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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) selected Swarthmore College as a recipient of a 2014 Biomedical/Biobehavioral Research Administration Development (BRAD) Award to enhance its support for sponsored research and faculty development. This capacity-building will, in turn, increase research and mentoring opportunities for faculty and students interested in health-related fields.

Specific Aims & Accomplishments

1. Address gaps in existing pre- and post-award processes by standardizing and enhancing Sponsored Research Office (SRO) support structures for grant development, improving responsible conduct of research compliance, and developing tools and processes for effective assessment of project effectiveness and dissemination of project results.

  • Completed three-week NIH Residency Training in Bethesda, MD (2014)
  • Conducted voluntary NCURA Peer Review of college-wide sponsored research operations (2014)
  • Ongoing review and implementation of recommendations (contact Tom Stephenson or Tania Johnson with questions or comments)
  • Clarification of sponsored research staff’s roles and responsibilities in job descriptions
  • Bifurcated “SPIR” into separate Sponsored Programs and Institutional Relations offices (2015)
  • Developed new grants presentation as part of the Provost’s Office’s New Faculty programming (2014)
  • Hired limited-term program assistant for administrative and data management support, which provided critical support for the HHMI capstone report (2014 - 2016)
  • Sponsored PRIM&R At Your Doorstep IRB Training, organized by Swarthmore College IRB (2015)
  • Secured new partnership with firm providing strategic grant development services, including prospect research and proposal reviews, to expand SP’s capacity to serve faculty and enhance grant competitiveness (2017)
  • Transitioned to new Pivot funding database (2017)
  • Purchased CITI online “Biosafety and Biosecurity” training (2017)
  • Attended NERCOMP “Data Lift Off” conference on data governance best practices (2017)
  • Provided partial funding for database for SCAFRO grants network (2017)
  • Participated in BRAD-funded IACUC training at Franklin & Marshall College (2018)
  • Secured DocuSign software, consulting, and training for electronic routing (2018)
  • Commissioned external workload analysis using the “Proposal Complexity Scoring Matrix” (2018)
  • Attended the Federal Demonstration Partnership meeting in Washington, DC (2019)

2. Increase and diversify the number of science and social science faculty and students engaged in biomedical and biobehavioral research.

  • Co-funded pilot of National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD) institutional membership in collaboration with Provost and Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity (2015)
  • Sponsored two grant strategies workshops at the Consortium on Faculty Diversity (CFD) Annual Conference at Swarthmore College (2015)
  • Planned NCFDD workshops for Spring 2018 in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts:
    • Solo Success: How To Thrive In The Academy When You're The Only __________ In Your Department
    • Building A Publishing Pipeline: Concrete Strategies For Increasing Your Writing Productivity.
  • Partnered with strategic grant services firm to develop customized Grants 101 and NSF CAREER trainings (2017)
  • Developed customized discipline-specific NIH workshop in partnership with Psychology Department (2017)
  • Developed customized “Introduction to NIH” training (2017)
  • Participated in SRA International Spring Intensive Training Programs (2017)
  • Developed customized Broader Impacts training for faculty (2018)

3. Develop both in-person and virtual networks in order to stimulate greater collaboration with external communities and partners.

  • Developed and presented Banner grants module webinar for a peer school’s grants, finance, and enterprise systems teams, in collaboration with Business Office (2014)
  • Presented on professional development strategies at the SRA Delaware Valley Chapter Meeting (2015)
  • Published “Reorganizing Sponsored Research Operations at a Small Liberal Arts College” in SRA Catalyst newsletter (2016)
  • Facilitated discussion groups on BRAD and NIH at the Colleges of Liberal Arts Sponsored Programs (CLASP) conferences at Hamilton and Pomona Colleges, respectively (2015 & 2016)
  • Presented at the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) Region II conference (2017)
  • Facilitated three PUI discussion groups at the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) annual conference (2017)
  • Host of Colleges of Liberal Arts Sponsored Programs (CLASP) at Swarthmore College, including an NIH pre-conference and Certified Research Administrator review session (2017)
  • Participated in EARMA Research Administration Master Class on European funding (2018)

View the “Strengthening Sponsored Programs at Swarthmore” presentation [pdf] given by Tania Johnson, director of sponsored programs, in October 2015.


Swarthmore College’s BRAD grant (#1G11HD080231-01) is made possible by the support of The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Note: While BRAD is focused on biomedical and behavioral research, Swarthmore applied to the BRAD program with the understanding that improving the structures and processes needed to support that work will help support all faculty and institutional proposals and grants.