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Improving Research Infrastructure

Chancellor Randy Woodson has created three task forces to identify the most pressing issues impacting research administration and support services (RASS) at NC State — and make actionable recommendations for change. Alyson Wilson, Sr. Assoc. VC for Research, will coordinate the task forces.


NC State’s research enterprise has seen enormous growth over the past decade. Year over year, the university has seen a substantial increase in sponsored research awards, growing from $383M in 2021 to $409M in 2022 (7% increase). Last fiscal year, we submitted $1.5B worth of research proposals — and brought in $476M, a 16% increase, in new sponsored research awards.

While an impressive reflection on the strength of our research enterprise, this growth has posed challenges to our existing infrastructure and administrative processes; some services that support our research enterprise have not kept pace. Therefore, we need to consider new investments in people, processes and systems.

To be clear, the people who currently support research at NC State care deeply about our success. They work diligently on behalf of our researchers and are committed to excellence.

But as our research enterprise continues to grow in size and complexity, we must carefully review, evaluate and improve our provision of administrative services — especially with an eye toward supporting the research community and improving communications, training, the use of technology, and our organizational construct.

Task Force Charges

  • Sponsored Programs: The Sponsored Programs Task Force covers the processes and structures in both pre- and post-award grants management that integrate through departments, college research offices, the Office of Research and Innovation, the Office of Finance and Administration, and the Office of Information Technology.
  • Research Implementation: The Research Implementation Task Force is charged with identifying research-related challenges and opportunities in areas like HR, purchasing, travel, and technology licensing. Priorities and breadth of what is addressed will be based on stakeholder input.
  • Culture/Collaboration/Communication: The Culture, Collaboration, and Communication Task Force is charged with identifying NC State workplace strengths and challenges resulting in actionable recommendations to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of research administration and support infrastructure.

Task Force Members

Since our research services are distributed across the university, our work must involve all departments, colleges and central administrative services. Each task force has two co-chairs, who will identify six to eight additional members — ensuring broad representation of both faculty and staff, as well as the many various organizations across our university.

  • Co-Chair: Alan Porch, Staff Senate Chair and Business Manager, Mathematics
  • Co-Chair: Jacob Jones, Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Monique Burnette, Operations Manager, SPARCS
  • Christine Epps, Asst. Director of Pre-Award, College of Natural Resources
  • Jack Foster, Director of Software Development and Integrations, Enterprise Application Services, Office of Information Technology
  • Karen Hollebrands, Assoc. Dean for Research and Innovation and Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Mathematics Education, College of Education
  • Kirk Main, Director of Information Technology and Operations, Wilson College of Textiles
  • Carolyn Mattingly, Distinguished Professor and Department Head, Biological Sciences
  • Allison Nelson, Assoc. Director of Post Award, Office of Contracts and Grants
  • Shirley Rich Patterson, Post Award Manager for Contracts and Grants, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Co-Chair: Amy Grunden, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Plant and Microbial Biology
  • Co-Chair: Ginger Burks Draughon, Asst. Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Office of Research and Innovation
  • Geoff Bock, Director of Operations, NC Plant Sciences Initiative, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Joel Ducoste, Assoc. Dean of Faculty Development and Success and Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Cari Furiness, Asst. Consortium Director, Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center
  • Allie Geng, Manager for Finance and Business Management, College of Sciences
  • Audrey Jaeger, Executive Director of the Belk Center and Professor, Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development 
  • Maggie Merry, Asst. Dean of Finance and Administration, Poole College of Management
  • Susana Milla-Lewis, Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences
  • Sheri Renno, Asst. Dean of Human Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Co-Chair: Chris Mayhorn, Department Head, Psychology
  • Co-Chair: Ursula Hairston, Asst. Vice Chancellor for HR Strategy, University Human Resources
  • Sharon Joines, Assoc. Dean and Professor of Industrial Design, College of Design
  • Lucian Lucia, Chair of the University Research Council and Professor, Forest Biomaterials (Wood and Paper Science) and Chemistry 
  • Maria Mayorga, Goodnight Distinguished Chair in Operations Research and Director of Operations Research, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Ginny Moser, Director of Research Administration, Integrated Support Service Center, Office of Research and Innovation
  • Marielle Pocan, Assistant for Communications, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
  • Nikki Price, Asst. Dean for Talent, Culture, and Human Resources, College of Sciences
  • Melissa Edwards Smith, Director of Education and Campus Engagement, Office for Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Practice
  • Courtney Thornton, Assoc. Vice Provost for Strategy, Implementation and Communication, Institutional Strategy and Analysis
  • Laurie Williams, Goodnight Distinguished University Professor, Computer Science

Alyson Wilson, senior associate vice chancellor for research, will coordinate the three task forces.

The task forces will gather input from across the university, including but not limited to representatives from the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Research Leadership Academy, Research Support Council and University Research Committee, along with all Associate Deans for Research.

Expert Advisors

Expert Advisors will help connect the task forces to the expertise across campus they’ll need to understand our various processes and systems. These are the task forces’ first points of contact to access expertise; the task forces will also consult additional advisors as needed.

  • Tim Danielson, University Human Resources
  • Genevieve Garland, Office of Research and Innovation
  • Dana Harris, Office of Finance and Administration
  • Pat Hayes, College of Engineering
  • Cecile Hinson, Internal Audit Division
  • Kim Kelley, University Controller’s Office
  • Sharon Loosman, Procurement and Business Services
  • Mary Cole Pike, University Communications
  • Sherrie Settle, Office of Research and Innovation
  • Missy Thomas, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Justo Torres, Office of Contracts and Grants
  • Shawn Troxler, Office of General Counsel

Scheduled Discussions

  • May 13: Research Leadership Academy
  • May 14: Research Support Council (RSC)
  • May 15: University Research Committee
  • May 16: Research Operations Council
  • June 12: RSC Executive Committee

How to Voice Your Feedback

For this to work, we need input from everyone — faculty and staff alike. There are two ways to provide feedback: