What resources does Sponsored Projects Administration offer UVA School of Medicine faculty?
Angela Sherman, Manager of Sponsored Projects Administration, answers that question and more.
This post is part of a series of interviews with faculty and staff who offer resources to SOM faculty. Stay tuned for more interviews with your colleagues!
Q: Will you tell us about a few ways that Sponsored Projects Administration can help faculty in their research?
I work for the Dean’s Office for the School of Medicine and with the Office of Sponsored Programs. You could call me “OSP Local” for the School of Medicine – I tie the two offices together. The Office of Sponsored Programs receives and manages the grant funding that comes to the entire university. School of Medicine is the lion’s share of the grant funding. We have about 60% in the School of Medicine, and the other schools divvy up the other 40% of research funding.
You can imagine that there is a lot to managing that research money. There’s a whole grant cycle. You apply for the funding, you receive the funding, you manage the funding, you close it out. And this wheel is spinning all the time, because we have at any given time, probably three or four thousand active grants in the university. School of Medicine pulls in about $130 million a year. We’re hoping to increase that. Since it’s federal dollars for the most part, there’s lots of strings attached, there’s lots to know.
The way I support faculty is two-fold: I give direct support to faculty by some training offerings that I do during the year on grantsmanship – how to write a grant, how to get a grant funded, what peer review is all about. I help young trainees apply for their first grants, and then, on the post-award side, I assist the people who are assisting the investigators. I am a source of expertise for the people who are in the department because you can imagine there’s job turnover, sometimes people are newer, our PIs have very complicated research. It’s very difficult for a person to know everything they need to know to best assist a faculty member, so I’m a go-to person for them. Even though I’ve been doing this for nineteen years, every day I encounter something I have not run across before!
Q: I recently saw that UVA moved up in its share of NIH funding.
Climbing in the rankings is a big deal. But it is because of the efforts of our faculty, I can’t take credit for that!
Q: Many of the training workshops you offer can be found on the Faculty Development website and are announced through emails and our social media. Do you also offer one-on-one trainings?
I do training for administrators. Those are a little more spontaneous, not on a regular schedule. I might see a need, and I’ll get a bunch of people together to talk about something.
And I’m accessible to them at any time. That goes for faculty, too. If they have an intractable problem, and their normal ways of getting it solved are not working – something is stuck somewhere – then they can come to me for help. You know, something just isn’t getting communicated correctly or it’s stuck somewhere, and people are misunderstanding what the other is needing or asking for, and I can intercede and break the log jam, move it through.
My door is always open to people. If they have a need, they can come see me anytime. If I think that someone else can better solve their problem, I’ll direct them to that.
Q: How long have you been at UVA?
It will be 19 years this summer.
Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Definitely not a research administrator, because no one even knows what that is! That’s really one of the challenges of research administration. It’s not that anybody goes to school to do this. You don’t even know that it’s a job until you find yourself needing to do it.
I was very into music when I was a kid, and I thought I might want to be a music teacher. I did end up getting my degree in music. I was very inspired by a music teacher when I was young, and I just always wanted to do that.
So, I get to be a teacher, just not a music teacher.
Q: Do you have any children or pets at home that you would like to tell us about?
I have a son at home, and I have three cats and a dog and a big tank full of fish and bird feeders in the backyard. I’m definitely an animal lover.
Q: Do you have a favorite local restaurant or hangout spot?
There are lots! There are just so many great places to go in Charlottesville. I like downtown. And Tavola is probably my favorite restaurant. But that’s for special occasions!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us about your work with faculty?
I believe in the mission of what faculty leadership is doing to support our faculty. We ask a lot of them. We have to support them in what we ask of them. That’s what really drives me. I can’t make a great scientific discovery, but maybe I can help someone who makes a great scientific discovery. I love my job. I love our faculty and supporting them. I came from the business world. Here, people here are not just profit-driven, they’re doing things for the betterment of humankind.