Like professional tennis and college entrance exams, the competition for research funding is a strategy game all its own, according to Carmel Lurito Lee, director of research development in the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Development (OSP). “Groundbreaking research doesn’t sell itself,” she says.
If you’re looking to win research dollars, Lee is ready to discuss any topic, be it environmental justice, quantum materials, edge computing, or chemical signaling pathways.
“I approach research development as a consultant,” Lee says. “I sit down with each researcher one-on-one and learn who they are, what their goals are, and what their research is all about. Together we create a tailored assessment of next steps. Sometimes I help them to innovate and brainstorm about their own ideas. I’m kind of like a colleague and mentor, but I’m also a resource—somebody who's there to support them in all the many ways that they need support. In Research Development, we take seriously the idea that your success is our success. We work really hard to make sure that faculty can achieve their goals.”
Lee, her colleague Tiffany Fleming, the research impacts and partnerships manager at OSP, and Josephine E. M. Martell, the director of research development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), understand the priorities and culture of various grant-making institutions. And when it comes to successful writing strategies, they have decades of experience as writers, editors, and reviewers.
“We're always evolving to meet the challenges of a shifting funding terrain and the evolving needs of faculty,” Lee says. “Because everything's always changing.”
J. Edward Anthony is a writer for the office of the vice president for research and innovation.