“A Day in the Work-life of an SRAI Member” Series – Sponsored Research Program Activities at San Diego State University Research Foundation by Sandra M. Nordahl

by snordahl@sdsu.edu on Thursday, August 31, 2017

This article is part 1 of a 2 part article on the sponsored programs mission of San Diego State University Research Foundation.


San Diego State University Research Foundation was established in 1943 as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, auxiliary organization with the mission of furthering the educational, research and community service objectives of San Diego State University. It is the largest auxiliary organization in the California State University System providing “cradle-to-grave” sponsored program services.   

There are several departments within SDSU Research Foundation that are essential in assisting project directors to achieve their goals related to sponsored program activities. The departments of Grant Information and Communications, Sponsored Research Development, Sponsored Research Contracting and Compliance, and Sponsored Research Administration work closely together to assist faculty and staff in their sponsored programs endeavors.


The process begins with finding funding. The grant information coordinator assists faculty/staff in their funding search with several resources, including weekly bulletins targeted to specific funding opportunities, utilization of databases (SPIN and Pivot), funding workshops, and providing assistance in signing up for agency listservs and databases. Application guidance and materials related to sponsoring agencies, federal budget information and sample funded proposals are also available.

Grant Information and Communications arranges for faculty workshops throughout the year on a variety of topics related to sponsored programs administration and management, including:

  • Accounts Payables Essentials
  • Budget Basics: Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Proposal
  • Data Management Plan Basics (in collaboration with the SDSU Love Library)
  • Export Controls: International Travel and Collaboration
  • Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs – Why are they important to my sponsored project?
  • Finding Funding 101
  • Order It Up: Purchasing Basics
  • Workshops focused on specific funding programs (e.g. NIH “K,” NSF Career, etc.)
  • Pivot Workshop (in collaboration with the SDSU Love Library)
  • Subagreements: How can I pay my collaborator on my sponsored program?
  • Technology Transfer
  • Understanding Foreign National Immigration Tax Issues

Sponsored Research Development assists faculty and staff with the development and submission of proposals. Sponsoring agencies include the US federal government, international, State of California, local governments, school districts, non-profit, commercial and hospital medical institutions. Each SR Development specialist workload consists of a variety of academic areas to provide a single point of contact to the individual seeking sponsored programs funding.

Once the funding source has been identified, contact is made with the Sponsored Research Development staff, who are responsible for:

  • Assisting in the interpretation of guidelines
  • Contacting sponsors to clarify any questions that may arise during the preparation and submission of the proposal
  • Developing budgets
  • Completing application forms
  • Obtaining internal approvals
  • Submitting of proposals
  • Facilitating compliance (conflict of interest, animal subjects, human subjects, etc.)
  • Following up on or providing additional information related to sponsor requests (e.g. revised budgets, Just-in-Time (JIT), costing analysis, Best and Final Offers, etc.)
  • Facilitate transition meetings for new PIs/staff for awards (e.g. new sponsors for PIs, large dollar volume projects with limited period of performance, international activities or other unusual circumstances).  Transition meetings include pre- and post-award staff as well as other departments as appropriate (e.g. Human Resources, Purchasing, Sponsored Research Contracting and Compliance, etc.)