Two roads diverged after a postdoc, and we took the one non-traditionally traveled. Research development professionals (RDP), like the ones on this panel, make team science happen by guiding scientists through the process of idea generation, building collaborations, identifying relevant funding sources, preparing (e.g., writing, critiquing, peer reviewing, editing, and project managing) grant applications, assisting with successful execution of research projects, completing grant terms, and preparing progress reports and manuscripts. We teach, present workshops and seminars, and spearhead strategic initiatives at the institutional level to hone research competitiveness in an increasingly tight market. Postdoctoral training confers effective and highly transferable skills that make postdocs valuable as RDP candidates. The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) wants to improve the visibility of RD as a viable, rewarding career, NORDP started ten years ago as a grassroots organization and has grown into a 1000-member strong community committed to supporting its members, providing training and resources, sharing ideas, organizing peer mentoring and addressing the the need for diversity with this emerging profession. In this presentation, three former postdocs who transferred to a RD career will share their knowledge, experiences and the unique challenges that each faced during their transition to help interested postdocs learn how to navigate this less well-known career path.
Alexis Nagel, Ph.D., made the leap from the bench to research development in 2016. She currently serves as a faculty-level research officer in the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to that, she was an assistant director of MUSC's central research development office. Nagel helps faculty prepare competitive proposals to federal agencies through a combination of coaching and hands-on assistance with grant writing. She has been a member of NORDP since 2017, and is part of the N-ROAD working group that is building a suite of career and training resources to help institutions develop their own RD internship programs.
Kristen Scott, Ph.D., is the scientific development officer at Moffitt Cancer Center and is the founding member of Moffitt’s Office of Scientific Development. Scott works with research teams to generate highly competitive large complex grants through project management, writing, and scientific editing services. She also builds centralized grant resources for research use across the institute. Prior to her transition to administration in 2018, she was a cancer research wet bench scientist. Scott is a former member of the NPA Board of Directors and a current member of the NORDP.
Samarpita Sengupta, Ph.D., is the director of neuroscience research development at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She contributes to all aspects of research development within the O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute for faculty, students and fellows. She joined NORDP in 2017 and serves as the liaison between NORDP and NPA, chair of NROAD working group and member of SAC, and mentoring committees.