Susan Carter, SFI’s Director of Research Development, was named a Charter Fellow by the National Organization of Research Development Professionals.

Considered "the highest professional honor” the organization bestows, the fellowship recognizes members who have “made sustained contributions to NORDP and worked tirelessly to advance research development.” The NORDP website defines research development as “encompass[ing] a set of strategic, catalytic, and capacity-building activities that advance research, especially in higher education. Research Development professionals help researchers become more successful communicators, grant writers, and advocates for their research. Research Development professionals also serve their institutions. They create services and resources that transcend disciplinary and administrative barriers."

Carter came to SFI in 2018 after “retiring unsuccessfully,” she says, from a 20-year career at the University of California. During her nine years at UC Merced, she helped co-found NORDP and establish it as a nationally recognized resource for research development.

Since joining SFI, Carter has helped faculty and postdoctoral fellows secure critical grant-based funding from federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and NASA, as well as from private foundations and international funders including the John Templeton Foundation, Marie-Curie Fellowships, the Foundational Questions Institute, and the Leakey Foundation. She has also helped dozens of SFI and JSMF researchers brush up their grant-getting and communications skills, and routinely encourages both senior faculty and postdocs to apply for new funding opportunities. 

“Susan is an outstanding intermediary between SFI, federal agencies, and foundations,” says VP for Science Jennifer Dunne. “It is excellent, and highly appropriate, that she has received this important honor.”

Research development is essential to supporting the type of science that characterizes SFI — risky, innovative, and often ill-matched to traditional disciplinary categories and funding streams. Grants supply anywhere from 30-45% of SFI's budget in a given year, with the rest made up by private donations and membership fees from the Applied Complexity Network. 

“Support for grant-getting is especially important when research is diverse, high-risk, or high-reward,” Carter says. “A lot of complexity research is exactly that."

When Omidyar Fellow Tyler Marghetis shared news of Carter’s award over SFI’s community email list, congratulations poured in. Tamara van der Does, an SFI postdoctoral fellow who has participated in Carter’s popular and beloved grant-getting workshop, and secured two grants with Carter's help, expressed delight that “…NORDP has recognized what we all already knew.” 

Carter and the other charter fellows will be formally recognized in May of 2021 during the NORDP Annual Research Development Conference.