Faces of Vanderbilt Engineering: Brigitta Jozefowski, senior director of grants and contracts for the School of Engineering  

Each year, the Vanderbilt School of Engineering brings in about $80 million through contracts and research grants from agencies like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, as well as the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy. Facilitating this vital research funding largely falls to Brigitta Jozefowski, the School of Engineering’s Senior Director of Grants and Contracts, and her team of grants managers.  


I support all grant and contract operations for the School of Engineering and provide leadership to the Research Administrators, which consists of seven Senior Grants Managers and 12 Grants Managers across our academic departments. Our team also includes four Roving Grants Managers who are assigned to departments to support grant activities as needed—an initiative that started as a pilot project and has proven to be very effective in meeting the research administration needs of our faculty, as well as providing a talent pipeline throughout the school. 

In my role, I also represent the School of Engineering on institutional committees that include central offices and leaders—from both research and finance—and partner with faculty and school leadership to build collaborative relationships in the Vanderbilt community. This is important because the School of Engineering is very complex and it is sometimes necessary to advocate for the nuances integral to our faculty, staff and students. My team and I work collaboratively to identify how to streamline processes and encourage continuous improvement in ways that benefit the School of Engineering as well as the overall Vanderbilt community.  


My life partner is in the music industry, and he fell in love with Nashville while spending time here doing studio sessions. Finding ourselves empty nesters, in September 2018, we packed the car, loaded up the dog and cat, and relocated to Nashville from Washington, where I worked for Washington State University. I was at WSU for almost 15 years. Before coming to VU, I spent five years at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as the faculty and college administration’s sole resource for grant and contract applications and non-financial reporting-related issues. In this capacity, I was responsible and accountable for every aspect of pre-award for students, faculty and executive leadership. I have also managed a large, highly complex 24/7 experimental police fatigue study funded by the Department of Defense (ONR and DARPA) at the Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks lab in the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center. So, I tend to get excited about the research done by our faculty. 

However, one of the most  pivotal career experiences for me was serving as the chair of the Administrative Professional Advisory Council, representing the entire five-campus WSU system. In this university shared-governance role, I led an advocacy group representing 2,026 employees, met with the WSU president monthly, presented council reports to the WSU Board of Regents at their quarterly meetings, contributed to campus-wide initiatives, and sat on stage during commencements and convocations. This experience sparked my passion for leadership, shared governance, serving on institutional committees and supporting initiatives—and provided a good foundation for my role at VUSE. 

When we moved to Nashville, I wanted to be a part of Vanderbilt. When this job opportunity appeared in my inbox, I threw my name in the hat. My VUSE tenure started in September 2019.   


I am a glass-half-full person. There isn’t much about my job that I don’t like–even on the days it could be better–it is still pretty good. However, it would be my colleagues and the amazing and impactful research engineering faculty and the university community are involved in. I love collaborating with the Vanderbilt research community and being a part of something that has such a global impact.  

I also am fortunate to be in a role that allows me to participate in various university initiatives such as the Task Force on Administerial Effectiveness (TFAE) and the grassroots Network of Research Administrators (NORA), collaboratively working on continuous improvement and advocating for our staff, faculty, and students. Chancellor Diermeier recognized members of our TFAE team at the Fall Staff Assembly with the university’s Dare to Grow Prize. I am proud to say that VUSE had two members on this team—myself and my colleague, Magdalena Paszewska, a senior administrative officer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The chancellor noted several efficiency gains for the university as a result of TFAE, particularly in grants administration. It was a very humbling experience to be part of such a successful initiative and be a recipient of such an important award. Since joining Vanderbilt in 2019, I have witnessed many positive changes, and I am excited to see what the future holds. 


My interests include woodland gardening, antiquing and thrifting, and attending local events. There is always something to do here! Probably the most fun, however, is vintage cars and racing. I’m lucky to have my dad’s 1961 Porsche 356B Super that I will pass on to my son. This little blue coupe has been in our family for almost 40 years.