Meet the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2014 AER Conference: Rebecca Ohnemus

by Rebecca Ohnemus, MAA, CRA, research officer at the University of the Incarnate Word 

PRIM&R is pleased to introduce Rebecca Ohnemus, MAA, CRA, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2014 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who will blog here, on Ampersand, about the conference to give our readers an inside peek of what’s happening December 4-7 in Baltimore, MD. 

My career in the field of research administration began five years ago when I was offered a graduate assistantship on a National Institutes of Health-funded project (some of you may remember EARDA, the precursor to BRAD) at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). Since then, UIW’s Office of Research Development (ORD) and I have grown up together. With the addition of schools of optometry and physical therapy—and a medical school possibly on the horizon—both the ORD and I became busier (and better at multitasking).

A year and a half ago, our IRB administrator retired and the responsibilities associated with this position were folded into the ORD’s (and my) growing world. Almost immediately I realized a need to focus more deeply on learning the intricacies of the regulatory requirements, addressing our researchers’ perception of the IRB and its processes, and meeting the institution’s need for administrative expertise.

This is where my story with PRIM&R begins.

With the help of newly found colleagues and friends—and the abundance of online resources available to PRIM&R members—I have worked to develop and rebuild our policies, procedures, and toolkits to more accurately reflect best practices—and better meet the needs of our researchers.

I was asked to share what I’m looking forward to the most at the upcoming AER Conference in this post, but couldn’t narrow it down until I started thinking about my own journey in the field, which is when I realized what I was most excited about: getting to meet all of you.

Bear with me for a moment, I know it sounds cheesy, but just think about it…

You can attend seminars, panel discussions, and workshops—all of these wonderful sources of new information offer immediate value. What you listen to, what you download in the presentation notes, that’s what you get. It’s up to you to make it grow, change, or evolve.

While the enduring value of the conference often comes in the form of much smaller interactions: the conversation that makes you late to the next session because you’re so engaged by a previous presenter and colleagues who walked up to talk afterward; the ideas tossed around within your affinity group as you brainstorm a way to overcome a mutual challenge; or the good-natured venting you engage in over coffee breaks because you know everyone at the conference has tackled similar situations.

These are the elements that breathe life into the information we learn and infuse with our enthusiasm what could otherwise easily be a passive experience. The moments we share with colleagues help to build a network of powerful connections—of allies for times of need—and they’re what I’m looking forward to most in Baltimore.

Check back and use this link to read more of Rebecca’s posts throughout the conference.