @AnonDumboOctopi and others), set up informational interviews, connect and build your networks! And finally, I encourage them to consider becoming trainee members and gain additional exposure and access to resources and jobs!

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: Kristen Scott

Who: Kristen Scott, PhD, Scientific Development Officer
Where: Moffitt Cancer Center
Number of Years in RD: Officially – 2; Unofficially – 10
Length of NORDP Membership: 2.5 years

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

Like many other postdocs that transitioned into RD, I started engaging in research development activities during my graduate and postdoctoral training – I just didn’t know what it was called at the time. I would proofread colleagues’ manuscripts and grants and provide feedback on organization, scientific soundness, flow, etc. I enjoyed helping others achieve their goals.0027-Kristen Scott2MB

It wasn’t until 2017, when I was looking to transition out of the lab, that I learned that RD was a ‘thing’ and that it could provide a rewarding and fruitful career. I recognized that my organization didn’t have someone fulfilling that role for our faculty so I wrote a white paper, using NORDP’s resources, outlining the need for RD services at Moffitt, what an office could potentially look like, and what specific services I thought would benefit our faculty and their needs. I presented this paper to my current boss and senior leadership, with the support of my postdoctoral mentor, and gained support for this idea. As a result of the white paper discussion, a senior leader took a chance on me to help them with an upcoming P01 grant proposal in an RD capacity. From there, Moffitt took a chance on me and created my current position. I’m currently an RD office of one, tasked with assisting our faculty with generating highly competitive complex grants and helping to build an infrastructure for RD at our institute.

More specifically, I’m focused on elevating Moffitt’s portfolio of large team science awards. I help our faculty put together well organized and founded applications through effective project management, organization, editing, template building, communication with state and federal agencies, and occasional match making of expertise. I also support Moffitt’s P30 Cancer Center Support Grant through provision of project management, ongoing data management, writing, and editing services for annual progress reports and renewal applications.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization?

I learned about NORDP as I started to learn about RD in 2017 and got the opportunity to go to my first NORDP conference in 2018 through the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)’s relationship with NORDP. Through this inter-institutional relationship, I met Drs. Samarpita Sengupta and Alexis Nagel and presented posters at both NORDP and NPA national meeting. We are currently working together on presenting an informational webinar for the NPA highlighting what research development is and how NORDP serves the RD professional community.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

When I started in the field, I didn’t know anyone. Everyone that I have interacted with at NORDP is warm and welcoming, and the NORDP community is truly a collaborative environment where everyone wants everyone else to succeed. Because of this environment, I’ve met people that I keep in touch with from across the country, and a few institutions have offered to let me shadow them as I build resources at my own institution.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP helped me establish research development services at my institution by providing wonderfully rich resources on what RD is and what it looks like at different institutions. It helped me gain colleagues that understood the transition that I was going through and what leadership looked like in this field.

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

NORDP provides really meaningful resources for post doctorates looking to transition into RD from the novel internship programs to shadowing RD offices to webinars to providing realistic salary numbers for the field. NORDP really provides a full education of what the field is and where you can go as part of it. Additionally, NORDP’s partnership with the NPA really helps build a bridge into the field by provided RD professionals to talk with, articles in the POSTDOCket, and opportunities to speak with postdocs through their monthly webinar series.

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

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a NORDP member, even if you’ve never spoken with them before. My first interaction with a NORDP member was with Joanna Downer – I cold emailed her following her Science article about RD to ask several questions. She took the time to email me back with copious amounts of advice and suggestions related to my questions. It blew me away and made me want to get more involved in the organization. After joining, I realized that she is an exceptional steward of the organization but that everyone else in NORDP is just as enthusiastic about RD and all are willing to share their experiences.

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

Do your research – really make sure that RD is right for you by engaging in informational interviews with RD professionals, taking advantage of RD internship programs, becoming a member of NORDP, and attending the NORDP annual conference. Take advantage of NORDP’s mentoring program to help build a personal council of mentors within the field that are committed to helping you advance your career. Also, don’t forget the mentors and sponsors that helped you along the way – they are valuable viewpoints for your new career path.

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.

Get involved in NORDP!

Register Now for Committee Roundtable, Rescheduled for July 24

NORDP has rescheduled the Committee Roundtable (technical difficulties on our first attempt) for Friday, July 24, from 11:00 – 12:30 EDT. (10:00 – 11:30 CDT, 9:00-10:30 MDT, and 8:00-9:30 PDT), to explain the many committee activities underway and how members can get involved. Register for the roundtable here (NORDP members only).

“NORDP depends heavily on volunteers, and it takes a lot of dedicated research development professionals to support our growing profession.  We hope NORDP members, especially our new members, will join us at this roundtable to find opportunities to contribute to that effort,” says Karen Fletcher, NORDP past president. “Regardless of where you are in your RD career, your expertise is needed. Veteran or beginner, title or no title, the diversity of our membership is what has enabled NORDP to grow so rapidly.”

Brief descriptions of the committees are included below, and each committee has created a poster to summarize their most recent activities, available here.

Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CIE) – Works to operationalize inclusive excellence within NORDP.

Member Services Committee (MSC) – Recruits and retains members, assesses member needs, and provides member benefits and services.

Mentoring Committee – Offers meaningful mentoring expertise, support, and resources.

Nominating Committee – Facilitates board nominations and the election process.

Professional Development Committee (PD) – Coordinates the development and delivery of training and resources for members.

Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) – Builds mutually beneficial relationships with related organizations.

Additional information on NORDP committees can be found at the NORDP website, and upcoming committee meetings can be found at the NORDP online calendar.

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: 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.