Academic and Research Administration

Ph.D. level administrators play a critical role in supporting the research mission and related educational endeavors. A range of specific administrative positions exist in Universities and other Research Institutions, including roles that specialize in supporting departments, trainees, or grants (both pre and post-award). Administrators need a strong combination of leadership, organization, communication, and quantitative skills. Aspects of these skills are already developed through research training, but can be effectively augmented through additional professional development activities and by gaining administrative experience. Leadership roles in student and postdoctoral organizations, or the University of Chicago Higher Education Fellows program, provide trainees with hands-on experience in activities relevant to careers in research administration.

Examples of institutions where you could work in this field:

Liberal Arts Colleges
R1 Research Universities
Pharmaceutical Companies

Examples of job titles that you might find at those institutions:

Program Manager or Director, Associate Vice President for Research, Dean, Clinical Research Associate, Clinical Trial Manager, Core Facility Director

Professional societies that are relevant to this career category:

Association of Clinical Research Professionals, Society of Research Administrators, National Council of University Research Administrators, Association of Biomolecular Research Facilities

Alumni Working in Academic & Research Administration

Elise Covic

PhD Computational Neuroscience 2010
Deputy Dean, The College, University of Chicago

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
I knew early on in my graduate training that I wanted a career in science policy/academic administration so I did my best to groom myself for that roll by taking on leadership roles (BSD Dean’s Council Chair), by working with scientific societies to educate legislators about the importance of scientific funding and through science outreach initiatives such as the Groks Science Show. I made sure that my CV from grad school reflected that I could hit the ground running in a career outside the lab.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
Nothing is typical. The largest part of my job is student advising and advocacy. Besides that, I am busy with program and curricular development, grant writing and putting out administrative fires.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to advise students throughout their graduate phase is my favorite part of the job. I can provide a unique perspective to the students because, not so long ago, I too was a UChicago graduate student.

Imogen Hurley

PhD Neurobiology 2011
Director, Office of Postdoctoral Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
As a postdoc I volunteered in the BSD Postdoctoral Association and worked with the university administration to develop documents explaining postdoc appointment policy.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
During an average day I perform activities such as: coordinating training events; attending meetings with collaborators; writing policy and grant text; answering queries from postdocs, staff and faculty.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Receiving feedback from postdocs or their mentors saying that the programs we have developed are improving the postdoc experience on campus.