Submitted by Samarpita Sengupta
The NORDP Strategic Alliance Committee launched the “Huddle” initiative for NORDP members to connect with each other at the various conferences that Research Development Professionals attend. From Science of Team science conferences to the topic-specific Society meetings (such as the Society of Neuroscience), these conferences are a great way for RD professionals to get to know each other beyond the National Meeting, network and have a familiar name and face at a conference.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Regional meeting was held from November 6th – 8th 2019 at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, AZ. The two day seminar with a one day pre-conference workshop covered topics ranging from upcoming changes to SF424 forms, explanation of changes in human subjects requirements, loan repayment program, NIH’s initiatives with diversity and inclusion and dealing with the issues of misconduct, to general grant writing instructions and also featured a fun mock study section.
The venue being in the backyard of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Both institutions have phenomenal Research Development offices led by outstanding NORDP member and Nominations Committee Chair, Kim Patten and our intrepid NORDP Board member, Faye Farmer respectively. Both institutions booths and several volunteers helping with the seminar. On how she worked to have an active Research Development presence at the NIH conference, Faye said “I heard through an active NCURA member that the NIH Regional Seminar was heading to Phoenix. I immediately saw how my office could be a connector across the two other state universities in Arizona. To that end, I reached out to my contacts at those schools, including fellow NORDP member, Kim Patten at the University of Arizona and hatched a plan. Our events manager dedicated a chunk of her time for several months to working with the NIH representative, the event managers, and ASU faculty and staff.”
Faye and her team designed a collaboration fair, where ASU and UA representatives staffed tables during the pre-conference workshops and spoke to attendees about connecting to resources at the two universities. Tours were available to seminar attendees across all three days at two of ASU’s campuses (Downtown and Tempe campuses), led by staff and students, but featuring faculty members at each tour stop. Finally, NIH leadership members were invited to attend a no-host dinner with university leaders. For more information on how this all was possible, feel free to email RDEvents@asu.edu.
Knowing that there will be colleagues and hoping to find other friendly faces, I sent out a request for a huddle at the conference. What followed can only be attributed to the zeal of NORDP members, the enthusiasm in this community to learn from each other and the many professional and personal friendships that can result from being part of a collective.
Within a few days of sending the email, 15 people emailed me back, even some who are not NORDP members yet, but knew someone who knew someone who got the email, had emailed back wanting to connect. The result: a contingent of 15 people met at a Mexican restaurant for fabulous (and great looking!) food, good company, great conversations and networking. We walked away from the seminar with knowledge and having made new friends and renewed some old friendships!
Moral of the story: If NORDP members find themselves planning to go to a conference without a friendly face, always remember to HUDDLE!