The Interview

Deborah Zornes, CARA President


Deborah teaches the Introduction to the Canadian Funding Environment course.

Please tell us about yourself/your background (education, expertise, experience)

I am the Director, Research Services at Royal Roads University, and am currently also CARA’s President. I have been involved in research administration for more than 20 years (so long!). My roles have been at small universities and so I have been involved in all aspects of research administration – pre and post-award. I hold a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Victoria. My doctoral research focused on the impact and implications of adopting business models and business norms on universities in BC and what that might mean for research, and for the role of the university in society.


What do you find most rewarding about teaching?

I love when a student finds the material useful. I really, really do. And the course I teach is designed with that in mind. The assignments and readings are, hopefully, useful to the student outside of the course. I also love when a student has an ‘aha’ moment and discovers something new, and I also love it when I have an ‘aha’ moment. I have learned so much from our students.


What has been the most rewarding feedback you have received about your course/the certificate?

That the material and the course has been useful


What are 3 things you aim to teach students about the Cdn higher ed research funding environment?

  • The main federal government funders – Tri Agencies and CFI
  • Key issues and trends in the research landscape – e.g., equity, diversity, and inclusion; research data management; research impact, etc.
  • Other funding opportunities to explore – provincial, foundations, private sector – and how to navigate through those


What other ways do you enjoy contributing to your profession?

  • Participating in CARA special interest groups
  • Attending the national and regional conferences
  • Taking part in webinars
  • Leading/facilitating webinars
  • Volunteering on the executive


To whom would you recommend the Research Administration Certificate?

Every research administrator in Canada who has been in their role for fewer than five years and research administrators who have been focused on a specific area and are looking to broaden their skills and understanding of the research enterprise.


What do you like best about the Research Administration Certificate (online/bursary support/flexibility, formal, evaluative recognition of skills, raises profile of profession, etc)

The importance of having a certificate is critical in raising the profile of the profession – this is an important role that the certificate plays in Canada – recognition and value of the role.


Fall Registration opens AUGUST 6, click here for more information.