At Cayuse, we understand the amazing yet thankless work that research administrators do on a daily basis. If it weren’t for them (and the great researchers they serve, of course) we wouldn’t benefit from many of the societal and scientific advancements that enhance our lives today. We understand this because a number of members of the Cayuse team served as research administrators in the past.

In honor of annual Research Administrator Day on September 25, Cayuse would like to recognize the admirable work that research administrators do every day with reflections on research administration from members of the Cayuse team.

Anita Mills, CRA, Solutions Consultant

“I moved to Chicago as a young idealistic research psychologist. My love of computers and semi-technical skills landed me a job in research administration. When I started, I knew nothing about the rules and regulations for managing research grants. My first job in research administration was tough, really tough! I questioned my own sanity on a daily basis. Luckily many people took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. The kindness and patience that my early mentors bestowed upon me made me feel like we are all in this together. This sense of community lives within me today.

Being part of a community that cares and supports each other is one of the reasons I have stayed in the field for so long. I have always been passionate about research. As a research administrator, I am proud to be part of a field that supports advancing the greater good and innovating science.”

Carrie Yakura, Professional Services Consultant

“Research administration is a selfless enterprise. Its mission is to help. It does not exist for its own glory. Research administrators breathe this mission. They believe in the research and the work being done at their institutions, quietly acknowledge their small part in it, and expect nothing in return. This is what I witnessed in my co-workers when I worked in research administration and what I witness in our clients at Cayuse every day. Their integrity and dedication give strength to their institution and provide invaluable support to those they serve. For these reasons, I am glad there is a National Research Administrator Day to recognize these fine people.”

Matty Gilreath, Professional Services Consultant

“I love working with research administrators! As a former research administrator, I know this largely underappreciated line of work is actually very important, and I know how hard RA folks work. The most obvious role RAs provide is helping principal investigators to get their sponsored project proposals to the sponsors before deadlines. That’s no small feat, and there are multiple components involved—from internal rules to sponsor attachments—some of which the PIs may have not even realized were necessary. The RAs track and sweat those details, until and unless they are resolved correctly.

It’s especially challenging to complete such administrative duties under tight time constraints, and/or when the PIs don’t fully grasp the value or necessity of being in compliance with rules, regulations, and requirements at the proposal stage. RAs know that the PI’s entire sponsored project could be in jeopardy if, say, conflicts of interest, intellectual property, and/or export control issues are not addressed properly far before the award stage. (As a newbie RA, I remember feeling intimidated by faculty who simply refused to abide by the latest campus policy or form, because they saw it as extraneous, or not applicable.) So each year when we celebrate Research Administrator Day, I commend RAs for keeping an eye on the clock and the bottom line, on behalf of their institution.”

Kelly Morgan, Project Manager – Pre-Award Solutions

“I can say with complete honesty that I loved my time as a research administrator. As hard as it was, I got to see some of the most cutting-edge, historically significant, world-changing research, scholarly, and creative activity that I otherwise would have been completely ignorant of. Knowing that I got to help further science, industry, and culture was nothing short of amazing and I’m so proud of the work I was able to assist with.

I remember once fighting with an agency over how they awarded funding for a particular project. I had interpreted their RFP one way, and they were taking, shall we say, a different point of view. My interpretation gave my institution a proposed $100k that would allow several grad students to continue their education and work on a very significant project. The agency’s interpretation moved that $100k to a federally funded research and development center we were subbing out to.

It took several days of very intense emails and phone calls, but when I finally secured that money… well, do you remember that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie is running down the street with the golden ticket in his hand? That was me running to my PI’s lab with the printed email verifying 100k to be added to our award. I was so happy – I burst into the PI’s lab where several of the affected grad students were hard at work, showed them the email, and proceeded to have a lab party! That was definitely a first for me!

And all of us have had a hundred moments like that – times we know we’ve helped make the world a tiny bit better. That’s what research administration is all about.”

Kevin Ferrell, Inside Sales, Solutions Consultant

“Research Administrator Day is a reminder to me of the importance of the work we do to support the research mission in this country. While there is plenty to critique on how proposals are judged and awarded, none of it would go as smoothly as it does if it wasn’t for those who serve as administrators at our great institutions. In fact, I would argue the current trend of reducing burden and improving the process is a direct result of the passion we all have in making sure the focus remains in ensuring innovative, groundbreaking research has the chance to be pursued. While very few of us may have anticipated in our teens that this was going to be the career for us, I am very proud of the work we do.”

We can’t thank the research administration community enough for all you do, but we’ll try anyway. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Want to connect with others in research administration? Join our free online community, Connect Community!