Keeping Awardees on Track
Sarah Martonick guides faculty and staff through the complex world of post-award compliance
Last year, the University of Idaho received 694 awards for a wide range of projects contributing to more than $100 million in research expenditures. The common denominator in these awards: Each is tied to specific rules and guidelines that must be met before the project can be funded or continued.
This is where Sarah Martonick steps in. As Post Award Manager for the Office of Sponsored Programs, Martonick takes a leading role in compliance support for all sponsored projects related to research, public service, outreach and classroom instruction.
Along with her colleagues, Martonick reviews sponsor agreements after proposals are accepted. She makes sure the terms and conditions meet university, federal and state requirements. She also ensures that awardees are aware of and follow all rules and guidelines tied to the agreement… all the way through to the project's closeout phase.
"We serve a variety of functions, from resolving discrepancies, to interpreting terms and conditions of agreements, to helping faculty and staff understand how budgeting and expenditures work in UI's financial system," said Martonick.
Martonick quickly developed a passion for the Office of Sponsored Programs when starting there in 2009, while working with then-director Polly Knutson as her assistant.
"I noticed her enthusiasm for research administration and observed the important work that my colleagues were performing in this field. I became intrigued," said Martonick.
"As I continued beyond my temporary job, I began to understand the importance of research administrators and their role in advancing research, public service, outreach and instruction. I became passionate, too."
Since those early beginnings, her career has flourished to the point where she is becoming a recognized leader in her field.
Each year, regions six and seven of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), a professional organization, chooses just a handful of qualified members among many applicants to participate in its LeadMe mentorship program. This program was developed in part to foster emerging leaders in her field.
Martonick was chosen this year as one of the LeadMe program's select few participants, putting her in an excellent position to become a regional and national leader among her professional peers in university research administration.
"This is a great honor, but I owe a lot to my director, Deb Shaver, and Associate Director, Heather Nelson," said Martonick. "They have taught me so much over my career and I would not be where I am today without their guidance and support."
Martonick has seen a wide array of projects land on her desk over the years. It is this variety that she particularly enjoys.
"I've supported many interesting research projects that focus on new uses for animal waste, change the way we treat wastewater and developing robots for 4H robotic competitions," said Martonick. "I am very lucky to support these and all other projects."
Martonick encourages new and future awardees to contact her office with questions-early and often.
"We are here to help and will always do our best to assist, but timing is important in our ability to help resolve an issue and remain compliant," she said. "It is much easier for OSP to assist with a potential issue before the action occurs, rather than after."
Martonick firmly believes in the Office of Sponsored Programs' importance at the University of Idaho.
"Without OSP, our faculty and staff would have to wade through the ever-changing federal, state and university policies and procedures that govern sponsored funding. As a unit, we work very hard to stay up-to-date and remain an important resource."
Article by Phillip Bogdan, Office of Research and Economic Development