Fighting Fires: Meet the IC Staff Member Who Secures Funding for Faculty Research
The innovative research that faculty turn out on a near-daily basis at Georgia Tech wouldn’t get far without people like Jan Morian.
Need funding? Talk to Jan.
Need to know if your proposal meets all compliance standards? Talk to Jan.
Stressed out by that grant proposal deadline? Jan is there for you.
“I fight fires, basically,” said Morian, who serves as the assistant director of administrative operations for the School of Interactive Computing. “I handle faculty portfolios and their financial accounts, their grants, their gift money, their state money, and their students. I also supervise the financial staff for the department.
“I’m focused on taking really good care of our faculty and our students. The students are the reason why we’re here, and the faculty are the reason that the research drives the Institute. My role is to keep all that going.”
Morian has held varying administrative roles since she came to work at Georgia Tech five years ago. In her current position, she helps faculty manage their funding, guides their grant proposal processes, hires their students, and provides support with all aspects of research administration.
It’s a job that Morian said has a new challenge awaiting her when she comes to work each day.
“Even when there are tough days, it’s always something new,” she said.
“The faculty usually focuses more on the technical aspect of the grant, while we focus on the overall proposal submission, the formatting requirements, the budget requirements, and any compliance requirements. It’s a lengthy process that requires a lot of collaboration.”
Morian came to Georgia Tech after working at Kennesaw State University. While she enjoyed her time at KSU, she said her job at Georgia Tech allows her to witness and be part of groundbreaking research.
“It’s exciting to be part of research that is changing the world,” she said. “One day, our faculty’s research might be useful to many people, and in some small way we were a part of it.”
With more than 40 faculty members and their research to support in the School of Interactive Computing, Morian said the job often becomes hectic, but the pressure doesn’t bother her.
“It’s common for us to submit a grant the day it’s due, sometimes with minutes to spare,” she said. “It gets extremely intense, and there’s a lot of back and forth, but it’s also exciting.”
Morian said she is doing the job she loves. The journey to get there was unorthodox.
She didn’t go to college immediately after graduating from Roswell High School and worked as a travel agent for 16 years. As she raised a family and worked full time, she decided she wanted to earn her bachelor’s degree. She graduated from Kennesaw State in 2011 before she started working there.
“I worked really hard and overcame my fear of math,” she jested. “Turned out I was good at it. I’m very proud of that. I’m glad I’m not in the travel industry anymore, though I love to travel.”
Morian said she enjoys traveling with her husband, and they have a goal of visiting a new place every year. She is also a voracious reader, especially when it comes to books about traveling and other cultures. In her office, she can often be heard working to music.
“If you come into my office, I’ll have music playing, and depending on what it is, you’ll know where I am,” she said. “If I have instrumental on, it’s been a stressful day. If I’ve got hard rock on, I’m jamming.”
Morian said the culture is what she appreciates most about working at Georgia Tech.
“At the end of the day, it’s the people here,” she said. “It’s the students, the faculty, our colleagues. I really enjoy everyone across campus. It feels like a community. When you work at a university, you want to be part of that.”
A wrongful arrest. A “racist robot.” A call for new laws.— Georgia Tech Computing (@gtcomputing) November 10, 2023
A @GeorgiaTech experiment trained a robot to seemingly act out racist behavior, to prove bias can exist in #AI. @MatthewGombolay opens up his lab to show where research can help address tough social issues. https://t.co/21F7IV0vbH pic.twitter.com/P3GD29lth1