June 7, 2019

Meet Paula McCauley-Shelton, Senior Research Administrator

Paula McCauleyHow long have you been in your current position?
I’ve been a part of OSPAN since its inception in April 2016.

How long have you worked at UAMS?
I’ve worked at UAMS for 15 years. I was in the Department of Pediatrics prior to joining OSPAN.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is working with faculty. Providing administrative support isn’t necessarily the most glamorous part of research, but as a non-scientist it is extremely rewarding to know that I play a part in the extraordinary work that our wonderful faculty are doing every day. I try to be as passionate in the support I provide as our faculty are about their research. Not everyone gets to have a job that is involved in making lives better for people – that actually makes the world a better place. It’s a privilege and I never forget that. 

Are there any challenges?
So much of what we do is deadline-driven, both on the pre- and post-award side. There is a lot at stake for our researchers and our institution as a whole, so meeting those deadlines can be stressful for everyone. It is extremely important for every team member that submissions we assist with have the very best chance of getting funded.  On the post-award side we must provide accurate, up-to-date financial information to our PI’s and work to ensure that we, as a University, are being good stewards of our funding. It’s a big responsibility and one that we take very seriously. 

How do you/ your group handle problematic issues? 
We get as much information as possible about what caused the problem and know what our options are to resolve it. Because we are involved in both the pre and post award processes, the kinds of issues we encounter vary a great deal. Being pro-active is extremely important so that problems that arise are handled quickly and don’t affect our ability to meet deadlines. 

Can you describe that? 
The big advantage to having a centralized Research Administration system is that we’ve amassed years of experience in our staff that benefit all team members. If I encounter a problem that I’ve never come across before and am unsure of the best way to resolve it, you can bet that someone in OSPAN has experience with a similar issue that can help me work through it. It really is a team effort. Everyone is cross-trained and qualified to step in when someone is not there (e.g., ill, on vacation, at a conference, etc.).

How many applications/proposals do you work on annually?
While I do get handed submissions from time to time, I am the Post Award Team Lead. The majority of my work is on the Post Award side. I’ve been very involved in developing the OSPAN Monthly Financial Report as well as developing standard operating procedures for our post-award processes. Currently, UAMS has hundreds of active post award accounts that I’m involved in each month one way or another. It keeps me busy!

Paula McCauley and sonHow about after hours? What do you do for fun? 
I am a widow with an eight year old son, so I’m very focused on raising him well. We are very involved in Scouts and our church in North Little Rock.

What personal skill or hobby don’t most people know about you?
I am a classically trained singer and a published poet. 

I also enjoy travel to Ireland. These images are from a beautiful little border town between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland called Carrickfergus. 

McCauley picture from Ireland McCauley picture of Carrickfergus in IrelandAny last thoughts on your position as a Senior Research Administrator?
I feel lucky every day that I have a job that is challenging, never boring, always interesting and that is also helping to achieve goals that are for the greater good.