Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Research administration is a large and complex profession with many and various roles and sub-specialties. CARA offers SIGs to support and engage each member at their particular specialty level. The majority of our members choose to participate in a SIG. Communication between members of each SIG is supported by a listserv and file-sharing through our website resource library. SIGs members share articles, checklists, posters, templates,  and other resources with their peers.

Each SIG has a nominated Leader who fosters interaction among the SIG members, and organizes activities the SIG membership wishes to undertake. The leaders and the SIG members design and implement appropriate professional development opportunities to help educate and develop the members.

Please select the SIG's you would like to join by logging into your profile. 



Clinical Research - Leader position vacant

Established in 2013, the Clinical Research SIG facilitates networking, collaboration, and knowledge exchange among CARA members working in, or interested in, clinical research administration. Our members debate and discuss public policies governing clinical trials, promote best practices in clinical trial contract negotiation, stay up-to-date with new clinical research legislation and regulatory requirements, and identify funding sources to support the continuation and development of existing or new clinical research initiatives and opportunities. Within CARA, we strive to continuously improve knowledge of the overall clinical research environment by sharing our own expertise in webinars and at conferences and also recruit experts from our large professional networks internationally. We work together to facilitate clinical research professional development for the benefit of medical research that impacts us all.

Colleges, Institutes and Polytechnics – led by Danielle Puddicombe and Rachel Brown - DPuddicombe@RRC.CA & rabrown@niagaracollege.ca

This new SIG welcomes any members interested in applied R & D and innovation at Canadian colleges, institutes, and polytechnics. Our members include research coordinators/facilitators, industry liaison personnel, project/program managers, finance and contracts administrators, commercialization experts, ethics professionals and managers. We welcome everyone, so please join us to share and expand your expertise through conference calls, emails, in-person events, webinars, and conference participation. The SIG was created with the intention of providing career and professional development opportunities for the rank-and-file administrators at the growing numbers of Canadian colleges, institutes, and polytechnics engaged in research and innovation. Co-Chairs Rachel Brown (Research Grants and Contracts Officer for the Research & Innovation division at Niagara College) and Ray Hoemsen (Director, Applied Research & Commercialization at Red River College) welcome you to this SIG.

Leader bios: 

Rachel Brown is the Research Grants and Contracts Officer for the Research & Innovation division at Niagara College. In this role she oversees all department budgets and financial reporting for the division, tracking all financial operations and reporting requirements related to internal and external funding portfolios. With in-depth knowledge of the comprehensive array of grant agency programs, Rachel collaborates with the research management team in coordinating all submissions, overseeing grant compliance and eligibility and liaises with funders and key stakeholders. She is a graduate of Niagara College’s Business Administration – Operations Management program.


Danielle has over 17 years’ experience in office administration and management; 12 of which have been in the applied research field/industry with Red River College’s Research Partnerships & Innovation Department (RPI). In her current role as the Research Finance and Operations coordinator, she oversees and manages the financial activities under the applied research umbrella; as well as organizes and coordinates the operations, procedures and resources to facilitate effectiveness and efficiency within the department and research projects. She also acts as a liaison and is a key contact between the RPI office and: other department representatives in regards to financial research activities; the controller’s office in review and compliance of project funds; as well as external funding agencies such as Industry, Provincial and Federal granting agencies. 

She has a diploma in Business & Administrative Studies; and a certificate in Dental Assisting. After polishing the teeth of her 500th client, she realized staring into people's mouths for a living was not as exciting as she thought it would be, and in 2004 she began her journey with the RPI office and has never looked back. 

Danielle and her husband Billy have three children – Abigail (15), Emma (9) and Dean (7).    

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion- Led by Gwen Hill - Gwen.3hill@royalroads.ca

The goal of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) SIG is to create a place for CARA members to share best practices, tips, and resources relating to equity, diversity and inclusion in the Canadian research environment. This SIG will provide a forum for professional growth, network building, and EDI advocacy.

Leader bio: 

Gwen Hill is a Research Development Coordinator at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. She is passionate about learning how to incorporate, and advocate for, EDI in Canadian Institutions. She holds a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, and her research has focused on intergenerational communication in the workplace. Gwen is a member of the Board of Directors of the Island Sexual Health Society, which provides pro-choice and comprehensive sexual health clinics, education programs and products for people of all genders, orientations, identities, abilities, and ages. When not behind a desk, Gwen can be found camping with her partner, her dog, and a good book.

Finance - led by Amanda Sawlor - asawlor@uoguelph.ca

Export Controls- Leader position vacant

Export Controls are seen in various types of contracts with government and industry sponsors. The Controlled Goods Program (CGP) is a stringent security system that regulates and controls the examination, possession or transfer of certain controlled goods. Anyone who deals with certain controlled goods in Canada is required to register with the CGP, including researchers contracting with industry and other non-academic partners. Goods and data governed by US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs) become subject to CGP when Canadian research institutions agree to ITAR terms and conditions in research agreements.

Some examples of controlled goods that are covered by the program include certain firearms and ammunition, many different kinds of munitions, and aerospace, satellite and other goods and technologies that guide weapons systems.

The CARA Export Controls group is managed through a list serve (exportcontrols@cara-acaar.ca) which includes research administrators and other stakeholders.

Grant Writers and Facilitators - led by Ann Marie Field & Sherri Klassen - field.ann-marie@uqam.ca & s.klassen@utoronto.ca​

The purpose of the Grant Facilitator/Writer SIG is to:

Bring together CARA members who are interested in this particular focus of research administration work;

Provide opportunities for professional development and best practices;

To promote this group and CARA to other individuals who may be associated with the research field but are not members of CARA.

Suggest names of members from inside and outside of academia who are involved in research administration and may not be aware of CARA;

Provide a forum for professional development, information sharing, and advocacy;

Assist with the creation of appropriate conference content;

Share best/worst practices in grant writing/facilitation; and

Share common challenges and resources developed for various programs (e.g. templates that list rules and regulations/criteria from funders). 

Leader bios: 

Ann-Marie Field was recruited in 2013 as the first research facilitator at the Faculty of communication at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) (Canada). She has been working closely with researchers to capitalize on their great potential and increase research funding at the Faculty. She focuses mostly on pre-award and research development activities for faculty members, but she is also involved in strategic planning for the development of research at the Faculty. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Carleton University (2005) and has completed, in 2017, CARA’s Certificate in Research Administration awarded by the ATHE (Awards for Training and Higher Education, UK). She is currently a member of ADARUQ’s executive board (Quebec’s association of research administrators).

Sherri Klassen has been a grant facilitator since 2005. For most of that time, she has worked in the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto and for a few years she also freelanced, supporting grant writing in a variety of other social science and health disciplines. In addition to faculty and research development activities, her work for the Department of Sociology at U of T also involves training graduate students in funding proposal development, assisting with human ethics protocols, and research communications. She has a PhD in history from Syracuse University and had five years of teaching experience prior to becoming a research administrator. When not at work, Sherri spends her time writing a cocktail blog called the Drunken Mennonite (https://slklassen.com/category/the-drunken-menno-blog/), revising an unfinished novel manuscript, or playing bridge.

Information Technology - led by Scott Baker - scott.baker@ubc.ca

Open to all CARA members.

The IT SIG serves both the tech-savvy and technophobic alike. It helps us navigate and understand the changing maze of information technology we encounter every day across the spectrum of roles represented by CARA members.

Goals include: fostering discussion, sharing information, recruitment, and exploring the latest news in IT. Discussion may include general IT questions (at any level), deep-dives into a specific technology, or sharing of good practices and lessons learned.

Leader bio: 

Scott Baker has a B.A.Sc in Electrical Engineering from UBC, is certified in PMP, ITIL, and is a Lean 6-sigma Green Belt.

He has over 20 years of experience managing people, projects, and systems spanning the realms of training, software development, data security, marine search and rescue, and telecommunications engineering. 

Scott has developed and delivered technical presentations and training across North America and in Europe on subjects ranging from telecommunications network design to marine navigation.

He joined Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer Agency in 2014. His role of Project Manager IT/Systems is a multifaceted position that bridges the IT/Systems and Project Management teams and involves multiple CFI grants as well as interactions with Compute Canada. 

Scott has a passion for the topics of data privacy and security and enjoys the challenge of seeking solutions to enhance both in the ever evolving research environment.

Institution Contract Reviewers - Leader position vacant

The Institutional Contracts SIG was established in 2013 for contract negotiators at institutions. We have members from colleges, hospitals and universities as well as consultants and lawyers in private practice. Our members share questions and resources to help advance our knowledge and the profession. We use the CARA O3 platform to share templates, checklists, articles, publications and other contract-related resources. We work together to contribute to CARA's professional development offerings for those in contract negotiation. Our SIG community facilitates networking and is a great way to connect with your peers nationally. As a group we also promote the expertise of contract negotiators by collaborating on publications for the CARA Connection and the Process Pathways Poster Competition at CARA National. We invite you to join our dynamic and supportive community!

International Research- Leader position vacant

The CARA International Research Interest Group provides an information sharing forum for research administrators in Canada interested in either research with an international scope (ie. collaborative projects with international components) or in learning more about research funding opportunities from non-Canadian sources.  The group has a broad focus and welcomes input and discussion from any CARA member with an interest in ‘international’ issues as they relate to university research. 


Leadership - led by Katie Porter - porterk@hhsc.ca

Our Leadership Special Interest Group supports leaders at all levels, offering tools, advice, coaching and mentoring to our peers so that we can all build effective teams and research portfolios.  

We believe that the success of leaders in research administration is directly related to the quality and function of their internal and external professional relationships. We strengthen these relationships within our Special Interest Group, by improving our skills and knowledge on leadership theory, and sharing best practices on the complex research administration environment through CARA's professional development program. This includes webinars, workshops, conference sessions and serving as mentors and assessors for CARA's upcoming Certificate in Research Administration and Certificate in Research Management.

Members of this SIG include Vice-Presidents, Deans, Directors and Managers and we also welcome those who aspire to these roles.

Leader bio: 

An executive MBA graduate from the Ivey School of Business, Katie Porter is Director of Research Administration at Hamilton Health Sciences, home to one of the most research intensive environments for medical research in Canada. Katie is a regular lecturer at McMaster University, co-author of The A-Z Guide to Research Contract Review and Steer Your Career: A Research Administrator's Manual for Mapping Success and a frequent speaker at conferences, workshops and webinars.  Katie is an active volunteer with CARA, as an editor for the CARA Connection and CARA mentor.  Her exceptional contributions to our profession internationally were recognized in 2014 with CARA’s Research Management Excellence Award.

New Research Administrators - led by Anita Sharma - ansharma@tru.ca

This SIG welcomes all CARA members in their first 2 years of research administration. Members discuss the role of research administration within their institutions and how they can contribute. They share some of their challenges, perspectives, resources, helpful experiences and shortcuts while expanding their networks and supporting each other.


Leader bio: 

Anita Sharma is a Research Grants Development Officer at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC. In her role, she conducts all aspects of research development, grant facilitation and administration including research prospecting, pre- and post-award grant support, institutional compliance review and approval of grant applications, and tracking the growth of research. She has developed various resources for supporting these activities (e.g., Research Prospecting Guide, Pre-and Post-award Toolkits). She recently completed a two-year Certification in Research Administration offered by CARA in collaboration with the UK’s ARMA. She has been an active CARA volunteer.  She holds a PhD degree in Biochemistry, has published 27 research articles in refereed journals and, has presented her work at many conferences. 

Awards, Honours and Prizes -  Julaine Hall & Marie-Claude Trembley -  julaine.hall@uwo.ca & Marie-Claude.Tremblay@uottawa.ca

The Awards, Honours, and Prizes Special Interest Group supports the development of successful nominations to international, national, and regional awards and prize competitions. We believe that by sharing best practices, providing training opportunities, and offering networking opportunities that nominations for meritorious individuals will increase in both number and success rate. We encourage all levels of institutions to participate, whether a small college with a few nominations per year or a large university that has several Awards professionals on staff. We all have something to give and receive on the awards landscape and your participation is appreciated. Together we will focus on:

  • Encouraging nominations from all Canadian colleges, universities, hospitals, and related eligible institutions
  • Promoting and supporting the successes of all SIG members
  • Sharing best practices and advice for achieving success in international, national, and regional award competitions
  • Providing professional development opportunities and addressing topics of concern
  • Arranging for networking opportunities through the National and Regional CARA conventions and where possible
  • Engaging a network of skilled professionals with the intent to improve outcomes for all SIG members

Join the Awards, Honours, and Prizes SIG and help build a cooperative culture of research excellence in Canada.

Leader bio: 

Julaine Hall, Co-Chair of the Awards, Honours, and Prizes - Special Interest Group has been Western University’s first Awards & Distinctions Development Officer since 2013. Julaine has worked at Western since 2007 in various roles primarily focused on coordinating the recruitment, retention, and career and professional development of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. She has a combined Honours degree in English and MIT (Media, Information and Technoculture).

Project Management -  Kimberley Sivak & Carole Edwards - kimberly_sivak@sfu.ca​ & CAROLEE@nait.ca 

The Project Management SIG’s members are involved in project management within a research administration context at many different levels - some offer project management support to research projects, others use project management methodologies/processes in their work, and others are interested in knowing more about project management and sharing tools, resources and best practices. 

Leaders bios: 

Kimberly Merin Sivak is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) who has been managing projects throughout the last decade. While most recently she has focused on project management in the academic sector, Ms. Sivak also has extensive experience managing environmental projects for the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In her current capacity as a Research Project Manager at Simon Fraser University, Kim is part of an innovative, new team that provides extensive post-award management for the university’s largest and most complex grants, contracts, prizes, and awards. Ms. Sivak enjoys developing new projects and approaches to project management, putting the necessary structure in place to ensure efficient, collaborative, positive, and successful teams. She holds a BA from UC Berkeley and a MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Carole Edwards is a Specialist, Research Administration with the Office of Research and Innovation at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). She has an extensive background in financial administration, project management and communications. Carole supports the Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability and the Applied Research Chair, Leadership & Talent with oversight on all financial administration, reporting requirements, and contracts.

Small Institutions- led by Deborah Zornes - deborah.zornes@royalroads.ca

The Small Institution’s SIG includes members from colleges, hospitals and universities with a variety of responsibilities such as pre-award, post-award, contacts, financial management, policy development, and strategic planning. At small institutions, research administrators are often ‘all things to all people’ and their roles span all aspects of research administration.  Our members share questions and resources to help advance our knowledge and the profession. We work together to contribute to CARA's professional development offerings where possible, and many of our SIG members are members of other SIGs as well. As a group we also promote the expertise of members, collaborating on publications for the CARA Connection and the Process Pathways Poster Competition at CARA National. We invite you to join our dynamic and supportive community!

Leader bio: 

Dr. Deborah Zornes is the Director, Research Services at Royal Roads University, and has been with the university since 2006. Prior to that, Deborah was the Manager, Research Services at Athabasca University for 15 years. In her capacity as Director she is responsible for both the strategic and operational directions of research at the university, working with faculty to find research opportunities, assisting in the development and submission of proposals, and the management and reporting of research activities.

Deborah is also the VP for CARA and is responsible for organizing the program for the national conference. An avid sailor, Deborah holds a PhD from UVic. Her research interests focus on two areas: 1) evaluating and measuring research effectiveness and quality, including outputs, outcomes and impacts; and 2) the impact of corporatization on the university and the research supported and what this means for the role of the university in society. Deborah’s teaching areas include research methods and communication for learning.  

NSERC - Leader position vacant

SSHRC - Virginie Portes -  virginie.portes@umontreal.ca

CIHR - Jenna Slobozian - j.slobozian@ucalgary.ca

This new SIG welcomes any members interested in learning more about and sharing information on CIHR.  With the significant changes that have been implemented in the last several years the funding environment at CIHR has dramatically changed.  With these changes comes uncertainty amongst the research community.  This SIG will give members the opportunity to share new best practices for their home institution, share any updates that they have received, give members the opportunity to ask questions, and in general give members the ability to take advantage of the large professional network CARA has to offer.

Leader bio:

Jenna Slobozian is currently the Senior Research Grants Officer in the Research Services Office at the University of Calgary.  She is primarily responsible for all CIHR funding for the University from grant development through to project set-up.  This includes working with the legal and ethics teams as required.  Prior to joining the UofC Jenna worked for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.  She is currently enrolled in the Certificate in Research Administration as well as just completing a certificate in Professional and Technical Writing. 

 CFI -