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An Aerial View

Posted on February 9, 2009

Working for a foundation allows for a new way of viewing research, states Vivian Tseng (bio).


I'd never thought about becoming a research funder. This was a completely new world for me. And what happened was, Ed Seidman, who was on my dissertation committee, he at the time had just also moved to the foundation, to the funding world, and he was looking for a post-doctoral fellow.

And so he pitched it to me as an opportunity to learn more about the policy world and the practice world, and the ways in which research could influence policy or practice, so that was just really appealing to me.

And it's been amazing. I mean as someone who had never thought, even considered that career path, it just wasn't even on my radar screen, it's been an amazing opportunity because as a research funder it's different from when you're a faculty member, especially when you're a junior faculty member, and you have to focus so intensely on making your mark and building your program of research and it's necessarily very narrow.

And as a research funder, you have a more of an aerial view of the field, in different fields of research. And so I felt very lucky at a very early point in my career to be able to have this opportunity to see what was going on in different areas of research and then to think about how to build particular areas of research and think about how to build capacity in certain fields of research that needed it.

You get to think a little bit more programmatically about research as a field. And what are the kinds of supports that researchers need? What are some exciting ways of pushing research in particular directions?

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 Leadership Training Institute in Bethesda, MD.


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