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York PRISM Network

Professional Research Investment Strategy Managers (PRISMs) enable the development, delivery and growth of large research investments. They operate at the interface between academic, pre-award support and post-award financial support. 

The national PRISM network was founded in 2020, and the York PRISM network was set up in 2021 as a subset of this network. The PRISMs at York report outlines the benefits that PRISMs bring to research projects, and the challenges they face.

Who are PRISMs?

PRISM roles vary greatly, and job titles include Project Manager, Network Manager, Centre Manager, Project Coordinator, Research Manager, CDT Manager, among many more. What these roles have in common is that they work in partnership with the academic lead and the research team to deliver the outcomes of a research initiative and develop its strategic growth and impact.

Below are some examples of current PRISM posts at the University.

Lily Green - Project Coordinator, Centre for Health Economics

As Project Coordinator, I assist with the day to day functions of the NIHR Unit project 'Health Financing for UHC in Challenging Times: Leaving No One Behind.' My responsibilities include providing coordination, planning, support and administrative assistance to the Unit's Joint-Leads and Project Manager.

My role includes developing and implementing the Unit's communication strategy, including internal and external communications. I arrange monthly meetings for the governance structure of the Unit. This includes weekly meetings with the Joint-Leads, monthly meetings of the Steering Committee and Operations Team, quarterly/bi-monthly bilateral meetings, informal chats with project partners, ad-hoc and in-person meetings as required. It is my responsibility to support the organisation of the 2023 Inception Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, including developing the agenda, managing meeting participants, arranging the venue and catering, and University of York participants' travel arrangements. I also oversee the organisation of internal workshops and events.

In addition, my role oversees communications externally, including managing the Unit's website, social media and external communications. I also support the Project Manager in the development and implementation of the monitoring and evaluation framework, ethics, and data management. Additionally, I also serve as a member of the Centre for Health Economics (CHE) support team and aid departmental functions.

I came into research support roles after completing a Masters degree in anthropology and was not sure which direction to take my career in. One administrative role led to another and now I am project coordinator for the Centre for Health Economics.

Fleur Hughes - Network Manager, STFC Air Quality Network

My role as Network Manager has involved setting up a new network that includes academics, researchers from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, policy makers and industry representatives. My tasks have included designing, planning and running events such as online networking sessions, in-person meetings, online funding ‘sandpits’ and a major collaborative conference with multiple partners.

I have managed the process of awarding small grants to collaborative teams, including setting the terms and conditions, the application review process, and liaising with RGO on financial arrangements. I also manage the network’s budget, keeping accurate records and providing budget projections and recommendations on future spending.

I am the public face of the network, and manage the website, social media and regular newsletter. I have been able to ‘matchmake’ between network members, facilitating research collaborations between partners who have not worked together before. I have also played a role in the strategic direction of the network, developing and implementing a plan to ensure the project’s legacy.

My career started out in arts and events management, following my degree in music. My first PRISM role was managing an ESRC Large Grant in Social Policy, where I discovered the rewards of working in research.

Roz Cumming - Centre Manager, ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre

As Centre Manager, I have a senior leadership role in setting up, developing and ensuring the success of the Centre, supporting the Centre’s directors and deputy directors in all aspects of programme development, management and delivery. I’m responsible for leading and managing complex programmes of work, engaging and negotiating with a variety of people at all levels, across the Centre and beyond.

This includes navigating the systems and processes at both of the Centre’s lead institutions, the University of York and the University of Leeds. I manage development of contracts related to the Centre, working with colleagues in the relevant contracts teams. I’m responsible for financial management of the £10m Centre across both institutions, including setting budgets, forecasting, monitoring expenditure and reporting.

Programme management is a big part of my role, including working with project leads to develop project plans, track progress, and reporting back on this to the ESRC and key stakeholder groups. Having developed the Centre’s governance structures I am responsible for contributing to various external advisory boards through regular reporting. I have also developed the Centre’s risk register and take a lead on ensuring this is reviewed, and mitigating plans are in place for the risks raised.

I work closely with academic colleagues to develop Centre policies including around data management, financial processes and the development and management of funding calls. This has included, to date, the Centre’s ECR Development Grants, and an internal Faculty of Social Sciences funded call for projects to extend and complement the Centre’s work.

I line manage the Centre Co-ordinator, and provide leadership and support across the Centre team at York and Leeds (including a Communications and Engagement Officer and six postdoctoral researchers), as well as acting as a key point of contact for colleagues across the Centre’s 11 other Co-Investigator institutions and 38+ external partners, both in the UK and overseas.

It's a varied and challenging role that is pivotal to the smooth running of the Centre, with the ultimate aim of enabling the successful implementation of our ambitious programme of research, and helping to maximise its impact.

I worked for various private, public and third sector organisations for the first 14 years of my career, then moved into the higher education sector as a project officer at the University of Leeds. From there, I moved to the University of Sheffield as school manager of an academic department, before taking up a research management role at the University of Huddersfield, overseeing delivery of a four year GCRF funded international gender-based violence project. I moved to my current role at York in 2022.

Joining the York PRISM network

Membership is open to anyone at the University of York who would describe all or part of their role as PRISM, or who are interested in applying for a role as a PRISM. Members are part of a Google group, which allows emails to be sent to the whole network, and are also added to a PRISM Slack channel for informal communications.

Network meetings take place quarterly, allowing members to discuss topics of interest and to share experiences and challenges. All meetings take place in person, with the option of joining virtually. 

Email to join the York PRISM network.

Upcoming meetings

  • Tuesday 6 June 2023, 12.30pm to 2pm
  • Tuesday 12 September 2023, 12.30pm to 2pm