ORA Personnel

Steven Moldin, Executive Director

Dr. Steven Moldin is Executive Director of USC’s Office of Research Advancement.

He has conducted research at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University and was a faculty member at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1995, Dr. Moldin joined the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes of Health, to manage an extramural research portfolio. He left in 2006, having led the Office of Human Genetics and Genomic Resources and having served as Associate Director of the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science. Dr. Moldin was responsible for the fiscal and scientific management of a $200 million grants and contracts portfolio and increased the yearly funding of NIMH’s human genetics research portfolio by 56% over two years.

Dr. Moldin has published over 50 papers and book chapters in the areas of psychiatric genetics, schizophrenia, autism and neuroscience. He is co-editor of Methods in Genomic Neuroscience and Understanding Autism: From Basic Neuroscience to Treatment.

Dr. Moldin received his B.A. magna cum laude with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa in Psychology from Boston University (1983), his M.A. in Psychology from Yeshiva University (1985), and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University (1988). He completed an internship at Hillside Hospital – Long Island Jewish Medical Center (1988) and postdoctoral training in human genetics at Washington University School of Medicine (1988-1991).

James Murday, Director of Physical Sciences

Dr. James Murday is Director of Physical Sciences of the Office of Research Advancement.

Prior to USC, Dr. Murday’s career at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) included leading the Surface Chemistry programs (1975-1987) and the Chemistry Division (1988-2006, when he retired from Federal service).

Additional responsibilities included tenures as Director of Research for the Department of Defense, Research and Engineering; Chief Scientist, Office of Naval Research; Director, National Nanotechnology Coordination Office; and Executive Secretary to the U.S. National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Nanometer Science Engineering and Technology (NSET).

His research interests have spanned nuclear magnetic resonance, surface science, and nanoscale science and technology. He has published over 100 papers and reports on those topics. He is a member of the ACS, APS, and AVS professional societies. He holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Solid State Physics from Cornell (1970) and a B.S. in Physics from Case Institute of Technology (1964).

Allan Olson, Director of National Security

Allan (Al) Olson is Director of National Security for the Office of Research Advancement.

Prior to joining USC, Al’s career included senior leadership positions in private industry and the U.S. government involving research, business growth, strategic planning, program management, systems engineering, finance, and legislation.

His private industry experience spans the aerospace, defense, security, intelligence, healthcare and energy sectors, where he was highly successful in realizing research and technology growth initiatives for Lockheed Martin. During his distinguished government career, Al held leadership positions in research, engineering, program management, and acquisition concluding with his final appointment as the Director of Horizontal Technology Integration, where he was responsible for a number of multi-billion dollar research programs, including their integration and re-use across the intelligence, law enforcement, and defense communities.

Al holds degrees and certifications in program management, electrical engineering, business/financial management, contracting, logistics, test and evaluation, manufacturing, and production. He is a certified Department of Defense and Federal Program Manager, a Federal Enterprise Architect, Capture Manager, and a Master Black Belt.

Robyn Hejmej, Program Manager

Robyn Hejmej serves as Program Manager and is responsible for managing the operations and activities of the Office of Research Advancement. She supervises the office’s Grant Writers and Project Specialists and manages program workflow from proposal inception through funding decision. Her previous professional experience includes her role as Manager of Business Development at Precision Health Economics, where she was responsible for managing the scientific proposal operations for the Evidence Synthesis and Decision Modelling practice group. Robyn received her B.A. in Mathematics from Butler University (2010) and her Master of Health Administration from USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy (2016).

Amber Gray, Project Specialist – Administrative

Amber Gray is Project Specialist and Office Manager for the Office of Research Advancement. She is responsible for managing the office budget and logistics. She also contributes to many aspects of grant proposal preparation, including the collection and formatting of required supplemental proposal components. Amber previously worked for a Federal Government Contractor as a Program Manager for many years in the DC area. Originally from Northern California, Amber received a B.A. in Organizational Sociology from University of California, Davis (2003), and a Master of Mass Communications and Media Studies from Howard University (2007).

Daniel Barker, Senior Grant Writer

Daniel Barker is a Senior Grant Writer in the Office of Research Advancement. In this role he helps develop federal research funding proposals, including for large science centers, translational science programs, institutional training programs, and early career opportunities, and in such domains as natural science, environmental health, preventive health, and health policy. Prior to joining USC, Dan worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its Office of Water on the Beach Team within the Office of Science and Technology as well as the Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force within the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. His interests in research and the application of science and policy are rooted in environmental health, conservation, and climate change. Dan holds a B.S. in Biology and Certificate in Environmental Studies from University of Wisconsin, Madison (2008), and a Master of Marine Affairs from University of Washington (2010).

Stephanie Griep, Grant Writer

Stephanie Griep began working for the Office of Research Advancement in 2017 as a Project Specialist, and in 2018 moved into her current role as a Grant Writer. She assists with the development of grant proposals to numerous federal agencies requesting support for research programs and activities, including conferences, infrastructure, education programs, and multidisciplinary centers. Prior to coming to USC, she was a Research Assistant at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where she worked with thermoacoustic computerized tomography to image cancerous human prostates. Stephanie received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from USC (2016) and a Master of Health Science in Mental Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2019). Her graduate thesis research and recent publication focused on the epidemiology of self-injurious and suicidal behavior. 

Aaron Nordman, Grant Writer

Aaron K. Nordman began writing for the Office of Research Advancement at USC in 2021, focusing primarily on NIH and NSF projects. He joined the office following positions as a Research Analyst at the University of Washington, analyzing inequities in the criminal justice process and working in Carbon Crediting through Tree Planting and Preservation community projects which generate environmental, social, and equity co-benefits at non-profit City Forest Credits. Aaron received a B.S. in Psychology and Environmental Studies from Seattle University (2016) and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a specialization in Environmental Policy from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington (2018). His academic research has centered around equitable access to green spaces and their benefits, renewable energy policy, and implementation of clean technology. 

Ashley Gordon, Project Specialist

Ashley Gordon is a Project Specialist in the Office of Research Advancement. As one of the first members of the Office of Research Advancement, having joined USC in 2007, Ashley has been involved with all aspects of proposal preparation. Specifically, she specializes in budget preparation and coordination, especially for large multi-institutional proposals, and assists with the coordination of large proposal submissions. She also serves as the office’s infographics designer and has developed graphics for proposals submitted to multiple federal funding agencies. Ashley has a B.S. in Bioinformatics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (2006).