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Csilla Csaplár

Director, Engineering Research Administration

Aug 2021
I’ve been at Stanford for 16 years, with the last four as director of engineering research administration.

It’s such an exciting and evolving area of focus – we’re directly supporting faculty research portfolios through proposal and budget development, award management, facilitating the progress of funded projects, ensuring compliance with institutional and sponsor requirements, navigating constantly changing regulations, and much more.

This really is an interesting space to be in, and it takes a fair degree of creativity, flexibility, and financial acumen. Because there’s often not one right answer, the most successful research administrators are those comfortable with the unknown and who can seek out context to understand the parameters of a problem. Research administrators aren’t bound by black-and-white thinking because they can understand regulatory nuance, remain detail-oriented while seeing the big picture, and demonstrate high levels of customer service to seamlessly support faculty research activity. I aim to continuously foster an environment for resourceful, collaborative problem-solving on my team and ensure we meet the needs of our brilliant researchers.

My extraordinary team of 34 works collaboratively to support award development, policy interpretation and implementation, compliance requirements, and administrative management activities associated with faculty research in the School of Engineering. I’m a fixer by nature, so I enjoy the challenge of understanding new award or policy requirements and figuring out how we can most effectively manage them. We ask many questions: How does Stanford interpret these requirements? Who’s affected by them? Who needs to know and how can we best communicate with them? How do we build the best strategy to put forward a successful competitive proposal and achieve consensus around the management approach? The strategic thinking process is all pretty energizing to me!

I also like that the field of research administration is diverse, complex, and offers lots of ways to learn and grow. I’m a huge proponent of professional development, and I want to create those opportunities for mentoring, cross-training, and participating in campus-level working groups for my team and for other research administration professionals on campus. A giant in the field really pushed and supported me with those opportunities early in my career, and it’s long been a personal philosophy of mine to pay it forward in alignment with that mentorship.

Research administration is such an interesting function – it offers practical, agile, behind-the-scenes structure that powers faculty research. So much of what we do hinges on the development of strong contextual understanding, effective working relationships with faculty, and solid networking with campus and external partners. It’s truly fun.

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