The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) is a unit under VPDoR that aims to strengthen collaborative or strategic research, scholarship, and creative activities by helping to set PIs up for sponsored research funding success through project-opportunity alignment, early preparation, and proposal development support.
RDO supports researchers and research teams from across the University, with an emphasis on complex or strategic proposals. This often includes large, multi-PI, and/or multi-disciplinary proposals, but can also apply to other projects depending on the discipline or specific situation. (Please see our FAQs for more information.)
RDO’s goal is to enhance competitiveness of proposals through grantsmanship while reducing the burden on PIs. Examples of support might include finding the right fit between project and sponsor, supporting team formation, providing guidance for strategic preparation and concept development, coordinating projects, strengthening the responsiveness of grant applications, writing and editing proposals, and enhancing the structure and presentation of all proposal components. Our services are optional, and free to PIs. In addition, we manage the Limited Submission Program for the University, in collaboration with the School of Medicine.
Within the Stanford research lifecycle, RDO offers (pre-)pre-award support with expertise in grantsmanship and experience with various sponsors (mostly federal, or opportunities with open calls). In this way RDO complements other pre-award services such as budget development by local research administration support and compliance review and submission by the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR), the Research Management Group (RMG), or the Industrial Contracts Office (ICO).
Additional resources and services around proposal preparation and development are available from the menu across the top of our pages. Please check back frequently as additional content will be created and made available over time.
Contact us: Stanford_RDO@stanford.edu
Note: Some schools, departments and units have local staff who can assist with proposal development and we can help connect you as applicable.
August 27, 2021: Stanford-SLAC EFRC Kick-off and Collaboration Workshop. This virtual event was held for participants to learn more about the upcoming call for Energy Frontier Research Centers by the Department of Energy, hear and share current center and research ideas, and connect with potential collaborators.
The Stanford RDO Team
Kim Baeten, PhD - Director of Research Development
As the inaugural Director of the Stanford Research Development Office (RDO), Kim is leading the research development efforts for the Vice Provost and Dean of Research (VPDoR). Previously as Deputy Director of UC Berkeley’s Research Development Office, Kim has eight years of research development experience, including grant writing and facilitating of complex, collaborative grant proposals to a variety of federal and non-federal sponsors. Prior to Berkeley, Kim was a postdoctoral researcher in Neuroimmunology at Gladstone Institutes/UCSF, and she earned her PhD degree in Biochemistry from the University of Aberdeen in UK.
Jessica Boydston - Program Manager, Limited Submissions and Seed Grant Programs
Jessica manages Limited Submissions and Seed Grant programs for the Stanford Research Development Office. Having served in a similar role at her previous institution for two years, she brings detailed knowledge of limited submissions opportunities. Jessica also has extensive experience in project management and executive administrative assistance and provides support to the various stakeholders of internal competitions, whether that be applicants, other administrators, or Stanford reviewers. In this role, Jessica assists the University and our faculty in advancing the most competitive proposals.
Sandra Arriaga - Research Development Specialist (STEM* focus)
As a Research Development Specialist, Sandra supports faculty teams from across the University, with a focus on large, collaborative research proposals in the STEM fields. She has more than ten years of experience working for academic institutions as a proposal developer, team builder, program manager, and project manager. Sandra has a Master's degree in English and previously served as faculty at San Francisco State University.
Lequn Geng, PhD - Research Development Specialist (STEM* focus)
As a Research Development Specialist, Lequn supports faculty teams from across the University, with a focus on large, collaborative research proposals in the STEM fields. Lequn holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Michigan, with research experience spanning from analytical chemistry to molecular biology. He has four years of experience in scientific and grant proposal writing, including supporting submissions to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is passionate about helping Stanford faculty develop competitive grant proposals.
Alia Schoen, PhD - Research Development Specialist (STEM* focus with special emphasis on Sustainability)
As a Research Development Specialist at RDO, Alia supports faculty teams from across the University, with a focus on large, collaborative research proposals in the STEM fields and a particular emphasis on climate & sustainability research. She has a PhD from Stanford Engineering and a passion for interdisciplinary research. Her work experience spans academia, government, and industry, and is built around alternative energy, climate and sustainability. She has worked directly with policy makers in California in both the legislative and regulatory arenas to further the state's ambitious climate and energy goals and has prepared successful applications for funding from a variety of agencies at the state and national level.
Madison Priest, PhD - Research Development Specialist (Humanities, Arts and Interpretive Social Sciences focus)
As a Research Development Specialist with a focus in the Humanities, Arts and Interpretive Social Sciences, Madison supports faculty across the university to find and secure external funding. Madison holds a PhD in English from CUNY’s Graduate Center and brings to Stanford a wealth of experience as a writer, editor and fundraiser. In addition to several years working with faculty and students across a wide variety of disciplines, Madison also worked as a grant writer at a local nonprofit, where she secured significant federal and state funding.
* Includes Social Sciences as in NSF’s broader definition of STEM and is used more to indicate the breadth of disciplines supported rather than to restrict the domains that would receive support.
RDO Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the Research Development Office do?
The Research Development Office (RDO) focuses on assisting PIs in developing the content, text, and presentation of their proposals. Examples of support might include finding the right fit between project and sponsor, supporting team formation, providing guidance for strategic preparation and concept development, coordinating projects, strengthening the responsiveness of grant applications, writing and editing proposals, and enhancing the structure and presentation of proposal components. RDO also manages the Limited Submission Program for the University, in collaboration with the School of Medicine.
- How do RDO’s services relate to other proposal submission support at Stanford?
RDO services, with their focus on the text and concept development (see above), are complementary to other proposal submission support services at Stanford.
For example, pre-award Research Administrators (RAs), who work at the department, school, or laboratory level, focus on the administrative aspects of the proposal submission process (e.g., assisting with budgets, collecting and uploading documents to the sponsor portal, and routing proposals to the Office of Sponsored Research). From there, OSR/the Research Management Group/the Industrial Contracts Office (depending on your unit and grant) review and submit proposals to the sponsor. For more detailed information on the role of different University offices in the proposal process, see Proposal Preparation and Submission. Should the team include other people who provide RD-like support, we will collaborate with them in the way that adds the most value to the proposal.
While some of these services are required for most proposals, RDO support is optional and given at the PI’s request.
- Who can request support from RDO?
RDO services are available to Principal Investigators (PIs) from any department or discipline at Stanford. We support faculty (or faculty equivalent) and research teams from across the University, with an emphasis on complex or strategic proposals. This often includes large, multi-PI, and/or multi-disciplinary proposals, but can also apply to other projects depending on the discipline or specific situation.
As a small office, we do not offer one-on-one support for postdocs or students. We do, however, encourage postdocs and students to make use of the written materials and resources available on our website, as well as those from the Stanford Grant Writing Academy, and other campus resources.
- What types of proposals does RDO support?
RDO assists with a variety of proposal types, with our main focus being on large, complex, or strategic proposals. This often includes large, multi-PI, and/or multi-disciplinary proposals, but can also apply to other projects depending on the discipline or specific situation.
In most STEM fields, “large, complex proposals” may include, for instance, a proposal where the PI brings together multiple projects or cores and multiple collaborators, often across institutions or disciplines. Many proposals of this type include mandatory non-scientific sections such as management; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and evaluation plans. Center grants are a common example of this type of proposal.
In the Humanities, Arts, and Interpretive Social Sciences, “large, complex, or strategic” proposals can encompass a wide variety of projects, from small, single-author grants that will provide the first source of funding for a faculty member or project, to large, collaborative, and interdisciplinary projects.
In all fields, proposals of "strategic" importance may include those aligned with Stanford’s Long Range Vision, grants that expand or transform a unit’s capabilities, or that are considered of high impact in a given field. This category may also include re-submissions of previous proposals that were not funded (this includes single-PI proposals). We encourage PIs who are considering a re-submission to contact us as early as possible in the process.
Please don't hesitate contact us to see how we can assist you.
- What kinds of sponsors/donors do you work with?
As we are a new office, we are open to evaluating campus needs to guide the types of proposals we support. We can help formulate the idea and edit a proposal for flow and grammar for any sponsor. However, at this time, our expertise is mostly with federal sponsors or other opportunities that have an open call for proposals. This often includes Foundations and State agencies as well and could involve foreign sponsors (like the European Research Council). For donors, foundations, corporate, etc. we would want to loop in the relevant support offices (Development, UCFR), as they will be better positioned to advise on how to pitch your request for funding to the specific interests of the sponsor.
- Are there any fees associated with RDO support?
Under the umbrella of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, RDO’s services are free to Stanford PIs.
- When in the proposal process should I reach out to RDO?
If you are interested in working with us, please contact us as early as possible. The sooner you consult with us, the more likely we can include your proposal in our schedule and offer a wider range of support.
- What is the best way to contact RDO?
For general inquiries and consultation requests, please write to email@example.com
- Who at RDO will I be working with?
Staff are assigned to projects on a case-by-case basis depending on fit and availability. While we do have staff who specialize in certain types of proposals (e.g., climate and sustainability; humanities), our staff are not assigned to specific portfolios limited by departments, disciplines, or faculty.
- What level of support can I expect from RDO?
When you reach out to RDO, we will discuss your proposal and offer services on a case-by-case basis to help us optimize our added value. Support varies depending on what you want, what the proposal requires, the availability of RDO staff, and the timing. For more information on how we can assist you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Why are some of RDO’s files only accessible to those with a SUNet ID? What should I do if I don’t have access?
We create and curate some of our written resources with the Stanford community in mind. Some of this material is subscription-based, or based on the unique insights and experience of RDO staff or other Stanford contributors. Anyone logged in with an SUNet ID, including staff and students, can access these materials. If you do not have a SUNet ID and would like to view specific documents or protected web pages, please contact email@example.com to discuss further.