Tech Transfer, Sponsored Projects have new leaders

Rice’s offices of Technology Transfer and of Sponsored Projects have new leaders, each with a dozen years of experience in higher education.

Asha Rajagopal

Asha Rajagopal is the executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). Krystal Toups is the assistant vice provost for the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance (SPARC).

OTT assists faculty, staff and students with commercializing technology created and developed at Rice. “We strive to contribute to the public good, further economic development in Houston and Texas and enhance the reputation of Rice University while maintaining a fiduciary responsibility to the university and its faculty, staff and students,” Rajagopal said.

She came to Rice in September from the University of Texas at Dallas, where she was director of the Office of Technology Commercialization. At UT Dallas she recruited and trained staff in licensing and intellectual property portfolio management, financial administration, conflict and compliance policies, and negotiating and drafting industry contracts. Rajagopal created the Technology Translation Laboratory to help with developing the commercial potential of promising research and to facilitate clinical collaborations for engineering faculty at UT Dallas with clinical faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern).

She also introduced a technology management system that imbeds intellectual property managers in research labs and assists scientists and engineers with finding corporate sponsors to develop their research.

Before being named director in 2014, Rajagopal served as assistant director of the Office of Technology Commercialization for two years. During her tenure at UT Dallas, the average annual licensing revenue increased from $50,000 to more than $2 million.

She also served as licensing associate in the Office for Technology Development at UT Southwestern for nine years.

Trained as a cell and molecular biologist, Rajagopal has a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the Rockefeller University and three degrees from the University of Texas at Austin: an M.A. in biological sciences, an M.A. in English and a B.A. in plan II honors.

Krystal Toups

SPARC supports the research endeavors of faculty, staff and students and helps them understand their obligations under governmental regulations and university policies. SPARC provides assistance with developing and submitting proposals to external sponsors and negotiating and accepting research and training awards.

“Our office is committed to supporting faculty, staff and students with acquiring and managing sponsored projects at Rice University,” Toups said. “We want to provide seamless support with the administrative process and encourage members of the Rice community to pursue sponsored projects and support Rice’s mission as a leading research university.”

Toups came to Rice earlier this month from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), where she had been director of grants since 2014.

As UTHealth’s director for grants in Sponsored Projects Administration, Toups supervised a grants team that submitted over 1,500 proposals annually and obtained more than $219 million in funding. She developed a three-day training course in sponsored-projects administration for the university and served as the project lead and subject-matter expert presenter. In addition to managing the recruitment and training of staff, she developed and reviewed university policies for federal grant procedures, budget tools and team procedures. Toups also developed a self-submit process for faculty and departments to send grant proposals directly to the funding agency, and she helped develop a leadership plan policy governing National Institutes of Health grants that have multiple principal investigators.

Prior to becoming director of grants, Toups served as UTHealth’s assistant grants director for nearly three years in Sponsored Projects Administration. In addition to her roles in the central administration pre-award office, she has held positions at the department level as a research coordinator leading the research administration office (pre- and post-award) for six years at the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Dentistry at Houston. She also was a clinical research coordinator for the Louisiana State University Health Science Center.

A certified research administrator, Toups has a B.S. in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and is pursuing an MBA from Texas Woman’s University. She also has a certificate in public health from the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

She is an at-large executive committee member for Region V of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) and is also a member of the Society of Research Administrators (SRA) International. Toups has presented at both regional and national conferences for NCURA and SRA, most recently a workshop at the SRA Conference 2016 titled “Research Administration Transformation” and a poster presentation titled “Challenging Traditional Ways: Leadership, Trust and Reducing the Administrative Burden.”

“I am so delighted to have been able to recruit Asha and Krystal to Rice,” said Vice Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo. “They will be a remarkable asset to our faculty and are part of our larger effort to expand the scope and quality of support we provide to our busy faculty. I couldn’t be happier. They are both energetic and bring a host of new ideas to campus.”

For more information about OTT, visit For more info about SPARC, visit

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.