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The Secret Life of a Research Administrator | Critters

By SRAI News posted 02-10-2021 03:43 PM


The Secret Life of a Research Administrator | Critters

“The Secret Life of a Research Administrator” column is meant to facilitate more personal connections between SRAI members through the Catalyst newsletter. If you would like to share with the community or know of someone who will, please submit your article here.

As research administrators, we are very much tied to our computers and an online environment. However, there is a whole world out there that lives while we focus on grants and deadlines. While I live in the suburbs, there is an entire natural ecosystem that exists around me.  Including critters. Most of my neighborhood considers critters pests. Your hungry raccoons, your mysterious possums, your lonely stray cats. Your vacationing ducks. If left alone, these critters will cause local damage. Kind of like leaving your Principal Investigator alone to submit his/her own proposal.

As the sun fades, I help feed the critters in our neighborhood, under the theory that a fed animal will not cause damage in hunting for food. I have families of raccoons who have grown up with me and will eat by hand. I have baby possums that I have caught and relocated to a wildlife habitat. I have stray cats, many who have been caught and homed.  And, I have a neighborhood peacock who likes my bushes. While initially I had many complaints or odd stares, neighbors now appreciate the results, as there are fewer issues in their backyards. It turns out that the previous owner of our home managed a rescue facility here, so the critters became accustomed to finding a friendly rest stop or meal. 

There is great pleasure in “giving back” to the animal community and fostering a relationship with nature. We are in what was once their backyard, so the theory is that we need to find a way to live together. It’s an unusual after-hours hobby but a rewarding one. The one difference between my day and night jobs – I don’t have to feed my PI’s or clean up after them.


Authored by Mark Lucas, Chief Administrative Officer
University of California, Los Angeles Department of Neurobiology