Sponsored programs reorganized to support launch of new electronic research administration system

By Jane Hirtle and Lauren McGuire

Vanderbilt University’s two electronic research administration (eRA) systems, Coeus and PEER, will be replaced with a single new system in spring 2020. In preparation for the implementation of the new eRA system, new leaders have been appointed in Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA).

Hilda McMackin will lead the coordination and implementation of the new eRA system as director of research administration systems and reporting. Formerly director of research development and support and a grants and contracts manager in the School of Engineering, McMackin brings expertise spanning the full lifecycle of proposal and awards, experience with a diverse research portfolio including a wide array of federal and industry sponsors, and a history of launching and maintaining successful initiatives. She will work closely with faculty, research administration staff, and Assistant Provost for Process and Solution Implementations Greg Kyle of the Office of the Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs to facilitate a thoughtful and efficient transition that will maintain the university’s thriving research community throughout.

“Vanderbilt faculty are incredibly prolific, submitting thousands of proposals and pulling in hundreds of awards every year,” Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan said. “An efficient, leading-edge eRA system is crucial to this work, and the right team is crucial to launching and supporting that eRA. Hilda has the skills, the dedication, and above all the commitment to working hand in hand with our research faculty and staff to make this effort a success, and I could not be happier to have her at the helm.”

Additionally, three new managers within SPA will streamline and fortify pre-award processes to ensure uninterrupted support for research faculty and administrators throughout the transition:

  • Michelle Wachter, proposals and awards manager, oversees proposal submission and non-financial post-award set-up activities, as well as a growing team of proposal specialists
  • Abigail Regan, contracts manager, oversees contract and subcontract activities including management of contract officers and subaward specialists
  • Laurel Duncan-Biqiku, training and procedures manager, manages the documentation and dissemination of sponsored programs functional processes and procedures, including providing training for research administrators university-wide on best practices for both the current and future eRA systems

All three managers will work closely with McMackin throughout the implementation of the new eRA system, focusing on the maintenance of Coeus and PEER systems for the duration of the implementation, the preservation of historical data, and the development of new procedures and training for the new eRA system.

McMackin has begun engaging with research faculty and staff from across campus to gather firsthand input in preparation for the transition, a process that includes a series of vendor demonstrations to be announced later this month. All members of the Vanderbilt University research community are encouraged to attend and share their feedback on each of the finalist vendors.