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Emory receives $9.2 million award to help diversify U.S. research ecosystem
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Jacob Gnieski

Kimberly Eck, Emory’s associate vice president for research, leads the NORDP Consultants Program.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $9.2 million to Emory University to support the expansion of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) Consultants Program, which is dedicated to diversifying the U.S. research ecosystem.

The NORDP Consultants Program provides research development services to minority-serving institutions (MSIs), including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and emerging research institution (ERIs). Over the past two years, NORDP consultants have worked with more than 50 MSIs and ERIs in 31 states, although the majority of those institutions were supported for short-term projects.

“Minority-serving institutions have educated generations of leaders and conducted groundbreaking research, while providing economic opportunity to help close the racial wealth gap,” says U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, a member of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, whose district includes Emory's Atlanta campus. “This $9.2 million grant will help Emory University collaborate with MSIs to write the next chapter in their illustrious histories. I am confident MSIs will use this partnership to continue advancing racial justice.”

The NSF award will be used to extend research development support to 16 non-R1 MSIs across four new cohorts for longer engagements. Over the course of two years, each MSI will receive 600 hours of consulting time from experienced NORDP consultants and gain access to an array of other research development mechanisms for the duration of the project period. Ultimately, the project will broaden participation by increasing the capacity of MSIs to develop research projects, secure funding and engage students in research.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia notes that “this new multi-million-dollar federal investment bolstering the NSF's partnership with Emory University to host and empower leaders and researchers from HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions stands as a beacon of hope for Georgia and our nation's future.

“This collaboration empowers communities historically left behind with the vital resources needed to ignite greater research capacity and competitiveness,” Warnock says. “Emory University's mission to excel as an institution of inclusivity and innovation will have ripple effects extending to every corner of Georgia and the country, affirming the value of MSIs and HBCUs, and fostering a stronger, more diverse research landscape that benefits us all."

The NORDP Consultants Program award is the first non-conference project funded by NSF’s new program Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity (GRANTED). GRANTED focuses on addressing systemic barriers within the nation’s research enterprise by improving research support and service capacity at ERIs. By embedding experienced research administration professionals, GRANTED enhances the ability for these universities to build research capacity at ERIs.

“The GRANTED program is very unique in that it augments existing resources at ERIs with support to strengthen their research infrastructure,” says Deborah Bruner, senior vice president for research. “Receiving this award is not only an honor but speaks to Emory’s commitment to fostering equity, inclusion and social justice both locally and nationally.”

The NORDP Consultants Program began with a pilot project supported by the Schmidt Family Foundation via recommendation of Schmidt Futures. Subsequently, NORDP consultants provided two years of strategic planning and research development support to four competitively selected HBCUs, including Atlanta-based Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.

“Diversifying the national research ecosystem is increasingly a core activity of research development professionals,” says Kimberly Eck, Emory’s associate vice president for research, who leads the NORDP Consultants Program. "Supporting MSIs in securing more resources will advance science though their innovative work and lead to more students engaged in the conduct of research, a high impact practice for retaining students in STEM.”

The NSF Technology, Innovations and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate then approached Eck and the consultants about providing support to ERIs that wish to submit applications to the NSF Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity (EPIIC) funding opportunity.

“With this support we can expand on the great work the program has done thus far," Eck explains. “It has been deeply rewarding to work with the NORDP Consultants and the MSIs and ERIs with whom we’ve partnered. As excited as I am about the progress we’ve made to date, I’ve even more excited about the potential of this grant to expand our work.” 

For potential MSI partners interested in being a part of the program, the NORDP Consultants Program will host an information session on Oct. 2, 2023, at 3 p.m. EST. Please register here. The RFA and application submission portal can be accessed here.

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