Connecting the Dots
John Russell wears many hats. He helps researchers find funding opportunities, make contact with program managers, write compelling proposals and win awards. He builds teams with pioneering research collaborations; and he advises researchers on how to overcome bureaucratic challenges.
“In short, my role here is to be a conduit for the Office of Research and Economic Development in Idaho Falls,” Russell said.
Russell is the University of Idaho’s associate director for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), a consortium of research entities headquartered at U of I in Idaho Falls. There, he interfaces with the five CAES member institutions: U of I, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Boise State University, Idaho State University and the University of Wyoming.
Through his role, Russell keeps connected with CAES entities and funding agencies, putting him in an excellent position to help faculty and students by:
- Facilitating requests for laboratory space and equipment to help researchers do their work.
- Creating opportunities for U of I researchers and students to exhibit their research results at workshops, meetings and symposia.
- Advocating for faculty members and advising them on how best to interact with federal program managers.
- Connecting faculty and students to opportunities, such as grants, internships and jobs.
- Representing U of I in the CAES consortium.
- Supporting relationships between U of I and INL, as well as partnerships that may fall outside the CAES umbrella.
- Serving as the point of contact for the Office of Research and Economic Development at U of I Idaho Falls.
With a doctorate in chemistry, postdoctoral research experience at Argonne National Laboratory, plus a professional background in public policy and the military, Russell has a unique combination of education and experience that helps him excel at fostering success for students and faculty.
Russell’s public policy experience stems from his work with the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and with Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, where he advised legislative staff on science, technology and security.
“Science is a people business” Russell said. “You really need to build relationships with program managers at funding agencies when working with competitive solicitations and research awards. You have to build trust and show how researchers at your institution can deliver results for the agency’s mission.
“Working in a Senate office, you learn different lessons,” he said. “Legislative work is all about engagement with constituents and supporting their needs. We need to present the best case of how our R and D efforts support the economic development of the state.”
Russell finds each interaction with researchers is unique.
“Every faculty member is an individual, and all research areas are niches,” he said. “You have to identify needs and find the right solution for the right person.”
In the end, Russell sees his job in simple terms. “I see my role as being an advocate for the faculty, to promote their interests and to connect faculty to university-wide initiatives.”
Faculty and students are encouraged to contact Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss research and internship opportunities in the Idaho Falls area.