Urmila Bajaj


Number of Years in Research Administration: 23

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


With over 23 years of experience in research administration in private universities (University of Southern California and California Institute of Technology), public universities (University of California, Los Angeles and University of Virginia), and a comprehensive cancer research center, the City of Hope, Urmila Bajaj has developed distinct skills in research administration, including development and evaluation of policies and procedures based on associated risks and national standards. 

Urmila’s professional affiliations include participating as an expert in research administration in the capacity of a Peer Reviewer of the National Council of Research Administrators (NCURA) Peer Review Program. Urmila has co-chaired the 2018 NCURA Financial Research Administration Conference, and represented institutions at the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) and Council on Government Relations (COGR).  Urmila represented UVA at the Grant Innovation Forum at the Aspen Institute, hosted by the Data Foundation and MorganFranklin. UVA is actively participating in open discussions on transforming grant reporting and standardizing terms with federal sponsoring agencies including DHHS, NSF, OMB, GAO and other grantees. 

Urmila’s career in research administration started in 1995 as an accountant at the University of Southern California (USC) Sponsored Projects Accounting. Urmila subsequently moved to the University California System, as a fund management supervisor in Extramural Fund Management (EFM) at the UCLA campus. During Urmila’s tenure at UCLA, Extramural Fund Management too over financial management of sponsored awards received by the UC Office of the President. Urmila was instrumental in reconciling the UCOP sponsored accounts and successfully transfer the sponsored awards from UC Berkeley to UCLA. During Urmila’s employment with UCLA, University of California added the Merced campus, whose sponsored projects were also managed by UCLA. 

Urmila returned to USC to work as the Senior Business Officer at 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. The complex Army 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 designing, maintaining and upgrading the ICT Business Office Services System (BOSS). 

Urmila was recruited by the California Institute of Technology as the Director of Project Accounting, overseeing Caltech sponsored projects and coordinating NASA JPL reporting and cash draws. At Caltech, Urmila implemented on-line cost transfer and salary certification systems. Urmila worked at the City of Hope Cancer Research Center as the Director of Research Finance from Mar 2015 to September 2016, overseeing centralized operations of Shared Resources (26 core laboratories), financial operations of operating, discretionary and research projects including clinical trials at the Beckman Research Institute. Urmila streamlined post award financial functions of the clinical trials at the City of Hope and participated in multiple PeopleSoft ERP initiatives for process improvements related to research operations.

Urmila joined the University of Virginia as the Post Award Director in October 2016; within two months, she introduced a new organizational structure for the Post Award office, which was subsequently adopted by the Office of Sponsored Programs. Besides managing the Post Award team, Urmila is actively involved with implementing research policies & procedures, streamlining compliance review processes to reduce administrative burden, and participating in the advisory council of UVA’s Finance Strategic Transformation initiatives. Urmila’s familiarity with various financial systems along with her clear understanding of federal compliance requirements make her an important member of the national research administration community.  

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.