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Early Career Research Administration Fellowships

Did you know that Research Administration is a broad career field with diverse employment opportunities?

Research administrators facilitate the link between research activities and research outcomes while promoting best practices in administration and compliance. A need for workforce development in the explosive career landscape of academic Research Administration has emerged, but undergraduates have limited opportunities to prepare for these careers actively.

The Office for Research & Economic Development is offering one-year fellowships in multiple departments to train and prepare outstanding undergraduate students for this career field. The fellowship program is designed to provide undergraduate students with the experience and training necessary to explore and potentially begin a career in research administration. The program selects highly qualified and committed participants to engage directly in training that supports the research infrastructure at The University of Alabama.

Selected fellows will be immersed in ORED and its units in the following fellowship areas: research communications and web development; sponsored programs; contract and grant accounting; research compliance; and systems, data management and reporting. Fellows will receive training in a team environment and direct mentorship from national leaders in the field of research Aadministration.

Office for Research & Economic Development

The research mission of UA is to facilitate and promote the pursuit, discovery, and dissemination of knowledge and the application of knowledge through research and creative initiatives, technology transfer, and economic development that impact our students and our many constituencies within the State of Alabama, the nation, and the world. The mission of ORED is to facilitate the growth and impact of the UA research enterprise and to ensure compliance with UA, UA System, State and Federal Regulations and policies related to research.

In December 2018, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education designated UA as a Very High Research Activity doctoral university or “R1.” This is the nation’s highest level of research activity for institutions that grant doctoral degrees. This places UA among the most elite, public or private, research universities in the United States. UA research continues to surge, with externally sponsored awards at UA reaching more than $211 million in fiscal year 2022, an increase of almost 60% over the last three fiscal years.

ORED is comprised of various units providing specialized services to support UA faculty and researchers in seeking, applying for, and receiving research grants and contracts. ORED provides a broad range of services to UA researchers from proposal submission, award acceptance, and compliance, all the way to commercialization of intellectual property created during the project. ORED currently consists of ten offices, four Board of Trustees-designated research institutes, and seven Board of Trustees-designated research and economic development centers, supported by about 175 employees.

Fellowship Opportunities

There are five fellowship opportunities in research administration:

Fellowship Area 1: Research Communications and Web Development

  • Marketing
  • Public relations communications
  • Web development

Fellowship Area 2: Sponsored Programs

  • Proposal and budget development
  • Grants and contracts administration
  • Compliance with relevant regulations and UA policies

Fellowship Area 3: Contract & Grant Accounting

  • Accounting
  • Post-award financial administration
  • Audits and financial compliance

Fellowship Area 4: Research Compliance

  • Human subjects research
  • Animal care and use in research
  • Biological safety

Fellowship Area 5: Systems, Data Management, and Reporting

  • System management, maintenance, and training
  • Data management and integrity
  • Project management

Research Units and Fellowships

Office for Research Communications (ORComm)

ORComm develops and implements communications and marketing strategies to promote the impact of research, scholarship, and creative activities at UA, while also generating awareness of emerging opportunities for the campus research community. ORED’s communications and web development efforts are key to ensuring that UA’s research enterprise sustains and furthers its growth, in accordance with the ORED Strategic Plan.

Fellowship Area 1: Research Communications and Web Development

In close alignment and collaboration with ORComm, and with UA’s Division of Strategic Communications, Fellows will receive mentorship related to ORED’s web presence and communication efforts. The training focus will be on internal and external, writing press releases, public relations, web page user experiences, content management and development, design, and the effective use of analytics and search engine optimization.

Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP)

OSP oversees the administration of externally sponsored grants and contracts including sponsored research, instruction, and other sponsored activities. OSP facilitates the overall grant and contract process while balancing the need for institutional and regulatory compliance. OSP services are designed to support faculty and other employees with proposal preparation, review, and submission; award acceptance, administrative changes and serving as a liaison with external sponsors.

Fellowship Area 2: Sponsored Programs

Fellows training with OSP will have exposure to faculty and researchers working in a variety of disciplines, as well as colleagues from other UA offices, as they navigate the proposal preparation, submission, and award acceptance processes. This is an excellent opportunity for the selected Fellow to explore a career that requires project management, budget development, service-oriented administration, and regulatory compliance with federal and state laws, sponsor requirements, and UA policies.

Contract & Grant Accounting (CGA)

CGA ensures good stewardship of externally sponsored funds and provides support to faculty and staff on post-award financial administration for externally sponsored projects including award spending, invoicing, collections, receivables management, financial reporting, effort reporting, award closeout, and audit. CGA is responsible for compliance with fiscal and reporting requirements established by federal and state law, sponsor regulations, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Cost Accounting Standards, and UA policies and procedures.

Fellowship Area 3: Contract & Grant Accounting

Fellows training with CGA will have exposure to faculty and researchers working in a variety of disciplines, as well as colleagues from other UA offices, as they navigate post-award financial management for externally sponsored projects. This is an excellent opportunity for the selected Fellow to explore a career that encompasses accounting, financial administration, audit responses, and compliance with federal and state laws, sponsor requirements, and UA policies.

Office for Research Compliance (ORC)

ORC is the primary point of contact for advice, resources, education, and coordination of research compliance. Specific research regulatory activities cover a wide range of topics such as the protection of Human Subjects in research, animal care and use in research, Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety, Research Misconduct, Research Data and Privacy, International Research Compliance, and other areas as appropriate. ORC will work on any number of these topics by serving as the principal point for compliance activities and assignments, according to the program’s needs.

Fellowship Area 4: Research Compliance

Fellows training with ORC will be provided with training and mentorship related to the review and oversight processes for the various research compliance topics identified above. Fellows will acquire a general understanding of the conceptual basis of the reviews conducted in ORC, as well as a basic knowledge of the federal regulations and understanding of ORC policies and procedures

Office for Electronic Research Administration (eRA), Training & Reporting

This office manages enterprise-wide systems that support research at UA while also providing training and resources on the use of these systems. Additionally, this team provides data and reports to support the management of sponsored grants and contracts. As research continues to grow at UA, this team maintains eRA systems, supports end users, evaluates current resources, and identifies future system needs that align with regulatory requirements and business processes.

Fellowship Area 5: Data Management & Reporting

Fellows will be trained on the various electronic systems utilized across the research enterprise with an emphasis on data management and integrity, process mapping, project management, data mapping, and reporting capabilities. This is an excellent opportunity for selected Fellows to develop a better understanding of eRA as it relates to the expanding field of research administration.


$10,000 will be awarded to each selected Fellow ($5,000 distributed in the fall and spring semesters). It is possible that more than one fellowship or no fellowships will be awarded in any one opportunity area. Generally, under U.S. tax laws, scholarships, fellowships, or grants are tax free to the extent the funds are used for qualified expenses. i

Fellowship Appointment vs. Employee Relationship

Fellowships are awarded to an individual in support of academic pursuits. If appointed as a Fellow, the individual is not considered a UA employee, and therefore, does not receive employee healthcare or fringe benefits.

Program Goals and Objectives

The UA Early Career Research Administration Fellowship (ECRAF) connects undergraduates with leaders and mentors in the field of Research Administration. This partnership allows Fellows to build competencies in disciplines that align with their field of study, prepare for a career in Research Administration, and create a talent pool of Fellows who may seek future Research Administration opportunities at UA or other organizations across the country including, non-profit organizations, academic medical centers, universities, research hospitals, etc.

At the conclusion of the training program, participating Fellows will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Advanced knowledge of specialized university Research Administration duties
  • Understanding of university infrastructure, policies, federal rules and regulations
  • Applied leadership and project management capabilities
  • Effective oral and written communication related to university research administrative considerations
  • Accomplished analytical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Enhanced professional and career development strategies

It is expected that each Fellow will have the opportunity to train and receive mentorship in diverse areas across the UA research enterprise. Throughout the academic year (Fellowship period), each Fellow will have access to senior leadership, who will provide valuable mentoring and strategic guidance on project involvement. During this time, the Fellow will receive training on high visibility projects that dually align with the Fellow’s interests.

Application Process

The ECRAF Program seeks diverse undergraduate students from various fields of study who are highly motivated. Ideal candidates will show demonstrated evidence of collaboration, have excellent communication skills, be a self-starter, have leadership and decision-making skills, have a willingness to train on a wide variety of topics, and have a broad knowledge of the university environment.

  • Application Deadline: Monday, May 8, 2023, no later than 11:59 p.m.
  • Finalist Interviews: Beginning mid-May through mid-June 2023 (virtual or in-person)
  • Selection & Notification: Anticipated by mid-July

Application Requirements

  • Applicants must select a preferred fellowship opportunity area.
  • Complete application form
  • Written statement of interest (no more than 1 page)
  • Resume
  • Letter of Recommendation from one UA faculty member

Candidate Requirements

  • Enrolled as a UA student during the 2023-2024 academic year
  • Open to junior and senior students in all majors
  • Fellows must complete their term before graduation
  • Ability to attend training in the Rose Administration Building with appropriate consideration given to the academic and work schedules of each Fellow

i Qualified expenses include:

  • Tuition and fees required to enroll at or attend an eligible educational institution; and
  • Course-related expenses, such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment that are required for the courses at the eligible educational institution.

Any portion of a scholarship, fellowship, or grant used for nonqualified expenses such as room and board, travel, research, medical insurance, optional equipment, etc. could be included in your taxable income for the year. However, as a general rule, UA is not required to withhold taxes on these amounts.*

Recipients of such funds should make a determination as to whether the funds are taxable, taking into account all such amounts received for the year. The taxability of scholarships, fellowships, and/or grants are based upon each person’s individual facts and circumstances. To the extent that you determine that a portion or all of the funds are not subject to tax, you should retain receipts, cancelled checks, and other documents to show the total amount of your qualified expenses. Additionally, students receiving financial aid should notify Student Financial Aid to determine whether a fellowship award will affect your aid.

If any portion of the scholarship, fellowship, or grant is payment for services, these amounts will be paid as wages through Payroll, subject to tax withholdings and reported on Form W-2 at the end of the year.

*For other taxable scholarship, fellowship, or grant amounts, where no taxes are withheld, you may need to make estimated tax payments, depending on your individual circumstances. For additional information on estimated tax, refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.

This information only introduces you to the possible tax consequences of scholarship, fellowship, or grant amounts; therefore, you should contact your personal tax advisor with any questions or concerns. You also may find the IRS Pub. No. 970, Tax Benefits for Education, or the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) helpful with regard to the tax treatment of the scholarship, fellowship, or grant amounts you received.