Retirement reception Friday for Paula Turpen, Ph.D.

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | June 26, 2019

Image with caption: Paula Turpen

Paula Turpen

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research will host a retirement tea Friday for Paula Turpen, Ph.D., director of research resources, from 2-4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center Commons.

Turpen joined UNMC in 1983 as a post-doc. In 1989, she became an instructor of anatomy and taught human embryology to medical students. She also served as a research associate and, later, a research assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology before becoming the director of research resources for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research in 2004.

Among Dr. Turpen's accomplishments in that position, from 2004 to 2019:

  • she helped grow congressionally directed (earmark) funding from $3.5 million to $16 million;
  • she implemented the Science Engineering and Medicine (SEM) program to promote collaboration between UNMC biomedical scientists and UNL engineers;
  • she implemented a New Core Facility User Grant Program to promote use of Nebraska Research Institute (NRI)-funded core facilities;
  • she leveraged millions of dollars in NRI funding to acquire high-end equipment to keep core labs up to date and UNMC researchers competitive;
  • she created a core facility management tool in collaboration with the IT DevOpps team; and
  • she established metrics by which to evaluate Core Facility value and performance.

"I can't think of anyone more familiar with the inner workings of UNMC's scientific enterprise than Paula," said Kenneth Bayles, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for basic science research at UNMC. "She has worked tirelessly, behind the scenes, to be sure that the 'trains' are running on time and in good working order. She is one of the unsung heroes responsible for the tremendous research growth UNMC has enjoyed in the past two decades."

William Lawlor, assistant vice chancellor of finance and business services, said he had valued working with Dr. Turpen from the start of his career at UNMC.

"Paula's professionalism, collaborative spirit, enthusiasm, and love of research has never wavered," Lawlor said. "I learned a great deal from Paula and will miss working with her. Our core labs are in much better shape as a result of her leadership and hard work. Paula will be missed by all who have worked with her, but I hope her life 'skates' on to new adventures with family and friends."

Vice Chancellor for Research Jennifer Larsen, M.D., noted that Dr. Turpen was the first director of research resources for the vice chancellor's office.

"By developing institutionally-funded cores, pilot grant mechanisms, and Department of Defense and other non-NIH funded research to assignment and management of research space, she has now defined this position," Dr. Larsen said. "She has brought core facility management best practices from around the country to UNMC and asked to serve on the leadership of the national professional organization of core directors, as well. With her creativity, energy, and problem-solving skills, she has left us with a wonderful legacy at UNMC."

Dr. Turpen called it "a pleasure and an honor to work for an organization so dedicated to improving the lives of others.

"Over the past 20 years, research at UNMC has undergone a remarkable transformation. To have been a part of this growth and expansion is extremely rewarding. It is clear that there is more success on the horizon."


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Carmen Sirizzotti
June 29, 2019 at 8:40 PM

Congratulations on your retirement. Enjoy and do all you want to do.

Tom O'Connor
June 27, 2019 at 9:13 AM

Congrats on your retirement, Paula. It was always a pleasure working with you. Enjoy the next chapter!

Jerrie Dayton
June 26, 2019 at 4:11 PM

Congratulations on your retirement Paula. It's been wonderful working with you. We will miss you and your contagious enthusiasm. Enjoy the future.

Emily McElroy
June 26, 2019 at 11:34 AM

I am really going to miss you! I'll never forget how welcoming you were when I came to campus.

Sandy Goetzinger
June 26, 2019 at 11:30 AM

Paula, what a legacy you leave!! Congratulations on your retirement. You will be missed!!

Mark Bowen, director, government relations
June 26, 2019 at 11:07 AM

Paula is an invaluable advocate for UNMC and just a generally fun person to be around. Paula and I have made numerous presentations to widen the scope of funding opportunities for researchers through the earmark proposals we helped secure, to the countless meetings and trips we’ve done to promote UNMC research capabilities to the military and the effort to create the National Strategic Research Institute. She has been a driving force to promote and expand the IDeA program at UNMC and across the state. Paula has always summed all the efforts up by saying “we’re just making friends”. I’m glad Paula is my friend.

Gloria Borgstahl
June 26, 2019 at 9:38 AM

Thank you Paula for all your help over the years!! Enjoy!

Laurey Steinke
June 26, 2019 at 9:12 AM

It has been a pleasure to work with Paula, both here and in the ABRF (Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities). She has done a fantastic job nurturing the cores, and I wish her a wonderful retirement, filled with the activities she loves.

Julie Sommer
June 26, 2019 at 8:53 AM

Paula, looking forward to more garden and grandkid pictures, but you will sure be missed by me here on campus!

Jen Brady
June 26, 2019 at 8:20 AM

Congratulations, Dr. Turpen!

Catherine Mello
June 26, 2019 at 8:16 AM

Congratulations Paula! I hope we get to see you at future events for the UNMC Retiree Association!

John Hauser
June 26, 2019 at 8:10 AM

Enjoy retirement. You have been a great asset on campus. Your support for Safety has been appreciated and your involvement with the Safety Leadership Team has been invaluable. Thanks for all you have done.

LuAnn Larson
June 26, 2019 at 6:52 AM

Congratulations on your retirement and all of the accomplishments over the years. Having someone so dedicated to helping to move things forward in such a positive way is a treasure. Your smiling face and your positivity will be missed!