NORDP 2017: A Record Breaking Year

omni-hotel.jpgToday, with 10 days to go before the 9th Annual Research Development Conference starts, we’ve officially broken records! The Conference will be the biggest in the history of NORDP, with 463 registrants so far, and 12 sponsor partners. The previous record for attendance (and sponsors) was the 7th Annual Meeting in Bethesda in 2015, which had 425 attendees and 11 sponsors.

We look forward to seeing you at the Conference, and to building relationships with all our RD colleagues!

Conference Marketing Committee


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

2017 Conference Cameo: Peggy Sundermeyer

#NORDP2017 starts Monday, May 8 in Denver, CO. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

Who: Peggy Sundermeyer, Director, Sponsored Research, Academic Affairs
Where: Trinity University
Number of years in research development: 10
Length of NORDP membership: 8
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 7
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? China, where I attended a traditional wedding.

Like many other research development professionals, I have a diverse background. I got started in the field when I was working for the VPR, developing materials with faculty and for faculty on the Responsible Conduct of Research, using my background in adult education and prior career as a federal employee in grants and contracting. Most of the development work was over and it was becoming less creative and very routine. The VPR asked if I would look at some of the interdisciplinary initiatives coming from the federal funding areas and think of ways we could inspire and support faculty and graduate students to start “crossing department lines,” as he put it. It wasn’t long before I learned that the large, interdisciplinary program and center grant applications overwhelmed the available resources. My faculty colleagues and I put together some ideas on how the VPR’s office could better support these large efforPhoto PSundermeyerts, and the “research development” experiment was off and running. Some of our ideas worked and others not so well, but the general concept took hold and colleges started putting together their own individuals and teams to support faculty and departmental efforts.

I’ve been involved in NORDP since the beginning. I was one of a couple dozen individuals that convened at the University of Maryland, College Park, for a 2-day meeting, almost 10 years ago. Most of us had come together as a result of a phone call from Holly Falk-Krzesinski who tracked us down from our websites. After comparing notes for a couple days, we realized that we all did essentially the same thing and collectively decided that there was an emerging profession. With Holly’s continuing guidance and energy, we self-assembled, continued to meet over the phone, started writing goals, set up a website, organized a 2nd conference in Chicago, approved a charter and doubled our membership each year for 3 years.

Being one of the “originals,” it’s great to see NORDP’s success in the professional development it offers its members and in its goal to make the organization an important partner in the arena of discovery and knowledge creation. I treasure the working relationships and friendships that I have with other NORDP’ers. They are the most talented, earnest, dedicated, creative, and energetic people I know. EVERYONE is welcoming and supportive!

If you are new to the conference, there is really no best or wrong way to participate in the conference. It’s a great balance of useful materials presented by peers, inspiring key note speakers, and lots of colleagues to share with and learn from. The IDEAs Showcase, though, is truly THE “don’t miss” event.

After the conference, I always bring back at least one idea to try out at my institution.


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at

2017 Conference Cameo: Jessica Sheehe

#NORDP2017 starts Monday, May 8 in Denver, CO. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

Who: Jessica Sheehe, Ph.D. candidate
Where: University of Vermont
Number of years in research development: 1
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2017 will be my first one!

My interest in RD started when I was writing my grant proposal for becoming a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Vermont. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process and the challenge of not just articulating my research, but also “selling” my ideas to my thesis committee. I already had four years of writing consultation experience from working at writing centers at my undergraduate and graduate universities. I realized that I wanted to combine my science and writing consultation skillSheehepics in some way, but didn’t know how to do that or, shockingly, that RD was a field.

Around the same time, I happened to see a presentation by the Grant Proposal Manager at UVM and sent her an email requesting to chat
so I could learn more about what she does and how she made her way to that position. She was a wealth of knowledge and suggested I attend a NORDP-NE regional meeting in August of 2016. I felt very welcomed at the meeting. It was small–people easily recognized a new face, and therefore I was approached quite frequently. When I excitedly told my friends and family about the conference I described it as “a group of people who speak both my science and writing center lingo.” It solidified my decision to become an RD professional, particularly to help faculty articulate their research in a concise, clear, and compelling manner. Since attending the regional meeting, I have sought out additional proposal and manuscript development opportunities. I currently work with postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and, more recently, with an Assistant Professor I anticipate completing my Ph.D. research this summer and am actively applying for RD positions.

I am excited to meet new people at the upcoming NORDP National Meeting in May and to learn as much as I can about the RD field as a whole. My recommendation for other attendees (and myself) is to overcome any inhibitions they might have and just talk to people. The relationships I have built with people, both personal and professional, have been invaluable in achieving my goals and moving into this new career trajectory.


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at

In Support of Research Advocacy


From Gretchen Kiser, NORDP President

The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) is a peer network of research development professionals who, through a set of strategic, proactive, catalytic, and capacity-building activities, serve the research enterprise at large by supporting individual faculty members, teams of researchers, and central research administrations in attracting extramural research funding, fostering relationships, and developing and implementing strategies that increase institutional competitiveness and innovation.

NORDP believes that a strong research enterprise is essential for the nation’s economy and the world’s innovation. We believe that it is in the national interest to support research in the sciences, arts, and humanities. Whether research and scholarship are devoted to understanding human experience, discovering the building blocks of the universe, or reducing human suffering, they require adequate funding, a pro-research climate, and an informed public.

We encourage our members to advocate for the research enterprise, especially at this time where we see an undervaluation of the roles science and scholarship play in our society. You may want to participate in one of the many March for Science events on Earth Day (April 22). You may want to work with your government relations office to articulate strong support for research in Washington DC or in your state. We urge you to directly contact your elected representatives to make your views known. Consider engaging in targeted outreach to thought leaders, policymakers and members of the public. Or you may use your creative research development skills to find new ways to advocate for research. If you need help in your advocacy efforts, reach out to NORDP at or on the member listserv or by commenting on the NORDP blog. And be sure to share your story to help inspire us all!


2017 Conference Cameo: Tess Powers

#NORDP2017 starts Monday, May 8 in Denver, CO. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

Who: Tess Powers, Director of Faculty Research Support
Where: Colorado College
Number of years in research development: 8
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2017 will be my first one!
How do you unwind? Dancing

I attended Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts college outside of Philadelphia and one of the “Seven Sisters” women’s colleges. I wanted a career that involved writing. Thinking of perhaps a career as a science journalist, I decided to major in chemistry so that I would have a rigorous foundational understanding of one of the sciences.

RS49290_10_01_16_ Tess Powers_001After graduating, I attended a federal program called “Science and Engineering Research Semester” (SERS), which appears to now be defunct, where I, with many other recent graduates, conducted a semester of research at a national laboratory in order to determine whether I wanted to pursue a PhD. From this research experience I learned several important life lessons, one of which was that I like to work in draft form: Do something quickly, and perhaps badly, and then go back and do it better, again and again. I found that conducting good science is not particularly amenable to this approach.

I moved to Colorado Springs with a fellow SERS researcher, now my husband, and began working at the local alternative newsweekly. Over six years, I rose from receptionist to Managing Editor. I discovered that I loved managing projects and meeting deadlines. I also developed an appreciation for the Colorado Springs community, which was interesting and diverse in large part due to the presence of Colorado College, a small liberal arts college with a student body of approximately 2000 students.

I began my career at Colorado College in Development, as Assistant Director in the Corporate and Foundation Relations Office. I had neither grant-writing experience nor experience in philanthropy, but the College was willing to take a risk with me. My first assignment was to write a three-page letter, requesting $3 million. It wasn’t funded, but it was a powerful introduction to my new career: Writing a letter could produce dramatic and tangible results.

After so many years aiming for impartiality at the newsweekly, I found it meaningful to write with a perspective and an argument. I began to develop relationships with a number of faculty across the College, individuals involved in interesting projects and research. As the College didn’t have an Office of Sponsored Research, the CFR office became the central office for supporting faculty research grants. I began to learn the distinctions between research grants and philanthropic grants, not realizing that I had begun a career in research administration.

After five-plus years in Development, I moved over to the “academic side” and, for the last eight years, have staffed a one-person “office” supporting the research of approximately 170 faculty in the Office of the Dean. I work with faculty in all divisions, on the pre-award side and the post-award side, and oversee research compliance matters. During the last decade, the College has experienced a significant shift in the culture of grant-seeking. We’ve moved from supporting two or three faculty applications annually to about 20, with many more faculty engaging in research development activities that move them closer to being competitive for external funding.

I have been hearing about NORDP from a professional list-serve, particularly my co-presenter Kendra Mingo from Willamette University, and I am very interested in learning more about it. This will be my first NORDP conference, and I’m very much looking forward to it.


We hope to see you at the 2017 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 8-10 in Denver, CO. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2017 updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at

Researching Research Development

A project responding to David Stone’s call for “empirical research into what [research developers] do” was approved by the NORDP Board in the fall of 2016. Its long-range goal is to provide information that will “improve our performance as professionals and…connect what we do to constituent groups and institutions to whom we bring value.” The investigation will address “type, scope, [and] scale” questions and seek to identify knowledge, skills, and aptitudes essential in research development. This project will be undertaken to help formalize research development in its structures, functions, and definitions–and this in turn will in turn address one of the major goals of the research effort, which is, as Stone notes, to “provide a standardized basis from which to create benchmarks, develop quality improvement guidance (and programming), devise assessment mechanisms, and establish best or promising practices within the profession.”

To accomplish these purposes, two gaps in the research development corpus will be addressed: the characterization of activity in the field and the delineation of knowledge, skills, and aptitudes believed to be necessary for entry into and advancement within research development. This material will be developed through analysis of job descriptions and survey and focus group investigation. Interpretation of the results will be informed by work already completed by the NORDP Special Programs Working Group in 2013 and by the existing descriptions of research development.

A team of four research development professionals who are all NORDP members will complete the study in 2017 and 2018. Reports of findings will be made at NORDP and other conferences as well as through publication.

Arriving at an evidence-based understanding of the purposes, practices, and key characteristics of research development has broad application relevant to current and future practitioners, institutional structures, organization of knowledge, and acceptance and advancement of the field. As Stone noted regarding practitioners, “Such work could…help us better understand what kinds of individuals, with what kinds of training, skills, and abilities, are best suited for various roles within research development, as well as what their professional trajectories are like. Findings in these areas might improve our capacity to recruit, retain, and provide succession planning and longer-term career paths for individuals in research development.” The research team and NORDP Board are pleased to announce that these goals will be pursued beginning this year.

All NORDP members will be invited to participate in this project, so stay tuned for more information.

Networking and Volunteering Opportunities at the NORDP 2017 Conference!

There’s still time to register for the 2017 Annual Conference! NORDP invites all conference attendees to make new connections at the conference by participating in the volunteer and networking opportunities listed below.

If you have questions about volunteering or the networking dinners, please contact Jenna McGuire at

Networking Dinners:

Organize or join a networking dinner at a local restaurant.  Facilitators will decide the restaurant, whether your dinner will have a theme, and the number of participants.  Each guest pays their own bill.  NORDP has provided a list of local restaurants.

To join a dinner:

To facilitate a dinner:

As more facilitators sign up to host a dinner, more sign-ups will be added!

Morning Walk/Runs:

Volunteer to lead or join a group on a walk or run on one of the trails near the hotel.  Leaders will determine the path, whether the group will walk or run, the number of participants, and the start/end times. A trail map is provided in the links below.

As more leaders sign up to lead a walk/run, more sign-ups will be added!

Assist with Conference Registration:

Gain conference administration experience and meet new people by greeting conference attendees, passing out registration materials/badges, etc. Registration assistants will not handle cash transactions.

Serve as a Session Scribe and Host during the Concurrent Sessions:

Volunteer to assist the presenters during concurrent sessions.  As a host, you will check with the presenters to see if assistance is needed with the room, audio/video, etc. and seek conference personnel for support if needed.  As the session Scribe, you will record a summary of the session that includes key take away ideas (NORDP will provide a template and further instructions). Information on the sessions can be found within the conference program here.

Help Spread the Word (Social Media)

Volunteer to live tweet or blog about the conference and its speakers.  Dianne Norcutt will provide additional details for all social media volunteers.

Be sure to follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2017 Conference updates!