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Jobs that make a difference: Pre-Award Development Officer

Emma Dowden is a Pre-Award Development officer in Research and Innovation Services (RIS). More on how her job is making a difference.

Emma Dowden sat at her desk
Emma Dowden has supported world-leading research at the University of Bath for nearly 14 years.

A research enabler making a difference in people’s lives

Emma Dowden has supported world-leading research at the University of Bath for nearly 14 years.

For the majority of those years, Emma has held the position of Pre-Award Development Officer within the department of Research and Innovation Services (RIS), currently providing specialist support to researchers across the departments of Psychology, Computer Science, and Politics, Languages and International Studies (PoLIS).

Working intensely with an academic team to find out about their research is amazing. Knowing that I help them (even in a small, detached way) is hugely rewarding.

Over the years, Emma has partnered with academics across a range of research interest areas including The Centre for Applied Autism Research, The Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA), and The Centre for Pain Research. She is currently assisting the Department of Psychology with the submission of a sizeable grant that could help make significant improvements to dementia treatment.

I love getting really stuck into a massive grant where I feel valued and have the opportunity to drive some of the decisions being made around the budget and work plan.

With a comprehensive understanding of funding proposals and experience in structuring research grant budgets, Emma guides researchers through the rules and regulations certified by different funding bodies. Her unique insight helps academics “press the button” on submissions by ensuring the different funding rules are adhered to. Emma’s niche area of expertise is NIHR but she, and the Pre-Award team, work with a wide range of UK, EU, and international funding bodies.

I love my job so much, but sometimes there is just a bit too much of it.

As Pre-Award Development Officer, Emma’s key responsibilities include training researchers on using the University's Proposal to Award Management costing system, advising on compliance with internal and external procedures when applying for funding, and checking all external research funding applications.

I enjoy the sense of satisfaction when I’ve taken the pressure off an applicant who has many other demands on their time.

Making grant applications is tough - every applicant knows that the chance of being funded isn’t great but when academics win funding, I’m always super happy and so excited for them.

Working in tandem with the research community at Bath, the Pre-Award team brings a critical skillset to help build budgets and enhance funded research by reviewing proposals and contracts for accuracy and conformance with funding sponsor guidelines.

At its core, our Pre-Award team has always been a wonderful, happy team that pitches in and works together. We love that (even on the tough days) we are making a difference.

I was adamant I did not want to lose contact with the research world after stopping my doctoral studies halfway through. Vicariously, I now find myself supporting research by helping researchers to make a difference in the world and could not be happier.

I really enjoy working at Bath - there is a real sense of community and responsibility to your colleagues. As a team, we are constantly striving to improve our processes and practices covering changes that are driven by the funders.

We are research enablers, but we are also enablers for good practice across the university.

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