Note from the Editor: Why Travel to International Research Management Conferences?

by Debra Schaller-Demers on Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer is winding down. Campuses and workplaces are again buzzing with activity after our summer siestas. For some, the end of summer means the end of the travel season. But it doesn’t have to be. What about professional travel? Travel to professional conferences is exciting and fun. Sharing knowledge and learning from others can make the experience invaluable. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones will enrich your personal and professional life. So instead of thinking of summer as an ending, think of it as a beginning. 

This month, Debbie Schaller-Demers shares her experiences traveling around the world, sharing knowledge and representing the field of research administration and management. Her story is both inspirational and interesting. Here’s hoping your next travel date brings you to the SRAI 51st Annual Meeting in Orlando, October 27-31, 2018!

Katie Watkins & Seema Dhindaw
Co-editors, Catalyst


Authored by:
Debra Schaller-Demers
SRAI Distinguished Faculty Emeritus
EPDC Leadership Working Group Co-chair
Director, Research Outreach and Compliance
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center



You might think to yourself, what value is there in traveling long distances outside of your home country to conferences where: 1) you may not know anyone; 2) they do things differently than you do at home; and; 3) it costs more money and takes more time to travel?

I confess that years ago, I thought all the above! But over time, as I met more and more international colleagues at SRAI, I began to think differently. I saw that they not only were attending our programs, but participating as speakers, program planners, and co-chairs. By attending various sessions led by international speakers and networking with them during social activities, it became increasing clear that there were more instances of similarities than differences. Best of all, these interactions created opportunities to learn from a new perspective.

Global research collaborations have become more and more prevalent over the last fifteen years. US-based institutions have opened up campuses abroad in increasing number. If your institution is like mine, we have students, visiting scholars, and research trainees (postdoctoral fellows) from all over the world.

Sharing ideas, procedures, policies, expectations about how the work is to be done and administered is essential for not only scientific, but financial success. Together we build capacity to support a global research community built on integrity, common understanding, and financial stewardship.

With my institution’s support and in some instances, additional travel support from SRAI, I have been fortunate to be able to experience some amazing cities outside of the US:

  • Australia: Melbourne (INORMS/ARMS 2016)
  • Brazil: Rio de Janeiro (WCRI 2015)
  • Canada: Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver (SRAI Annual Meetings, CAREB)
  • England: Blackpool (ARMA 2014)
  • Holland: Amsterdam (WCRI 2017)
  • Scotland: Edinburgh (INORMS/ARMA 2018)

I have presented at these meetings and have partnered with esteemed colleagues, almost all of whom I had the opportunity to meet through SRAI – Mark Hochman, Annedorte Vad, and Ian Carter, just to name a few. At the same time, I have been invited to speak at other Society meetings or present webinars, based on recommendations of people who have seen me present at SRAI. My willingness to travel, and share my knowledge has opened a wide world of opportunity for me both personally and professionally.

So back to my original question - Why Travel to International Research Management Conferences? – because you gain so much in knowledge, experience, and make great connections! You can never have too many friends. Stay connected, the conversation is ongoing… always more to learn.