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Meet the Team
The Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC) has established an institutional hub to position the University of Minnesota’s faculty, staff, and students for innovative projects and global opportunities. The SPARC core staff is made up of individuals who are experienced in administratively complex and unique projects and programs. Our Advisory Board also plays a key role in SPARC activities.
Katey Pelican, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director
Katey Pelican, DVM, PhD was one of the founding Co-Directors of SPARC in 2019 before becoming Director in 2022. She has led large-scale trans-disciplinary, multisectoral programs at UMN since she arrived in 2007. She was initially hired by the University to start an Ecosystem Health program at the College of Veterinary Medicine, a program that has now grown into a 16 member One Health Division focused on addressing local and global health challenges at the intersection of humans, animals and the changing environment. Since then, Dr. Pelican has overseen over $85 million implementing programs in the One Health realm. She was Principal Investigator of the USAID One Health Workforce Project (ceiling $63 million, UMN Prime) which supported university networks in Africa and Asia to build a global workforce to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats (>85 Universities in 16 countries total). Dr. Pelican has also developed, with USDA, FAO, CDC, WHO, and USAID, a suite of tools to help countries and agencies better manage and prevent One Health challenges. The OH-SMART toolkit, for example, has been implemented in 20 countries to support zoonotic disease, One Health, and Antimicrobial Resistance Action Planning as well as climate change disease risk and community impact planning. Dr. Pelican is currently running the University COVID Action Network (U-CAN) for SPARC, a program that mobilizes a coalition of willing volunteers from UMN and beyond to respond to requests for help and find solutions to the many challenges that are facing our university, communities, state, nation for better response, recovery and resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to UMN, Dr. Pelican was a wildlife veterinarian and researcher with the Smithsonian Institution and helped initiate an Environmental Change and Species Survival Initiative and lead the Smithsonian-wide Cryobanking initiative.
Ian Allen, M.A., Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist
Ian manages monitoring & evaluation efforts for the University of Minnesota's Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative. His work is focused on developing and tracking performance indicators to support organizational learning, informed decision-making, and strategic planning. He also provides project management support for the SPARC CDC Laboratory Capacity Building project in Puerto Rico as well as evaluation support on a number of initiatives across the university. Previously, he worked as an M&E Specialist on the USAID One Health Workforce project, which supported university networks around the globe to build a global workforce aimed at preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious diseases. He is currently working on a PhD in the College of Education and Human Development.
Expertise: Program Evaluation, Indicator Development & Monitoring, Reporting
Cami Connell, M.P.P., P.M.P., Project Manager
Cami joined SPARC in late 2021 and brings expertise in project management to strategic and proposal development efforts. A self-proclaimed chaos wrangler, Cami helps research teams organize and complete complex requirements for large-scale proposals. She also has experience using a variety of approaches and tools to assist leaders and stakeholders navigate the strategic planning process. Prior to joining SPARC, Cami led multidisciplinary business and strategic planning projects for county human services and public health programs.
Expertise: Project Management, Business and Strategic Planning
Shelly Gustafson, Communications Specialist
Shelly Gustafson has managed strategic communications and design efforts for the SPARC since Spring 2021. Her work focuses on using narratives and information design to translate research into compelling and informative content for global initiatives. Her previous UMN work includes managing communications for the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, where she worked with researchers to craft the Fed Annual Report for USDA-NIFA and helped coordinate the First Kiss® apple launch along with other strategic initiatives for various University of Minnesota departments, centers and partners. She holds an BA in English from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA.
Expertise: Strategic Communication, Graphic Design, Marketing, Writing and Editing, Website Design and Content Management
Amanda Krueger, Office Coordinator
Amanda is the Office Coordinator and IT Support Specialist for the Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative. Her work is focused on facilitating SPARC connections with University of Minnesota contacts and industry groups. She coordinates and supports all SPARC events. Amanda is the main contact for all SPARC purchases and SPARC technical support. Contact Amanda if you have any questions about connecting with SPARC staff.
Expertise: Coordination, Purchasing, IT Support
Brittany Mader, Finance Manager
Brittany Mader is the Finance Manager for the University of Minnesota's Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative. She has led the fiscal management of over $100M in sponsored funds and external sales, which includes partnerships with domestic and foreign universities, nonprofit organizations, industry partners, and federal and local government agencies. Her experience is in the pre and post-award management of proposals and funding from a multitude of government agencies, industry stakeholders, and nonprofit organizations utilizing a large range of funding mechanisms, including grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and external sales.
Stephen Streng, Research Development Strategist
Stephen Streng leads SPARC efforts to identify and evaluate research funding, partnership, and impact opportunities. He helps UMN research teams with long-term strategic planning as well as developing effective projects and proposals to secure funding. Prior to SPARC, Stephen performed similar duties for the UMN Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI), where he also engaged in research on cybersecurity risks in the food and agriculture sector. He continues to consult for FPDI on cybersecurity and its work with the Department of Homeland Security and is also engaged in UMN-wide efforts on securing research cyberinfrastructure. Stephen co-chairs the UMN Highly Restricted Data Standing Committee and is a past National Science Foundation Trusted CI Open Science Cybersecurity Fellow.
Expertise: Strategic Intelligence and Analysis, Strategic Planning, Open Science Cybersecurity, Group Facilitation, Proposal Development, Science Writing and Editing