Apollo_11-KSCFacilitating research success at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is a bit like preparing for a NASA launch. We know the principal investigators and research involved, but may not be familiar with the small army of research support staff and technicians who help facilitate grant funding, navigate regulatory hurdles, and protect animal/human health every day.

Up Close & Amazing is intended to introduce and focus on these dedicated UAMS research support folks. This page highlights a research staffer every other month.

Meet Research Associate and DNA Sequencing Core Manager – Allen Gies, M.S.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I really enjoy anything involving computers, programming or analysis. The DNA Sequencing Core processes about 8000 Sanger sequencing samples per year.


Meet Core Technologist for the Digital Microscopy Laboratory – Jeff Kamykowski, M.S.

Are there any challenges?
Scheduling the processing of samples used to be frustrating, but the university incorporated the iLab management program and now the scheduling process is much simpler for all core users and personnel.


Melinda Gunnell, B.A.Meet Research Program Manager – Melinda Gunnell, B.A. Biology

What is your favorite part of your job?
The most enjoyable part of my job is watching students develop into independent researchers. It is exciting to see how students from different backgrounds and varied experiences tackle research projects. Our research program utilizes team-based learning so the students are cross-trained to perform most of the techniques and methods we use in our medications development program. I value the team-based approach because I believe it gives students a more well-rounded research experience and promotes ownership in the research program as a whole instead of just in their individual projects.


Gib Berryhill Meet Senior Research Administrator, OSPAN – GibAnn Berryhill, M.A.

How do you begin a new project?
When a new proposal comes in, I first communicate with the Principal Investigator that I am their OSPAN Research Administrator and available for assistance. In a face-to-face meeting, phone call, or email, I assess and clarify the level and type of assistance needed (e.g., budget development, compiling a biosketch, document editing, tracks submission, etc.).  After our initial meeting, I review the funding proposal for eligibility and any special requirements that must be addressed in the P.I.’s submission.


Michael BaileyMeet Translational Research Institute Research Program Manager – Michael Bailey

How does you/your group handle problematic issues?
I work with a team of smart and accomplished people, all with different areas of expertise. As a team, we evaluate all complex issues, deciding on the best course of action. I am never “out there alone” with this group and can always count on my co-workers for sound direction. My managers are empathetic and open-minded. Above that, I consider them all my friends.


Jennifer Hixon, CCRP

Meet Regulatory Affairs Manager – Jennifer Hixon, CCRP

Are there any challenges in your job?
I help investigators develop good protocols that the FDA will approve. I routinely monitor studies to ensure subject safety above all, as well as the collection of accurate and reliable data. Everyone in our group strives to assist in overcoming research challenges effectively while maintaining compliance with FDA/IRB regulations.


Andrea Ham, B.S.Meet Senior Grants Administrator – Andrea Ham, B.S.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Working in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has given me the opportunity to build wonderful relationships with my team, PIs, and the entire UAMS research network. We are a tight knit group and really depend on each other both personally and professionally.


Ty Stephens, CPA, MBAMeet the Director of Cost Accounting – Ty Stephens, CPA, MBA

Are there any challenges in your work?
One of the main job challenges is having to answer a lot of questions with, “It depends.” Federal regulations have a lot of variances/peculiarities and I must balance UAMS institutional risk with a logical level of protection for the research enterprise.  At the same time, I never want to create any unnecessary burden on the research investigator or project.


Carrie ChiaroMeet Research Compliance Audit Manager – Carrie Chiaro

What does your job involve?
“The Research Compliance office conducts audits of individual studies to ensure protocols, IRB polices, and federal regulations are followed. The protection of human subjects is key. Our office also provides education to the UAMS research community and consultations to get new studies off to a good start.”


Bridgette EngiMeet Animal Husbandry Supervisor/Veterinary Assistant – Bridgette Engi

What career advice would you offer for folks interested in DLAM?
“My advice is to always be willing to do any aspect of the career you are interested in from the bottom up. This will build your knowledge and understanding as you advance. For those interested in working with animals; you must be passionate and compassionate. Working in research, with or without animals, requires patience and persistence.”


Edith PaalMeet Institutional Research Board (IRB) Research Program Manager – Edith Paal

What is your favorite part of the job?
“The diversity of protocols and working with PIs with various levels of experience (e.g. students to long-time faculty members) keeps each day interesting.”



Meet the Head of UAMS Library Education &Reference Services – Susan Steelman
and Library Research & Clinical Search Services Coordinator – Sheila Thomas

Susan Steelman Sheila Thomas Susan and Sheila’s combined strengths? “Since 2011, we have conducted literature searches, taught classes and experienced cancer together. Through it all, we are here to help others do their work.”


Meet Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Administrator – Kerrey Roberto 

Kerrey Roberto 

Kerrey’s favorite part of her job is, “Interacting with the research community and learning about the interesting projects going on in UAMS & ACHRI laboratories.”