2023 Future of the Field

Congratulations to the class of 2023 Future of the Field recipients. These individuals represent the most radiant of those rising stars, from all around the US and internationally. We are very proud to have them as our colleagues, mentors, co-workers and friends.

Future of the Field Honorees

Clair Abney Clair Abney
Senior Research Administrator Lead
University of Kentucky

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When I first started working for the University of Kentucky, I was unfamiliar with the field of research administration. However, I was industrious and eager for new opportunities, and it was not long before I landed a job working with research faculty. I knew I found a career path that was challenging and fulfilling. It is hard to pick a single accomplishment; instead, I will focus on all the important sponsored projects I played a role in getting funded. I am working to become a leader at my institution while forming professional relationships with other research administrators through my connection with SRA. My goal is to uplift and inspire future research administrators.

no photoNancy Alvarez
Grants Administrator
The Scripps Research Institute

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Statement not available.

Hanna Bates PhotoHanna Bates
Research Administrator III
Nanovaccine Institute/Iowa State University

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I began my career in research administration in 2016 at Iowa State University and currently work for the Nanovaccine Institute, a research center on campus. I have experience in qualitative research on organizational adoption and diffusion of technologies, post-award grants management, and program development and engagement. I hold an MS degree in Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University and a BA with Honors in Anthropology from the University of Iowa.

Early in my career, I realized I could emphasize service to others through process improvement, building social infrastructure, and emphasizing empathy within the research enterprise to help teams succeed. A proud accomplishment is using science diplomacy while working with a state advisory committee to successfully develop evidence-based suggestions for proposed bills in the Iowa Legislature. I am excited about the future of research administration as it will require forward-thinking, fast-paced problem-solving, and relationship-building to advance research as a public priority.

Trey BauerTrey Bauer
Interim Director, Office of Sponsored Programs Administration
University of Louisville

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Trey’s great passion in his decade-long career in research administration is developing people. After starting his career, having no idea what he was getting into, he had the great opportunity to participate in training the campus community in various research administration topics. He also mentored and trained new staff members, something that gave Trey great professional satisfaction. To further that newfound passion, he took on a formal leadership role as the direct supervisor of four staff members. In that capacity, he continued to hone his training, mentoring, and leadership skills. He eventually became the leader of nine staff members. He is particularly proud that many of his staff members have been promoted multiple times and are otherwise doing wonderful things for the research administration field. At this point in his career, Trey is continuing to learn and improve his leadership skills while mentoring and supporting the professional growth of his staff.

Sybile BayihaSybile Bayiha
Sr. Manager Compliance & Data Analysis
University of Maryland

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Sybile Bayiha is the Sr. Manager of Compliance & Data Analysis at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). She oversees the compliance functions of the university to ensure adherence to regulations associated with $650 million in sponsored research awards. In addition to her compliance responsibilities, Sybile Bayiha has successfully chaired her department managers committee to adjust to the challenges presented by the pandemic. She brought in a new vision and improved processes to facilitate collaboration among managers and increase productivity. She has served in several capacities at institutes of higher education, working on various aspects of sponsored projects. She has over 11 years of experience in research administration. In the future, she hopes to apply her knowledge of regulations that govern sponsored projects to bridge the gap of understanding that exists between US funding agencies and developing countries. Sybile Bayiha received a Master of Science in Business Administration and Engineering from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and a Master of Science in Technology Management and Homeland Security from the University of Maryland, Global Campus.

Laurian BradfordLaurian Bradford
Director, Sponsored Programs Administration
RFSUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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I started my research administrator career as an assistant at Columbia University Medical Center, and here I am 13 years later as the Director of Sponsored Programs, which consists of Pre and Post awards. In addition to hands-on experience, I am a certified CRA and obtained my Master’s Degree in Research Administration and Compliance.

A recent significant accomplishment was being a 1st-time presenter of an engaging discussion group entitled “But That Is My Money!: F&A Recovery and Financial Support for the Research Enterprise” at NCURA’s Pre-Award Research Administration Conference.

Looking forward, I want to maintain my early career ambition and become more involved in helping to grow the profession that I have grown to love. I have plans to continue to mentor, submit publications and attend and present at professional conferences. My long-term goal is to become a research administration degree program instructor or professor.

Kayla CalvoKayla Calvo
Director of Finance, iTHRIV
University of Virginia

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I have worked as a research administrator at the University of Virginia since 2015. I started in the Department of Medicine as a Grants and Contracts Specialist and then transitioned to the integrated Translational Health Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV) to be a Business Administrator in 2019 and was promoted to Director of Finance in 2022. I have always been passionate about advocating for research administrators, and iTHRIV has allowed me to turn this passion into a working group to provide resources and guides to research administrators in the School of Medicine (SOM). Out of this group, we have created a mentoring program (RAMP UP), which in year-2 will be available to all research administrators across the University. My goal is to continue growing RAMP UP, develop a training program for new research administrators, and continue supporting the entire research administration workforce by disseminating our program structure and curriculum to other universities.

Laura CheekLaura Cheek
Director, Pre-Award
The Scripps Research Institute

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Like many individuals, I entered the field of research administration quite unexpectedly, driven by a desire for meaningful work. What began as a job quickly evolved into a fulfilling career. My proudest achievement lies in my adeptness at navigating the shifting landscape of institutional and sponsor regulations, along with fostering strong professional relationships. With thirteen years of experience in research administration, my sights are set on further growth within this dynamic field, allowing me to make an even more significant contribution to its ever-evolving landscape.

Gen ClarkGen Clark
Research Facilitator
University of Saskatchewan

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I have worked as a research development professional for 12 years. I support researchers in the Health Sciences and work in the areas of grant development, research communications, team science, researcher development, and strategic advancement. I have a highly rewarding career that blends my passion for research and coaching. I have benefited greatly from the support and guidance of mentors and colleagues along the way and hope to pay it forward by sharing my knowledge and experience as well as by developing a research program of my own that can help inform and advance professional practice.

Sarah CodySarah Cody
Managing Director
Texas Tech University

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Sarah began her higher education career in 2009 with undergraduate degrees in Finance & Accounting. At a small private institution, she quickly discovered her passion for working with different offices to achieve larger goals. While working towards her master's in Personal Financial Planning, Sarah unexpectedly discovered the world of Research Administration in 2011 after her application with the budget office turned into a position in sponsored projects at a large public institution. She enjoys the fast-paced, ever-changing environment, which is the perfect place for her love of brainstorming and ability to answer every question with "it depends." 11.5 years later, Sarah is extremely satisfied working in the research field, continues forging campus relationships, and takes pride in providing solutions rather than roadblocks. Sarah is committed to enhancing research support on her campus and devoting time to research-related committees striving to reduce administrative burden.

Godwin FernandesGodwin Fernandes
Research Group Manager

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My journey in the field of mental health began after completing my Master's in Clinical Psychology. Joining Sangath, an institute committed to empowering communities for improved health, aligned perfectly with my passion for making mental health accessible to all.

As a Researcher in the Addictions and related-Research Group (ARG) at Sangath, I led projects focused on community-based care in low-resource settings. One of my proudest accomplishments was becoming an India Alliance, India Research Management Initiative (IRMI) fellow. This fellowship honed my research management skills and paved the way for establishing a dedicated Research Office at Sangath.

Now, as the Research Group Manager for the last seven years, I provide support to a number of projects and oversee a team of nine administrators. My primary focus is on leading the Sangath Research Office, assisting researchers with pre- and post-award processes, and securing funding to enhance our research capabilities.

Looking ahead, our vision for the Research Office includes diversifying our research portfolio and providing resources to support early career investigators.

Grace FansiscaGrace Fransisca
Research Administrator
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

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Grace Fransisca earned her Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology with a minor in Sociology from UC Davis and a Master's Degree in Psychology from Los Angeles Pacific University. She started working at UCLA in 2014 and has been in research administration for the last three years. Grace recently earned her CRA in Spring 2023 and will pursue her doctoral degree starting Fall 2023. She currently participates as an SRAI Odyssey mentee and hopes to be a mentor in the future. As a relative newcomer to the field, Grace appreciates and recognizes the value of mentoring, camaraderie, and support she has received; she hopes to provide the same support and mentorship to other new professionals in the field.

Michelle GamlielMichelle Gamliel
Senior Program Coordinator
Boston Children's Hospital

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Michelle began at Boston Children's Hospital five years ago, working in a research lab on the administrative team. Michelle moved to the Institutional Centers for Clinical and Translational Research three years ago and currently manages multiple programs. She manages the Biostatistics and Research Design (BARD) education program and has worked with research computing to set up new processes and systems for onboarding new employees. In addition, she has created and maintains several internal websites to provide resources for BCH employees and maintains an external website to showcase the department's work outside of Children's. Michelle is a highly motivated and resourceful leader looking forward to continuing her work in research administration, creating strong working networks, and working to unify teams towards a common goal. She hopes her work will continue to improve research operations in labs and departmental programs.

Abby GuilloryAbby Guillory
Assistant Vice President for Research Enhancement
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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After four years of writing and managing my own grants to fund programming in a South Louisiana public library system, I saw a pre-award specialist position open up at my alma mater. I jumped at the opportunity to learn more in the grants world, and little did I know that change would lead me to research administration, where I've been for the last 14 years.

I am most proud to see individuals I have worked with, mentored, and coached become successful and contributing research administrators. Teaching and mentoring have always been important parts of my life, personally and professionally, and I love having the opportunity to see people grow and develop and love this field as much as I do. 

As for my next step, I want to continue growing and growing others. My new AVP position at UTRGV offers me an opportunity to support research at a growing university and provide faculty development opportunities. In addition, I will soon complete my doctorate and continue my research on improving the effectiveness of university support for faculty research productivity.

John HedbergJohn Hedberg
Senior Associate
Attain Partners

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I became involved in the field of Research Administration as a student worker in the Office of Sponsored Programs during college. I did not understand half of what I glanced through while standing at the copier, but I did know it was complex and involved mass amounts of tax-payer money. As a Political Science major concentrating in Public Administration, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the ins and outs. I had an opportunity to return to the field as a professional seven years ago at the college level. Learning more and diving right into this fast-paced, multi-tiered world, I knew this would be something I wanted to pursue. Earning my CRA and now being selected as a Future of the Field honoree is among my highest career achievements. I am certainly thankful to the many people who have helped me along the way as well as this organization. Looking toward the future, I hope to remain engaged with my growing network, expand my professional capabilities, and help educate those entering the field.

no photo Bretlyn Hinchcliffe
Senior Research Administrator
University of Kentucky Research Foundation

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statement not available.

Justin HullJustin Hull
Director, Office of Sponsored Projects
Parkview Health System

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Justin has worked in research administration for 12 years, starting with a promotion at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne to a Clerk in the Department of Research, Engagement, and Sponsored Program (RESP). After gaining research administration best practices knowledge over three years and a short appointment as Interim Business Manager for the Department, Justin proposed a new structure for Post-Award Management that resulted in a Post-Award Manager/Business Manager role. While in this role, Justin reestablished policies and procedures and oversaw the Post-Award Management of all grants for the regional campus. In 2019, Justin was recruited by Dr. Michael Mirro from Parkview Health to assist with the management of federal funds for the health system. Within three months of this new appointment, Justin was tasked with creating an Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) from scratch. Now, in 2023, Parkview grants have increased over 700% since OSP was formed and has had successful single audits due to the sound internal control system that has been developed under his leadership. Justin is most proud of the difference that the millions of dollars his office has secured and managed have made for his community and the research being supported that has the potential for national impact.

Stella Kakeeto Stella Kakeeto
Grants Manager
Makerere University School of Public Health

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As the Grants Manager at Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), Stella brings over ten years of invaluable experience in managing donor-funded programs. Her expertise lies in seeking research funding opportunities, meticulously preparing grant proposals and budgets, and skillfully negotiating grant contracts to ensure the greatest possible impact.

She has played a key role in establishing the MakSPH Grants Office, actively contributing to the development of essential resource documents such as the Grants Procedures Manual and critically needed Standard Operating Procedures. She has guided and supported over 150 research administrators, driven by her passion for training and mentoring in the field. As the current Coordinator of the MakSPH Seed-Grant Program, Stella is also passionate about empowering MakSPH early-career researchers to realize their research aspirations.

In 2020, Stella's team received a prestigious grant award from the NIH/NIAID in recognition of their exceptional efforts to boost research-management capacity in the East-African region.

"I believe in the power of research to transform communities positively. It brings me great joy to contribute towards fostering an empowered research ecosystem.

Edna Angelique KarungiEdna Angelique Karungi
Grants Accountant
Makerere University School of Public Health

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Having entered the field of research administration without prior knowledge, I embraced the challenge and utilized my accounting background to excel as an assistant accountant in post-award management.

Within three years, my commitment resulted in a promotion to Accountant, where I now fully execute the finance function for research awards, a milestone that fills me with pride. With ten years of experience, my expertise lies in post-award management, with an emphasis on overseeing grant budgets, efficient and meticulous expenditure tracking, and ensuring compliance with prestigious award agencies such as USAID, NIHR, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and UN funding Agencies.

As I progress in this field, I am eager to venture into pre-award management, enhance post-award processes, explore new funding opportunities, and contribute to research administration's advancement through innovation. 

My passion for this field keeps on growing.

Ashley Lawson Ashley Lawson
Research Portfolio Specialist
University of South Alabama

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In 2018, I accepted a research administration position having no idea that this would become my new career path. I knew nothing about grants, so I spent time studying sponsors, policies, and new acronyms. In 2019, I attended a SRAI workshop conference where I received a certificate in departmental administration. It was here that I learned the answer to every question is “It depends.” I also attended a SRAI workshop online in 2021, where I received the financial management certificate.

An accomplishment that I am most proud of is winning the Outstanding Employee Award at my institution in 2021. This award was a huge achievement, but the part that meant the most to me was the letters of nomination I received. Over twenty letters were submitted on my behalf, most from the many PIs I work with. 

I have worked in research administration for five years and plan to continue learning all that I can so that I can continue to help my PIs and my institution be successful in grant management.

Roxanna LopezRoxanna Lopez
Research Integrity Manager
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Joining The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Division of Research in February 2019 marked the beginning of my journey in research administration. Over the past four and a half years, I have served as Research Services Coordinator and Senior Research Services Coordinator with the Office of Sponsored Programs, and most recently as Research Integrity Manager with the Office of Research Compliance & Export Controls. Successfully passing my Certified Research Administrator® exam and being named by SRAI as a Future of the Field Honoree have been the greatest accomplishments of my career yet! I’m committed to learning and growing in my current role, where I manage conflicts of interest in research and sponsored projects and promote a culture of research integrity. Along this journey, my goal is to utilize my pre-award experience and newfound knowledge in research integrity to become a versatile research administrator and propel the research administration profession forward.

Nancy LiuNancy Lui
Operations Manager
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

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Nancy Lui has worked in various research administration roles for more than ten years. Most of her career has been at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, serving in both the central grants office and departmental roles. She has a wide range of pre- and post-award experience, from large-scale federal and foundation grants to clinical trials and contracts. She is currently the operations manager of a basic science research department overseeing day-to-day operations while leading a team of administrators. Nancy participated as a mentee in SRAI’s Odyssey Program and found the mentorship invaluable as a support system to excel professionally. With her passion for helping and educating others, Nancy looks forward to continue growing as a leader in the field and making positive impacts by sharing her knowledge and experiences with all. She is honored to be recognized as a 2023 Future of the Field recipient.

Robert McTearRobert McTear
Director, Research Administration - Radiation Oncology
New York University School of Medicine

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I first started in the research administration field after moving to New York Ccity. It was supposed to be a temporary job, and I'm very happy to say that it has become something much more. Research administration became a career that I have come to love. The work is fulfilling, important, and, most of all, the people are amazing. I have worked on some of the largest, most innovative grants at New York University School of Medicine, but it is my connections with other research administrators that I am most proud of. Over my 12 years in this field, the relationships I have made are the reason I am where I am today. They are the reason I can accept the honor of being included in this group of SRAIs Future of the Field. They are the reason that I continue to strive for excellence, to continue to learn, and continue to help the younger generation find their place in this exciting, ever-changing field.

Heather MessinaHeather Messina
Assistant Director, Research Administration
Lehigh University, College of Health

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Throughout her career, Heather Messina has gathered valuable support from exceptional mentors, driving her professional growth. Now, Heather's focus lies in guiding and training aspiring research administrators, whether in her present institution or beyond. With 13 years in Research Administration and progressive leadership roles, Heather currently serves as the Assistant Director of Research Administration at Lehigh University's College of Health in Bethlehem, PA. Additionally, Heather is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies program at Marywood University in Scranton, PA. With a wealth of experience and an ongoing commitment to mentorship, she aims to make a lasting impression on the field of research administration by nurturing and empowering the next generation of professionals.

Ashley Miller Ashley Miller
Senior Contract and Grant Specialist
Mississippi State University

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I did not start my career in research administration. I have a master’s degree in epidemiology and worked as a researcher for several years, focusing first on reducing intimate partner violence and then on educational policy. Then seven years ago, I changed career direction and applied for a pre-award position at the University of West Georgia. I got hooked. I loved helping faculty members polish their ideas. Two years later, I moved to the College of Arts and Sciences at Mississippi State University. In 2022, I passed my Certified Research Administrator exam and was consequently promoted to Senior Contract and Grant Specialist. It has been important to me for my whole career to build community. We all benefit when we know more about each other’s work and can share our ideas and knowledge. To me, this award recognizes that fostering connections rather than working in silos is the key to success.

Ivana NeffIvana Neff
Conflict of Interest Unit Manager
University of California, San Francisco

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Ivana Neff is the Conflict of Interest Unit Manager at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) within the Office of Ethics and Compliance (OEC). She is the subject matter expert on the university's policies, processes, and standards related to conflicts of interest and has led the revision of the UCSF Guidelines on Conflict of Interest. She is responsible for enhancing and maintaining a coordinated program of conflict of interest identification, review, and management across a range of regulatory and statutory areas. Ivana also advises and manages the activities of the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee (COIAC). Prior to joining UCSF, Ivana was the Conflict of Interest Manager at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, for several years, where she assisted with developing a mature and robust conflict of interest program. Ivana has an MHA and MPH from the University of South Florida.

Olumide Odeymemi Olumide Odeyemi
Research Support Specialist
University of Tasmania, Australia

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Olumide Odeyemi is a Research Support Specialist at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He has contributed significantly to the profession at the institutional level by supporting over 250 grant applications budgeted at over $300 million in research grants submitted to over 150 funding bodies and schemes. He was able to significantly reduce the internal approval process to a week from eight weeks. At the national level, he developed a database of over 1000 research administration jobs for career planning, presented at annual professional conferences, invited to speak at professional development sessions, and he is the principal investigator of a nationwide study on the impacts of unsuccessful research funding outcomes on Australian researchers. In the near future, he wants to develop a career planning tool for global research managers and administrators, become a global leader in the profession, and immensely contribute to the knowledge gap in the profession.

Johnathan Parker Jonathan Parker
Proposal Development Manager - Major Projects
Montclair State University

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Jonathan is a former faculty member turned research administrator. His first taste of sponsored research came from working on NSF-sponsored projects as a doctoral student. After a few years of full-time teaching, he pivoted to research administration. He credits mentors and the field more broadly for the training and development opportunities that have made his career transition a success. Jonathan has worked in research administration and development roles for six years – first as Assistant Director of Research Development at Kean University from 2017 to 2021. Jonathan benefited from seeing how the research landscape and job functions differ at an R1 out of the central office at Rutgers University from 2021 to 2023. Most recently, Jonathan began a new position as Proposal Development Manager at Montclair State University. He is honored to receive the support of his former and current colleagues in this Future of the Field recognition.

Saiqa Qureshi Saiqa Anne Qureshi
Financial Reporting Manager, Fiscal Affairs
Stanford University, School of Medicine

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In the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to participate across the sponsored project life cycle and work at institutions of various sizes, public and private, and with centralized and decentralized models in both Europe and the United States. In addition, I have had the opportunity to share my knowledge with the research administration community widely via professional development and as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University. I have developed and delivered presentations and co-authorized articles on topics broadly from communication to reporting, data use, philanthropy in research and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I have most recently completed my certificate in high-impact learning. I hope to continue making a positive impact on research administration, combining my love for learning, academic and business background, and desire to use data to drive decision-making. I am honored to receive this award and am so grateful to my mentors and supporters along my journey.

Ramitha RajaRamitha Raja
Sponsored Program Coordinator
Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University

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I first started as a senior financial assistant at Oklahoma State University and then moved into my role as an accounting specialist, where administration of the sponsored program was a small component. With my keen interest in the field to learn more about sponsored programs, my supervisors helped me to further develop the necessary skill set to be successful in this career. I plan to continue to develop and increase the success of our funding programs and hope to grow as an effective research administrator. I am planning on getting my CRA certification soon and will continue to expand my skills in the field of research administration. I am honored to be chosen as a Future of the Field recipient.

no photo Brandon Strickland
Executive Director
University of Miami

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Statement not available.

Crystal UmaruCrystal Umaru
Assistant Director of Finance and Business Services
University of Maryland, College Park

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I have been a Research Administrator for just under ten years. I unexpectedly landed in this role early in my career and fell in love with it almost immediately. The research part of it really intrigued me because I felt like I was impacting the lives of people around the world. No matter the area, the fact that I had a hand in working with the world's brightest researchers and thought leaders put a stamp on my love for the work I was doing. What I love most about research administration is that every day is different. I am constantly learning and thinking of new and creative ways to manage financial health research projects. I also love working with early career RAs. Teaching, coaching, and mentoring them in this field is such a joy for me. Seeing them grow and become leaders in their own right is what I am most proud of, in addition to the lifelong relationships I have cultivated along the way. I am beyond honored to be a Future of the Field recipient.

Beth Wild Beth Wild
Research Administrative Coordinator 2
University of Oregon

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Throughout my career in most higher education, I have extensive experience in the pre-award and post-award processes in my different roles as Grant Writer/Research Administrator, Grant Development Director, Compliance Council Chair, and Director of Manufacturing and Related Pathways (a federal grant). These experiences have provided me with the full spectrum of sponsored project administration, from proposal writing and review, submission, award and award negotiation, compliance management, and monitoring to project closeout. My primary motivation throughout my career in various roles is the intrinsic feeling of accomplishment gained from supporting and lifting up others. My niche lies in supporting and contributing as a service resource related to the management of grants, contracts, and sponsored programs and in providing faculty, researchers, and staff with guidance on financial, administrative, and regulatory issues arising from the application for and the execution of sponsored awards and agreements. Moreover, one of my most proud accomplishments is my recent attainment of the Certified Research Administrator® certification, which is evidence of my commitment and love for the work in this field.