Old Town

NCURA 2nd AI Symposium * June 24, 2024 * Old Town, Alexandria, VA







The Launching of ChatGPT in November 2022 also launched the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the broader public domain triggering a new revolution in its potential uses in almost every aspect of our lives including science, technology, medicine, commerce, and more. Naturally, universities have embraced AI, incorporating it into their academic and research programs as well as looking into the potential application of AI in their administrative functions. This symposium will focus on how universities are using AI in managing their sponsored research programs such as reviewing proposals to ensure all relevant information is disclosed; post-award management ensuring proper management of funds; reviewing contract and agreements for non-routine terms and conditions; streamlining of administrative procedures and eliminating duplicative or unnecessary processes. 

Who Should Attend?
Suggested For Your Team of 3
Your AVP
Your CIO or Information Technology Officer
Director of Your Sponsored Programs Office

Don’t have a full team? Contact Vanessa Martinez at martinez@ncura.edu



*****Meet the Presenters Here!*****


NCURA 2nd AI Symposium

Suggested For Your University Team of 3
Your AVP
Your CIO or Director of Information Technology
Your Director of Sponsored Programs


Sunday, June 23, 2024

4:30-6:15PM Registration & Information Desk
5:30–6:15PM Welcome Reception


Monday, June 24, 2024

7:30AM-5:00 PM Registration and Information Desk    
7:45-8:45AM Continental Breakfast    
8:45-9:00AM  Welcome and Opening Remarks

Kathleen Larmett, Executive Director, NCURA

Dr. Kris Monahan, NCURA President and Senior Director of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance, Providence College

David Richardson, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Ara Tahmassian,  Chief Research Compliance Officer, Harvard University



9:00-10:00AM  KEYNOTE: Evolving AI Regulatory Framework: US and EU Perspectives

Moderator: Dr. Ara Tahmassian,  Chief Research Compliance Officer, Harvard University

Dr. Florent Bernard, Counsellor for Research and Innovation, Delegation of the European Union to the United States 

Dr. Marsha McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences

On December 9, 2023, the European Union reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act. While not yet an enacted law, the Act distinguishes between different levels of risk, with different rules for each level.On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued an Executive Order that established new standards for AI Safety and Security. 

Our distinguished speakers will address the future of AI as it pertains to research from both the European Union's Viewpoint, the United States' viewpoint, and globally.

10:00-10:15AM Refreshment Break    
10:15-11:15AM Beyond Books and Courses: AI's Transformative Impact on Knowledge Adoption Dr. Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Puzzle Labs Books and courses have always been essential for learning and sharing knowledge. But AI is set to drastically change how we create, share, and manage knowledge, especially in conducting and managing academic research. This talk will provide an inside look at the future of the field of research administration that, with a focus on how you create, share, and build knowledge in your day-to-day.

AI will streamline data management, enhance compliance, and support decision-making, accelerating project outcomes and improving communication between researchers and administrators. Drawing on our pioneering work with the University of Illinois Sponsored Programs Administration, I'll show you how AI tools are paving the way for the future. Get ready to see how AI will reshape your field and how you can stay ahead of the curve.
10:15-11:15AM AI Across the Research Lifecycle: From Idea to Award to Closeout Lori Ann Schultz, Sr. Associate VP, Research Administration, University of Texas at San Antonio AI has already made significant waves across our campuses, impacting both the academic and research enterprises. We haven’t fully realized the potential AI has to dramatically change the work we see as research administrators across the lifecycle of research: writing a proposal application, reviewing and negotiating awards, submitting progress reports, monitoring budgets, and submitting manuscripts for publication. There’s also compliance to consider: export control, data management & sharing, and HIPAA (among many others!). In this session, we’ll talk about what is and what will be happening in all of these activities, how it impacts you and your researchers, and what to look out for. Bring your ideas and questions!
10:15-11:15AM Start With Where You Are, Strategies for Integrating AI into your Operations Mark Cianca, Principal, Huron Consulting and former Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President, Operational Services, University of California AI is going to reshape the future of work. But looking beyond the hype, you might not understand what that means for research administration. The hardest part of moving from hype to practical application is knowing where to start. In this session, we will outline simple but powerful methods to assess where AI can be most beneficial to your operations so you can plan, prepare, and enable AI as your digital assistant.
11:15-11:30AM Refreshment Break    
11:30AM-12:30PM Using AI to Manage Customer Service Dan Harmon, Director, Data & Systems - Sponsored Programs Administration, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Heather M. Offhaus, Director, Medical School Grant Services & Analysis- Office of Research, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
In the dynamic field of research administration, where the efficiency of communication and information dissemination is crucial, generative AI chatbots represent a transformative solution. This session will explore the integration of AI technology in managing inquiries and providing support within research institutions. By leveraging the capabilities of generative AI, research administrators can enhance their service offerings, from handling routine queries regarding funding opportunities and compliance regulations to facilitating complex discussions about research protocols and project submissions. The focus will be on how these AI systems can significantly reduce administrative burdens, streamline operations, and allow research staff to concentrate on higher-value tasks.
11:30AM-12:30PM Improving Your Institutional Research Data Analytics Using Artificial Intelligence Tools Simone Alpen,Senior Director, Research Administration and Compliance Systems, Harvard University Research institutions generate an enormous amount of data across the sponsored project lifecycle from submission to closeout. This session will focus on how you can improve upon the creation and use of research analytics with existing AI tools, including executive tools to evaluate faculty, department and college level research productivity and contributions to your campus.
11:30AM-12:30PM Across Borders: Institutional Adoption of AI Tools at Non-US Research Institutions Moderator: Kathleen Larmett, Executive Director, NCURA

Petri Koikkalainen, Counselor for Science and Higher Education, Higher Education and Science Policy, Embassy of Finland, Washington, DC

Mireille Guyader, Counselor for Science and Technology, Embassy of France, Washington, DC

Olivia Gachoud, Head of Science Office, Embassy of Switzerland, Washington, DC
This session is an opportunity to learn how universities in other countries are currently using AI technology in research and in research administration. Embassy representatives from Finland, France,and Switzerland, share their unique stories on how major investments in AI technology are making an impact on their country, at their universitites and, in the world. This session will allow time for Q&A.
1:30-2:30PM  KEYNOTE: Redefining Research Administration: AI Strategies and Solutions

Moderator: David Richardson, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation,University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dan Harmon, Director, Data & Systems - Sponsored Programs Administration, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Mark Cianca, Principal, Huron Consulting and former Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President, Operational Services, University of California

The integration of AI into research administration is not just about automation, but also about redefining the way we work. By embracing AI, we can unlock new levels of efficiency and innovation in research administration. In this afternoon keynote presentation, we will examine high impact AI solutions through the lens of specific research administration use cases.
2:30-2:45PM Refreshment Break    
2:45-3:45PM MGB Research Management’s Automation Journey to Closeout Andrew Chase, Vice President, Research Management and Finance, Mass General Brigham Discussion based session that will focus on AI and automation considerations for research financial processes and grant closeouts, using lessons learned from different automation and robotic process initiatives across Pre-Award, Contracting and Post Award.
2:45-3:45PM Utilizing AI to Enhance and Improve Departmental Support Across the Sponsored Project Lifecycle Ashley Bens, Assistant Director of Research Administration Systems and Training, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,Harvard University As spreadsheets and the internet transformed research administration of yesteryear, AI is now here to change our workflows again. This session will focus on getting started in the tools and provide concrete tasks that you can implement into your work, no matter where you are in the sponsored funding lifecycle. We will focus mostly on generative AI tools like ChatGPT or Copilot for Office. This session will show you that AI will not replace a great research administrator, but it will make you even better. AI is here to help us all shore up our pillars in the analytical skills triangle of strategic thinking, communication skills, and technical proficiency. AI can level the playing field for those who have felt they are behind in their technical skills such as Excel and programming, or those who feel they lack a creative impulse and would like help designing slides and images for their work. This session is all about what is possible – bring your wish list!
2:45-3:45PM How to Incorporate the Use of AI in Your Research Administrative Operations Lisa Wilson, Interim Assistant Vice President, Research Administration Optimization (ORAO), Emory University This session will share information on the exploratory work currently taking place at Emory University, where they look to incorporate the use of AI in the research administrative operations. The presenters will also address the resources needed to develop this major change in business process.
3:45-4:00PM Refreshment Break    
4:00-5:00PM   Reimagining an Accounts Payable Operation with the Help of AI Jon Hendrix, Senior Business Manager & Director, Georgetown University

AppZen Representative
Dan Shearer, Strategic Customer Success Manager
Bryan Wampler Enterprise Account Executive
The implementation of AppZen's Autonomous A/P tool in the summer of 2022 brought immediate efficiencies that allowed Georgetown University to begin reimagining its Accounts Payable function. What was previously an opaque operation dedicated almost exclusively to data entry began to be reshaped into one that was data-driven, transparent, more reliable, and capable of engaging in higher-value activities.
4:00-5:00PM   Unveiling the Unexplored: Unleashing the Power of Private Language Models in a ChatGPT World Dr. Brian Sabata, Assistant Director, Contract and Award Focus, Sponsored Programs, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Dr. LD Miller, Research Process Analyst, Research Finance and Information Systems, Office of Research & Economic Development, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Large language models (LLMs) and generative pre-training transforms (GPTs), exemplified by ChatGPT, have revolutionized communication and content generation. Universities stand to benefit significantly from LLMs, saving both time and resources in various administrative tasks. Despite their potential, widespread adoption is hindered by two key challenges: confidentiality and the lack of a tailored solution. Confidentiality concerns arise when uploading sensitive documents to internet based LLMs, posing risks to data security and privacy. While the one-size-fits-all approach of enterprise systems like ChatGPT, limit domain expertise and hinder effectiveness in specialized fields such as grant management.
This symposium presentation delves into the University of Nebraska's innovative approach to overcome these challenges. Their localized, open-source, and modular LLMs address confidentiality issues by securely storing data behind university firewalls, ensuring privacy and mitigating risks. The university's control over both the LLM and training data allows for strategic decision-making in training methodologies, enabling the evaluation of improved domain expertise and mitigating the generation of hallucinated content. This localized, cost-effective, and tailored approach, showcases the potential of private LLMs in offering universities a secure, customizable, and efficient solution to harness the capabilities of LLMs in a ChatGPT-centric world.


Review of Select AI Tools to Support Contract Reviews

Barbara Inderwiesche, Director Electronic Research Administration, University of California - Irvine

This session will focus on discussion of various AI products used to review contract terms.  We will discuss how these tools can be incorporated into the contract review and negotiation process using a compare and contrast method. The focus will be based on the flexibility to build and maintain a customized playbook of language and negotiation position.  We will also review the efficiency of the tools and how institutions should consider where to start when considering using similar tools to lessen the burden of reviewing contract terms.

5:00PM Adjournment


  • Host Hotel Information

Hilton Old Town Alexandria Hotel

1767 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
+ 1-800-445-8667

Click here to book your room online at the conference rate
by calling the hotel reservation line at 1(800) Hiltons (1-800-445-8667). You will need to identify yourself as being with the Group Code: NCURA.


Group Code: NCURA
Cut-off Date: Sunday June 2, 2024,

To ensure you have the opportunity to reserve a room at the host hotel, book as soon as possible.
Discounted rates are available until June 2nd, or once the rooms sell out, whichever comes first.




Room Rates
Room Type Single Double
Standard Rooms $229 $229

Please Note: When making your reservation at the Hilton Old Town Alexandria you will be charged a deposit of your first night's room and tax.

For other hotel related questions, contact Vanessa Martinez (martinez@ncura.edu).



Getting to Old Town

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is about 10 minutes north of Old Town Alexandria by way of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It is also a short ride on Metrorail between the Reagan National Airport station and the King St-Old Town station.

Please contact Vanessa Martinez, Manager, Meetings & Conferences, NCURA, martinez@ncura.edu or (202) 466-3894