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Welcoming New ORI Team Members

October 6, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Drexel’s R-1 Carnegie Classification as a “Very High Research Activity” institution was first attained in 2018 and reaffirmed in 2022, with the University improving on the majority of classification metrics. Since 2014 our externally sponsored research expenditures have increased by more than 40 percent, and in the last fiscal year alone, our research community achieved the highest levels of sponsored research expenditures to date, representing a 9 percent increase over the prior year. As a biochemist who first joined Drexel 20 years ago, I could not be prouder of the colleagues and students whose work has elevated our research and innovation enterprise to the levels we see today. And I recognize that to sustain this activity requires a robust research support team. Today, I am thrilled to introduce 13 new team members to the Office of Research & Innovation who will help to support our continued growth. Many of these new colleagues are filling roles that have been vacant for some time, while a few roles have been strategically added to support our growth and the new strategic plan. Please join me in welcoming our new colleagues to the following teams: 

Joining the Drexel Applied Innovation team: 

  • Troy Wilford, Assistant Vice Provost for Entrepreneurial Development 

    Troy joined ORI on Sept 26 to lead the Entrepreneurial Development team, reporting to Vice Provost for Innovation Shintaro Kaido. In this role, he works closely with Drexel Applied Innovation's Intellectual Property & Agreements and Industry Engagement teams to partner with Drexel researchers to move their innovations to market.

    Previously, Troy was Director, Commercialization Solutions at the University City Science Center where he led the Science Center's launch of the STEM Founders Fellowship, a 12-month experiential program to provide first generation graduate students and doctoral candidates with hands-on startup experience and support to transform concepts into a business reality. Troy also brings industry expertise from his past leadership roles at DePuy Spine (a Johnson & Johnson Company), Stryker and others. He founded and operated his own consulting firm Keystone Life Sciences, which provided commercialization advisory services. Troy is currently a Health Investment Group Consultant for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Drexel University, where he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering as well as an MBA. 

  • Ravi Raghani, Licensing Manager 

    On August 15, Ravi joined the Intellectual Property & Agreements team, reporting to Senior Associate Vice Provost for IP & Agreements Robert McGrath. Ravi works with Drexel innovators to identify new inventions, review them for commercial and intellectual property potential, market technologies and negotiate licenses with commercial partners. In addition, Ravi collaborates closely with members of the ORI team to establish relationships with commercial partners and facilitate research collaborations in association with inventions in the Drexel portfolio.

    Ravi joins following the completion of his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where he worked on the development of novel engineered materials for both immunotherapy and monitoring of immunotherapy resistance. Ravi developed important commercialization experience as a consultant for a small biotech company and as a research intern for a New York-based investment firm. Additionally, he served as the entrepreneurial lead for a National Science Foundation I-Corps national cohort team and was recognized by his cohort as the top presentation for all participating teams. 

  • Tanvi Muni, Licensing Manager 

    Starting in mid-October 2022, Tanvi will join the Intellectual Property & Agreements team, reporting to Senior Associate Vice Provost for IP & Agreements Robert McGrath.  Tanvi’s efforts will focus on the commercialization of new inventions developed by Drexel innovators.  Her efforts to evaluate the innovations, secure them with intellectual property protection, communication to potential partners and negotiation of licensing agreements will be important steps in their transition from Drexel labs to the marketplace.  As a close collaborator with members of the Applied Innovation team and the Grants and Contracts groups in ORI, she will establish new and tighter relationships with commercial partners.

    Tanvi received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Bioengineering and possesses expertise in cell and tissue engineering.  Prior to joining Drexel, she served as Program Manager at the University City Science Center for its QED program, following a stint in a similar capacity at 1st Pitch Life Science-PA after completing her postdoctoral research.  

Joining the Research Compliance & Regulatory Affairs team: 

  • Cassandra Myers, Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs  

    Starting on October 31, and reporting to the Executive Vice Provost for Research & Innovation, Cassie will lead our Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs team, which oversee human research protections, animal welfare, research integrity, export controls, research security, and research conflicts of interests.

    Cassie brings over 15 years of research regulatory compliance experience in higher education and in health care at institutions including UNC-Chapel Hill and Mayo Clinic, as well as over nine years of leadership experience in research compliance. Over the course of her career, she has implemented best practices, evidence-based initiatives, built collaborative environments for all stakeholders, created new processes, and trained to improve effectiveness. For the past year, she has served as a human research protections regulatory consultant to Drexel, working closely with the ORI team and research community, including during the successful not-for-cause FDA (Food and Drug Administration) audit. She will work remotely from Minnesota. Cassie holds a BS in Health Management from University of Minnesota and is completing an MS in Rural Health.  

  • Lacee Harris, Executive Director, Research Compliance 

    Lacee joined ORI on September 19 and oversees Drexel’s Research Compliance team, which manages our export control, research conflicts of interest, research security, and research integrity. In this role, she will report to the Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Cassie Myers.  

    Most recently Lacee worked at Georgia Tech (GT) as the Export Control and Trade Empowered Official where she supported the Institute's research mission through compliance monitoring of research plans and activities. She also provided the research community with educational programming and advice on managing research awards and personnel from a compliance perspective. Prior to GT, Lacee worked with UCLA on export control and research compliance matters related to trade agreements, export licenses, research conflicts-of-interest as well intellectual property matters. Lacee has more than a decade of experience working in industry in these same areas. She is a licensed customs broker (DHS/CBP) and a certified customs specialist (NCBFAA).  Lacee earned her BS in International Business from the University of North Florida, her MS in International Relations and Management from Webster University and is currently completing her PhD in Public Policy and Administration. She will work remotely from North Carolina. 

  • John Roberts, Executive Director, Human Research Protections 

    John joined Drexel on September 19 to manage our Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) and reports to the Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Cassie Myers.

    Most recently, John was the Interim Director and Associate Director for Regulatory Affairs & Compliance in the Office of Human Research Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His team was responsible for ethical and regulatory oversight of research that involves human subjects and supported and oversaw the work of UNC’s six Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Prior to his seven years at UNC, he was an IRB analyst at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a research associate and project manager at the independent nonprofit research institute, RTI International. John is a certified IRB professional, leader and project manager with more than 20 years of experience in the research setting, including 12 years of direct HRPP and IRB experience. John earned his BA in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University, is a Certified IRB Professional (CIP), and certified RTI project manager. He will work remotely from South Carolina. 

  • Liz Hann, Director of Animal Welfare  

    Liz joined Drexel on August 15 to oversee our Animal Welfare team and will report to the Associate Vice Provost for Research Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Cassie Myers. The animal welfare team supports the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), including the research community’s IACUC protocol submission and review process, and provides training and post-approval monitoring.

    Liz obtained a BS in Marine Science from Stockton University and worked for 17 years at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. She rose from staff scientist to curator to manager of collection and conservation. In this role, she managed a variety of accreditations, developed the animal welfare and wellness policy and framework, co-chaired the animal welfare committee, was a member of the research and animal care committee, implemented new animal record keeping standards and software, developed a five-year conservation strategic plan, and was responsible for liaising with a variety of regulatory bodies whose regulations dictate the aquarium's animal welfare requirements. 

  • Laura Smith, IRB Analyst 

    Laura joined the Human Research Protections team as an IRB Analyst on September 19 and will report to Executive Director John Roberts.

    Laura brings nine years of compliance experience as Senior Compliance Specialist, Health Sciences Institutional Review Board at the University of Missouri, as well as years of experience working in accounting. While at the University of Missouri, she reviewed all submissions to ensure compliance with university, state and federal policies and regulations, and performed audits for post-approval monitoring and for-cause purposes. Laura provided education and assistance to investigators seeking to conduct research locally, nationally, and internationally. She informed board members of new policies, regulations, and current events in research, and she has experience with creating, revising, and maintaining standard operating procedures, as well as developing and maintaining an electronic IRB database in collaboration with colleagues and IT. Laura earned her both her BS in Accounting, Management, Business Administration and MBA from Columbia College. She will work remotely from Columbia, MO. 

  • Sherri Reneski, IRB Coordinator 

    Sherri joined the Human Research Protections team on August 15 and will report to Executive Director John Roberts. She joins the team with over seven years of business-to-business management and service delivery experience for high-profile national and international accounts, bringing a deep commitment and understanding of the importance of regulatory requirements, client services and work ethic.

    Sherri was previously National Account Manager and Facilities Coordinator with USM Services, where she was required to learn and actively apply knowledge of regulatory requirements in her daily work, including recording and tracking proposals and certifications of completion, prioritizing timely delivery, and resolving issues. Sherri also brings previous experience as a Crisis Counselor, certified in short-term crisis relief for individuals at Penn State University and in Centre County, PA, where she was responsible for understanding and acting in accordance with HIPPA privacy rules and the American Psychology Association’s ethical code of conduct. She documented client interactions and reviewed client records. She earned her BA in Psychology from Penn State University. 

Joining the Research Development team: 

  • Charlie Fraioli, Research Intelligence Analyst 

    On October 3, Charlie will join the Research Development Team as Research Intelligence Analyst and will report to Assistant Vice Provost for Research Development Gwynne Grasberger. He brings six years of experience in research, project management and business analytics to the role.

    Most recently, Charlie served as Senior Standards Management Analyst at B Lab where he conducted research, data analysis, and stakeholder interviews to inform minimum standards for B Corp Certification. Prior to this role, Charlie was the Sustainability Verification Analyst, auditing companies in sixteen countries against B Corp Certification requirements. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, he was a Research Assistant in the Department of Information Science, and Teaching Assistant, Spreadsheet Modeling in the Department of Applied Economics and Management. He brings a wealth of experience in technology tools such as advanced Excel, Tableau, Salesforce, SQL, and Python. Charlie earned his BS in Information Science and Applied Economics & Management (double major) at Cornell University. 
  • Sarah Schwartz, Graphic Designer 

    On October 18, Sarah will join the Research Development Team as Research Graphic Designer and will report to Assistant Vice Provost for Research Development Gwynne Grasberger. In this role, she will provide strategic proposal support for high dollar/reputation-enhancing submissions including scoping and designing figures, graphs, and templates; and designing collateral such as reports, newsletters, data sheets, infographics, and taking photos.

    Sarah has over eight years of experience working in educational media, with a variety of clients. As Web Content Producer and Associate Producer at Cultural Media Collaborative, she worked on a range of projects including websites, videos, graphics, event posters, press briefings, and copywriting. Sarah has experience building social media strategies, managing filming, and editing projects. She brings teaching experience in cinematography, film and video, experimental media, and media studies. She is skilled in media platforms, digital applications, data analytics, and film production. Sarah earned her BFA in Film and Video Production from The University of the Arts, and MA in Media Studies from Pratt Institute.  

Joining the Sponsored Programs team: 

  • Sarah Saxton, Executive Director, Sponsored Programs 

    On June 21, Sarah joined ORI in this leadership role where she provides strategic and operational oversight of our grants and contracts teams. Working closely with ORI colleagues and academic/administrative stakeholders, she supports the research community in their efforts to secure, manage and execute extramurally funded sponsored programs. She reports to the Executive Vice Provost for Research & Innovation, Aleister Saunders.

    Sarah is actively involved in the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan Implementation, serving as one of the tri-chairs of the Research Administration Initiative team as well as a member of the Focus Area Collaborative Council. She is also a member of the Global Research Working Group. Prior to joining ORI, Sarah was the Director of Research Administration in the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) where she developed and maintained the research administration infrastructure, supervising all pre-award and non-financial post-award functions for DSPH. Prior to joining DSPH, Sarah was a research program administrator supporting the Humanities and Social Science Research community within Drexel’s College of Arts & Sciences, where she managed pre- and post-award processes for nine departments and three centers. In addition to her roles at Drexel, she also worked at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine and the National Museum of Density. Sarah is a graduate of Lehigh University having obtained a BA in English & History, a MEd in Elementary Education and a MA in History.  

  • Sue Elkins, Grants Administrator 

    On October 11, 2022, Sue will join the Office of Sponsored Programs’ Grants team, reporting to Jeri Nutter. Most recently, Sue served as a proposal service administrator at Auburn University where she coordinated collaborative proposals across the university and with other organizations, assisted faculty with proposal preparation, developed budgets, and provided proposal reviews for university and sponsor compliance. In addition, she served on multiple committees on campus to provide support to both faculty and students on research opportunities, internal processes review, and training on funders and solicitation types. In addition, Sue brings over 10 years of research administration experience in both higher education and hospital settings with a wealth of understanding on research administration, networking, relationship building, professional development, and communication. She is a current member of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) and serves as a Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee for the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). She is a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) and earned a BA in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University.