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Note from the Editor | Why SRAI?

By SRAI News posted 10-16-2019 02:33 PM


Note from the Editor | Why SRAI?

The diversity of SRAI's members, member organizations, and program offerings make us the premier research management society. But don't believe us, "hear" it from our peers! We asked 15 SRAI members Why SRAI? and Why they Volunteer?  and this is what they told us. 

Marchon Jackson, BS,MBA, Director of Sponsored Programs Accounting and Compliance, University of Maryland College Park

15 years in RA, since 2015 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: I love SRA International’s diversity and its culture of openness. It is enriching to be active in an organization whose membership spans the entire spectrum of research institutions and locations around the world.  In addition, this organization has encouraged me to be involved and provided opportunities to do so.

Why Volunteer: It is an opportunity to engage with fellow peers to learn more about the field and to provide help to those who are starting a career in research administration.

Jason Claes
, MBA, MSM, GRCRA, Assistant Director – Sponsored Research Services Accounting, University of Cincinnati

11 in RA, since 2007 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: Having a group of professionals to call friends among our profession is what draws me to SRAI.

Why Volunteer: Every day at my job I am called to serve and volunteering for SRAI allows me to extend that service mentality beyond my comfort zone.


Kimberly Pratt, MA, CRA, Sponsored Projects Officer, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

7 in RA, since 2015 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: The majority of my initial training and education as a research administrator was “on the job” at a science museum/science center with a growing research focus.  I wanted to connect with others who were doing what I was doing (and could hopefully teach me a few things!) so I joined SRA about three years ago. I quickly became involved in the Ohio Chapter, and have served on the executive board since 2016.  I’m happy to have met so many knowledgeable, welcoming people through SRAI who I can talk to when I have a question or a great idea.

Why Volunteer: I enjoy volunteering with SRAI because it gives me a chance to make connections with other research administrators across the country and build professional skills outside of my regular day-to-day work. 


Kevin Titus, MBA, Business Director, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

9 in RA, since 2009 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: Why not? My job is partially focused on research, so it helps me keep up to date.

Why Volunteer: I learned a long time ago that we start as a sponge; absorbing information. At some point we need to transition to a fountain and share what we’ve absorbed.


Stephanie Hyche, Associate Director, Office of Sponsored Projects, Mississippi State University

18 in RA, since 2014 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: Breadth of network and programming content; inclusive of industry and healthcare/medicine in addition to university issues

Why Volunteer: Opportunity to meet others, learn, and share ideas


Karen Bone, Master of Arts, Proposal Coordinator, Florida Atlantic University

4 in RA, since 2015 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: At the time I started at Texas Tech University, my coworkers were split between memberships of NCURA and SRAI so as to have the knowledge and training from both organizations and that way everyone was not out of the office at the same time for conferences. Since the person I replaced had been a member of SRAI, it made sense for me to choose SRAI and I have been very happy with that decision.

Why Volunteer: Volunteering for me means getting to understand the wider context of research administration and contribute to the growth of our field. I also have the opportunity to meet awesome people from all over who I might not have encountered otherwise.


Amy Roberts, B.S., Accounting, Associate Controller, Special Funds Accounting, Appalachian State University

17 in RA, since 2001 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: I feel SRAI is more closely connected with every individual member through the Chapters and Sections.  There are so many paths for professional growth and leadership development available.  SRAI has always been a very welcoming and supportive organization to me. 

Why Volunteer: Volunteering is another terrific opportunity for professional growth in SRAI.  You “give”, but at the same time, you “get” way more.   It stretches your comfort zone gently, by providing avenues to step by step increase your knowledge, network with others, join teams of other more seasoned presenters, build your confidence.


Silke Blohm, Dipl.-Phys., MSc, Director Research & Enterprise, SOAS University of London

20 in RA, since 2010 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: The most international of the research management associations; the global network was crucial for my role in establishing the Office of Research Services at KAUST in Saudi Arabia.

Why Volunteer: Being able to make a difference; working with international teams and learning from each other’s experience.


Jennifer Freeman, Bachelor of Physical Education and a Master of Science, Director, Office of Research Services, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

15 in RA, since 2004 a member of SRAI

 Why SRAI: I joined SRAI for two reasons:

  1. My former VPR, and a past SRAI President, Michael Owen, introduced me to the organization and encouraged me to become actively involved.
  2. The organization promotes and encourages the engagement of international representation and perspectives. This breadth of knowledge and perspectives within the organization is highly valuable to develop and refine professional research administration skills. 

Why Volunteer: Volunteering has been a catalyst to developing a professional network (aka - friends) around the world of research administrators. Further, volunteering has meant that I have had the opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much over the years.


Katie Watkins, Assistant Vice President, Office of Research Administration, The University of Akron

30 in RA, since 2005 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: I belong to more than one professional society, however, the majority of my volunteer time is spent on SRAI-related activities.  I find SRAI as a whole to be a welcoming and friendly group of people who are inspiring, interesting, and willing to give of their time and knowledge.

Why Volunteer: Volunteering to me means giving back to the profession that has supported me for nearly my entire career, as well as being a role model and mentor for others coming up in the profession.


Tonya Edvalson, BS, CCRP, CHRC, Clinical Research Compliance Officer, University of Utah

19 in RA, since 2010 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: SRAI has offered an opportunity to network with others in the field who have similar experiences and can share their solutions and outcomes. I have gained more knowledge about other areas of research administration and how they impact my area, compliance. Being part of SRAI has provide opportunities in professional growth and leadership where I couldn’t have gotten it even at my local institution. Being part of an organization where members are welcoming and open to sharing their resources has been career-changing and given me a track that I want to follow as I progress into other facets of research administration. 

Why Volunteer: After my first meeting annual meeting, I began signing up for volunteer opportunities, including planning committees for the annual and section meetings ever since.  It has made the difference in how SRAI has enriched my professional growth.  I have achieved things I would have never imagined.  I could have never imagined myself speaking at International meetings or feeling confident enough to lead initiatives that make a difference in an organization of over 5000 people across the globe.  However, within six (fast) years of being a member, I was elected to President-Elect in my Section and planning a Section meeting where over 300 members were counting on us to have a good professional experience.  I am now chairing the Membership Committee and was recently inducted into the Distinguished Faculty.  In these positions, I am meeting more people and getting them involved, seeing them grow like I did.  It’s a phenomenal experience. 


Angela Willis, BME, MME, MPA, CRA, Research Associate (IRB Administrator and Grants Accountant), University of Arkansas at Little Rock

35 in RA, since 2003 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: I love the fact that the organization has members from the colleges and universities, but also RAs from industry, corporate, federal, state and local government.

Why Volunteer: I get a chance to be a part of the workings of the organization and am able to add any assistance that I can.  It is also a learning opportunity.


Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MBA, Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Research Professor, University of Arkansas

20 in RA, since 2010 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: SRAI provides a forum where I can learn from colleagues and, through JRA, as well as conferences, keep up with the state-of-the-art of research administration. The networking and informal interactions also provide critical learning opportunities and well as settings in which I have develop lasting friendships.

Why Volunteer: The opportunity to giv back to my colleagues in the research administration community as a peer, mentor. and a student.. 


Holly Zink, MSA, Faculty Onboarding & Orientation, Children’s Mercy Hospital

10 in RA, since 2005 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: The Society for Research Administrators International and the Journal of Research Administration provides an avenue for professional development that simply is not available elsewhere. I challenge myself to be a speaker at every regional conference. I find that being a speaker not only challenges my own development, but I meet more colleagues, find new opportunities, explore more ideas and get more from the conference.

Why Volunteer: Volunteering with SRAI allows me to have a closer connection to my profession and to my colleagues. It allows me to compare institutional processes and issues to find the best solutions for my own team. With regulations and processes changing so quickly, the profession of research administration continues to grow stronger with each year. Volunteering with SRAI and the Journal of Research Administration helps me to explore every new facet of our rapidly changing profession and challenges me to stay current and up to date!


Nathan L. Vanderford, PhD, MBA, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky

10 in RA, since 2010 a member of SRAI

Why SRAI: SRAI is valuable to me because of the breadth and depth of the organization’s education and professional development content, international networking opportunities, and volunteer/leadership opportunities.

Why Volunteer: The opportunity to serve an organization and be involved in developing and mentoring others. 

Katie Watkins
Authored by: Kathryn Watkins, 
Associate Director

The University of Akron