USAC Shines Staff Spotlight on Dr. Karla Gengler-Nowak

The University Staff Advisory Committee recognizes Ohio State staff members who exemplify what it means to be a Buckeye. This month, they focused their staff spotlight on #OSUopt Grants and Contracts Administrator Karla Gengler-Nowak, PhD, CRA. Learn more about Dr. Gengler-Nowak in the Q&A below.

Four people standing in a row outside
Dr. Karla Gengler-Nowak and family.


What is your official job title at Ohio State? Grants and Contracts Administrator for the College of Optometry.


How long have you worked at OSU? I started as staff at the university in 2002, so I’ve worked at OSU 21.5 years now.


In your own words, describe your job here at Ohio State.  I help researchers prepare grant proposals and manage their research awards, which entails tasks like working with sponsors, building budgets, developing reports, and monitoring spending and compliance with grant and contract terms. I serve the college by bringing the research perspective to college-wide efforts like records management, business continuity planning, and digital accessibility. One of the best parts of my job is working with my colleagues to deliver university-wide training in research administration – it’s very satisfying to help colleagues understand the field and how to effectively work within the OSU system.


What do you love most about Ohio State?  I really love the people at Ohio State. It’s an honor to work with so many people who are pulling in the same direction.


What is your favorite memory as a staff member at Ohio State? My favorite memories are about working with people I deeply respect. When I started at the Office of Sponsored Programs, I became friends with two colleagues who shared my frustrations as a new employee at the lack of great training materials, and we tried to fill that gap together. Some years after our paths diverged professionally at the university, they merged again when we found ourselves creating training sessions in our separate units. It was a moment of pure delight when I realized we were doing the same thing and that we all wanted to work together again! The result was our university-wide training program in research administration.


What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I like to putter in my garden and go on long walks. I also enjoy running a volunteer group dedicated to the removal of invasive plants from Upper Arlington city parks.


What is something that most people don’t know about you? I earned my PhD in plant evolutionary biology here at OSU, but I’m not very good at growing plants!


What is your favorite quote, TV show, movie, or book? One of my favorite shows has been Ted Lasso.


Preferred pronouns (optional): She/her/hers


Nominator Amy Raubenolt’s remarks: “Karla is a leader in the Research Administration community. She not only puts on trainings for other research administrators, but she strives to develop a community of best practice among grants specialists and researchers. She is kind and open to solutions from all corners. She makes space for other to talk, helping a team boil it down to the truest issue at hand. She demonstrates excellence by seeking solutions, being a generous collaborator, and by pushing for improved training and more resources for all grants professionals. She makes us all better and really elevates the research enterprise here at the University. Everyone has a story about help provided by Karla on some complex topic or a resource they still use today that she created. She is widely accepted as an expert resource in our field here at The Ohio State University and that would not be possible if she was not also approachable, generous, and also kind to those reaching out to her.”