Exploring the Field of Research Development, with Dr. Karen Eck – Ep #37

Have you ever considered a career in the field of research development? While it’s a relatively new field in academia, there are some amazing leaders like Dr. Karen Eck who are making significant progress. 

Karen is the Assistant Vice President for Research at Old Dominion University (ODU). In her role at ODU, Karen interfaces with internal and external entities in support of research development and policy, research strategic planning and partnerships, and regional and other initiatives on behalf of the Office of Research. 

In 2015 Dr. Eck was elected to the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) Board of Directors and currently serve as President. Before joining ODU, Karen was the biomedical Grants Officer at McGill University in the Office of the Vice-Principal for Research and International Relations. She has presented numerous talks and workshops on grant writing, peer review, team science and foundation funding, including developing a webinar series on the National Institutes of Health for the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA). Karen is fluent in French and studied and worked in a French-speaking environment for over ten years. 

Dr. Eck received her B.A. in Psychology and French from Indiana University in 1992 and her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Kent State University in 1998. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:00] Mark introduces his guest, Dr. Karen Eck. 
  • [2:50] What is research development, how did it get started? 
  • [5:00] The difference between research development and standard development? 
  • [6:40] How Karen got started with research development. 
  • [9:30] Karen talks about how bilingualism has assisted her in her career. 
  • [13:50] Applying for and winning a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant. 
  • [19:20] Who should pursue a career in research development? 
  • [23:30] How the field of research development has evolved. 

Connect with Dr. Karen Eck

Resources & People Mentioned

What is research development? 

What is research development (RD)? Research development includes a set of strategic, proactive, catalytic, and capacity-building activities designed to facilitate individual faculty members, teams of researchers, and central research administrations in attracting extramural research funding, creating relationships, and developing and implementing strategies that increase institutional competitiveness. 

Research development professionals like Dr. Karen Eck initiate and cultivate key partnerships throughout the institutional research sector and between institutions. The goal of research development is to encourage competitive individual and team research. Research development includes a broad spectrum of activities that vary by institution. Dr. Eck has played a vital role during her career exploring aspects of RD, such as funding opportunity identification, grant proposal development, and interaction with funding agencies. 

Who should get involved in the research development field? 

Is a career in research development right for you? As the RD field continues to grow, we’ll need more talented leaders like Dr. Eck to continue the critical work. If you want to work in a field that builds collaboration and fuels competitiveness – research development would be a good fit. According to Dr. Eck, research development professionals should be proficient strategists and talented connectors. 

From bringing teams together and crafting a singular message to reaching out to other institutions and building a coalition – research development professionals need to be good connectors. While many of the skills needed to excel in research development can be acquired and cultivated – there will be some researchers who will find this field a perfect fit right away. If you’d like to learn more about research development – connect with Dr. Eck or visit the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) website. 

Hear more about Karen’s journey in research development and how bilingualism has helped her career by listening to her full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks


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