PI Intensive for New Faculty and Researchers

PI Intensive for New Faculty and Researchers:
Building the Tools for Your Career in Research

October 24 – 25, 2024 I Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile 

The Principal Investigator (PI) Intensive is a comprehensive day-and-a-half workshop designed to equip PIs with essential tools and skills for a successful career in research. Led research development experts and renowned researchers from across the SRAI network, this workshop will offer you valuable insights and practical knowledge into:  

  • Understanding the responsibilities of a principal investigator
  • Developing competitive grant applications
  • Negotiating effectively with your institution
  • Employing project management approaches to drive your research projects forward

Throughout the workshop, participants will have ample opportunities to engage in interactive discussions, share experiences, and learn from the expertise of the facilitators and fellow participants. The workshop fosters an inclusive and collaborative environment, encouraging participants to build networks and form lasting connections within the research community.

Intended Audience: Senior postdoctoral fellows, assistant professors, and other faculty who are new to research. 

Program Experts


For further questions, please contact SRAI's Program Manager, Gina Snyder, at gsnyder@srainternational.org.

Ravi Allada, MD
Executive Director and Professor
Michigan Neuroscience Institute 
University of Michigan 

Ravi Allada Bio

Ravi Allada is the Executive Director of the Michigan Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Allada received his M.D from the University of Michigan and completed a residency in Clinical Pathology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  During his training, he was an HHMI-NIH Research Scholar and an HHMI Physician Postdoctoral Fellow, the latter with 2017 Nobel Laureate Michael Rosbash.  Dr. Allada started his own lab at Northwestern University in 2000 ultimately being appointed Edward C. Stuntz Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology until moving to the University of Michigan in September, 2023. The Allada laboratory has discovered molecule “gears” of the core circadian clock including a link to neurodegenerative disease as well as pathways linking the core clock to daily rhythms of sleep and wake. His laboratory has also identified molecular processes underlying sleep including those linked to memory processing. His work extends discoveries in flies to mammals including the development of diagnostic biomarker signatures for circadian time and examining the effects of jet lag on athletic performance. His work has been funded by the NIH, DARPA as well as private foundations including a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award and a NARSAD Young Investigator Award.  He has served as a member of the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board and on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and Member-At-Large of the Sleep Research Society.

Gianluca Cusatis, PhD
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Northwestern University 

Gianluca Cusatis Bio

Gianluca Cusatis is a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Northwestern University that he joined in August 2011. Prior to joining Northwestern, he worked at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for six years. From September 2021 to February 2024, he was on leave from his teaching and service responsibilities at Northwestern to serve as Program Director for the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation Engineering for Civil Infrastructure program at the National Science Foundation.  

Gianluca obtained his “Laurea”1 degree and PhD degree in structural engineering from Politecnico Di Milano (Italy). His teaching experience covers several courses in structural mechanics and mechanics of materials typically offered in civil engineering curricula. His research expertise is relevant to experimental, computational and applied mechanics, with emphasis on heterogeneous and quasi-brittle infrastructure materials. His work on constitutive modeling of concrete through the adoption of the so-called Lattice Discrete Particle Model (LDPM), one of the most accurate and reliable approaches to simulate failure of materials experiencing strain-softening, is known worldwide. In  addition, recent work on waterless concrete for Martian constructions has received widespread attention in the technical community and in the media. Under the sponsorship of several agencies his current research focuses on formulating and validating multiscale and multiphysics computational frameworks for the simulation of large scale problems dealing with a variety of different applications including, but not limited to, infrastructure aging and deterioration, structural resiliency, and response of materials and structures to natural and man-made hazards. He is a member of ASCE and ACI and active in several technical committees. he held leadership and administrative positions at Northwestern University (MMS Program coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies) and in ASCE EMI (Board of Directors), ACI 446 (Chair), ACI 209 (Chair), IA-ConCreep (President), and IA-FRAMCOS (Treasurer). In 2018 he was awarded the prestigious EMI Fellow membership grade. In 2020 he founded Cusatis Computational Services (CCS) Inc to pursue translation of fundamental research into practice. CCS obtained recently one Phase II STTR project and one Phase II SBIR project from the Department of Defense. 

Sara Steenrod, PhD
Research Development Specialist 
Office of Research and Innovation 
Michigan State University

Sara Steenrod Bio

Sara Steenrod is a Research Development Specialist in the Office of Research & Innovation at Michigan State University. In this role, she provides a variety of services including consultations, workshops, writing group coordination, and grant editing to help faculty develop competitive grant proposals for external funding agencies. Prior to joining MSU, she was a Scientific Editor for the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her B.A. in psychology from Carleton College, her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Columbia University, and completed a postdoc at Rockefeller University.

Julia Barzyk, PhD
Wise Investigator, LLC 

Julia Barzyk Bio

Julia Barzyk founded Wise Investigator LLC to provide the training and support university researchers need to get their research funded and grow their careers. Previously, Julia spent 10 years at the U.S. Army Research Office where she served as Program Manager, managing a portfolio of basic research in geoscience and civil engineering. At ARO, she also had management responsibilities for University Research Initiatives (URI) programs: Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI), Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), and the PECASE early-career award program. Julia also led the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) capacity-building program for the Army. Julia has a PhD in Geophysical Sciences and MS in Environmental Science & Public Policy from the University of Chicago, an MS in Geological Science from the University of Florida and a BA in Geology from the University of Rochester.

Cynthia Sides, PhD
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation 
Director of Research Advancement 
University of Arkansas 

Cynthia Sides Bio

Cynthia Sides serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Division of Research and Innovation at the University of Arkansas and is the Director of Research Advancement, which includes leading Research Development, Industry Research, Undergraduate Research, and electronic Research Administration initiatives, as well as working with the university’s Centers and Institutes.  She has previously served as Director of the Office of Innovation and Industry Partnerships and the Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas.  Throughout these roles, Sides has been committed to facilitating and building unique and interdisciplinary networks of relationships between university researchers and between industry, non-profits, organizations, communities, and the university with a focus on strengthening university’s research enterprise and its land-grant mission and building Arkansas’s knowledge economy through university research and commercialization. As an alumna of the University of Arkansas with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Sides is also dedicated to STEM graduate research. She has developed and lead federally funded programs, including the NSF-funded NRT-IGE PAAD project that educated and prepared STEM graduate students for a variety of careers. 
Sides was appointed by former Governor Hutchinson to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology Board of Directors and serves on the Research and Sponsored Projects Committee and the Commercialization Committee. She has also been named a Women in Business by Arkansas Money and Politics and is a graduate from the Arkansas State Chamber’s Leadership Arkansas program.  She was recently nominated and selected by graduate students as the University of Arkansas’s Staff Ally of the Year by the Graduate Professional Student Congress.

Jennifer E. Woodward, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs and Research Operations
Professor of Surgery and Immunology
University of Pittsburgh

Jennifer Woodward Bio

Jennifer E. Woodward, PhD, is Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs and Research Operations and Professor of Surgery and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh. As Vice Chancellor, Dr. Woodward provides leadership and strategic direction for the University’s research operations and oversees the Office of Sponsored Programs. Before this appointment, Dr. Woodward was Associate Vice Provost for Research Operations at the University of Pittsburgh, Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Executive Director for Research and Academic Affairs at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.

Dr. Woodward has more than20 years of progressive leadership experience in research administration and is continually evolving and innovating the field of research administration and supporting the professional development and success of research administrators. She is an elected member-at-large of the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI) Board of Directors and Co-chair of SRAI’s Education and Professional Development Committee.

Dr. Woodward’s academic career began in physiology-based orthopaedic research and evolved to the field of transplantation immunology where she explored the models and mechanisms of transplantation tolerance. Her teaching and mentoring have been multifaceted. Dr. Woodward has over 25 years of experience interviewing, hiring, advising, and mentoring faculty, staff, fellows, and students. From her breadth of experiences, she has a strong understanding of the academic, research, and research administration landscapes and a long history and commitment to the professional development of faculty, staff, and students. She is invited frequently to present lectures and workshops for faculty, staff, and trainees on academic success, navigating higher education, networking, and negotiation.

Dr. Woodward earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Presbyterian College, a Master of Science degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the Medical University of South Carolina.