Faculty Clifford Berkman and Jeffrey Ullman have received multiple research grants this year — success they can directly attribute to skills acquired in proposal-writing training from Stephen Russell. Russell will return to WSU for a third year to coach faculty in creating successful proposals during an upcoming seminar and workshop.
While faculty members know their disciplines, they don’t always receive training in writing competitive proposals with the reviewer in mind, said chemistry professor Berkman. But this is a key element of Russell’s approach.
“It’s a full mental workout,” he said, “and my proposals are stronger for it.”
In addition to his own success, Ullman recalls evaluating proposals while sitting on a federal Environmental Protection Agency review panel where one proposal bore the hallmarks of the “Russell method.”
“It was obvious that person had taken his seminar,” said the assistant professor/scientist in biological systems engineering. “The whole panel agreed it was one of the best proposals.”
Russell is a winemaker and academician whose successful proposals continuously funded his cancer research for more than 25 years. As university department heads, he and his partner in Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops LLC began tutoring their faculty in grant writing; their success spawned their full-time business.
Berkman has been awarded three grants this year for work on detection of prostate cancer cells, including $357,679 from the National Institutes of Health and $679,964 from the Washington State Life Science Discovery Fund.
Ullman just received $350,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to research contaminated river and lake sediments. He earlier was funded by the federal Department of Energy for $185,112.
“That proposal was not only funded,” he said, “but publicly released results revealed our proposal was ranked first out of 59 competing submissions.”
Sign up for grant-writing seminar and workshop

• Write Winning Grants seminar, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, CUB junior ballroom, $85, plus $65 workbook (required).
Register by Oct. 15 ONLINE @ www.ogrd.wsu.edu/grantwriters2008.asp. Departments/units are encouraged to pay for their faculty. Contact Nancy Shrope, nshrope@wsu.edu or 335-3822, for more information.
• Mentored Proposal Writing workshop, December 2008-June 2009 for as many as 30 individuals or teams who competitively apply and are accepted to work with Russell in person and online on specific project proposals.
Contact Esther Pratt, estherpratt@wsu.edu or 335-3796, by Nov. 14 for application and pre-proposal information.
The $3,051 cost is split between the WSU Office of Research and department(s). The Write Winning Grants seminar is a prerequisite.