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Tiffany Fleming is the Research Development Director in the CALS Research and Innovation Office (RIO). We sat down with Tiffany to learn more about her background, role and visions for the college’s research.
Tiffany Fleming portrait
Tiffany Fleming
Research Development Director in the CALS Research and Innovation Office

What is your role within RIO and what impact do you hope to have in our community?

As the Research Development Director for RIO, my primary role involves assisting faculty in developing effective research funding strategies and crafting competitive proposals. I collaborate with diverse funders, including federal agencies, state agencies, foundations and science philanthropists. My focus is on creating and delivering innovative programs and resources, including one-on-one consultations, workshops, programs and professional development events, to support CALS faculty at all career stages in areas like grant writing, partnership development and project management. My vision is for RIO to evolve into a valued resource within CALS, offering learning opportunities, fostering multidisciplinary networks and providing practical resources for grant writing.

How will you engage with the CALS research community?

The involvement of Research Development with faculty primarily concentrates on pre-award proposal development tasks. This encompasses various activities such as devising funding strategies, identifying suitable funding opportunities and collaborators, managing research team meetings, overseeing proposal development timelines, enlisting external expertise if relevant and undertaking tasks like writing, reviewing and editing proposals. Ideally, all the training, workshops, events, programs, seed grants and outreach activities conducted in the realm of Research Development will culminate in sponsor-specific proposal development initiatives. My goal is to engage the CALS research community in a spectrum of pre-award proposal development activities, tailoring the approach based on the specific needs of individual researchers or research teams.

What does research and innovation mean to you?

In essence, research revolves around posing pivotal questions, discerning their significance and collaboratively tackling intricate problems to propel a field of study and meet societal needs. Innovation, on the other hand, is more expansively defined — it encompasses inventive and unconventional approaches to problem-solving, developing methods that have not been previously employed but have the potential to be groundbreaking and open new avenues of exploration. Additionally, innovation extends to taking a foundational idea or discovery and guiding it toward an invention, a product, a company or some translational outcome. While research may not always include innovation in the translational sense, it frequently entails inventive strategies for addressing complex challenges or intriguing problems.

What most excites you about supporting the college’s research endeavors?

As a CALS alum, I am deeply committed to the college's mission. I am excited to be back on campus and contributing to our land-grant mission and the 2050 Roadmap. While leveraging my teaching background, I eagerly anticipate collaborating with individuals and groups of researchers to articulate complex scientific ideas in a manner that communicates their significance and potential impact to non-experts. I am most excited about the process of proposal writing and editing, where refining ideas over time results in a compelling, important, exciting and impactful proposal.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I take pleasure in gardening, strolling through the woods with my spaniel, Pippin, and relishing moments in the mountains, frequently visiting the Adirondacks, Catskills, Berkshires, Green and White Mountains with both my family and Pippin. Additionally, I find joy in crafting creative non-fiction and poetry.


Academic background:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Biology and Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
  • B.A. in Biology, Marlboro College, Marlboro Institute for Liberal Studies at Emerson College

Professional background:

  • Spans over the last 15 years
  • Expanded academic focus to include plant science, evolutionary ecology, conservation biology and formal and informal science education
  • Authored a Conservation Management Plan on a rare and threatened plant for the New England Plant Conservation Program in her early 20s
  • Worked in diverse settings including classrooms, research institutes and universities
  • Experienced in translating, communicating and engaging diverse audiences to foster support, appreciation and funding for science
  • Recognizes the importance of public understanding of and support for research
  • Has extensive insights and experience with funding agencies such as NSF and USDA

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