Director of Research Development


Job Description:

Campus Title: Director of Research Development

Budget Title: Senior Staff Associate

Unit: Office of Research Programs

Professional Rank and Salary Range: SL-5; Mid-$90s to low-$110,000+, depending on qualifications Temporary - possible extension

Position location: ESF's Syracuse campus

How to Apply: Visit the Current Open Positions, ID #173588, on the ESF web site.

Application Deadline: Apply by April 11, 2024 for optimal consideration, although applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


Job Summary:

The Director of Research Development (RD) works under the direction of the Vice President for Research (VPR) to develop strategic sponsored research and engagement opportunities for ESF faculty and to manage ESF programs that support research development. The Director works with the ESF leadership team to identify and promote strategic research priorities, assists in matching faculty strengths with sponsor priorities, and helps develop and refine competitive grant proposals, including large-scale, multidisciplinary/multi-institutional and/or training proposals. The Director supports early-career (pre-tenure) faculty, and research clusters in establishing a record of research funding through individual consultations, cohort and group trainings, professional development programs, and strategic grant making. The Director works closely with the other directors within ORP, the VPR and all relevant offices at ESF, the Research Foundation for SUNY (RFSUNY) administrators and staff, sponsoring state and federal agencies, industry, and for-profit and non-profit organizations. 

The successful candidate will:

  • Be a self-motivated problem solver with proven organizational and managerial abilities, as well as excellent critical thinking and communication skills.
  • Think independently and strategically with a record of clarity in decision making.
  • Show evidence of working effectively in a team environment.
  • Demonstrate success in garnering sponsored funding and research leadership within higher education, government agencies, foundations, national research laboratories or other research-focused settings.
  • Adaptively lead and expand ESF's research development program beyond the startup phase in close partnership with the VPR and ORP director leadership team.


Scope of the Position

25% - Work to monitor trends, identify and promote new and aligned sources of research funding from federal agencies, foundations, state governments, nonprofits, and industry partners. The Director works to map the landscape of funding agency priorities and strategies onto current and potential ESF research assets to identify opportunities for ESF researchers. The Director promotes relationships with agency program officers, industry representatives and others to inform strategy and create access to opportunities for ESF investigators. The Director provides resources and expertise to support decision-making on research priorities.  


25% - Manage and organize research development activities to optimize the success of ESF researchers by providing access to professional development and training in grant writing and project management. The Director works with external resources and others across ESF and SUNY to promote professional development opportunities and mentoring, especially for early-career faculty, acts as a resource to keep the ESF community apprised of current funding opportunities and advises faculty on strategies to secure funding. A successful candidate coordinates and connects research development activities across the college, including those housed in academic units and research centers, and acts as the Office of Research Programs liaison for corporate and foundation relations to the ESF Development Office. 


20% - Catalyze the development of interdisciplinary projects in alignment with ESF strengths, priorities, and external funding potential by helping to convene relevant expertise from across the university and, where appropriate, external partners. The Director coordinates support for strategy development, project management, seed funding and other institutional investments, and proposal preparation and submission. 


15% Develops resources, guidance and training materials on funding policy and compliance changes that impact proposal development and submissions in collaboration with ORP and other ESF and SUNY units. Works with Moon Library staff to guide faculty on research management tools including but not limited to funding databases, Pivot-RP, ORCiD, Experts, and SciENcv. Curate a library of successful proposals and proposal elements and make them available to faculty on shared platforms (e.g., SharePoint). Write boiler plate text for common proposal documents and provide writing templates to faculty as appropriate. Create and curate web-based grantmaking resources for faculty. Develop and maintain Research Development web pages in collaboration with ESF Communications and ORP staff.  


10% - Work closely with ORP Director's Team to integrate RD proposal development activities into ORP sponsored programs workflows and processes. Drive pre-award process improvements and proposal management efficiencies to improve the competitiveness of ESF proposals and reduce administrative burden for ESF faculty and ORP staff.   


5% -Engage in professional development and contribute to campus capacity-building networks via SUNY, RF and outside groups, including: SUNY Office of Research, Innovation and Economic Development (ORIED), Upstate Research Development Alliance, NORDP and SRA International.   


Primary Responsibilities:

  • Identify strategic research funding opportunities from various sources including federal, state and local government channels, private foundations, and corporations.  
  • Convene and manage faculty interest groups for large multi-investigator proposals and promotes meaningful interdisciplinary collaboration. 
  • Support faculty in inter-institutional collaborative grants with the SUNY Grants for Research Opportunity and Workforce (GROW) Support Unit, Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University, and regional partners such as Clarkson, Cornell, and other SUNY campuses. 
  • Collaborate with faculty in developing competitive research ideas and proposal narratives for external funding agencies; manage review of draft proposals. 
  • Design new opportunities for faculty to develop grant-seeking and grant-writing skills, including focused topical workshops and grant-writing groups.  
  • Match engagement and broader impact opportunities related to education, diversity, and public outreach with faculty researchers.  
  • Assist the VPR in developing and tracking key performance indicators related to research program quality and effectiveness, and coordinates with the VPR and Provost to provide faculty development programming pertaining to research excellence.  
  • Monitor grant development trends and peer university research programs to strengthen ESF sponsored program development efforts.  


Other Functions:

  • Work in partnership with colleagues within the ESF community and across the campus to support the college's strategic priorities.  
  • Perform other duties as assigned in support of the mission and goals of the research enterprise.



Required Qualifications:

  • Minimum professional preparation:
    • A Master's degree in natural or social sciences, engineering, higher education administration, or other relevant field, with a minimum of five years of experience in an academic or other research environment. OR,
    • A Doctoral degree in natural or social sciences, engineering, higher education administration, or other relevant field, with a minimum of two years of experience in an academic or other research environment.
  • A proven successful track record in writing, leading, and/or coordinating significant research grants and proposal development.
  • Demonstrated excellence in technical and scientific writing and/or editing.
  • A strong knowledge base of the major STEM funding agencies and federal research proposal processes, as well as an extensive professional network across these programs.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and high degree of professionalism and diplomacy.
  • Experience in planning and/or managing scientific research projects.

Preferred Professional Qualities:

  • Demonstrated ability to participate effectively in professional team efforts and with diverse groups of people.
  • Ability to work confidently and effectively with multiple faculty members to develop high quality proposals, work under pressure and with short deadlines.
  • Training in professional mentorship, leadership, personnel management.
  • Expertise in preparing complex research proposals.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan strategically and to assemble, direct and facilitate collaborative teams of faculty.
  • Experience identifying and catalyzing new research opportunities, including tactical research planning to help teams approach grant-making efforts strategically.
  • Evidence of having achieved a positive impact in a previous role, for example boosting performance indicators for faculty engagement in collaborative activities, increased grant applications, higher percentage of grants funded, etc.
  • Demonstrated understanding of proposal review decision-making for funding agencies (for example, from service on review panels or agency focus groups).


Additional Information:

SUNY-ESF and the Broader Community

ESF is a specialized college within the 64-campus SUNY system, and a Carnegie R2 "High Research Activity" Institution that consistently earns high rankings in US News and World Report, Forbes, Princeton Review, and other national college guidebooks.  With a total enrollment of about 2,200 undergraduates and 400 graduate students, combined with the immediate proximity of Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University, ESF provides an intimate, small-college atmosphere within a vibrant, large-university setting.  ESF's extended campuses include more than 25,000 acres of forest properties, both close to Syracuse and across the Adirondack Park, which provide numerous opportunities for experiential coursework, research, and public outreach. 


Located on the eastern edge of the Finger Lakes region, Syracuse is a small city in a rural region offering a diversity of natural and cultural amenities, a low cost of living, and a high quality of life - ranking among the top 10 percent of "Best Places to Live" in "The Places Rated Almanac." Syracuse is situated with easy access to New York City, the Adirondack Park, Lake Ontario, and many other points of interest in the eastern United States and Canada.   


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Contact Information

Office of Research - SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry
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  • Department Administrator
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  • Full Time