Careers in Research Administration

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and a Ph.D. in microbiology both from University College, Cork (UCC), Ireland. Having completed my Ph.D. in 1991, I had the opportunity of working as assistant to the coordinator of a very large European Commission-funded project for 1 year. During that period I became familiar with scientific administration and funding issues and spent considerable time liaising with the relevant scientific officers in the European Commission (EC). I came to realize that to develop my career I would need to have postdoctoral experience, so I applied to the EC Human Capital and Mobility Programme for a category 30 Marie Curie Fellowship. I was successful and as a result spent 20 months working at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands in the department of molecular genetics. My research there went very well, which resulted in good publications, but I firmly decided that I was not going to drift into another postdoctorate fellowship and that my scientific background coupled to my interpersonal skills could be utilized in a very meaningful manner in research administration or technology transfer in industry.

I was offered two positions in industry, and I chose to pursue the offer in the United States. Within days of signing my work contract, we had a family bereavement and I wanted to spend at least 2 years in Ireland. While I did not want to return to the laboratory bench it was there that I was offered a job immediately and I was very glad of it. It was a position of postdoctorate fellow troubleshooting for the industry, and every time I recommended a novel technology or an upgrade in a company I was faced with the question "How can we fund that?" I was oblivious of any types of research grants and wished to know more. At that point the university advertised the post of European Union Projects Officer, the remit of which was to "maximize the involvement of UCC in E.U.-funded research programs." The prospect of this excited me and I duly applied and was appointed. The more immersed I became in research funding and administration, the more challenged I was by it. The research infrastructure then in the college changed in 1998 with the appointment of a vice president for research who required a senior administrative support officer. The job of Research Support Officer was advertised in spring time of this year, and I applied and was appointed.

Every Day Work-Life as Research Support Officer

The remit of the job is very broad, varied, and interesting and encompasses the following tasks. It involves a research background, a logical mind, excellent communication skills, an ability to absorb, assimilate, and redirect information and to think strategically.

  • Support the VP in development and implementation of the university's research support and policy

  • Provide senior administrative support to the VP in drawing up research policy strategy and responding to national and international funding initiatives

  • Be responsible for the running of the research support office and report to the VP on the daily activities of the office

  • Be responsible for the research support office accounts and budget, reporting to the finance office

  • Liaise with the research accountant and finance office on matters relating to the financing of research policy and support

  • Be a member of the research committee and provide administrative support to the committee

  • Represent the research interests of UCC nationally and internationally in conjunction with the VP

  • Identify national and international research sponsors and opportunities across all active disciplines and disseminate the information accordingly

  • Offer advice on proposal preparation and compliance with research application procedures

  • Develop a database of UCC research projects and expertise

  • Be instrumental in public relations exercises

    Dr. Jean van Sinderen-Law
    Research Support Officer
    Office of the Vice President for Research Policy and Support
    University College
    Telephone: 00 353 21 902205
    Fax: 00 353 21 273365

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