PUI Member Cameo: Jennifer Glass

As an organization, 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 for decades to come.  

To further enable a richly diverse and robust national peer network of research development professionals as well as organizational representation, we are highlighting members from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) in a new blog series.

Our first cameo introduces Jennifer Glass. 

Who: Jennifer Glass, Ph. D. – Research Development Officer
Where: Office of Research Development & Administration, Eastern Michigan University
Number of Years in RD: 5
Length of NORDP Membership: 5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Glass Photo - 2019.jpg

I have been in RD for 5 years. Before jumping into RD, I was a research faculty member at the University of Michigan, where I studied the effects of factors like age, drug use, and chronic pain on attention and cognition. My position at UM was broken up across several departments, which was fun and interesting, but it became a problem when funding was short. In 2014, Eastern Michigan University was advertising for a Research Development Officer. I did not know what that was, but I read the job description and knew I could do all of the things listed, so I applied!

At EMU, I helped to create a faculty grant writing fellowship. It involves a semester long grant writing seminar that I lead, where the faculty fellows work on honing their specific aims (or equivalent) and sketch out the framework for the rest of their proposals. The seminar has a mix of formal workshop presentations (some by me, and some by outside  consultants) and peer writing sessions. I think both are crucial to helping faculty become adept grant writers. We also make a trek to Washington D.C. to meet with program officers. In addition to the fellowship, I conduct workshops, publish a weekly update   with grant funding news and opportunities, publish regular award reports, plan social events (e.g., research happy hours, celebration picnics), and work one-on-one with faculty.

How do you see RD as being different/similar between a predominately undergraduate institutions (PUIs) and more research-intensive university?

I think that RD can be extremely impactful at PUI. It can also be very different than at a   research intensive institution, where RD professionals are more likely to specialize. At a  PUI, you have to help with all kinds of proposals and in some cases also help with research administration. Personally, I enjoy wearing lots of hats, so it works for me. I also really enjoy working with the faculty here. They are passionate about their research, but with the high teaching loads that come with a PUI job, they struggle to find time to write proposals and might get discouraged that they can never be successful. My job is to help where I can, and empower faculty to put together a competitive proposal. It is very fulfilling to help with the research endeavors at EMU because they are so critical to the quality of education that students receive here.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

When I was hired at EMU, my supervisor (Caryn Charter) knew about NORDP and encouraged me to join. So I have been a member since late 2014, and have attended each conference since 2015. I have been involved with the Mentoring Committee for several years and have been (and currently am) both a mentor and a mentee. Last year, I became the chair of the newly organized Affinity Group for PUI’s, which is really exciting because there are quite a few of us, and we have independently been doing a lot of the same RD activities. We have a nice list of activities to tackle in the coming years, such as   a white paper documenting RD at PUI’s, PUI focused presentations at the conference, help with recruiting to NORDP, to name a few. I also sit on the Inclusive Excellence Committee. This is really interesting for me because there is so much to learn about inclusiveness and it is more important than ever.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

Through mentoring and committee work, I have met many talented people, and RD folks are very helpful and friendly. Some work at large institutions, and some at small institutions. The affiliation through NORDP makes it easy to reach out to people at places where I previously would not have known anyone.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has certainly enhanced my career, since I started out not knowing what RD was! Even just looking at the website listing of RD activities was helpful as I began my job at EMU. The conferences are full of really good information and I always go back with some new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. The webinars are a great source of information, and the list serve is really amazing. If you ever have a question, just put it out there and within hours if not minutes, you will have great input and insight.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from PUI contexts?

Because of the ways that RD at a PUI is different (e.g., multifaceted, jack of all trades) I think that everything that NORDP has to offer is doubly valuable to RD at PUIs. You might not have a colleague across campus who is an expert on Department of Energy (or fill in your favorite here) funding, but someone at NORDP will be there to answer your questions!

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly PUI members – to get more involved with NORDP?

For anyone, the best way to get more involved is to join a committee. If you are from a PUI, then also join the PUI Affinity Group!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee