Holly Hapke likes making connections. A geographer by training, she’s currently pursuing research on the link between fish and food security among the urban poor in India and Ghana. As a past program director at the National Science Foundation, she connected outstanding grant proposals submitted to agency with available funding sources to advance overall scientific knowledge and inquiry. And now, as the new research development officer in the School of Social Sciences and School of Social Ecology, she’s bringing her expertise to UC Irvine to help both schools ramp up their external funding portfolios, connecting cutting edge researchers with new sources of support.

“We’re excited to have Holly here to assist faculty by sourcing new grant opportunities, connecting us with federal agencies, keeping us abreast of trends in funding at the federal level, and ensuring we are prepared to meet new opportunities as they arise,” says Bill Maurer, social sciences dean. “Having someone with experience at the NSF means we will have better insight into what makes a winning proposal but also that we'll have insights into the new directions the federal funding agencies will be taking.”

Hapke will also help identify opportunities for faculty in social sciences and social ecology to be involved in setting the agenda, Maurer says, bringing their own cutting edge research into the conversation about the future directions that the social and behavioral sciences will need to take in order to meet society's grand challenges and to collaborate with colleagues in more ways across campus.

“A top priority for our schools and for UCI is to continue to develop and support cutting-edge, interdisciplinary teams who can take on these challenges,” says Nancy Guerra, social ecology dean. “Our school emphasizes the importance of translational and engaged research, and Holly will help faculty and students identify and secure funding for this important work.”

For her part, Hapke is excited to be in southern California at an institution where faculty and graduate research are valued and promoted, and opportunities for securing additional funding abound. In addition to working on making funding connections and increasing the number of proposals submitted by the two schools she now calls home, she’ll serve as a resource and offer seminars for faculty and grad students on grant proposal writing.

“Often, those applying for grants don’t realize that the process is very similar to academic publishing. It’s rare to get something accepted on the first try, but that’s not where it has to end,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to being a resource for faculty and graduate students and supporting their efforts to find, submit and secure grants,” she says.

She’ll also continue her own grant-funded research on economic development and household livelihood in the fishery sector, while working on two book projects.

Hapke received her undergraduate degree in international relations and religion at Hamline University. She earned her master’s in international relations and doctorate in geography at Syracuse University. From 1996-2018, she was a professor of geography at East Carolina University where she served as associate dean for faculty development and distance education in the College of Arts and Sciences, and in various departmental leadership roles. She spent three years in her appointed role with the National Science Foundation (2014-17) where she enjoyed “the tremendous responsibility of deciding how the discipline moves forward” by determining which projects received funding.

-Heather Ashbach, UCI School of Social Sciences



© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766