Supporting members of the basic science academic departments.

 

Who We Are

The Basic Science Administration (BSA) is dedicated to offering administrative support services to faculty, staff, students and trainees within the basic science academic departments, institute and centers.

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What We Do

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Communications & Outreach

Maintains basic science websites and listservs, offers guidance on branding, lab site web development and creative resources, special event promotion, and acts as liaison to the Feinberg Office of Communications.

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Facilities

Manages facilities requests, lab and office renovations and relocations, lab services, capital asset and departmental service contract management, space reporting and liaison to Feinberg IT.

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Financial Administration

Oversees and manages purchases, payments, expense reports, budget preparation, financial management, financial reporting, forecast, and recharge center finances.

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Professional Affairs

Oversees chair administrative support, departmental seminars, employee relations, faculty affairs, graduate student administration, human resources, payroll and visa applications.

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Research Administration

Manages pre- and post-award administration including approvals of procurement and expense reports, proposal development, award setup and management, budget preparation, compliance, effort reporting, financial management and financial reporting and projections.

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Staff Spotlight

Melanie Mkrdichian

When I have free time, my colleagues and I assist with Northwestern’s Year Up internship program. This program is fantastic in bringing young adults to gain skills, experiences and support that will empower them to reach their potential. ”

Melanie Mkrdichian
Associate Director of Research Administration


Melanie Mkrdichian is the associate director of research administration in the Basic Science Administration at Feinberg. She received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she studied chemistry. 

After joining Feinberg in 2007, Mkrdichian rose through the ranks and has supported Feinberg’s research enterprise. In her current role as associate director of research administration within the Basic Science Administration, Mkrdichian leads a team of 18 research administrators and is committed to mentorship and training. 

Where is your hometown?  

I’m a Chicagoland-area native. I currently live in the southwest suburbs with my husband, Hamorabi, two children Lincoln (7), and Nora (2), and our dog, Paczki (Lhasa Aspo). 

 

What led you to Northwestern?  

I applied for a position at Northwestern since it is one of the top research universities in the country. Throughout my tenure here at Northwestern, I have had the opportunity to learn about research and financial administration, clinical trial management and administrative support. 

What are you currently working on?  

I just transitioned to Basic Science Administration as the associate director of research administration. I have a wonderful team of 18 research administrators that aid in all types of grant support in the lifecycle of an award for five departments and multiple centers.  

When I have free time, my colleagues and I assist with Northwestern’s Year Up internship program. This program is fantastic in bringing young adults to gain skills, experiences and support that will empower them to reach their potential. The Year Up Feinberg School of Medicine Research Administration track allows experienced staff, like myself, to mentor and educate trainees in the hopes of them becoming future research administrators. It is such an honor to work with the future staff of Northwestern! 

How does your work support the research enterprise at Feinberg?  

I am part of the Basic Science Research Administration team, which assists in managing over $92 million in awarded projects. My team aids with grant proposals, award acceptance and establishment, progress reports, monthly financial management and the closeout of projects in a prompt and accurate fashion. I always think that my team and I are assisting with the administrative needs of projects, so that researchers can focus their efforts on science. 

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern? 

The people. Throughout my years at Northwestern, I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know wonderful staff, faculty and students. I’ve been fortunate to take part in multiple affinity groups, like Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC). I have been able to learn and grow with colleagues not only from Feinberg, but other schools of Northwestern. Northwestern is a community of caring people that work together to solve all kinds of problems. 

 Kelly Hamm-Oscar

I enjoy the amazing people I have the pleasure of working with, collaboration with PIs, other departments, and institutions with pre and post award activities.”

Kelly Hamm-Oscar
Research Administrator


 

Where is your hometown?
Chicago

What led you to Northwestern?
I came to Northwestern from the University of Chicago. A former co-worker of mine had come to Northwestern as a research administrator from UChicago and told me about the opportunities here at Feinberg and the work they were doing. I was intrigued and excited about what she shared, so I told her I was interested, came in for an interview and the rest is history.

How does your work support the research enterprise at Feinberg?
I support the development, review, implementation and management of sponsored projects for several faculty members in BMG, Microbiology-Immunology and Neuroscience. I support my PIs and their lab members by assisting them with their pre- and post- award activities. I also assist in proposal planning, budget projections and in any other way I can which allows them to focus on their research and goals instead of the day-to-day administrative duties.

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?
I enjoy working at Northwestern for many reasons. I enjoy the amazing people I have the pleasure of working with, collaboration with PIs, other departments, and institutions with pre and post award activities. I love the support I consistently receive from others here at BSA and other departments. I think Northwestern is a great school, good environment and place to work and grow. The knowledge I’ve gained, personal connections made, stories shared and relationships built during my time here is irreplaceable and I’m grateful for the experience.

What do you do outside of work?
Outside of work, I’m ABD, all but dissertation, for my PhD degree in Community Psychology at National Louis University. I love working with youth and seniors and want to make an impact in communities in those groups. I’m very concerned about the current issues that plague our beautiful city. My interest is to bring about change by being the voice that advocates change by working with programs and people who are dedicated to providing invaluable information, resources, education reform and much needed support to make a difference and help others to develop, improve and thrive.

Sameeha Saied

Having majored in a scientific field and worked on research myself, I know how difficult it can be to juggle all the different components that go into it. ”

Sameeha Saied
Research Administrator


Where is your hometown?
I was born and raised in Florida. I was born in Miami but moved to Orlando when I was pretty young, so I consider both to be home. If anyone wants the inside scoop on Disney or humidity, I’m your gal.

What led you to Northwestern?
Northwestern has always been one of my favorite universities. I went to Syracuse University for my bachelor’s degree and worked closely with the institution, both as a student and as a staff member. After graduating, I wanted to take some time off before going back to school for clinical/counseling psychology, and I knew I wanted to continue working in the higher education sector during that time. Given that this position is in a city I have always loved and focuses on research, Northwestern ended up being a great fit for me.

When did you join the Basic Science Administration?
November 2021

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working as an associate research administrator. I work with a set of PIs within the Basic Sciences Administration to maintain the grants, proposals and funding for their various lab projects. Most of my portfolio is currently within the Neuroscience department, but I also have PIs in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Cell and Developmental Biology. Overall, any administrative components of those labs fall in my wheelhouse.

How does your work support the research enterprise at Feinberg?
Having majored in a scientific field and worked on research myself, I know how difficult it can be to juggle all the different components that go into it. People often think of research and see only the physical, scientific research, but there are so many steps that need to be taken before, during and after. Research administrators like myself are here to take on the more administrative work so our faculty can focus more acutely on their actual research.

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?
It’s interesting to see what comes before and after research, especially because I will eventually be going to grad school and have to participate myself. I like to have a full understanding of my situations so I can control as many outcomes as possible, so being able to understand the intricacies of research beyond the science is super helpful for me in the long run. Beyond this, I love the atmosphere our office creates. Our community is full of such kind, fun people. I love that I can be excited to come into the office on the days that I do. That’s surprisingly rare nowadays.

Kayla Palmer, MS

My work environment and day-to-day operations allow me to explore all aspects of research projects, from inception to close, which makes me appreciate the process and innovation it takes to be a scientist.”

Kayla Palmer, MS
Senior Research Administrator


Where is your hometown?

I grew up in the city of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, about two and a half hours south of Chicago.

What is your educational background?

After graduating high school, I attended DePaul University in Lincoln Park where I received my Bachelor of Science in biological sciences in 2017. I then relocated to Baltimore, Maryland to pursue a Master of Science in biotechnology with concentrations in regenerative medicine and stem cell technologies at Johns Hopkins University.

Tell us about your professional background.

Prior to joining the staff and faculty here at Feinberg, I coupled my graduate studies and research with my work at the American Physiological Society (APS). While at APS, my primary focus was working with early-stage investigators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates to promote opportunities and exploration through physiological research, with a specific focus on reaching underrepresented racial and ethnic groups not typically recognized in science, technology, engineering and medical fields. While I completed my graduate program at Johns Hopkins, I worked with a philanthropic and science-minded group called eNABLE, combining the need for prosthetic appendages like mechanical forearms and hands with functioning fingers to individuals across the globe with congenital deformities and veterans who lost their limbs in battle. In total, I was able to assist with grant-writing and administering and coordinating projects, awards and programs for close to 800 students, researchers and educators.

When did you join BSA?

I started as a Research Administrator in the Basic Science Administration in November 2020.

What is your role in the Basic Science Administration?

My primary responsibilities as a senior research administrator are to support eight principal investigators and their lab members in the proposal development, submission, management and closeout of their projects. Each phase of support requires a different set of skills, including assisting with communication with grant officials, managing finances and assisting with program requirements so that research continues to perform well and with few hassles.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Working remotely since my hiring has limited my exploration into the job but working with and learning more about each project my PIs are working on is extremely fascinating. I enjoy reading about the work that is being proposed during development, as well as seeing how external factors can cause fluctuation in the research being conducted, like how COVID-19 has affected some of the research two or three years in versus the research that only just began in the last six months.

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?

I enjoy working at Northwestern for a variety of different reasons, and in my short time at Feinberg, there is always another new thing to add to the list. My work environment and day-to-day operations really allow me to explore all aspects of research projects, from inception to close, which makes me appreciate the process and the innovation it takes to be a scientist even more. I also appreciate the many opportunities to learn more about other departments, participate in forums throughout the university and sit in on discussions about the research being conducted throughout the organization.

What exciting projects are you working on?

Drs. Chisholm, Rasmussen-Torvik and McNally in the Center of Genetic Medicine are working on a project that involves clinical trials related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the recruitment has been slightly delayed, the project is beginning to pick up momentum and I can’t wait to see what results come out of the project as a whole

What are your hobbies/extracurricular interests?

When I’m not completing my duties as a research administrator, I am finding a new course to take on Coursera or working on business proposals for dream ventures to pursue with my two sisters. For fun, I love to cook and often challenge myself to find new and inventive ways to create tasteful meals from the remnants in the pantry or refrigerator right before “grocery shopping day.” I’ve most recently taken a liking to baking after binge-watching "The Great British Bake Off" and attempting some of Paul Hollywood’s most famous recipes. I am also a card and board game connoisseur of sorts; I’m always challenging someone to play against me in one the games within my 32-game collection.

Anything else we should know about you?

I’m a volunteer-aholic! Though the pandemic has proven many limitations to the places and people I can serve, you can find me participating in two or three service projects every month. Whether that is helping my church’s food pantry organize the grocery baskets for our community, being a “day buddy” at a nursing home or being a virtual math tutor, I find that serving is the warmest gift you can give someone.

Ellie Msser

I enjoy problem solving, working with faculty/staff in a collaborative fashion, and opportunities to learn/grow.”

Ellie Musser
Associate Dept. Administrator 2


Where is your home town?

Chicago, Illinois

What is your educational background?

Master’s in Public Health Policy & Administration and Minor in Epidemiology from University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

Tell us about your professional background.

Before coming to BSA, I worked at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. Prior to that, I lived in Indianapolis and was a Manager at Indiana University (IU) Health systems overseeing customer service operations for three hospitals and several medical centers. My favorite part of this job was developing programs to improve the non-clinical component of patient satisfaction. I was also a financial analyst at IU Health specifically supporting Riley Hospital for Children. I’ve also worked at the United Way as a capital funds coordinator.

Fun fact: In my first job out of college, I was an adjunct lecturer in an introductory health policy class at UIUC and had some current NBA players as my students!

When did you join BSA?

2013

What is your role in the Basic Science Administration?

I am an Associate Department Administrator. Our groups' focus encompasses HR, Payroll, Faculty Recruiting, Graduate Students, Visa, Recharge Centers, etc.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I enjoy problem solving, working with faculty/staff in a collaborative fashion, and opportunities to learn/grow.

What are your hobbies/extra-curricular interests?

Portrait and Landscape Photography

Den Gnzalez

I enjoy the problem solving opportunities aspect of the job because each experience is a stepping stone in my development of being a better research administrator. ”

Den Gonzalez
Manager of Research Administration


Where is your hometown?

Chicago, IL

What is your educational background?

I studied Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am enrolling in Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies this Spring Quarter to pursue  a degree in Information Systems.

Tell us about your professional background.

Back in 1996, while I was still in college, I worked at American National Bank and First Chicago Bank (now Chase Bank) in various financial/accounting jobs. In the spring of 2003, I worked at Wrigley Field when the Cubs ALMOST made the World Series. By that summer, I had my first temp job at Northwestern University working for the Parking Office counting cars in the lot across the street from the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatic Center on the Evanston Campus. I worked two more temp jobs until January 2004 when I was hired full-time as a Program Assistant at the Center for Public Safety. I left the position in 2006 to become the assistant for the Executive Associate Director for Research at the Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) on the Chicago Campus. I had several jobs at FSM before I returned to Evanston in 2009 to work in the Office for Sponsored Research to pursue a career in Research Administration. I left OSR in 2010 and spent a year in the Department of Chemistry as a Research Coordinator. Then in 2011, I was hired as a Research Administrator in the Department of Physiology. When Physiology was incorporated into the Basic Science Administration (BSA), I was promoted to Senior Research Administrator. After a few years, I left BSA in 2014 as I had an opportunity to work as a Financial Administrator at the Institute of Marine Biology in Kane'ohe, Hawaii. After a year, I returned to the mainland and worked at the University of Chicago in the Section of Cardiology as an Administrative Coordinator and Assistant to the Section Chief. Finally, the opportunity to return to Northwestern came in October 2016, when I was hired back as a Research Administrator in BSA.

When did you join BSA?

I initially joined BSA in November 2011. I had left in June 2014 and spent the next few years at the University of Hawaii and University of Chicago until my return to BSA in October 2016.

What is your role in the Basic Science Administration?

I am a Research Administrator and my role is to support researchers and ensure successful research efforts by providing all pre- and post-award administrative needs.

What is your favorite part of the job?

As a Research Administrator, new challenges arrive to my desk almost every day. I enjoy the problem solving opportunities aspect of the job because each experience is a stepping stone in my development of being a better research administrator. I am also appreciative that I am in an environment that encourages professional development and provides opportunities for growth.

What are your hobbies/what do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids any chance I get. My oldest son is already in college and working while my other children are in high school with their own activities so it’s becoming difficult for us to hang out together as we used to. Nevertheless, my wife and I try to get all the kids rounded up for lunch and/or dinner at least once a month.

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