Urmila Bajaj


Number of Years in Research Administration: 21

Institutions: University of Virginia; City of Hope National Medical Center; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; University of Southern California; University of California, Los Angeles. 

Urmila Bajaj has over 21 years of experience in research administration in private (University of Southern California and California Institute of Technology), public (University of California, Los Angeles and University of Virginia) universities and a comprehensive cancer research center, the City of Hope. She is a regular presenter and workshop faculty at the National Council for University Research Administration (NCURA). 


Urmila started her career in research administration in June 1995 as an accountant in Sponsored Projects Accounting (SPA) at University of Southern California (USC). Urmila’s first mentor and trainer was the Manager of SPA, who introduced Urmila to the complex world of OMB circulars A-21, A-110 and A-133. It did not take Urmila too long to understand and memorize the circulars, almost from cover to cover. Urmila subsequently moved to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a fund management supervisor at Extramural Fund Management (EFM). During Urmila’s tenure at UCLA, EFM took over the financial management of sponsored awards received by University of California, Office of the President from UC Berkeley (UCB). Urmila was instrumental in reconciling UCOP sponsored accounts and successfully transferring the awards from UCB to UCLA. University of California opened a new campus, UC Merced (UC Location 10) shortly thereafter, whose financial management was also handled by UCLA EFM during Urmila’s time. 


Urmila’s introduction to data analytics and system implementation occurred when UCLA purchased a new award management system, COEUS, developed by Steve Dowdy from MIT (programmer worked closely with Julie Norris, MIT). UCLA’s implementation of COEUS required working closely with the Office of Contracts and Grants Administration (OCGA), Administrative Information Systems (AIS) and departmental administrators. EFM and OCGA collaborated on many process enhancements, including data cleanup, analyzing optimal usage of the system and implementation of COEUS.  Urmila was instrumental in developing a close working relationship between EFM and OCGA which helped in an easy transition to reorganization of the pre and post award groups, reporting to Office of Research Administration under the Vice Chancellor, Research. OCGA and EFM worked together to revive the Research Administration Training Program at UCLA. Urmila left UCLA to return to USC to work as the Senior Business Officer of the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), which is a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) funded by the Army Research Office.  


At USC ICT, Urmila gained experience in working as a department administrator, supporting multiple Principal Investigators. This complex contract required an internal departmental system to manage effort and cost projections, publications, travel pre approvals, recruitment and retention, internship program, technical report submission and other contract deliverables. Urmila supervised programmers and system analysts responsible for maintaining and upgrading the ICT Business Office Services System (BOSS). Urmila quickly recognized that to be able to run the operations of a complex research center, the Institute and central administration needed to work collaboratively. Under Urmila’s leadership, the Institute’s business office won multiple recognitions from USC central campus. 


Urmila worked for seven years at California Institute of Technology where she implemented the on-line cost transfer and salary certification systems. Urmila managed post award administration at Caltech, which included financial reporting, invoicing, responding to financial audits, managing Jet Propulsion Laboratory letter of credit draws and reconciling JPL’s trail balances with Caltech’s ledger. 

Urmila worked at the City of Hope Cancer Research Center as the Director of Research Finance from Mar 2015 to September 2016. She oversaw centralized operations of Shared Resources (26 core laboratories) and financial operations of operating, discretionary and research projects including clinical trials at the Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope. Urmila streamlined post award financial functions of clinical trials at City of Hope and participated in multiple PeopleSoft ERP initiatives for process improvements related to research operations.


Urmila joined University of Virginia as the Post Award Director in October 2016. In the new role, besides managing the Post Award team, Urmila is actively involved with updating research policies to be compliant with the UG, reviewing procedures related to post award financial compliance and recommending process and system improvements.   

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.