University of California, San Diego
The third ACI-REF Virtual Residency (VR) gathered again at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Norman, campus this year from Sunday, July 30 through Friday, August 4, 2017. Being relatively new to the field of research facilitation (just 1 year in and loving it!), I was eager to participate and thrilled to be supported by the University of California, San Diego (my home institution), and by funding in the form of a scholarship from the ACI-REF VR.
For an entire year, I had been hearing my colleagues Valerie Polichar (Director, Academic Technology Services), and Claire Mizumoto (Assistant Director, Research IT Services) sing the praises of this intense, weeklong workshop. They returned from the 2016 event, minds brimming over with ideas for improving and further developing research facilitation practices at the UC San Diego. In fact, the ACI-REF VR significantly influenced them in the development of a University of California system-wide, 3-day workshop which was held on the UC San Diego campus in April of this year.
As I prepared to fly out to Oklahoma City early Sunday morning, I reviewed the agenda and the planned activities (ok, truth is, I checked the weather first to see if there was any tornado activity – native Californian here …). I noticed there was absolutely no scheduled downtime, no fluffy stuff whatsoever. I prepared myself to be busy, and I hoped to learn a lot. After working closely with Henry Neeman at the UC workshop, I suspected the energy level would be high. Session titles promised to hold something for everybody. My lack of experience with things like high-performance computing (HPC) and networking could surely benefit by exposure to the technical talks, and I looked forward to bolstering my toolbox with tips and tricks for working with researchers during intake interviews and needs assessments.
Well, I was not disappointed! The variety of sessions really highlighted for me the diversity of research facilitation practitioner’s responsibilities, and how those vary from one campus or institution to another. I was impressed by the group of on-site attendees (approximately 50), and by the dedicated group of online attendees (over 100!) who were there until the bitter end. Attendees came with a wide variety of backgrounds – those from HPC areas, others with experience as faculty, those from networking, enterprise IT, and research areas. Any fears I had of not fitting in evaporated quickly and I found myself becoming a part of a very welcoming and talented community. And I found myself completely exhausted at the end of each day. Oh, and there was food, always food – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, snack, dinner … Whew!
My list of take-aways from this workshop is long, and the points of value are far too many to list here. Most importantly, I now better recognize the breadth and diversity of the professional community that I belong to, and that although our skills, backgrounds, education, and credentials may be very different from one to another, our end goal is the same.
Many thanks to the knowledgeable presenters for sharing their stories and institutional practices, and also to the folks at OU for the scholarship award and for making this workshop possible. Everything was well organized and carefully planned. I look forward to ongoing relationships with this talented group. Now, back to my treadmill in an attempt to work off the extra pounds gained! Did I mention that there was a lot of food?
University of California, San Diego