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 led fiscal management of sponsored research projects at three campuses within the University of North Carolina System since 2005. At UNC Chapel Hill,  Lou directed financial reporting, billing and cash management and closeout functions. At UNC Charlotte between 2011 and 2017, Lou led the Office of Grants and Contracts Administration 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.  Between 2005 to 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. While a member of the UNC consortium of 17 institutions of higher education, Lou collaborated 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.  Lou was a NCURA International Fellow in 2017 collaborating with Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa as part of the NCURA-SARIMA fellowship program.

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.