The Ride of My Life

Since July of 2012, I have served UMKC as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development.  To say that this has been a fulfilling time in my career at UMKC would be a gross understatement!  These past 6-years have been the most privileged of my 28 years at UMKC and of my entire career as a university faculty member/administrator.  As an administrator, there is no greater fulfillment than to see those you serve be successful in their endeavors.  As a Chief Research Officer that means, assisting faculty with their research, grant applications and awards, assisting deans to advance their unit research initiatives, and promoting UMKC within the UM System, the region and at the national level.

Over the course of the last few years there are a number of accomplishments that I can take pride in, but one that stands out for me is the creation of Explore, the UMKC Research magazine.  Until 6 years ago we had no publication that spotlighted research at UMKC.  Perhaps this was emblematic of a past UMKC; we simply didn’t voice our story loud, and often, enough.  When volume 1 of Explore came out in print, I hoped that we would have enough great stories to sustain the expectations created by such an outstanding effort.  Five volumes later, and a 6th in the works, and we are still spotlighting world-class faculty scholars and the pipeline continues to grow.   This fact,along with a rejuvenated effort to invest in research bodes well for the future of research at UMKC.

As for me, I won’t be riding off into the sunset just yet!  My new role as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Research Support will leverage my years of research experience and administration in promoting faculty research success, primarily for junior and newly hired faculty members. This will include, but not be limited to, assisting faculty members in navigating the extramural application process, developing proposal writing skills, expanding networks for collaborations, and mentoring them in research and career development activities.  In a sense, the totality of my career has prepared me for this position and I look forward to the new challenge that lies ahead.

As I transition into my new role, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work performed by the staff of the Office of Research Services, Research Compliance, and Technology Commercialization.  Those of you who work regularly with the ORS know what I am talking about!

To my Colleagues at the Office of Research Services: It has been my sincere honor and privilege to have worked closely with all of you. Your dedication, professionalism, hard work, and “can do” spirit inspires me to be better at all that I do!  


Mark Your Calendar

1Data Conference

1Data is the result of a unique partnership formed between Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which leverages the strengths of our region to develop a platform to share human and animal health research data.

This one-day conference focuses on a One Health approach to data sharing and brings together professionals from animal, human, and environmental health sectors to explore the ways in which data can be jointly used for mutually beneficial purposes, such as accelerating drug development, enhancing regulatory processes and decreasing animal testing. The speakers will discuss the 1Data platform for data sharing, local efforts for improving human and animal health using analytical tools and how collaboration can promote change resulting in enhancing the lives of both humans and animals.

8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. | Feb. 7 | K-State Olathe campus

Register at:

Key 2019 BioNexusKC Conference Dates

Mark your calendars for the new year. Here’s the full list, but here are a few that might be of interest:

  • Collaborate2Cure (monthly): Jan. 14, Kauffman Foundation
  • Midwest Bioinformatics Conference: April 11-12, UMKC
  • One Health Research Symposium: Aug. 25-26, Kansas City Convention Center

2018-2019 Funding For Excellence Faculty Research Awards Announced!

The fourth year of Funding For Excellence Faculty awards program attracted 25 applications, representing a diverse segment of research and scholarly activity from across the University. The applications were reviewed by members of the UMKC Research Advisory Council and 9 applications were awarded totaling $109,312. 

The funded applications for the 2018-19 are:

Child Obesity and Health Messaging Preferences among Missouri Policymakers: The CHAMP Study “, Matthew Chrisman, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies

“A Complete Record of Magma Storage and Eruption over the Last 70,000 Years at Askja Volcano, Iceland “, Alison Graettinger, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences

“How Leadership Gender Affects Far Right Party Evaluations and Reaction to Scandal”, Debra Leiter, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences

“Post-translational Regulation of the SAGA Chromatin Modifying Complex”, Ryan Mohan, Assistant Professor, Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, School of Biological Sciences

“Magazine Mavericks: Marital Collaborations and the Invention of New Reading Audiences in Mid-Victorian England”, Jennifer Phegley, Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, College of Arts and Sciences

“Early Detection of Fake News on Twitter”, Praveen Rao, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, School of Computing and Engineering

“Enhanced Energy Transfer/Storage of Solar Thermal Collector “, Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, School of Computing and Engineering

“Assessment of Climatic Impacts of Urbanization in Kansas City Metropolitan Area and the Potential for Cool Roofs to Counter Future Climate Change”, Fengpeng Sun, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, College of Arts and Sciences

“Mitigating Barriers to PTSD Treatment Using Home-Based Telehealth”, Joah Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

The Funding for Excellence Program is an institutionally funded grants program to support the highest level of research, scholarship,and artistic endeavors by UMKC faculty. The three goals of the FFE program are to:

  • Enhance the research stature and scholarly reputation of UMKC;
  • Support excellence in the scholarship, research,and creative endeavors of tenured and tenure-track faculty members of all ranks; and,
  • Provide a financial means to achieve a tangible result.

We’re Here to Help: Leslie Burgess


Program/Project Support Coordinator

My focus

Support is the key word in both my title and in describing my role in the Office of Research Services.  Serving initially in the department as the executive assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research, my position has grown to encompass a variety of areas in need, such as marketing/communications projects like our quarterly research newsletter, our Annual Report, Explore, and various research symposia. In support of UMKC’s new strategic plan goal to significantly increase the number of research grant proposals, I will begin training in Pre-Award services, which assists faculty in finding and applying for funding opportunities.

Where I came from

I have lived in the Kansas City area my whole life, and have worked in academia since graduating from UMKC, first with a BA in Psychology followed later by a MA in Higher Education Administration. My first position at UMKC was in the Counseling and Testing Center as an assistant and test proctor. I then accepted a position at the Kansas City Art Institute where I enjoyed serving as a campus coordinator until graduate school called me back to UMKC to further my educational goals.  I was a Graduate Research Assistant for the International Academic Office during that time and loved helping students study abroad. I joined the Office of Research team shortly after graduating in 2013.

What I love about working in Research Administration

The focus of my undergraduate degree was research and analysis in Psychology and this has been the first position I’ve had that taps into that interest.  I’ve been grateful for an inside view of the amazing research projects being conducted by our faculty.Overall, I love being a part of the ORS team and working with a wonderful group of dedicated, supportive colleagues.

Some favorite things

My husband and I enjoy taking our 3 year old daughter on adventures around the city, from weekend trips for produce at the River Market to rides on the KC streetcar. There are always new art openings to check out and restaurants to try.  Although the winters can be challenging, Midwest seasons are in my blood and I look forward to the warmer months where we venture out to hike, boat, camp, and grill. During downtime I catch up on reading for the book club I host.