Staff Spotlight: Thomas Perna

We are pleased to welcome Thomas Perna to the Department of Computer Science, as Contracts and Grants Manager.

Q: Tell us about your background in the field of contracts and grants management.
A: Prior to UCSB, I was working as the Contracts and Purchasing Officer at the W.M. Keck Observatory on the island of Hawaii. I have worked as a NASA Program Manager for Northrop Grumman in Washington D.C., a Contracts Manager at General Dynamics-OTS Aerospace in Seattle, and was the Contracts Supervisor for an international energy company here in Goleta. I attended SBCC, UCSB and earned my Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Barbara College of Law.

Q: You have extensive experience in industry. What attracted you to UCSB?
A: I enjoy working with the technical faculty because I am very curious about the underlying research and science associated their grants or contracts.

Q: For those of us unfamiliar with your profession, in what key ways does your role benefit the Department of Computer Science?
A: My legal training combined with many years of hands-on experience navigating through the world of government funding and procurement allows the Principal Investigators to have confidence in my work, and know that when I am on their project I am reliable. This lets them focus on the technical aspects while I handle the back-office administrative tasks.

Q: What aspect(s) of your work do you find most enjoyable or rewarding?
A: The feeling that I am part of a team critical to the operations of the Computer Science Department is rewarding because my work is very important to the faculty and to the University as a whole.

Q:  Any myths or misconceptions about managing contracts and grants that you'd like to dispel for us?
A:   A viable project that could be funded may not be, if the submission criteria are not met. The detailed work we do as liaison is just as important to a winning proposal as the underlying research – it takes both to win an award.

Q: In your profession, what are the biggest challenges?
A: The biggest challenge is keeping up with the ever-changing regulations related to grant proposals and management. However, I enjoy the fact that my work is dynamic and requires my diligent efforts.

Q:  What do you enjoy doing when you're not at the office? 
A:  I ride my bike a lot, take my dog to the beach, enjoy travelling and a relaxing weekend cooking new dishes. 

Thank you, Thomas!