Four people, each holding an oversized puzzle piece, fit the pieces together.

Get to know OARS staff on National Research Administrator Day

September 25, 2018 marks the fourth annual National Research Administrator Day. Beginning this year, we will commemorate the event by profiling staff in various research administration units at Miami University. We decided to start right here at home, by introducing you to the team in the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami’s central pre-award research office. (To learn more about the research administration profession, check out this post from our archive, by former OARS team member Tricia Callahan.)


Amy Hurley Cooper in her office
Amy Hurley Cooper

Amy Hurley Cooper, Assistant Director of Proposal Development

How long have you been a research administrator?
I’ve officially been a research administrator for about a year, but looking back, much of what I’ve done throughout my career was research administration.

Describe your job in five words or less.
No two days the same.

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
The need to track a lot of information for each proposal — to a researcher, it can seem like busy work, but we really need that information, often to ensure we are following sponsor guidelines.

What is your research administrator superpower?
Empathy — I’ve done such a variety of proposal related tasks (planning, writing, editing, submitting on various platforms, managing funded projects) that I can usually relate to issues facing PIs or research team members.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
Editor — I spent many years writing proposals but I really don’t enjoy starting with a blank page. I love helping others to convey ideas clearly and effectively.

Vanessa Gordon at her desk
Vanessa Gordon

Vanessa Gordon, Assistant to the Associate Provost for Research and Scholarship

How long have you been a research administrator?
I am in my sixth year of research administration.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Interesting, supportive, fun, collaborative, and rewarding

What is your research administrator superpower?
I would have to say that my superpower would be the records gatekeeper. I check and assure all data entered in the Cayuse system is correct for report generation and assure consistency.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
There are so many options out there to chose from, but I am going with being a detective. I love a good mystery and solving puzzles is where I like to shine. I would find that to be a very rewarding job for me.

Heather Beattey Johnston in her office
Heather Beattey Johnston

Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director of Research Communications

How long have you been a research administrator?
Just about six years — since I came to Miami in November of 2012.

Describe your job in five words or less.
What humanities programs teach matters.

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Although we might appear to be mere bureaucrats, research administrators really do care about facilitating research. We work hard to protect our institutions and steward sponsor funds because we want to ensure continued access to the resources our researchers need to do their work.

What is your research administrator superpower?
Editing. Concise, clear sentences with active verbs not only make for more authoritative and logical arguments, they also take up less room in a proposal narrative!

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
I think it would be awesome to be a forensic linguist. I have always been a language nerd, and as an undergraduate student I considered becoming an attorney in part because the law is a profession that is, at heart, really about language. I also love to solve puzzles. Forensic linguistics is a field that combines language, the law, and puzzle-solving.

Anne Schauer in her office
Anne Schauer

Anne Schauer, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs

How long have you been a research administrator?
25 years

Describe your job in five words or less.
Multi-tasking on steroids.

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Guidelines really are meant to be read and followed! While that does seem obvious, a lot of the investigators I have worked with tend to rely more on their expertise and past proposal submission experiences to guide them. In our current highly-competitive funding climate, it is critical for investigators to submit totally complaint and error-free proposals. A lot of the errors I encounter are administrative in nature (i.e. formatting issues, unallowable attachments, etc.) that would not occur if only the submitter took the time to read and follow the proposal guidelines. The notion that their program officer won’t care, or will overlook such minor oversights is false and could produce a very real negative result if that is their guide. So . . . before you start to write a grant proposal . . . please read the guidelines and follow them to the letter!

What is your research administrator superpower?
I really am the knower of all things when it comes to research administration. I actually am not, but I have become quite adept at knowing exactly where to look for the answers to most questions that investigators pose. I have a well catalogued list of resources and browser bookmarks, as well as colleagues at various institutions throughout the U.S. where I can easily turn to get issues resolved in a timely fashion.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
Full-time glass artist. Creating stained glass, fused glass and lampwork glass art and jewelry is something I have been doing in my spare time for many years. I totally enjoy the creative process as well as participating with other artists in art shows and interacting with customers.


Puzzle piece photo public domain via Max Pixel. OARS staff photos by Heather Beattey Johnston and Vanessa Gordon, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

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