SJSU Research Foundation Interim Chief Operating Officer: Powering Faculty Research
By: Jennifer Bennett
After 27 years at San José State University, Jerri Carmo is spreading her wings. Jerri will be working as the Senior Business Manager for the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory beginning December 2.
Jerri graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in psychology and began working at San José State shortly after. Jerri has stayed for so many years at San José State because her job has been so fascinating she said. Jerri started at SJSU in 1985 as a contracts and grants analyst at the Research Foundation. "Over these years I’ve learned so much about so many things, in all sorts of academic disciplines," she said.
"One of the things that has always been my philosophy here at San José State is that I just want the faculty to worry about and concentrate on their research, and just let us do everything else, because it’s the actual research that is the most important part. To know that in just one small way, when you see maybe images of the rings of Saturn and knowing that we managed a contract from JPL for one our of professors in the College of Engineering, Essam Marouf, and we’ve been managing that contract for him for many, many years, then actually seeing that work, it’s thrilling," she said. "It’s really neat knowing that even though no one would every know you as having touched that, in some small way we did…I feel very proud about that kind of thing."
The university's research enterprise has grown from $7 million to $65 million annually since Jerri began. San José State University is #2 in the CSU for securing externally funded contracts and grants. "Over the years, we’ve seen San José State become a different kind of university – because the faculty who are teaching here are great, because they’re involved in their own research." She said the Research Foundation operates to be in line with the university and has very deliberate strategic planning to continue to serve the university.
As the Interim Chief Operating Officer of the SJSU Research Foundation since October 2012. Jerri has been responsible for all the sub components of the Research Foundation, including managing the external funds that are received for research projects. Jerri is also the current president of the Auxiliary Organizations Association and will complete her term at the end of 2013.
Over the years, Jerri has seen the Research Foundation grow and change. "San José State and the CSU in general weren’t so active in research," she said. "For the CSU, research was not something that was part of the original mission statement."
The Research Foundation submits the proposals that go out the door, and also manages the funds than come in from those proposals. Jerri said one of the great elements of the Research Foundation is being exposed to different projects. "It was great getting to know the faculty and getting to know all the different projects and research going on on-campus."
Although Jerri is no longer a contracts and grants analyst, she still finds a way to work with the faculty on research projects. "It’s fun being hands on and still getting back down to basics, and being part of working directly with faculty on their projects and continuing to learn," she said. "They do amazing things – I’ve always been reticent to let all of that go and just let staff manage that, I want one of my toes in the water."
When Jerri goes to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab she will be doing some of the same work she is doing now; high level operations but also assisting the research compliance that goes on in the Environmental Energy Technologies division. She said she doesn’t want researchers to have to worry about the administrative side, "we just want them to be free and flexible in their mind so they can do the best research."
Jerri said her entire career has been at San José State and can’t imagine not staying in contact with the Research Foundation once she leaves.
"Many of the people here are like my family," she said. "A lot of the faculty are very, very good friends of mine...I guess I’ll always be a part of this…I’m a Spartan through and through."