ATLANTA—An innovative program designed to encourage a new generation of research job seekers is reaching notable milestones at Georgia State.
The Access to Careers in Research Administration (ACRA) program kicked off last fall to create for students a career path in the field of research administration and identify strategies to attract talented workers. The experience combines formal training with mentored, on-the-job experiences to build the research administration workforce of the future. Interns engage with faculty, grants and contracts officers and others, and present a final project to complete the program.
The first crop of graduate students in ACRA is presenting capstone research projects as a new cohort of interns begins the 36-week program.
Graduate student James Malloy presented his capstone project recently at the 65th Annual Meeting of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) in Washington, D.C. Malloy recently completed a master’s in education research.
The presentation, “An Exploratory Analysis of GSU Research Administration Processes,” included analysis and data visualization for proposals and awards from the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State.
“My experience with ACRA was amazing. The instruction was top-tier, and I learned so much about research administration from my advisers,” Malloy said. “My degree program was for research methods, so this program gave me one of my first real-life opportunities to conduct and share my research with a live audience.”
Vice President for Research and Economic Development Tim Denning also took part in the panel at the D.C. meeting. He said the ACRA program gives students the opportunity to dive into the research world in a way they may not have considered before.
“Research administrators are absolutely essential to the research process, and their unique skills help fuel the capacity for impact,” Denning said. “We are proud to see this program preparing graduate students to join the workforce with skills that are both valuable and in high demand.”
Participants Tanvi Kulkarni and Mariah Smith are also conducting research capstone projects related to work-life balance for remote workers and job retention of research administrators and will finish their internships in December.
The program is led by Candice Ferguson and Kay Gilstrap who conceived of the idea and created the framework with colleague Kathleen Halley-Octa. They then used their own research administration skills to draft a successful grant proposal to bring the project to life.
“We’re so pleased with our student leaders so far,” Ferguson said. “It’s exciting to customize the experience to match what these students want to pursue. For instance, some of our interns are interested in managing big data or data visualization while others want to pursue administration, so there are lots of opportunities to learn.”
With renewed grant funding from NCURA and Georgia State’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the second cohort of candidates began internships in August and will be working with University Research Services and Administration (URSA) team members to conduct research and learn strategies for best practices in administration.
The program is run by the Office of Research and Economic Development and The Graduate School at Georgia State.