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When Ruth Knechtel joined Wilfrid Laurier University in 2013 as research facilitator for the humanities and social sciences, she set out to meet as many of the faculty as possible. Her job is to build partnerships with researchers and help them define their research trajectories.
“I really love working with faculty,” she explained. “We have a lot of really dedicated researchers who are passionate about their research. I am proud that I get to help them obtain the funding they need.”
Knechtel supports researchers in a variety of ways, including alerting them to funding opportunities, helping to forge internal and external partnerships, performing institutional reporting, providing workshops and best practices, editing and helping to structure applications, alleviating administrative burden, and helping process funds for successful applicants.
“I act as a partner,” she said. “We look at the immediate five years of their research plan and discuss ways they can push their research forward.”
One of the most rewarding facets of Knechtel’s job is sharing the ups and downs with researchers. Working with researchers who have had successful applications is rewarding because, she says, “it propels researchers further, invigorates them.” However, Knechtel says helping a researcher obtain funding after not being successful the first time is even better.
“I go out of my way to tell them that yes, it is disappointing news, but this is just the beginning of our next strategy session. We go right back to work and look at the feedback and strategize about the direction we want to go in. They’re not alone even with negative news. I think they appreciate that and I appreciate that I get to work with them and strategize to get a good result.”
Knechtel says having a Ph.D. helps her understand faculty research and relate to researchers. Once researchers get to know her, she becomes their “point person” for questions and support.
“I count that as a success. I get a lot of thanks from researchers and I’m grateful for that.”
The Research Support Fund supports a portion of the costs associated with managing the research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, such as salaries for staff who provide administration support, training costs for workplace health and safety, maintenance of libraries and laboratories, and administrative costs associated with obtaining patents for inventions.