Stephanie Page wasn’t sure what she wanted to do as a career until one defining moment at a conference in 2008. Her “aha” moment at the National Council of University Research Administrators Conference gave her insight into the world of research administration and she knew right then it was what she wanted to do.
Her passion for her work continues today at UNLV where she is associate director for pre-award in the office of sponsored programs (OSP). She has worked at UNLV for a total of nine years during two different periods. Like many of us, she spent the past year working from home during COVID-19, where she overcame challenges and learned a new work style that may have saved a tree.
As the associate director for pre-award in OSP, I lead a team of research administrators who assist faculty and staff in obtaining external funding from various entities, including federal, state, local, and non-profit entities. We must be familiar with a plethora of regulations that are always changing.
A typical day in pre-award is spent balancing a heavy workload, dealing with the pressure of juggling multiple proposal deadlines, and trying to keep up with the volume of emails that we receive each day. For me, my task lists are never-ending, my emails can be overwhelming, and I get interrupted all day long — and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Is this what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
Absolutely not. I was one of those people who had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up! Looking back, every job I had led to the next job and it all pointed toward research administration. As with most research administrators, I fell into the field by accident and loved it so much that I stayed. Who would have thought this could happen? But I have a passion for what I am doing and I want to keep learning and sharing knowledge. I’m a research administrator and I love it!
It is a humbling experience to hear about a faculty member receiving their first grant award or a successful research project and knowing that I had a tiny role in assisting in their accomplishments.
Prior to UNLV
I was introduced to federal grants and contracts when I joined a team that was looking for grant funding to take a health surveillance program nationwide. I was involved in proposal development and project management on several federally funded programs for cold war workers who were exposed to toxic substances. The timing was perfect when my husband was relocated to Las Vegas and I obtained a position with UNR (School of Medicine) managing their newly acquired grant that provides medical outreach and education to those affected by nuclear testing in the 1950s. Both experiences opened my eyes to research administration and I wanted to learn more. In 2008 I accepted a position at UNLV’s office of sponsored programs and was responsible for pre-award activities.
Leaving and returning to UNLV
I obtained a vast amount of knowledge of pre-award activities and I wanted to learn more. That drive led me to leave UNLV for four years to work at a private university where I was a one-person office wearing many different hats. It was a challenging and yet amazing experience. It made me get out of my comfort zone and learn about all aspects of research administration including implementing a new structure for the universities research enterprise. However, I missed the research intensity that UNLV had to offer and I really missed working in a team environment. Fortunately, a new position opened up in OSP, and I returned to UNLV in 2019.
How did COVID-19 affect your job?
It is amazing to realize that our office has been working remotely for over a year! We encountered the typical remote issues at the beginning. Many of us had technology issues with our computer set-ups and we had to quickly learn how to depend on WebEx and Zoom. At a moment’s notice our entire office modified and adapted to alternative ways to maintain connections and services to our faculty, staff, campus, and sponsors. Amazingly, I was also able to train two new hires remotely using video conferencing, shared screens, phone calls, Google chats, and emails.
There were also ergonomic issues. I still have flashbacks of the first month sitting in my cheap vinyl chair with no back support for over eight hours a day. My entire body ached!
However, I can now reflect back and say there were many good things that came along in that time period. Without even realizing it I went from a paper and folder environment to doing almost everything electronically. I am proud to say I saved a part of a tree working from home!
Compassion and understanding. My parents taught me from an early age to work hard and treat others the way I would like to be treated.
Biggest misconception about Las Vegas before you got here?
I thought there was nothing to do in the middle of a desert. But, oh my gosh, there is so much to do in Las Vegas, both on and off the Strip, and many options for close weekend road trips.
Outside of work
During the pandemic, I almost hate to admit it, I binge-watched Netflix. But I am eager to give up that activity. I love to travel, especially now, to visit family that I couldn’t see during the pandemic. I also enjoy anything outdoors including hiking, camping, biking, swimming, and kayaking.
The best part of working at UNLV
Celebrating success! Every day brings something different, new challenges, and exciting rewards. It brightens my day when I receive a call or email from faculty after they receive word that their proposal will be funded. I can share in their excitement and that makes everything I do worth it.