CRADLE program invests in faculty and grantsmanship

The Creative Research Activities Development and Enrichment (CRADLE) initiative is engaging with its fifth cohort of faculty this September and continues to experience interest and success.

The Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) coordinate the program. CRADLE aims to develop competitive external proposals that support multiyear research projects and creative activities. Fellows receive assistance from both internal and external consultants to improve their grantsmanship and to articulate a five-year career plan that incorporates proven strategies for developing and funding superior research and creative activities.

“We began CRADLE because we wanted to help faculty develop competitive grant proposals,” said Lori Messer, director of ORSP.

On Sept. 18, the new cohort will attend the first of four seminars, “Winning Grants,” that will cover federal grants. In December, another seminar focused on foundation and corporate grants will be held. Other CRADLE sessions will focus on quality and team building. Participants also work one-on-one with a grants consultant to develop 90-day contracts that outline their grant plans.

The seminars are open to non-CRADLE participants.

Messer, along with Amy Comer, associate director, and Stephen Williams, assistant director of research and sponsored programs, have given regional and national presentations about the CRADLE program, most recently for the National Council of University Research Administrators, to highlight the need of the program.

“We’re inspiring other universities to do this, to start their own programs,” Messer said.

Former CRADLE participant Wayne Pratt, associate professor of psychology, appreciated how the program and its consultants demonstrated patience in meeting him where he was at in the grant writing process.

“Under CRADLE’s guidance, I was able to research potential funding mechanisms, learn which were most competitive for my own situation, and determine what preliminary steps I needed to take in order to have the best chances at successful grantsmanship,” he said. “I never felt pushed or rushed into submitting until I was ready to, and I appreciated the support from both the program and my CRADLE colleagues that ultimately led to a successful application!”

The CRADLE program can also boast that four former participants – Timo Thonhauser and Oana Jurchescu from the physics department, and Amanda Jones and Patricia Dos Santos from the chemistry department – have all been awarded National Science Foundation Career Awards.

Dos Santos was a CRADLE fellow in her second year on faculty. She credits the program consultant for helping to “identify a path for success” with grant writing because “it is not about quantity but the quality of proposals being submitted” that makes a difference.

“The program provided structure for my efforts in grant seeking and writing. I have valued the support from ORSP staff in assisting a junior (and senior) faculty with the complications of putting together a budget and editing the proposal to a language that is appealing to certain granting agencies,” she said. “I’m aware that this is not a standard practice at other institutions, and I appreciate the investment that Wake is making in junior faculty so they can succeed in their grantsmanship.”