Senior Research Administrator

Department: MED-Preventive Medicine
Salary/Grade: EXS/8

Job Summary:

Provides administrative leadership by incorporating a significant amount of experience in support of unit's research programs and mission.  May provide sole support to a small to mid-sized unit, or support a portion of activities in a larger unit.  Using extensive research administration experience within the same unit, coordinates all aspects of multiple grant &/or contract pre- & post-award activities.  Assists in developing new funding opportunities & strategic plans regarding grants &/or contracts by providing guidance & counsel in regard to grant &/or contract administration which includes attending internal & external meetings, interpreting clauses, reviewing contracts, & resolving reporting &/or expense problems.  Reviews associated policy & procedures & recommends changes to increase productivity & effectiveness.

Please Note: Supervisor provides overall objectives & in consultation with EE develops deadlines.   Work is reviewed for fulfillment of objectives & overall compliance with policy & procedures.  EE completes majority of activities without direction; consulting with supervisor only in regard to new or unusual circumstances.

EE uses judgment & an extensive amount of experience to adapt an advanced knowledge of skills, methods, practices, policies & procedures & a moderate degree of innovation, analysis, & reasoning to plan & prioritize work that is primarily project oriented & involves some extremely difficult problems &/or decisions.  EE interprets policy.

  • As time and budget allows: 
  • New-"Brown Bag"-Interested in becoming an RA? 
  • Need more "How To:" sessions such as:
    • Fill out internal & external paperwork
    • Create & review budget
    • Review sponsor guidelines
    • Read a solicitation 
  • Five University Business Processes classes (HR700, HR705, HR715, HR725, HR740)New-"Brown Bag"-Interested in becoming an RA? 
  • NU-ORI-Res Dam Training session
  • SCS course: Grantsmanship for the Research Professional
  • NCURA-National Council of University Research Administrators/SRA - Society of Research Administrators International (regional or national meetings)
  • Certified Research Administrator (CRA) 
  • ASRSP effort reporting 101 
  • NU Financials budget reconciliation and reporting 
  • Audit & Advisory best practices

Specific Responsibilities


  • Typically administers multiple research projects such as:
    • Complex multi-PI or multi-unit proposals, grants &/or contracts 
    • Research portfolio for a more complex small to mid-sized unit
    • NIH U-approximately $500K+/yr. over multiple yrs.
    • NIH P-approximately $500K+/yr. over multiple yrs.
    • NIH T-approximately $100-$200K+/yr. over multiple yrs.
    • DOD and industry awards
    • Center or program grants 
    • Proposals with cost sharing
    • Fixed-price contracts
    • Non-funded negotiations such as NDAs, user agreements


  • Manages pre-award administration of grants and &/or contracts.
  • Coordinates proposal submission.
  • Coordinates budget and justification preparation.
  • Completes sponsor and university proposal forms.
  • Coordinates sub-recipients, co-investigator agreements.  
  • Creatively and proactively evaluates and resolves problems and makes decisions.


  • Coordinates post-award activities.
  • Monitors execution of all financial transactions in research portfolio.
  • Forecasts & provides information for reports on financial status of projects.
  • Manages day-to-day financial functions.
  • Verifies that protocols are linked to CUFS chart strings; labor distribution assignments.
  • Completes expenditure reviews.
  • Reconciles monthly payroll entries.
  • Prepares & submits invoices to sponsors.
  • Identifies program income issues.
  • Proposes resolutions to overdrafts.
  • Prepares interim & final financial reports.
  • Facilitates account close out activities.  
  • Participates in efforts to improve research administration 


  • Oversees sponsored project portfolio.  (assigned portfolio-not the whole unit)
  • Reviews transactions and resolve issues that requires a more complex level of financial understanding such as cost-sharing &/or effort reporting knowledge.  
  • Provides information to senior management that is used for department budgeting purposes.

Human Resources

  • Provides research administration training.
  • Develops staff.
  • Mentors other administrative staff in research administration.
  • Serves as a resource for research administration guidance.


  • Ensures compliance with all appropriate NU policies & practices; local, state, federal, agency & sponsor rules, regulations & requirements regarding grant &/or contract administration.
  • Recommends changes to improve programs, policy &/or practice.  
  • Resolves compliance problems & issues working in conjunction with faculty.


  • Performs other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree; OR appropriate combination of education and experience. 
  • A minimum of 5 years’ experience required with 2 years of research administration and 3 years of research, finance, administrative or other relevant experience.

Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities)

  • Organization, time management, detail oriented
  • Multi-tasking, communication
  • Self-starter, diplomatic, pro-active, manage stress
  • Managing people
  • Provide leadership by cooperatively anticipating, coordinating, strategizing

The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations. We acknowledge and honor the original people of the land upon which Northwestern University stands, and the Native people who remain on this land today.

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Click for information on EEO is the Law.

Contact Information

Northwestern University



710 North Lake Shore Drive, Suite 150 |

Evanston, IL 60201


Background Information

4-Year Degree


  • Research Administrator/Manager


Target Job Information

  • Full Time