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Spotlight

Steve Stanghellini

Manager, Research Administration
Story originally published on Jun 2022
I lead a small team of engineering research administrators.

We help faculty in the Computer Science department prepare and submit proposals for research grants and contracts and, when those proposals get funded, help to set up financial accounts and make sure expenditures follow the funding agencies’ requirements as well as Stanford internal policies. We handle most of the administrative work so that our faculty can focus on the technical aspects of proposals and, of course, actually doing the research.

This isn’t my first job at Stanford, or even my second. I started in the development office supporting major gift officers and then spent several years working with the communications and alumni relations group. When someone from Engineering Research Administration gave a talk to our department about their work, it caught my attention. I had learned a bit about finance in my other Stanford positions and it was something I was interested in pursuing, so I took a leap and applied.

One of the things I really appreciate about Stanford is that the university is willing to give people a chance at something, even if they don’t have the exact right experience on their resume. It’s part of what drew me to originally apply for a job here 15 years ago.

At the time, I was working as an acupuncturist and herbalist. I had moved from Arizona to California in the ’90s to get a master’s degree studying traditional Chinese medicine and spent five years practicing acupuncture. I moved around a lot, including spending a year in Anchorage working at the Alaska Native Medical Center. (Moving from San Diego to Anchorage in November was a big adjustment! I went from living in 75-degree weather to bundling up for consistently freezing temperatures.)

For the most part, acupuncture is done through private practice – you basically have to go it alone – and I found that to be too stressful, financially. So I ended up in the Bay Area feeling like I needed a change. I applied for a job in Engineering External Relations, working in the development office, and got it.

I wanted to work in the School of Engineering because I really admire the work done here. It’s important for improving the lives of people and the environment around us, and I find it fascinating. In my current position, I get to be a part of the support network for all these valuable research efforts.

I feel lucky to have found a place at Stanford and to have had the opportunity to grow in several different positions. I work with such supportive and collaborative people and I am constantly learning from them. And somehow, there’s always more for me to learn – new things seem to pop up every day as federal agencies and other grant-funders update their requirements or faculty apply for new sources of funding. It definitely keeps me on my toes.

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