PEERD Experts

Sharon Franks

Sharon Franks

Sharon Franks, PhD is the Senior Director of the Research Proposal Development Service at the University of California San Diego, where she has worked since 1993.  Sharon’s responsibilities include the full spectrum of research-development activities, with emphasis on facilitation and strategic development of large-budget, interdisciplinary research proposals and other collaborative efforts. Dr. Franks also serves on the management teams of two large UC San Diego-led centers: an NSF Materials Science Research and Engineering Center and a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center. She has contributed to more than 300 proposals to public and private sponsors for which budgets totaled more than $2 billion, and to the success of proposals that have generated more than $700 million in extramural funding. Competitive intelligence, proposal development, and support for early- and mid-career investigators all feature prominently in Sharon’s current portfolio. In addition to her work with faculty, staff, and administrators to increase the competitiveness of research proposals in all fields, Sharon is a UC San Diego Leaders for Equity Advancement and Diversity (LEAD) Fellow, a trained Faculty Mediator, a member of the university’s Academic Administrator and Academic Coordinator Review Panel, and the bipedal partner of a volunteer therapy-dog team.

Past Experience

Since launching the Research Proposal Development Service in 2008, Sharon has designed, managed, and evaluated the effectiveness of the campus’ internal limited-submission review process, developed strategic plans for funding-opportunity identification and dissemination, written calls-for-proposals for UC San Diego and California seed-funding programs, and evaluated UC San Diego’s internal, 3-year center-launch pilot program, benchmarking it against those of peer institutions. Sharon has served as a proposal reviewer and panelist for multiple NSF programs, and she is lead author of Education and Public Outreach: A Guide for Scientists, published by The Oceanography Society.

NORDP Involvement

A NORDP member since 2010, Sharon has been an annual NORDP-conference presenter, panelist, and session scribe. She has authored articles published in NORDP News, including one entitled, “Assessment of Research Development Efforts: Recommendations for Campus Leadership”. Sharon served as a panel presenter in a NORDP SW Regional webinar entitled: “What can academic proposal development learn from industry best practice”.  She is a frequent, collegial responder – often off-list, as appropriate – to members’ queries on the NORDP mail list. Sharon is currently serving on the NORDP team updating the collaborative funding opportunities resource.


Dr. Franks holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Oregon State University and a B.A. in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College.