Research Development at IRWG

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This article was originally featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Genderscapes, IRWG's annual newsletter.

IRWG’s primary mission is to support and foster interdisciplinary research on women, gender and sexuality at the University of Michigan. One way to provide this support is by awarding internal funds through small grant programs. Some research projects, however, are larger in scope and require resources from federal and foundation grants. IRWG provides personalized, hands-on support services for U-M faculty who are interested in seeking extramural funding for their gender-based research.

Dr. Jocelyn Fenton Stitt and Lisa Parker work directly with faculty members from across the University of Michigan to help them find, apply for, and secure federal and foundation research funding.

Jocelyn Stitt is IRWG’s Program Director for Faculty Research Development. She describes herself as “a fierce and enthusiastic advocate for the production and dissemination of feminist research.” With a Ph.D. in English and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan, she has ten years of experience as a faculty member in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Minnesota State University.

Having recently earned a graduate certificate in Grantsmanship from the University of Missouri’s Truman School for Public Policy, plus her years as an interdisciplinary gender scholar, Jocelyn is well-prepared to help faculty develop their research agendas, find funding, and provide feedback on written proposals. Since joining the IRWG staff in summer 2015, she has helped faculty submit proposals to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Society of Family Planning, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Jocelyn takes a personalized approach to her job.  She starts by meeting with faculty members to discuss their research ideas and to get acquainted with their writings and publications.

After these preliminary conversations, she begins plotting out what funding mechanisms would be a good fit. She has also helped faculty locate collaborators in other units, advocating for connections between the different fields and research approaches.

During the grant writing process, Jocelyn serves as a “grant doctor” -- workshopping pieces of the narrative, offering feedback and notes to strengthen the proposal, based on best practices and the specific requirements of the grant. IRWG Assistant Research Scientist Michelle Segar worked with Jocelyn on a grant proposal for a project investigating how to support and sustain walking as a healthy form of exercise in under-resourced racial and ethnic minority communities. She describes her experience: “Having Jocelyn as a sounding board, editor, and getting her expert guidance really helped my process of submitting an NIH grant. She not only brought an outside, high-level, thoughtful perspective to the study design and framing of the grant, her insights were creative and helped enhance its overall packaging.”

If a proposal isn’t funded on the first attempt, Jocelyn will analyze the grant’s scoring, and work with faculty to revise and resubmit. Faculty are encouraged to continue meeting with Jocelyn as their research agenda grows and shifts.

Lisa Parker has been at IRWG since 2000, administering federal and non-federal research proposals and awarded projects. While Jocelyn helps faculty members refine the scope and content of their proposal, Lisa assists with the fine details, including completing the sponsor application form with the required institutional information and uploading the proposal narrative. She pays particular attention to ensuring formatting guidelines are followed -- everything from margins, fonts, spacing, and style consistencies. Once the proposal has been thoroughly reviewed, Lisa sends it to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects for the final authorization.

When a proposal is awarded, Lisa oversees the financial and administrative tasks related to the grant. She manages accounts and spending, submits required yearly progress reports, and ensures all the requirements and rules of the grant are followed.

Both Jocelyn and Lisa cite working with faculty as the most rewarding parts of their jobs. Jocelyn explains, “The people I work with all have an interest in gender and sexuality. As both a Research Development person and an interdisciplinary feminist scholar, I understand the political import and the necessity of their research: their research interests are so crucial and there are still a lot of gaps in our knowledge, and that makes me want to champion their work.”

 

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