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Staff Q&A: Seletta Nichols, associate director of Research Administration in the Department of Preventive Medicine

Seletta Nichols

Seletta Nichols, associate director of Research Administration in the Department of Preventive Medicine, provides tools and resources to research staff and investigators, smoothing the rough edges off of the complex grant and research funding process.

Where are you originally from?   

I am a native Chicagoan, but I lived in Jackson Mississippi for almost 11 years.

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor’s in economics and accounting from a small historically black college, Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. I also have a Master’s in public policy administration with a specialty in health services policy from Northwestern University.

Please tell us about your professional background.

Prior to coming to Northwestern I worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi for almost five years, and more than two years in corporate reinsurance at Kemper Insurance in Illinois.

But I’ve had a storied journey working at Feinberg, having held seven positions across five departments — I’ve worked in the Department of Medicine two separate times — over the past 16 years. I started out at Feinberg as a coordinator of finance in the Division of General Internal Medicine and at the Institute for Health Care Studies, and I am currently the associate director of Research Administration for the Department of Preventive Medicine, the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) and Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS).

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern? 

I enjoy working at Northwestern because of the amazing people I’ve met and get to work with every day. There is definitely a spirit of collegiality and camaraderie amongst my coworkers, and for the most part we all just want to do a good job and help others to do a good job.  

How do you help scientists and research students at the medical school? 

While I don’t support faculty scientists directly in my current role, over the years I’ve worked with faculty in various capacities. From transferring their grants from other institutions and then helping them to acclimate to the Feinberg way of doing things, to helping them juggle their efforts across 10-15 grants or helping them balance academic or research activities with their clinical responsibilities.

What is your favorite part of the job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping faculty and staff to be successful at what they do. Currently, my primary responsibility is to provide tools, resources and training that empowers the research administrators who support faculty to proactively manage the research administration process. I enjoy working with our team to problem solve the daily challenges and to come up with creative solutions to some pretty complex issues.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, volunteering in our community, and attending athletic, musical and cultural activities in Chicago. My family is big on Sunday brunches so I love trying out new brunch spots on the weekend. I also look forward to the Chicago running season, and I usually sign up for three or four races between spring and late fall.