Rutgers Office for Research is pleased to announce the promotion of Marika Dunn, PhD to Executive Director of Research Development within the Office for Research. “This promotion reflects the Office for Research’s commitment to supporting all Rutgers faculty as they pursue their research, scholarship, and creative endeavors,” said Michael E. Zwick, PhD, Senior Vice President for Research. “Dunn’s leadership and experience make her the ideal person to realize this expanded vision of faculty support.”
During the past two years, while reporting to both Zwick and Prabhas Moghe, PhD, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dunn has been immersed and engaged with peers and researchers at every stage of the research lifecycle to learn more about their needs and to support them in achieving their research aspirations.
“I have had the fortune of collaborating with researchers across all fields to develop their research ideas, from the arts to humanities, biology to medicine, engineering to physics, and everything in between.
My immediate goals are to build more programming and resources for researchers to gather timely funding sponsor intel, find appropriate funding opportunities, and craft quality proposals,” said Dunn. “I want to ensure that the services and resources we provide reflect the diversity of research and researcher needs that Rutgers has across all its campuses. I’m committed to having my team provide resources and training opportunities that can aid researchers in the most meaningful ways for them.”
While Dunn and her team sustain a dialogue with researchers and other supporting staff, she will continue making strides in expanding the Research Development Professionals Network, working towards increasing network membership. The network includes grant support staff and research administrators across the institution engaged in research development activities.
“They are an essential part of the research enterprise and key stakeholders for our team. We have made excellent progress during the past year in rolling out new training opportunities for this group, and I would like to continue this trend. Research development as a professional field is still fairly new, and I’d like to have Rutgers lead the way nationally in further defining careers in this field,” added Dunn.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Dunn is a New Englander at heart but an “unabashedly proud” New Jerseyan, as she has lived in the Garden State for almost 20 years now.
As a political scientist by training, with a focus on representation and constituent services, Dunn -- who holds a BA from Hampshire College in political theory and legal studies and a PhD in political science from Rutgers-New Brunswick – has felt the energy across Rutgers to experiment and rethink old ways of doing. She is making new connections that allow researchers to leverage the talent and resources across the institution, the region, and the nation.
Last Spring, Dunn’s team launched the Research Incubator in Climate and Health, the new Office for Research universitywide initiative aimed at helping researchers at the climate-health nexus to connect, guiding researchers on pitching their ideas, supporting interdisciplinary teams of individual faculty with pilot grants, and assisting projects to obtain funding from federal and private sponsors.
Dunn’s team also launched a pilot microcredential program dedicated to research development essentials consisting of a six-module course for Rutgers staff. In addition, her office trained researchers and research development professionals on the Pivot funding discovery platform and developed a Pivot Super Users group with representation from most schools across Rutgers.
“The field of research development is built upon the reality that the research landscape has fundamentally changed over the past few decades. Competition for talent, resources, and funding has become intense. Funder priorities now emphasize collaborative, interdisciplinary, use-inspired, and community-engaged research in much more meaningful ways. University-industry partnerships are growing. Therefore, universities need to provide researchers with the intel and resources they need to best assess this new landscape, mobilize in advance, and craft proposals that best speak to sponsors’ shifting priorities,” concluded Dunn, who will continue supporting researchers to help bring their ideas and projects to life.