Joanna Downer, PhD, associate dean for research development in the School of Medicine, has been named a 2019 Rising Star by the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). The organization recognizes up to three members annually who have made outstanding volunteer contributions and show great potential for future contributions to the organization and the research development profession. Downer was recognized at the annual conference on May 1.
Downer became a member of NORDP in 2010 and has served as co-chair of the Professional Development Committee since 2016, according to NORDP. In her Committee role, she led or contributed to significant enhancements to NORDP’s Webinar program, including development of a research development webinar topic framework, standard evaluation, presenter instructions, and hosting scripts. She now spearheads development and delivery of a growing number of webinars, organizes logistics, and works to continuously improve webinar content and process. She is also the Strategic Alliances Committee liaison to the National Association of Science Writers (since 2017) and a member of the NORDP Training Working Group (since 2018).
At Duke, Downer has been in the School of Medicine’s Dean’s Office since January 2006. She founded the School’s research development office in 2009, which is dedicated to facilitating large multi-investigator grant applications, in part through project management, advising, guiding, editing, and critical review of application components. The office also offers communication workshops, both didactic and hands-on, to a variety of Duke audiences and other higher education institutions. Downer previously worked in science writing and media relations, first at Duke and then at Johns Hopkins University before coming back to Duke.
“A regular NORDP Conference presenter and contributor to the listserv, Joanna has become one of NORDP’s go-to persons for research development best practices,” said Karen Eck, president of NORDP. “Joanna’s selection as the inaugural recipient of a NORD Research Grant in RD further exemplifies her commitment and capacity to advance our field.”