Maria Zuber: Reimagining Research Administration at MIT

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Dear MIT research community:

Our nation’s research infrastructure has changed dramatically in recent decades. Federal research support is more competitive than ever, and the administrative demands placed upon faculty by federal regulations continue to shift. Similarly, the research landscape at MIT is evolving: We are increasingly developing complex, multi-investigator programs; engaging more with international entities; and developing collaborations with corporate sponsors.

MIT’s research infrastructure needs to evolve alongside these changes. It is time for us to reimagine research administration and put in place an organizational structure to best support our changing needs. To inform the decisions ahead, I will establish a Faculty Advisory Group charged with advising me and MIT’s senior leadership team on a path to achieving and maintaining a research administration, policy, and compliance infrastructure whose excellence matches that of MIT’s research itself.

I also plan to establish working groups to make recommendations on the structures and resources needed to position MIT's research administration operation for ongoing success. The Faculty Advisory Group will serve as a resource to the working groups, representing the interests of faculty and principal investigators to ensure that any proposed changes meet their needs.

To begin, I am making some immediate adjustments to my organization. Michelle Christy will serve as senior director for research strategy and engagement, focusing on the impacts of evolving federal regulations and requirements on MIT's research and education mission, and negotiation of Institute-level contractual agreements in support of Institute priorities. Michelle will also work with me to transition oversight responsibilities for the following functions to members of my senior team:

  • Ronald Hasseltine: cost analysis
  • Colleen Leslie: grant and contract administration, and compliance, including conflict of interest and export control
  • Karen Shirer: communications
  • Shawna Vogel: non-federal negotiations
  • Carol Wood: systems and reporting

I look forward to working with the Faculty Advisory Group, the working groups, and the MIT community to develop the administrative infrastructure that will best support the Institute’s needs. Faculty and staff should continue to work directly with their contract administrators as we move forward in this new direction.


Maria T. Zuber