Instant Carna is Gonna Get You… Funding

OVPR Staff Profile Series – Tony Carna, Assistant Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Sponsored Projects

The Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors (OVPR) and the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) are very fortunate to have recently brought Tony Carna on board as the new AVP for Research and Director of OSP. However, if we want to keep the former New Yorker in the Lone Star State, he’ll need to find Italian food that meets his high standards sooner rather than later, as we learned in our interview for the ongoing OVPR staff profile series.

Tony Carna
Tony Carna. Credit: Michael Wolman

Johnny Holden

What does your role entail as Director of the Office of Sponsored Projects?

I oversee the externally funded research and sponsored projects portfolio at the University. Our mission at OSP is to assist faculty and professional research staff in their efforts to secure and ensure proper stewardship of external funding.

After over 13 years at New York University Langone Medical Center, why did you choose to come to UT Austin?

My family and I visited some of our friends in the Lake Travis area a couple of years ago, and we talked about how amazing it would be to live here. When the opportunity at UT Austin presented itself, it was an easy decision.

“I am excited to support UT Austin’s impressive portfolio and work with the OVPR team in implementing their strategic plan.”

You have a bachelor’s of science in kinesiology and an MBA. Were you one of those lucky students who knew what you wanted to do early in your career or is this mix of business and medical a coincidence?

Like most people in the Office of Sponsored Projects, I became involved in grants by developing programs that needed better funding. As a community health coordinator at Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center, I worked with several community agencies on preventive health initiatives. I started writing grant proposals and quickly needed to learn about grant fund management. I learned about research administration when I took a position at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (in Columbus, Ohio in the 90s), where I gained experience with federal funding and clinical trials and sat on the IRB and IACUC committees. I preferred the Sponsored Project part of my role and pursued my MBA to improve my business expertise. Since then, I have spent significant time on system implementations and mitigating process bottlenecks that impede research and program performance.

What are you excited most about your new position?

I am excited to support UT Austin’s impressive portfolio and work with the OVPR team in implementing their strategic plan. The AVP of OSP position allows me to leverage my experience with federal awards and the Huron Research Suite software [a suite of software solutions tailored specifically for managing research-related business] and apply it to a more diverse portfolio. The faculty and staff here have been wonderful, and I am very excited to work with them and continue to grow UT’s research mission.

How do you like Austin compared to New York?

Austin is very different than New York in many ways. In NYC, my commute involved ferries and subways. If I did drive to work, it took over an hour to make the 8-mile commute, and the parking there, fuhgeddaboudit. From a culinary perspective, my family is enjoying the barbecue and Tex-Mex here, but I am still looking for a new favorite Italian restaurant.

When you are not working to make UT Austin the No. 1 public research university in the world, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy time with my family. My wife Stacey and I, like many parents, stay busy ensuring that my daughter Olivia gets to all her activities. She is currently on the tennis and robotics teams and recently had the opportunity to sing with her choir at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Outside of that, I enjoy running. I grew up running and was a competitive distance runner and an All-American at the University of Michigan. It will be nice to enjoy the weather here and run more consistently, although I must admit that the August heat was a little intimidating.

The headline of this profile is a play on the song, Instant Karma, written by John Lennon in 1970.

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