Kelsey Hassevoort, PhD

11/22/2021 12:00:00 PM

Kelsey Hassevoort works with researchers and students to broaden the impact of their work

Kelsey Hassevoort, PhD
Kelsey Hassevoort, PhD

Kelsey Hassevoort, PhD, is a research development manager at IHSI and co-lead of the Community-Academic Partnerships core. We asked Kelsey to share more about her role and offer advice for researchers seeking broader impact for their work.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I first came to the University of Illinois in 2012 as a graduate student in the Neuroscience Program. My doctoral work focused on better understanding the relationships between physical activity, nutrition, body composition, and memory performance, and I had the opportunity to be part of an interdisciplinary team answering really interesting and impactful research questions. After graduating with my Ph.D., I stepped into a unique postdoctoral position that introduced me to the field of research development (RD). Working in RD really appealed to me because I saw a way to support the research enterprise in a broader way and help address the kinds of larger, systemic issues that face researchers (some of which I experienced as a research trainee).

I came on board full-time as a research development specialist at IHSI in the spring of 2019, originally leading IHSI’s Brain Health program area. In the summer of 2020, I joined IHSI’s Community-Academic Partnerships Core, which I now co-lead with Emily Stone. In my current role as a research development manager, I develop programs to support community-academic partnerships in the health space, with the goal of establishing the public engagement infrastructure necessary for community partners and researchers to form equitable collaborations to address the public health challenges facing our community.

What are some examples of your contributions to grant proposal development on campus? 
Most recently, I partnered with my IHSI colleagues Maggie Berg and Brandi Barnes to provide proposal development support for health sciences researchers submitting proposals to the university's Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program, two of which were funded in 2021! More generally, my goal is to develop programs and supports that feed into the grant-seeking process by providing opportunities for researchers to maximize the broader impacts of their research. This is vital at a time when funders are increasingly calling on researchers to translate discovery and innovation in ways that more broadly benefit society.

What other research development efforts are you involved in? 
In addition to leading the Community-Academic Partnerships core, I am also part of IHSI’s Research Development (RD) core, and I really enjoy working with our RD team to learn about the kind of support our health sciences researchers need and develop programs to address those needs. I am also highly active in the National Organization of Research Development Professionals. I serve on NORDP’s Professional Development Committee and Committee on Inclusive Excellence, am the co-chair of the Communications Working Group, and serve on the National Conference Planning Committee. I have appreciated the opportunity to get involved in NORDP, as it has allowed me to better understand the breadth of research development and work with my fellow RD professionals to ensure that this burgeoning field is an inclusive one.

Tell us about your passions or any projects or activities that you are particularly excited about right now.
As my colleague Emily Stone mentioned last month, our campus is revising the Provost’s Communication #9 to recognize and reward faculty public engagement in the tenure and promotion processes, which is incredibly exciting news. Like Emily, I’m really looking forward to supporting faculty as they navigate these changes and think about how to broaden the impact of their work!

What’s your favorite aspect of your work?
One of my favorite aspects of my job as a graduate researcher was working with and mentoring students, and I’m thrilled that I am able to continue to work with talented students through two of the programs I lead. One is the Community-Academic Scholars Initiative, which provides support for undergraduate researchers working on community-engaged research projects during the summer under the guidance of an academic and community mentor. Our students in this program come from so many different majors and bring a host of perspectives to their research. I love hearing from them about what excites them about community-engaged research, and how they plan to apply the skills they gain through the program in their chosen careers. I also lead the Community Seminar Series, a science communication program for graduate and postdoctoral researchers. I’ve learned so much from the research trainees who have participated in this program and developed webinars responding to the health needs and questions of our audience, which spans the U.S. (and sometimes beyond)! These webinars offer an opportunity for dialogue between researchers, Extension educators, and other members of the public and equip our students with invaluable communication skills that will serve them well throughout their careers.

I have, of course, had incredible partners in leading these programs, including Brandi Barnes, Elsa Augustine, Pete Ondish, Emily Stone, Chelsey Byers, and Corinne Cannavale. Research Development is truly a team sport – and getting to collaborate with so many brilliant colleagues is another thing I really enjoy about my work.

What advice do you have for beginning, mid-career, and/or established health sciences researchers?
Think comprehensively when it comes to engaging with communities. Research, teaching, and service all offer pathways for engagement – and our team is here to help! Please reach out to us if you are looking for community collaborators or seeking support for your community-engaged scholarship.

You can contact Kelsey at