Marie Louise Harrell


Number of Years in Research Administration: 28

Institutions: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro


Marie Louise (Lou) Harrell is the Director of Sponsored Projects Accounting in the Office of Sponsored Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her current role, Lou directs financial reporting, billing and cash management and closeout functions. Prior to joining UNC in 2017, Lou led the Office of Grants and Contracts Administration at UNC Charlotte where she had legal and fiduciary responsibility for the university’s research enterprise. Specifically, she led a team responsible for contract negotiation and execution, award initiation, and the post award fiscal and programmatic functions.  At UNC Charlotte between 2005 and 2011,  Lou was Director of Contracts and Grants at UNC Greensboro where she managed the post award fiscal management of sponsored funds and was responsible for preparation of the University’s F&A rate proposal and Disclosure Statement (DS-2).


Lou’s prior experience working in industry for 15 years as a Financial and Administrative Officer has strengthened her ability to establish private/public partnerships between industry sponsors and University researchers. Earlier in her career, she was a Principal Investigator funded by DHHS, USDA,  and international organizations and this experience helps her relate to research faculty in the dynamic environment of research administration. Lou has served on peer review panels for review of proposals and been a member of a National Academy of Sciences evaluation panel reviewing international nutrition surveillance and public health issues.


Lou is an active member of NCURA and actively participates at the state, regional and national levels. As a member of the UNC consortium of 17 institutions of higher education, Lou collaborates extensively with her state system colleagues for institutional policy development to enhance University research. The system personnel also collaborate on how to improve common electronic research administration systems in order to manage their daily operations effectively. This collaboration is a foundation for improved best practices in research administration at all of the UNC campuses.


Lou holds a Master’s in Business Administration and an MS in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NCURA Peer Program engagements are priced as a flat fee, scaled to the sponsored programs total active award dollars in the last fiscal year, regardless of type of Peer Program engagement.