Support for Multidisciplinary Pilot Projects and Collaborations aimed at Enhancing Scholarship and Research Resources in the CoS

Robert A. Kirken, Dean
Emil D. Schwab, Assoc. Dean for Research

The College of Science (CoS) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is continuing the internal funding program whose main goal is to enhance our overall scholarship and research resources. The program will contribute to accelerating UTEP’s progress towards becoming the first National Research University with a 21st century demographics.

The program has three specific objectives:

·      To promote and support high-caliber multidisciplinary research aligned with the strategic directions of the College and the University.

·      To foster sustainable, long-term collaborations between CoS researchers and their counterparts at top tier academic, governmental, and private sector institutions.

·      To increase our external research funding and develop intellectual property.

We plan to fund at least five pilot research projects proposed by CoS faculty in amounts up to $20,000 per project, for a total of $100,000. The program is aimed at projects that emphasize multidisciplinarity within the CoS, as well as collaborations with Tier One (National Research) universities, government institutions and industrial partners. Teams of faculty from at least two different CoS academic departments will propose pilot projects aligned with the strategic research directions of the CoS, and also put forth a detailed plan on how their research will be sustained financially beyond the initial funding period by the CoS. In this context, proposers will clearly specify the funding agency, program, and date on which they intend to apply for further external funding. They will also provide their own “risk” assessment related to their proposed external funding application, and indicate the type and level of extra support from the CoS that would maximize their chances of success (e.g. research mentorship, proposal writing assistance, interaction with funding agency). Only new projects or those previously submitted (less than 2 years) and unfunded will be considered. Previously funded projects are not eligible.

Funding decisions will be made by the Dean of the CoS, based in part on the recommendation of a Strategic Research Planning and Development Team (SRPDT) that will review the proposed pilot projects with an emphasis on their prospects for success and sustainability. The SRPDT will be led by the Assoc. Dean for Research, and include other CoS staff and faculty members from different units. Their main initial task (related to this and other future research endeavors) will be collecting data on funding trends and priorities at major agencies (NIH, NSF, DoE, DoD, EPA, etc.) and cross-analyzing it with CoS data on faculty expertise, external-funding-generation success rates, and strategic research directions of CoS units. Subsequent tasks will include assisting PIs with funding opportunity selection and proposal writing, effectively interacting with funding agencies, and advising the Dean on strategic research planning.

The CoS plans to maintain an active role in the program’s operation over the entire funding cycle. During this time, we will aggressively promote the selected pilot projects to funding agencies and assist PIs with all aspects of their grant proposal development. We will also constantly seek input from the selected research teams and monitor their progress. We regard this post-award assistance and feedback as key for the success of our endeavor, as we believe it will considerably enhance the chances of the pilot projects to receive external funding and become sustainable research programs of the PIs.

The projected outcomes of our program are the following:

First, we expect that at least 40% (2 out of 5) of the funded pilot projects will receive external funding on their first application (to be submitted before the end of the funding cycle by CoS). We will achieve this projection based on a careful selection process that emphasizes multidisciplinarity and collaborations with top institutions, as well as on the extra support that we plan to offer the selected teams during the entire internal funding cycle. In addition, our target is a 100% success rate upon the second and third external funding application, so we expect that all pilot projects funded under the auspices of our program will eventually become self-sustained through external funding.  

Second, we expect that our scholarship will significantly benefit from the program. All selected teams will publish / submit for publication at least one manuscript based on the data and analysis carried out using the above-described internal funding. All publications will be in international journals listed in the Science Citation Index (ISI). In addition all teams will present their results in either poster or oral format at a national/international conference.

Third, the program encourages junior faculty to apply. We expect that at least 50% of the funded pilot projects will support junior faculty as PI.

Fourth, the program will promote new sustainable multidisciplinary research within the CoS and collaborations with Tier One institutions, industry or government laboratories. This outcome will be measured by the number/percentage of newly forged collaborations and their sustainability beyond the initial funding period. We expect that more than 50% of the pilot projects to be funded by the program will fall into this category, and all these will persist and receive further external funding.



Date Actvity
October 7, 2014 RFP sent out to CoS faculty
November 7, 2014 Deadline for proposal submission by CoS faculty
November 17, 2014 Funding decisions announced by the Dean of the CoS
March 31, 2015 First report due by PIs including information on preliminary results and an outline of the planned proposal for external funding
July 31, 2015 End of the funding cycle
August 15, 2015 Final report due by PIs including information on results published / submitted for publication and application(s) for external funding