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Grantsmanship workshops are empowering UNT researchers

Writing grants is a challenging process that will have a huge payoff for faculty members — thousands to millions of dollars and the opportunity to conduct new and innovative research. However, the process is not something all researchers feel is their area of expertise. 

Mark McLellan, vice president for research and innovation, wants to change that. Arriving at UNT last fall, he brought with him years of experience building research programs. And a key part of creating successful programs is grantsmanship training.

“We all at some time have to make a case for the value of our work,” McLellan says. “Grant writing is a faculty member’s opportunity to make their case.”

When he appointed Pamela Padilla as associate vice president for research and innovation, he tasked her with implementing new initiatives to support faculty research at UNT.

“The grantsmanship program is one of the first things we launched,” McLellan says. “I have had great success in implementing similar programs at other institutions, and I know this will be a big win here at UNT.”

The first one-day grant proposal planning and writing workshop designed to increase faculty expertise in obtaining external funding launched in December. The AtKisson Training Group delivered the training, which emphasizes strategically planning for long-term funding, creating and communicating strong arguments for proposed projects and writing applications targeting the review process.

“Peg AtKisson is a highly successful, well-funded researcher and an amazing teacher,” McLellan says.

December’s workshop filled within a day or so of being announced, with 100 faculty committing an entire day just before the holidays to learn more about grant writing. Those who made the investment attest to the value of the training, indicating it exceeded their expectations. 

“I have attended grant-writing seminars at conferences sponsored by NIH and NSF. The AtKisson Training Group seminar that I observed at UNT was just as, if not more, insightful and motivating,” says James Duban, associate dean for research and national scholarships, TAMS and the Honors College.

Faculty found the specifics such as the expected structure of the proposals especially helpful.

“The training provided a more detailed overview of how the reviewers look at the proposal and what successful proposals should look like,” says Diana Berman, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “It also provided very useful templates that help to start writing.”

Padilla, who has been writing grants for nearly two decades, agrees. “The feedback from faculty attendees has been overwhelmingly positive and I too, found it highly informative.” 

A second workshop is scheduled Feb. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is limited to 100 faculty, who must commit to the full day. To register, visit research.unt.edu/grantsmanship-training-workshop. Workshops will be offered annually, with future sessions open to non-faculty researchers and graduate students.