IHSI welcomes Career Exploration Fellow Virnaliz Jimenez

9/7/2023 3:03:37 PM Amy Clay-Moore

Career Exploration Fellow Virnaliz JimenezThe Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI) is delighted to welcome Virnaliz Jimenez, a doctoral student in human development and family studies, as a Fall 2023 Career Exploration Fellow working with IHSI’s Research Development team.

The Graduate College’s Career Exploration Fellowship connects doctoral students with administrative units to gain experience and build skills beyond the traditional research and teaching roles that graduate students typically experience. At IHSI, Virnaliz will gain hands-on experience in the growing field of research development, learning more about best practices for proposal development, the agencies that fund health research, and effective strategies for supporting researchers across campus.

Virnaliz will work closely with IHSI’s research development team to support faculty development and grant seeking programs for health sciences researchers across campus. She is currently working on preparing materials for the 2024 NIH Grant Writing Series. She will also work to support the Community-Academic Scholars program, as well as getting involved with IHSI’s proposal development activities. 

Virnaliz was drawn to IHSI’s work to support community-academic partnerships and advance health equity because it aligns with her interest in supporting and conducting research that addresses equity issues. Virnaliz’s doctoral research is focused on the role of culture and parental coping socialization in addressing mental health disparities among minoritized youth. She is also interested in learning more about research development.

“I am just now learning about research development, and I would love the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the roles that research development professionals engage in throughout their day-to-day activities,” Virnaliz said.

Virnaliz brings diverse research experiences to her role this semester. She has served as a project coordinator at UNC Chapel Hill. In addition to the research experience she has gained during her doctoral program, Virnaliz has sought opportunities in the Champaign-Urbana community to get involved. She has worked with Driven to Reach Excellence and Academic Achievement for Males (DREAAM), a non-profit organization that aims to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline for Black boys and men, to create a culturally- responsive formative evaluation plan for their wraparound services program. She is also part of a collaborative team working with local African American churches to address COVID-19 health disparities in the Champaign-Urbana area, where she uses principles of community-based research to administer surveys to congregants and support vaccination clinics.   

Virnaliz is eager to explore how she can make an impact beyond the tenure track.

“I am deeply committed to advancing knowledge in the field of health research,” she said. “This fellowship allows me to contribute to this goal by applying my skills and experience to support research projects and advance scientific discovery.”

Maggie Berg, who leads IHSI’s Research Development core, expects this to be a great opportunity both for IHSI and for Virnaliz.

“Virnaliz has significant experience both in research and in research project management roles that will enable her to contribute meaningfully to the work she does here at IHSI,” said Berg, “Research development is a multi-faceted field and IHSI’s highly collaborative environment will offer Virnaliz the opportunity to observe and experience some new and different aspects of the field.”

Virnaliz is IHSI’s second Career Exploration Fellow. In Spring 2023, Lesley Owens worked with the Illinois REDCap team to improve program tracking through REDCap follow-up surveys and provide support to REDCap users. Read more about their experience in this Research Development Community feature.