NORDP 2016 Conference Notes: Research development to build strong core facilities

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Karla Ewalt

Research Development is Fundamental to Building a Strong Core Facilities Infrastructure

Presenters: Karin Scarpinato & Fruma Yehiely
Key points from the session:
  1. Core facilities are often integral resources to an institution’s competitiveness (faculty recruiting and retention, sponsored research) and innovative potential.
  2. They serve as loci that foster campus collaborations. Research development strengths with strategic planning, interdisciplinary work, and collaboration can be effectively leveraged in the management and oversight of core facilities.
  3. NIH annual reports and FORMS D (effective with proposal due dates of May 25, 2016 and beyond) require more rigor, transparency, and validation. Core facilities can serve as the institutional experts for producing robust, rugged, and reliable analysis needed to satisfy these requirements.
  4. Funding programs fall into three main categories: shared instrumentation, instrumentation and technology development, and user/core facilities.
  5. Selected case study examples:
    • NIH P41 – Biomedical Technology Research Resource grant. Four key components of these proposals are: collaboration, training of external users, administrative management, and dissemination of information beyond the core. The research development team came in after the first submission was unsuccessful. They facilitated a careful review of all reviewer comments on the rejected proposal, drafted the administrative management component, carefully developed and brokered the institutional support, and connected the PIs to national networks for the national dissemination plan component, brainstormed on stronger projects and collaborators, and prepared for site visit.
    • NIH P30 – A very prescriptive RFA for funding equipment or services, not research, that requires multiple PIs with demonstrated funding bases. This example illustrated support by research development with modest resources to facilitate competitive proposals for the P30 mechanism. Initially, a 1/2-day workshop on P30 grant writing was held. The workshop was organized with a panel of successfully funded faculty members and opportunities to discuss what each faculty member might bring to the table. This resulted in a better understanding of potential PIs for P30s, a proposal resource library, and knowledge of potential teams for this limited submission opportunity. The workshop led to a team comprised of people from the engineering and medical schools. Once the RFA was announced, the team realized that they needed to skip an application cycle while faculty got funding lined up (8 PIs with RO1s) to meet the requirements specified in the RFA. Funding was provided for external review of R01 submissions to increase chances of getting the R01s so the team could apply for a P30. Also, seed funding was supplied to allow for a 2-day, off-site workshop to allow the team to brainstorm the proposal.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

Research development principles can be applied to core facilities to create more effective administrative management, decision-making practices, and a central oversight structure. Centralized management of core facilities can provide the opportunity to conduct regular program review, develop meaningful reporting practices, evaluate resource allocations, enhance efficiency, and develop a management cohort amongst the facility leaders.

Presenters shared information on setting up a core directors meeting and a facility advisory committee. The core directors group meets monthly for rotating presentations on a particular facility and for round table discussions on common issues (rate structures, dealing with customers, etc.). The core advisory committee, which includes faculty users, core directors, and research administration staff, is charged with establishing policies and management practices, including reporting and metrics. Attendance is not required, but centralized management provides incentives for participation. In addition to enhancing facility management and decision making, the groups served to connect people who otherwise might not know each other and gave the facility directors a beneficial visibility and status.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

FASEB report Instrumentation: Federal Grants and Programs for the Life Sciences

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Consider an incentive (voucher) program for faculty who bring in sponsored research support for equipment (>$300,000).  Vouchers are provided to a PI of a funded equipment grant to pay for use of the equipment if it’s placed in a core. Such a program is designed to reward faculty who are successful in securing external funding for capital equipment and to strengthen the use and commitment to core facilities by researchers. The vouchers can’t be used for any other research expenses.

 

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NORDP 2016 Conference Notes: Demystifyng the U.S. Dept. of Education

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Kristin Wetherbee

Demystifying the U.S. Department of Education

Presenter: Marjorie Piechowski

Key points from the session:

  • The U.S. Dept. of Education isn’t very consistent with funding opportunities. Programs may not be offered every year and there are few established due dates. Formatting and page limit requirements can vary. Also, some submissions must go through grants.gov while other must go through the U.S. Department of Education’s e-grants system.
  • Notices are announced via the Federal Register and the U.S. Dept. of Education website with a minimum 30 day notice (often, only 30 days’ notice is given).
  • Proposals should cite literature from the National Clearinghouse which holds documents about the current state of research.
  • Proposal components:
    • Personnel – must adequately describe role and credentials relative to the proposal
    • Project design and need – often weighed most heavily by reviewers
    • Adequacy of resources – need to address the specifics of what you’re asking for (cost per student, cost share, institutional resources)
    • Evaluation – often weighted heavily, up to 20% of total points. The Department seems to prefer external evaluators so you must provide excellent justification if using your own evaluation tool.
    • Special and competitive priorities – these may or may not be required. Bonus points may be given for addressing them so don’t make reviewers hunt for this language; state clearly and boldly in the proposal.
  • Program officers don’t have to be experts in the field and some PI’s have found that program officer comments are in direct conflict with what the review committee wants.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

The consistency of the Department’s lack of consistency.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?
What else from this session should NORDP members know?
You must routinely visit the U.S. Dept. of Education website to stay current on offerings and deadlines and must thoroughly review calls for proposals for changes from year to year. Also, if you’re interested in being a reviewer for the U.S. Dept. of Education, a Ph.D. is not required (master’s preferred). Register at http://www.g5.gov/.

NORDP 2016 Conference Report: Beyond the RFP

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Suzanne Lodato

Beyond the RFP: Ann Introduction to Diverse Methods and Resources for Identifying Funding

Presenters: Katie Keough, Christina Leigh Deitz, and Susan Clarke  

Key points from the session:

  • Both static (e.g., web pages on which information does not often change) and dynamic (e.g., regularly updated databases and lists) can be valuable tools for searching for funding opportunities.
  • For cash-strapped institutions, an impressive number of free online databases, lists, and digests are available from federal agencies, foundations, scholarly societies, professional organizations, and others.
  • Novel searching methods can be highly effective. Examples are:
    cited reference searching using award announcements and lists to identify opportunities, investigating peer institutions and organizations, checking the membership lists of funder affinity groups, read annual reports, strategic plans, foundation 990 forms, etc.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

Although the presenters all subscribe to multiple lists and digests that sometimes overlap, they do not find overlapping listings to be a problem because they scan them quickly. The extra time it takes to scan duplicate listings is well worth the discovery of a good funding opportunity for their faculty.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? 

The slides list numerous sources – both free and subscription-based. We did discuss Guidestar, a free online database containing information on non-profit organizations, including foundation 990 forms that often contain the names of grantees and grant amounts.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Move beyond your daily opportunity list and do some detective work. It will pay off in the end!

 

NORDP 2016 Conference Report: Abstracts cannot be abstract

This post is part of our NORDP 2016 Conference Reports. These reports capture the take-home points from a variety of sessions presented at the NORDP Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Session Scribe: Angie Shotts

Abstracts Cannot Be Abstract: Crafting the Grant Proposal’s Sales Pitch

Presenter: Robert Porter 

Key points from the session:

  • Reviewers decide within the first 1-2 pages if a proposal will be funded. The decision is fast and can be based on 1-2 paragraphs.
  • The NIH Specific Aims, NSF Project overview, etc. should be understandable to the Research Development professional – use this to determine if jargon is present. This applies to all funding agencies. Accessible language is critical.
  • Include something that will surprise the reviewers in the beginning and get their attention.
  • The best proposals/abstracts teach the reviewers something they don’t know.
  • The abstract should: 1) get their attention; 2) explain why the status quo must change; 3) explain why the idea proposed will work.
  • Spend the most amount of time improving the abstract. It is the sales pitch.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

When working with a faculty member who is not focusing on the sales pitch portion of the proposal, ask “How long does it take you to decide if a student’s paper will get a C or an A?”

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

The NORDP website has an additional presentation by Robert Porter, “Thinking Like a Grant Reviewer: Know the Score!” on the NORDP website.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

This presentation has a 3-paragraph template that can serve as a useful guide for research development professionals and PIs.

 

Peggy Sundermeyer is the 2016 Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski Service Award Winner

NORDP_BOD.2015
Peggy Sundermeyer, Trinity University,  is seen here wearing a red blazer along with current and past members of the Board of Directors. Photo taken during the annual leadership meeting (August 2015) in Boulder, CO.

NORDP’s Service Award was established in 2011 and named for our organization’s founding President, Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Ph.D., who was the first recipient.  The award, voted on by the Board of Directors, is given annually to a NORDP Member in recognition of outstanding service to the organization and to the Research Development profession.  The honor is recognized with a commemorative plaque and waived registration fee for a future NORDP Research Development Conference.

Peggy Sundermeyer is a Founding Member of the Board of Directors (2010-2016) and has served as NORDP’s Treasurer (2011-2016). Her careful stewardship and management of our organization’s funds is one of the reasons NORDP was able to hire its first Executive Director in 2016. She routinely makes innovative suggestions to manage our finances more effectively and efficiently. Her colleagues acknowledge her helpfulness, kindness, and eagerness to “step up” when something needs doing and an unrivaled source of information about NORDP’s history, traditions, policies, and procedures. Above all, she is a superb connector and an extraordinary advocate for the best practices of research development. There are scores of new NORDP members who have joined our organization and are actively volunteering based on her inspiring leadership. In addition to serving as a member of the Executive Committee, Peggy has served on the following committees: Revenue & Finance, Executive Conference, Conference Planning, and Scholarships & Awards.

Previously Peggy previously served the University of Minnesota in the Office of the Vice President for Research (1999-2014) as the Executive Director of Research Advancement (2006-2014) and as Coordinator of Professional Development (1996-2006) . She is regarded as the type of colleague everyone wishes for. She is highly skilled in a variety of areas, committed to the development of collaboration and consensus, and dedicated to equity in all endeavors.

 

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.