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Nicole Frank, PhD, Among 2022 U of U Staff Excellence Awardees

Kyle Wheeler

Oct 04, 2022 4:00 PM

Nicole Frank 2022 Staff Excellence Header

The Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Research Unit is proud to join in celebrating Nicole Frank, PhD, Associate Director for Program Development, for being one of the eight recipients of the 2022 University of Utah Staff Excellence Awards.

There was a total of 22 nominees from the five districts across the University of Utah—which includes the Hospitals and Clinics, and Health Academics districts. Nicole is one of the district winners from Health Academics. As part of this cohort of 22 University of Utah Health nominees, she was considered for and selected for one of the eventual eight university-wide awards.

Nicole has been a significant player in the U’s mission to support forward-thinking research. Two specific examples aptly illustrate her work in ensuring that the U stays at the forefront of the research landscape. First, was her work on ensuring the U was supporting critical COVID-19 research. Second, has been her work in mobilizing the SVPHS Research Unit to be an adaptable administrative office in developing research programs that maximize the university’s capacity in areas of excellence.


As the COVID-19 crisis first emerged, Nicole served as a key cog in the U’s machinery to develop a proactive research response. When many felt at a loss for what to do in the face of the pandemic, she organized flash talks, where experts could take to Zoom and share their expertise and knowledge.

She and colleagues developed a campus-wide COVID-19 research seed grant competition alongside the office of the Vice Present for Research. This program provided 56 grants worth $1.3 million.

In her letter of support for Nicole’s nomination, Erin Rothwell, PhD, Interim Vice President for Research noted that Nicole has embodied the vision of “One U,” writing, “To me, there is no better example of furthering this “One U” vision than our University’s response to COVID-19. From the creation of monthly flash talks, weekly newsletters, current FOA webpages, funding webinars, and seed grants, Nicole has expertly worked to educate, inform, and bring together faculty from disparate disciplines to learn from one another and work together to combat COVID-19. The outcomes of these efforts have been spectacular to date, over $68M in funding for COVID-19 research, 784 publications with nearly 12,000 citations to date!”

As the SVPHS Research Unit has evolved in its administrative support of centers of excellence, Nicole has been pivotal in ensuring the administration is nimble in its capacity to empower high-end research at the U. Over this year, the Research Unit has developed two new strategic initiatives. Nicole has been paramount in creating momentum for those initiatives to come to fruition.

Of Nicole’s efforts, Bridget Hughes, PhD, Director of Program Development wrote, “She eagerly has sought out expertise from national professional networks and institutions to advance the research mission. Nicole continues to be a driving force behind research development efforts in our unit.”

The SVPHS Research Unit has been lucky to have Nicole on its team. In her role, she has served as a force whose impact has been seen and felt beyond her domain and has had an impact throughout the University of Utah.