Conference Cameo: Michael Jacobson

#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: Michael Jacobson, Research Development Specialist
Where: Binghamton University
Number of years in research development: 2
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Archaeologist

My transition to research development began before starting my current role as a research development specialist. For about 12 years, I worked as a contract archaeologist for a university-based cultural resource management firm. In the beginning, my position mostly involved fieldwork, research and travel across New York State and the Northeast. However, as I progressed in the field, my role included more grant writing and contract development. In a sense, I was already serving as a research development specialist. This made my transition to research development relatively simple.Jacobson - Conference Cameo 2019

Our Office of Strategic Research Initiatives at Binghamton University focuses on preparing proposals for large interdisciplinary teams. This involves more than just grant writing. We are often called on to be facilitators by helping with faculty training and team building. My background in anthropology is an asset in working with faculty across campus and in different disciplines. Acknowledging that different disciplines have their own practices and working with these various perspectives in their own terms helps with facilitating research teams for large proposals. My research background also made me appreciate the value of public engagement with research. I try to continue this interest by advising our faculty on developing plans for broader impacts and public engagement resulting from their research.

Last year was my first time at a NORDP conference and it was nice to see that there was a large community of people dealing with the same issues. The NORDP membership is more than willing to share their best practices and solutions to the issues we face in research development. I brought back a number of ideas from last year’s conference for discussion at our university. These include expanding partnerships with campus libraries for help with proposal development and developing retreats with interdisciplinary teams to improve collaboration and proposal development. One specific example inspired me to expand our NSF CAREER faculty training from one annual workshop to a workshop series that went into more detail on proposal writing and broader impacts.  The keynote addresses identifying funding agency priorities and trends within scientific research were also valuable.

My suggestion for attending the conference would be to be open, present, and engaged, but also be sure to get in line early for the events.

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Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

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 or to register, 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: Hilda McMackin

#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.

Who: Hilda McMackin, Director of Research Development and Support
Where: Vanderbilt University
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A psychic. I was inspired by Commander Deanna Troi from Star Trek.

McMackin2I was involved in research development before I knew it was a field.  I worked as a lab manager in my first job after getting my PhD and found out about research administration from an internal training program.  After looking for positions in research administration, I was recruited into the School of Engineering to work on an NSF Engineering Research Center proposal and then became the grants manager in the largest engineering research institute on campus.  I heard about research development when a new Vice Provost for Research started at Vanderbilt and was hiring for a position to start a dedicated research development program at Vanderbilt.  I was immediately hooked when I heard of the opportunity, and my grants management experience with large proposals luckily made me a strong candidate.

I am the Director of Research Development and Support, and I founded this office at Vanderbilt, growing from a staff of 1 to 5 people.  My office oversees some services that support research compliance (export controls) in addition to research development.  Our research development programs focus on proposal support for strategic opportunities, managing limited submission opportunities, relationship building with sponsors, and providing workshops for faculty to learn best practices for seeking funding or applying to certain agencies.  We focus specifically on federal agencies and cover all 10 schools and colleges at Vanderbilt, including arts & sciences, engineering, basic sciences, education, and nursing.

I joined the Mentoring Committee at my first NORDP conference without ever having participated in the mentoring program.  It has been a great way to connect with more of the RD community as well as hone some professional development skills.  I presented my first webinar with them last summer and will be co-presenting some sessions at this year’s conference.

At my first NORDP conference I was taken aback by how welcoming the NORDP community is compared to other professional conferences I’ve attended.  I recommend identifying a few people that do work you’re interested in or have experience that you want to learn more about.  Take note of who is presenting sessions that spark interest in you and make a point of connecting with them at the networking events.  I attended a workshop my first conference and ended up seeking out one of the presenters that I was particularly impressed by.  I followed up with her after the conference and asked if she’d mentor me and this past year we participated in the mentoring program as a self-matched pair.  Never be afraid to advocate for yourself!


Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

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 or to register, 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: Kate Petcosky-Kulkarni

#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: Kate Petcosky-Kulkarni, Director of Strategic Research Initiatives
Where: University of Oregon
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? For our honeymoon, my spouse and I stayed at an old fort in Madya Pradesh, India, that was converted into a hotel. It was on a river, and we spent our days people-watching on beautiful ghats.

Like many of my peers, I essentially “fell into” research development. I initially pursued a traditional academic route and completed a Master’s in Food Studies from NYU with the intention of working for a few years before applying for a PhD program in anthropology or sociology. I worked for a small non-profit that supported refugee and immigrant farmers for a few years, and discovered that I wanted to ask questions about food studies through a more applied focus, rather than strictly academic. I enrolled in Boston University’s Masters in Public Health program and began working in the proposal development office at BU’s medical school; I  found that my career path and training prepared me well to support faculty with their grant submissions. I could manage multiple projects simultaneously and communicate effectively for a variety of audiences. I found that I enjoyed being able to help faculty across disciplines articulate their research ideas, rather than pursue one specific line of research myself. Kate-Petcosky-Kulkarni-Square

After two years, due to the support of a fantastic boss and mentor, I became Director of the Office of Proposal Development. Our team largely managed traditional pre-award functions, but I recognized the need to help our faculty learn how to navigate the research enterprise and be strategic in their approach to seeking external funding. I discovered NORDP in 2018 when I was researching best practices in early career faculty training. The conference was fantastic—much more personal and engaging than the research administration workshops I had attended in the past. I left the conference invigorated with new ideas for supporting our faculty. Indeed, had I not attended the NORDP conference, I would not have had the confidence to apply for my current position as Director of Strategic Research Initiatives at University of Oregon.

I joined UO this October to launch the Office of Research Development, which was in the middle of a major staffing transition. The office had been unstaffed for 4 months and I was brought on to build the team from the ground up. It’s an incredible opportunity and I look to NORDP for support and ideas on a regular basis. The listserv is beyond helpful and the NORDP community is smart, engaging, and supportive.

I am very much looking forward to this year’s conference and the opportunity to connect in person with many of my peers who have provided insight and guidance to me by e-mail or by phone. My new role involves operations that I did not previously coordinate at BU, such as managing internal awards and facilitating limited submissions. I am eager to learn how my peers approach this work and how they evaluate these activities. As my office moves in a new direction, I need to demonstrate efficacy in our approach, so I will be having many conversations about metrics and evaluation.

I am thrilled to be a part of the NORDP community, and I cannot wait to attend the 2019 conference!

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Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

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 or to register, 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.

2016 Conference Cameo: Jason Charland

#NORDP2016 starts Monday, May 23 in Orlando! Download the full conference program book to start planning your conference experience. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) next week for live conference updates.


Who: Jason Charland, Director of Grant Development
Where: University of Maine
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: Joined in February 2016
Number of NORP conferences attended: 1

My first experience with research development was through a field placement as a graduate student in a university research center where I helped to implement research and Charland_Photooutreach projects.  I have worked on a variety of grant-funded and grant writing projects in the public health, K-12 education, and university research sectors.  Having held several program staff positions on federally funded grants has provided me with a unique perspective as a research development professional.  I gained hands-on experience executing workplan deliverables, managing grant budgets, cultivating relationships with program officers, and implementing follow-on funding strategies. These collective experiences have translated well to working with faculty on research proposal development.

In 2012, I joined the University of Maine (UMaine) as the Grants Management Coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development, where I supported faculty with pre- and post-award functions.  In the summer of 2014, I was recruited by the Vice President for Research to join her office and start the Grant Development Office at UMaine to enhance faculty grant seeking and research development efforts.  Our areas of focus are: proposal resubmissions, junior faculty grantsmanship support, project management of interdisciplinary center grant proposals, and facilitation of collaborations with the sister campuses within the University of Maine System.

I first heard about NORDP from my colleagues at UNH, and have been attending NORDP NE regional meetings since 2014. I was the first representative from Maine to become involved with the regional group and recently joined NORDP as an official member. Last year was the first NORDP national conference that I attended and I enjoyed the networking opportunities and the variety of presentations and panels that were available to attendees. After attending a NORDP presentation on evaluation, we have begun to administer customer satisfaction surveys to monitor our services and help communicate the impact of our office.

The NORDP NE group has provided great networking and professional development opportunities and the regional meetings also provide an opportunity to visit different campuses.  Members that I have reached out to directly have been extremely helpful and I am grateful to have this network to call upon.  I am looking forward to co-presenting at this year’s conference with a NORDP NE colleague.

Two new research development staff members joined my office recently and I am glad that we have the opportunity to attend this year’s conference together as a team.  I look forward to continuing to learn about the strategies that other universities have employed in establishing research development offices. My recommendations are that attendees take full advantage of the networking opportunities that the conference provides and actively engage with speakers during the Q&A periods of the various panels and presentations.

2016 Conference Cameo: Andrés Hernández, UC Merced

Online registration closes this Saturday, May 14, for the 2016 NORDP Conference! Will you be joining us? Register at http://www.nordp.org/conferences, and enjoy this week’s featured Conference Cameo!


Who: Andrés Hernández, PhD, Research Development Officer
Where: University of California, Merced
Number of years in research development: 1
Length of NORDP membership: This is my first year as a NORDP member.
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 0

My interest in research development began during my undergraduate studies when I Hernandez_Andresreceived the opportunity to participate in a city-funded project, but working as a postdoctoral research scientist at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden is ultimately what led me to the field. My responsibilities included the writing, reviewing, and editing of grant proposals involving research teams from multiple institutions; identifying potential sources of funding; and developing research ideas into fundable proposals. I wrote two proposals that were funded and was a contributor to a third successful proposal. This is when the ‘light bulb’ went on and I knew that research development was a profession.

I entered the profession in May 2015 at UC Merced. My position is broad-based. On paper, my job includes: identifying proposal opportunities, developing proposals, finding potential collaborators for faculty, working on diverse proposals, coordinating proposals with multiple investigators and sub-awards, and implementing University policies and procedures. Of course, there are many important responsibilities which don’t fall into the ‘on paper’ category. I first learned about NORDP from UC Merced’s Director of Research Development Services, Susan Carter. I joined NORDP in February, and this year’s conference will be my first NORDP conference.

I’m looking forward to obtaining new skills at the conference that I can implement at UC Merced. Many RD professionals I’ve met thus far are NORDP members, and they have provided additional points of contact with whom they’ve met through NORDP. At the conference, I’m looking forward to meeting people, networking and making quality, mutually beneficial connections. My advice to other attendees is to come to the conference with an open mind. Don’t limit yourself to sessions that are specific to your position. Meet and get to know people as people, not just as work-partners. Work on establishing long-lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships that will benefit both yourself and your institution!


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

2016 Conference Cameo: Deborah Rocha

Who: Deborah S. Rocha, Research Development Specialist
Where: Indiana University,Rocha_Deborah Bloomington
Number of years in research development: about 8
Length of NORDP membership: 8 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I have a graduate degree in Systems Science and a passion for the kind of problem solving that can come out of interdisciplinary research, and I’ve come to see this as a natural pathway into RD work. My first RD position was with an academic department that was expanding traditional boundaries in exciting new and interdisciplinary directions. From 2008 to 2012, I was their point of contact for proposal related questions, identified relevant funding opportunities, reviewed and edited proposal content, delivered informational workshops, and created and maintained an informational website.

In 2013, I started working with Proposal Development Services (PDS) in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) at IUB. My work is campus wide now and includes comprehensive project management of complex grant proposals, as well as general proposal support. This typically involves reviewing and editing proposals for content, structure, and grantsmanship. I’m happy to be included in larger vision and planning conversations within the OVPR as well. I also provide individual consultations to faculty who are developing projects for which they plan to seek external funding, and help develop and deliver informational workshops and specialized seminars.

In late 2008 I joined the listserv Holly Falk-Krzesinski launched out of Northwestern University that grew soon thereafter into NORDP. The collegiality has been really important to me ever since. During the first part of that year, supporting great research was a clear goal for me, but I hadn’t yet seen it as research development. NORDP has provided me with both a network and a framework for realizing RD as a career.

Attending the 2015 NORDP conference with hundreds of others who do similar work, many of whom have similar stories, was validating and exciting. I came away with a terrific mentor and an invaluable safety net of colleagues to turn to for feedback when I’m working on something new.

So much of what I learned from NORDP comes into play routinely in my work; specific examples include looking more closely at evaluating RD using metrics and surveys, and adjusting how I critique and offer feedback on faculty proposals. I’m looking forward to this year’s conference themes of creativity and interdisciplinarity, to the presentations around those themes, and to the interactive workshops.

My advice for first time attendees: Be willing to ask for help. The community is generous and happy to share experience and knowledge. Be assured that your opportunity to help others will come around, and grab it when it does. Attend all the sessions you can, and as much as possible mingle, listen, and share.


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at rdconf@nordp.org

2016 Conference Cameo: Cortney Leach

Who: Cortney Leach, Research Development Manager, The Information School
Where: University of Washington
Number of years in research development: 3
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORP conferences attended: 2
I provide leadership for the UW iSchool in the areas of research strategy and development, Leach_20160329_finalpartner and sponsor cultivation, and promotion and external relations. Under our Associate Dean for Research, I support a highly diverse group of faculty and research scientists, with backgrounds ranging from philosophy and law to data science and systems biology. As the lead within a 2-person, unit-based RD shop, I manage services that strategically lighten the administrative load for our researchers in addition to those that propel us forward. In a given day you will find me holding proposal strategy sessions with individual faculty members; facilitating a brown bag on cracking Google research funding; reaching out to Federal Relations re: an upcoming faculty member’s visit to D.C. (our Seattle location has its challenges); drafting policies related to the management of our research centers; planning our transition to an eIRB system; helicopter-parenting a proposal as it makes its way through OSP review; advising my ADR on internal seed fund requests… If it pertains to the conduct of research, I pick up the phone. I came to the field after holding varied positions in research, non-profit, and public program management, most recently within the digital inclusion evaluation and policy spac

We do not enjoy the support of central RD office at Washington, and my position is rather unusual on campus. I discovered NORDP quite by chance within in my first 6 months, and it has been a critical lifeline. I attended the previous two NORDP conferences (Portland and Bethesda), and found the workshops, sessions, and opportunities to connect with colleagues to be invaluable. The range of topics explored as well as the level of expertise in the room (each room) has made for a consistently rewarding conference experience with tons of takeaways. For instance, the 2015 session on evaluating research development services helped me to take a leap forward in developing metrics and methods for evaluating our own services, and the session sharing findings from comparative study of proposal review criteria at federal agencies has translated to remarkable efficiencies for myself and my faculty.

In Orlando, I am especially looking forward to making new connections, the sustained reflection I hope to find at the Developing a Faculty Research Development Program pre-conference workshop, and sharing my thoughts on why it may be time to revisit crowdfunding during my session with the brilliant Cindy Bellas, Reconnecting to the Citizen: Crowdfunding Research. For those you attending, I urge you to step away from the Outlook and allow yourself to be truly present. You won’t want to miss a thing. I’m counting down the days – I know I will leave NORDP 2016 inspired, smarter, better prepared, and better connected.


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at rdconf@nordp.org