Navigator provides centralized resource for Pitt researchers​​​​​​​


As with many adventures, it could be said that academic research is more about the journey than the destination, but the new Pitt Research Navigator service makes it much easier to get that journey going.

Launched on May 1, the Research Navigator is providing a centralized point-of-contact for research resources. Researchers can email questions or fill out an online form.

Part of Pitt’s concierge program to expand research resource access, the Navigator — a service of the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, led by Rob Rutenbar — is designed to reduce administrative burden and promote ease of research at the University. The Navigator is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to connect faculty and research-related staff with resources necessary to:

  • Initiate and continue research projects.

  • Improve communication between researchers and the offices that support them.

  • Ensure compliance and best practices.

  • Help resolve research-related problems across campus.

Goals of the Navigator include delivering personalized “customer service” for faculty and research-related staff; connecting faculty and research-related staff to the resources, services and offices needed to move research projects forward; and promote operational efficiency.

Stefanie Coburn will serve as the actual navigator on the concierge services team, handling research-related questions and inquiries such as:

  • Where can I get help putting together my grant proposal or finding grant writing workshops on campus?

  • What resources are available to help me develop my data management plan?

  • What office can help me find the right documentation for my annual conflict of interest disclosure?

  • What do I need to know to plan my international research project?

  • Who can help me patent my research?

Coburn, a longtime Pitt employee who previously has worked in the Environmental Health and Safety office, looks forward to her new role.

“Having spent 15 years at Pitt, I’m excited to use my experience to connect faculty and research-related staff to the wide array of available research resources,” she says. “As the Pitt research navigator, my goal is to assist researchers from all disciplines and on all Pitt campuses.”

Rutenbar said the Navigator reflects the Pitt’s evolving field of research and commitment to more fully integrating resources throughout the University.

“As we continue to work flexibly, the demand of our work has increased,” he said. “The Pitt Research Navigator is already helping researchers discover and connect to the right resources across campus. We know this service will help scale the shared efforts of the research we do at Pitt.”

Shannon O. Wells is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at


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