ASPA Member Highlight – Danielle Baron, College Research Facilitator, College of Agriculture and Bioresources

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Danielle Baron graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 2009 with a BA Honors in Psychology. She moved to the University of Alberta to do her Master of Science in Neuroscience, which she completed in 2012. Danielle then worked as a Research Program Manager for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta from 2012 to December 2015.

Danielle started working at the University of Saskatchewan in January of 2016 as the Research Facilitator for the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development of faculty grants and contracts, with a focus on the federal Tri-Agency grants and provincial opportunities such as those through the Ministry of Agriculture. Danielle supports mainly large-scale collaborative grants and facilitates college-wide initiatives related to research. She also provides data and metrics on the college’s research activities, supports new faculty in the development of their research programs, and also supports faculty outreach to industry and producer groups. In addition, Danielle oversees the college’s graduate program office, with additional responsibilities related to management and HR, awards and scholarships, and day-to-day activities. Her duties also include various research communication activities including seminar committees. She sits on the college Rekunyk lecture series committee, which has twice-annual guest lectures by experts on various Ag topics from around the world. Danielle also recently stepped up to take a leadership role in a cross-college committee, which is organizing a collaborative seminar series for the 2020 International Year of Plant Health. This series is an exciting collaboration between the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Global Institute for Food Safety, Global Institute for Water Security, and the College of Arts & Science department of Biology.

What Danielle likes best about her job is that no two days ever look the same. She considers herself both an introvert and an extrovert, so this is actually the perfect job for her. Roughly half of her time is spent interfacing with researchers, staff, and professional colleagues, while the other half is spent in her office working on grant review, reviewing content for various college initiatives, and staying on top of all the emails she gets daily. She adds, “In this position, I find that I never know what challenge could come up or what I will have an opportunity to tackle”. Danielle credits her job satisfaction to the great people that she works with, from the staff that she works directly with to the researchers in the college who are conducting such diverse and innovative research.

What motivates Danielle to do her best is the knowledge that she is helping people do their jobs better. After the completion of her Masters degree, she had several opportunities and offers to pursue her PhD around the world. She had to decide if she loved what she did enough to have the rest of her life revolve around it. The realization she finally came to was that while she didn’t absolutely love the specific research she was doing, she did love research. Working in research administration gives her the satisfaction every day that she is here so that the college and the university can do the things that they need to do. Faculty need a strong foundation of support for their research programs. Danielle hears from her faculty all the time that she is awesome and they rely on her so much. This is so rewarding to her because it lets her know that she has played a tiny part in all of the amazing work that goes on in her college and on campus.

While her graduate research – which focused on how the limbic system in the brain allow people (and animals) to understand the world around them and navigate through it – is not relevant to her current position, it is the knowledge of the basic scientific method and the research process that lays the foundation for her to be successful in her role as a Research Facilitator. Her knowledge of science and research has served her well in her role – and while she doesn’t know what it is like to be a faculty member and juggle the amazing amount of work that they are responsible for, she understands the commitment that research takes, and this motivates her to do her job better.

Danielle values the supports available through the ASPA office and likes knowing that ASPA has her back if the need should arise. She especially appreciates the collegiality of networking with her peers as ASPA members. Danielle takes advantage of other benefits, like a gym membership to the PAC. In addition, Danielle regularly uses her APDA professional development funds to take courses through the University of Saskatchewan Edwards School of Business Executive Education program, including Leadership Essentials for Supervisors, Leadership Communication, and Developing a Coaching Mindset.

If Danielle could give advice to others, and especially to our new ASPA members, it would be to “Look into what types of perks you have and be sure to use them to your benefit. And don’t forget, ASPA is a great resource to connect with other colleagues across campus”.

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