Conference Cameo: Sowmya Anand

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. 

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Who: Sowmya Anand, Research Development Manager
Where: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Number of years in research development: 2
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
How do you unwind?: Reading (some more), cooking, or watching cooking shows

I came to Research Development either 1 year ago or 24 years ago, depending on how you define it. My first experience with Research Development involved helping a faculty member write a small piece of a project narrative for a proposal in the year before I graduated with a PhD. After a brief career as a marketing research professional with Gallup, which seemed ideal as I am a trained social psychologist in conducting research in the area of attitudes and measurement, I came back to academic research (and to the US). The second time around as a postdoctoral researcher, I helped prepare and submit two proposals to NSF that were selected for funding. This preparation helped a lot when I moved to the University of Illinois to be a Project Coordinator with the Survey Research Laboratory, where I prepared many, many more proposals for all sorts of sponsors: large and small, for- and not-for-profit, private and public. Working in a small unit, on many projects I was the proposal developer, the grant administrator, and the research scientist. About a year and a half ago, amid concerns that the lab was going to close permanently, I saw a job posting for a Research Development Manager (RDM), and thought, “This is exactly what I do now, minus the research implementation.” I applied for it, and here I am.

SAnand_pic1During the job interview, the only RDM in the office at that time discussed NORDP and the great experiences and opportunities for learning she had attending the conference. So, when another RDM and I joined, we immediately signed up for NORDP membership and made plans to attend our first conference (in 2018). While RD was not new to me from my previous positions, in my first year as RDM, I sometimes felt like I had one foot each in two boats going in different directions – am I a survey methodologist or a RD professional? At the NORDP conference, I met more than one person with a ‘split personality’ like mine, and I even found other survey enthusiasts! I learned a lot about developments in the RD world, which I feel helped me ‘catch up,’ and at a poster session I found people eager and willing to share their solutions to a process problem I was grappling with. There was no question I’d be attending the next conference.

To get the most out of the conference, I would suggest connecting with people at the sessions you attend, at the poster presentations, and at your lunch table. I also plan to take lots of notes to share with people back at my institution as the information will help us implement plans we are thinking about to advance RD on our campus.

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For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Sarah E. Robertson

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. 

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Who:  Sarah E. Robertson, PhD, Director, Office of Sponsored Projects and Research
Where: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 3
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?: Scientist – I was fascinated with the natural world and microscopes.

When I’m talking about my research development career, I’m never quite sure where to start. Like so many others I’ve met through NORDP, I stuck my toe into the water of research development while in previous positions. After finding NORDP and spending time with the other amazing members, I’ve found that our identities as research development professionals coalesce.

SarahRobertson-headshotAs the go-to reviewer for the applications and articles of my grad school classmates at Penn, I found that I loved reading about various areas of research, not focusing just on my protein of interest. After graduation, I found my way to the American Association for Cancer Research where I wore many hats, including grant writer and review committee administrator. I then went on to another cancer research foundation to manage their grant portfolio. In this role, I did everything from RFA creation to peer review to awarded grant oversight. Having those close experiences with grant applications made me fall in love with the early phase of research: the time when a PI can dream about what they want to do and how to do it. It also allowed me to continue to have broad exposure to many types of research.

However, after serving in a Program Officer/Sponsored Research Officer role for many years, I became frustrated with seeing good science go unfunded—especially when it went unfunded for errors I could have fixed! I also wanted to be able to talk with the researchers more often, so I decided to move back to academia where I could directly help PIs improve their applications.  University of the Sciences in Philadelphia has fulfilled my desire to build strong relationships with my faculty and has exposed me to even more areas of research.

As USciences is a PUI, my office is small and we provide both research administration and research development services. The NORDP annual meeting has been a great resource for me to build our trainings and tools. Since I do not devote all my time to research development, it has been invaluable to have that time to focus, learn new skills, network and bring back different ideas to try with applicants. Everyone I have met through NORDP has been extremely generous with their time and knowledge. I strongly encourage attendees to go to the networking dinners and other events where you can meet someone new. You never know what you will learn next!

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We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Archie Pitsilides

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. 
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Who: Archie Pitsilides, Director, Grants & Outreach
Where: Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business
Number of years in research development: 11
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? Istanbul, Turkey: People, Culture, Food!

I came to work in the research development field as a third profession. Prior to commencing my career in academia, I held a variety of management positions in the archie headshot (2)hospitality industry, followed by directing customs brokerage services for U.S. importers.  In the early part of the millennium, I returned to the university as a non-traditional student to earn an MBA and an M.A. in Spanish, in part because my spouse accepted a tenure-track position at Texas Tech University. As I was contemplating the next chapter in my professional career, a position was serendipitously announced – as a research associate for a Department of Education-funded program that was working to internationalize curriculum to serve faculty, students, and the U.S. trade community.  This position merged my newly acquired academic skill set with my business experience in international trade. From there, I was hooked. I was fortunate to have a great faculty mentor who took the time to introduce me to and help me navigate both the research and funding environments, while the college supported my professional development through attendance at various grant writing and research workshops. As the Rawls College enhanced its focus on the importance of obtaining grant funding, I was promoted to my current position of Director of Grants and Outreach.

As a grants director, I work to develop and secure funding opportunities for both faculty and students in the areas of business education, research and program development. I provide life-cycle services that include curating opportunities that align with the unique interests of business faculty, proposal editorship, budget development, and pre- and post-award management. In the past few years, the college has made a commitment to supporting interdisciplinary research in an effort to incentivize faculty and enhance the collaborative research environment across the university. This emphasis on collaboration has enabled me to work with a diverse group of investigators and teams from our colleges of education, engineering, media and communications, and visual and performing arts. As with all funding efforts, some proposal teams met with great successes while others had some tough defeats.  Alas, such is the life in the dynamic world of RD.

Inasmuch as last year was the first time I attended the conference, I can honestly say I was genuinely impressed with both the variety and caliber of the conference session offerings. While I often self-selected into the break-outs that paralleled my interests, I did consciously make it a point to discover insights on at least one new area of research. More specifically, I chose to attend a session which focused on early stage investigators in biomedical sciences. This session allowed me to gain a different perspective on mentoring and training early career faculty and provided me with some ideas how to engage program officers to their benefit. To that, end, my insider tip is to make room in your personal agenda to take advantage of the Ideas Showcase which is scheduled on Tuesday, April 30, from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm. If you ever wondered how other institutions pilot programs, achieve results, translate research, or enhance collaboration, do not miss this opportunity to discover a plethora of strategies, processes and people. You will come away with new tools or at least a new way of looking at an old challenge. Finally, enjoy the camaraderie of your peers and make new friends!

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For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Stefania Grotti

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. 
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Who: Stefania Elisabeth Grotti, Head Manager of the Research Office
Where: Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Number of years in research development: 18
Length of NORDP membership: 3 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? As a European, I am fascinated by the local cultures of the different Continents I’ve visited. The most fascinating countries I’ve seen are Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well as Australia.

I have over 25 years of experience in the field of Research Leadership and Management, including 18 in academia, specifically at the Politecnico di Milano, where I am Head stefaniaManager of the Research Office. Over the years, I have developed strong leadership skills which have enabled me to build a solid record of success in guiding my team to meet its objectives. I have contributed significantly towards maintaining the Politecnico’s outstanding record of success in research fundraising (particularly from EU calls). Under my leadership, the Politecnico has become the most successful research university in Italy. Currently, I am Chair of the Vision 2020 Network Advisory Board and Secretary of NCURA Region VIII.

I’m a passionate and energetic professional involved in the field of academic research. I have extensive experience in funding and financial management,  and the ability to negotiate and mediate at any level and stage since 1995. Thanks to national and international experience on complex projects, I have developed a robust knowledge of the Organisational HR Field suitable for transnational and diverse Research Contexts (academic and industry).

I first heard about NORDP through my participation in several international networks. I am very interested in Research Development activities; I enrolled in NORDP three years ago and in 2018 I attended the D.C. conference for the first time. I was pleased to find that all the Research Development Managers I met felt very engaged in their activities. It is certainly a stimulating environment for me

Yes, in Italy the Research Development activities are not very developed. The Politecnico di Milano is the first Italian university to have implemented them. I am proud to have been able to apply the strategies and the best practices of Research Development learned during the conference at my university.

I have met many new colleagues with whom I have maintained contact. This also allowed me to be invited as speaker at the 2019 conference in Providence.

To prepare to face the challenges we confront in academic research funding,  I advise attendees to actively participate in the sessions and try to bring home the greatest amount of knowledge, above all from different perspectives, even at an international level. The day-to-day work of the Research Developer Manager can be enhanced tremendously through the exchange of ideas.

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For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Don Takehara

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. More information at https://www.nordp.org/conferences.

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Who: Don Takehara, Associate Director for Research
Where: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Engineering
Number of years in research development: 14
Length of NORDP membership: 5 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
How do you unwind? Being with good people!

It is mindboggling that 30+ years ago I received my PhD in Chemical Engineering at takehara-donald-180322.jpgNorthwestern. Where did the time go? These years included 16+ years doing R&D at Dow Chemical, 9 years as a professor at Taylor University, and 5 years in the College of Engineering Office of Research at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

At UIUC I work with faculty to help them move forward with their research. This includes faculty development as well as facilitating large, multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary, team science, convergent research efforts leading to centers and institutes.

Building of relationships, collaborating, and networking – this area has been the biggest key to successful research during my entire career. The whole research enterprise would be unsuccessful without this. Not only is relationship-building key for obtaining funding, but it is also key for bringing together the right people, expertise, facilities, support systems, culture, etc.

NORDP is a gem for building key relationships for those doing Research Development. There are many people who have great experience with all aspects of Research Development from many different viewpoints, expertise, experiences, etc. In addition to great sessions where one can learn about various aspects of RD, the NORDP Annual Conference is wonderful for meeting individuals to learn from and collaborate with in the future.

Corporations/industry are becoming increasingly important in the research programs at federal agencies, foundations, etc. As a result, NORDP has an alliance with NACRO – the equivalent of NORDP in the Corporate Relations field. The NORDP Great Lakes Regional Conference will be in Ann Arbor, MI, on Oct. 21, 2019. The interface between research development and corporate relations is being looked at as a part of this conference. This will be a good time to bring research development and corporate relations people together to examine what this interface looks like and how to optimize the efforts. Be on the lookout for more information.

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We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

 

Conference Cameo: Jenna Slobozian

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. Register at https://www.nordp.org/conferences.

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Who: Jenna Slobozian, Manager Grant Development
Where: Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Number of years in research development: 7
Length of NORDP membership: 1 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2019 will be my first!
How do you unwind? Spend time with family.

Like so many, my career in RD has been a bit of a winding road.  I started out working for a health charity, primarily in the area of health promotion. But one small part of the role was supporting research administration, and I immediately found it to be my favorite Jenna Slobozianpart of the job. I moved to another health charity where I was half time focused on research administration, and I got to spend a lot of time with faculty from a number of different universities.  I was lucky enough to be approached by one of those universities with a position in the central research administration team. I moved up quickly and was soon the senior member of the team supporting grant applications at the university. I was recruited in 2016 to the faculty of medicine to build a team of grant development professionals.  What started out as a team of 1 (me!) in 2016 will be soon be a team of 5, so we have seen rapid success and expansion. Throughout this time I have strived to expand my education and have been involved in the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA), where I completed a certificate in research administration, I am involved in professional development, I lead a special interest group, I regularly present webinars, and I sit on the conference planning committee.  I have also been taking advantage of membership with Society of Research Administrators (SRA) and attended training last summer on proposal development.  My membership in NORDP is a natural extension of both my professional development, but also my personal interest in this work.  I am looking forward to attending my first NORDP conference this year and the excellent conference program that has been put together.

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We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.

Conference Cameo: Toyin Babarinde

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates.

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Who: Toyin Babarinde, PhD, Associate Director of Research Planning and Development
Where: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Number of years in research development: 14
Length of NORDP membership: 1 year
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, particularly the ceiling

While I did not realize it at the time, in retrospect, I started in Research Development Staff portraitwhile working on my PhD at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Over the last 14 years, I have worked with a diverse group of talented investigators across various cancer types, including brain, breast, and head and neck cancer. During this period, I have contributed to the development of various research initiatives through research design and implementation, which led to the successful development of peer-reviewed manuscripts and federal and nonfederal funded grants.

In 2015, I transitioned into a “formalized” Research Development role at MD Anderson and have since advanced into my current position as Associate Director of Research Planning and Development. To date, my proudest achievement has been the co-development of the Cancer Research Administration and Management Certificate Program through the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, a curriculum designed to train and develop outstanding Research Development Professionals. Throughout my career, I have served as a mentor and educator to undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate trainees, as well as research administrators.

I was introduced to NORDP by Dr. Brooke Gowl during an SRA Conference in 2016. I immediately joined and attended my first NORDP conference in 2017.  What I loved most about my experience at NORDP were the people I connected with and the opportunity it provided to build meaningful relationships. The connection I made with Dr. Joanna Downer during NORDP directly impacted my role in the development of research programs within my department as a result of her excellent input.

Additionally, the content provided during the workshops has been most helpful in my own career path.  During the session on RD Strategies to Engage and Promote Faculty Flourishing, I took away several points including: 1) develop the ability to engage faculty by building relationships; 2) understand that specific groups of faculty have different needs and as such, it’s important to customize my approach for each group; and 3) it is important to identify and re-engage disconnected researchers. With a core responsibility of working with key stakeholders to expand the research portfolio of my department, I have taken what I learned during the 2017 NORDP conference to improve my engagement with program members, discuss funding opportunities with engaged and disconnected researchers, and provided guidance and support for proposal development.

This year, I look forward to reconnecting with colleagues, expanding my network, learning more about research development, and identifying how best to contribute to the growth of NORDP.  For those attending this year, remember that building relationships is more than introducing yourself to new people. Following up with them after the conference is over is when the true networking begins.

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We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 updates.

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.