The research professionals* who work in scientific laboratories perform a variety of tasks that involve all of their activities, such as supporting principal investigators, supervising students, organizing daily workloads and managing budgets. The work of research professionals is thus essential to the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge. Yet many people know little about these people and the work they do. To find out more, Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard, a member of the NSERC’s Council and a former research professional herself, interviewed Mireille Quémener, a research professional at the CERVO Brain Research Centre at Université Laval.
What is the role of research professionals?
Research professionals have university degrees and help their research teams to carry out their day-to-day work. Research professionals are usually hired for the duration of specific research projects. Their tasks differ from one team to another but are generally quite varied: research professionals may train students, manage project finances, prepare samples, perform analyses, and disseminate results. Research professionals often participate in designing research programs, preparing grant applications and writing scientific articles. In fact, research professionals generally spend more time in the laboratory than principal investigators, who have other responsibilities, such as teaching. Research professionals also serve as their laboratories’ institutional memory by recording what their teams have learned and overseeing the transition from one group of graduate students to another so as to preserve the knowledge that they have acquired.