Meet the Team
RDS personnel assist the principal investigator and research team in checking that all items in the Funding Opportunity Announcement are strategically addressed and create a competitive proposal.
Research Development Services provides expertise from both the agency and the institution perspectives, which lends to assisting the principal investigator (PI) or research teams to develop competitive proposals that address all the criteria required by an agency that a proposal should contain.
JORJA KIMBALL, Ph.D.
Focus: Special Strategic Projects
Dr. Jorja Kimball serves as the executive director of Research Development Services (RDS) that is under the vice president for research at Texas A&M. Kimball leads RDS to support the Texas A&M research community in developing competitive proposals to federal funding agencies, along with assisting with special strategic projects.
Kimball is a Regents Fellow, a permanent designation and the highest award for staff made by The Texas A&M University System. It reflects her service of over 30 years in higher education and 25 years contributing to proposal and strategic research development. Kimball has assisted with securing more than $165 million in federal research funding for Texas institutions of higher education, primarily through the National Science Foundation and in STEM and educational fields.
She has served as principal investigator (PI) on National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA federal grant awards and has been an NSF reviewer. She serves on the editorial review board for the Journal of Research Administration and has prior committee service locally and nationally related to research in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and evidence-based practices. Kimball attended and worked for almost a decade at a Hispanic Serving Institution.
Kimball earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration from Texas A&M. Her dissertation focused on the retention and progression-to-degree of engineering students. Kimball’s research interests are building collaborations and partnerships for research efforts that are across disciplines and institutions, and developing competitive grant proposals to federal agencies. She holds an MBA and BBA from Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and was born and raised in rural South Texas.
LAURIE GARTON, Ph.D.
Focus: Early Career Faculty
Laurie Garton is an associate director, focusing on junior faculty professional and proposal development in federal young investigator programs such as National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER, U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) Early Career, and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) YIPs. In this position, she also serves as co-lead of the Junior Faculty Proposal Writing Academy.
Garton started her academic career at Youngstown State University in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as a tenure-track faculty member, following her B.S., M.E., and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering (environmental) from Texas A&M. She joined the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) in 1999 and began work on technical research project grants related to interdisciplinary environmental themes. For more than 15 years in that position, she focused on assisting junior faculty, especially targeting federal young investigator program grants and conducting workshops and guiding engineering faculty through the proposal development process. As part of TEES Research Development, she also assisted research teams working on multi-principal investigator, multi-institutional level proposal efforts. Garton has reviewed for NSF and has expertise with the NSF Graduate Fellows program.
GABRIEL RIVERA, MBA
Focus: Large Proposals
Gabriel Rivera is an associate director who leads the large proposal development office. Rivera supports the proposal development process from inception through submission, for large and strategic multidisciplinary research proposals, including positioning and capture planning, proposal process coordination, grantsmanship, proposal writing and editing, and proposal review.
Prior to joining Texas A&M in 2017, Rivera worked at New Mexico State University (NMSU) for 15 years, where he facilitated the proposal development process for large ($100 million or more) federal contracts at NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory. He later became a founding member of NMSU’s Research Development Office, whose purpose was to assist faculty-led research groups in pursuing large, multidisciplinary funding opportunities. Rivera holds an MBA and a B.S. in biology from New Mexico State University.
Megan A. Bergeron, Ph.D., CRA
Senior Research Development Officer
Focus: Large Proposals
Megan Bergeron a senior research development officer with the large proposal development team. Bergeron supports the proposal development process for large and strategic research proposals from inception through submission, including proposal process coordination, proposal writing and editing, and proposal review.
Bergeron’s professional background is comprised of a unique blend of specialties in central and departmental research development, administration and compliance. Prior to joining Texas A&M, she worked at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) for the last 12 years, first serving as a Senior Pre-Award Administrator in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs under the vice president for research, and then in a comprehensive administrative and development role at an active multidisciplinary research center, the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning. Dr. Bergeron holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology from Louisiana State University and Clemson University, respectively, and a doctorate in Applied Language and Speech Sciences from UL Lafayette.
K. Lance Kelly, Ph.D.
Senior Research Development Officer
Focus: Large Proposals
Lance Kelly is a senior research development officer with the large proposal development team with an emphasis on the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) efforts. He supports the proposal development life cycle for large and strategic research proposals.
Kelly is Texas A&M Class of '97, with a degree in Chemistry. Prior to returning to campus in 2023, he worked for small businesses as a primary investigator, primarily supported by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR) Program. Kelly has experience as a proposal team leader and has direct knowledge of the technical needs of sponsors within the US Army, US Marine Corps, and US Air Force. Further, Kelly has experience preparing compliant proposals to the DOE, NASA, NIH, DOT, and the US Coast Guard. Kelly received his PhD and Masters in Chemistry from Northwestern University and has held postdoctoral positions at Yale and the University of Tokyo.
GABRIELLA KEANAAINA, MBA
Limited Submission Coordinator
Focus: Limited Submissions
Gabriella Keanaaina coordinates the limited submissions program, liaising with sponsors, system members, and investigators. Keanaaina plans logistical and administrative support, identifying opportunities and supporting the internal review and selection process.
Before joining Texas A&M, Keanaaina was the administrative head of the Geology and Geochemistry department at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where she led a team of research administrators and oversaw departmental research administration. Keanaaina was the division’s lead grants manager and served on several division and campus committees, focusing on streamlining administrative processes and improving compliance with federal regulations. Keanaaina holds an MBA from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and a BA in Social Sciences from Colorado State University Pueblo.
Senior Administrative Coordinator
Focus: Administrative Support
Shannon Eyre is the senior administration coordinator for RDS. With more than 20 years of service at Texas A&M, she has been with the Division of Research for more than 10 years. She provides support for professional development seminars and data collection for RDS programs.
Eyre also supports the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), which is part of the Division of Research.