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Humanities Faculty Gain New Advocate in Office of Research

Meg Sparling is on a mission to connect humanities faculty with the funding they need. After finishing her PhD in the Department of English last year, Sparling knew she wanted to help scholars do their research. As a Funding Opportunities Coordinator in the Office of Research, she’s discovered a whole world of research support and funding at the fingertips of humanities faculty.

Accessing that funding and support really is just an email away. Sparling curates and sends the weekly Research Funding Update, an email that alerts faculty about relevant funding opportunities. In addition to a general email, Sparling also produces an update for early-career faculty (sign up here) and for humanities faculty (sign up here).

Because humanities research looks very different from the activities of STEM researchers, the humanities email contains a broad range of funding opportunities. In it, you’ll find support for research funding, travel, archival research, workshop & seminar grants, and more. The early-career email connects faculty with the seed grants, pilot projects, and grantsmanship training events that they need to support a tenure package.

Sparling was the first humanist on her team, which focuses on early-career faculty. The experience she gained completing her PhD, she believes, makes her the perfect person to support humanists in their research. “I have the same degree as the faculty members that I’m sitting down with, I understand the research lifestyle, I have a sense of what the culture at UCD is like, what the available resources are,” says Sparling. When helping faculty, Sparling pulls from her own experience of being a researcher.

So what other services do Sparling and her team offer? Just about anything you can imagine–and they’re actively seeking feedback. Sparling wants to make the Weekly Research Update useful to humanities and early-career faculty, and keep it useful as faculty research evolves. She’s particularly keen to hear from humanities and early-career faculty about the kinds of funding opportunities and research support resources they need.

“I think they’d be surprised by how much I want to hear from them,” Sparling says with a smile. “It’s really important to me to advocate for the humanities, and my office is excited to support their efforts. I just need them to tell me what they need, and I’ll make it happen.”

For example, the Office of Research has developed templates to assist STEM faculty with applications and offers a range of grantsmanship workshops. Sparling’s team is prepared to do the same for UC Davis humanists. “We can develop templates for them so that they save time working on grant opportunities.”

Sparling recommends that every faculty member maintain a one-page summary of their research that they can plug into an application. Not sure how to get started? Sparling’s office is happy to hold a writing workshop. Sparling also offers one-on-one Pivot consultations, to show faculty ho to navigate the funding database and set up funding alerts.

And getting to know the concerns and research goals of the faculty will help Sparling tailor the Office of Research offerings to support humanities faculty. “I would really like to get a better sense of what a timeline looks like for an early career researcher within the arts, or English,” says Sparling, “so I can help early-career faculty develop a 5-year timeline of research funding.”

Sparling’s team is hoping to support a strong culture of grantsmanship among early-career and humanities faculty. UC Davis is full of interdisciplinary research opportunities, notes Sparling, and she sees it as a sign that “the university needs the humanities, and they want to support us.” It’s Sparling’s job to connect faculty with the resources they need to do their best work. “The humanities should think of the Office of Research as something that is entirely open to them and for their benefit.”

And if Sparling’s weekly emails are any indication, the research support opportunities are endless.

–Samantha Snively, DHI Humanities Correspondent and PhD candidate in English literature

This page was last updated: July 26, 2018



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