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2018 Interdisciplinary Research Seed Program


The Office of Research and Engagement is announcing a call for proposals for the new Interdisciplinary Research Seed Program. Proposals are due December 13, 2017. This program offers internal funds intended to help generate more compelling grant submissions, initiate new intellectual directions for our faculty, and foster new relationships across colleges, departments, or centers. Key considerations include the likelihood that the project will attract new externally funded research.

An ideal project would apply for external funding and begin to generate manuscripts for publication no later than four months after the seed project ends. ORE seeks to support projects that encourage faculty members to pursue new collaborative research.  This multiple investigator funding mechanism aims to promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborative teams. Teams with seed funding which generate preliminary results and gain experience working jointly have proven more successful when they later compete for multi-investigator and/or multidisciplinary grants.

Type of Award

Project Seed Grants: Enable a team of two or more University of Tennessee, Knoxville and UT Space Institute faculty to obtain initial results or data to prepare for large-scale funding opportunities or center grants. These grants have a maximum budget of $75,000 (80% from ORE and 20% from Colleges/Departments) and a period of performance of one year.


Proposals are invited from all UT and UTSI tenured and tenure-track faculty or special permission from the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Development. Each proposal must have a minimum of two PI’s each from a different disciplines and departments.  Although external collaborations with universities or companies are encouraged, seed funded projects may not be used to support outside institutions. A faculty member may participate in multiple seed proposals but should serve as lead Principal Investigator (PI) on no more than one.  PIs are required to identify at least one funding agency that they have not received funding from in the past.  An awardee may not apply for a new Interdisciplinary Research Program grant until they have submitted a proposal for external funding based on the previous award.

Use of Funds

Funds may be used for any activity directly related to the conduct of the research: salaries and benefits for research trainees (students, postdocs), some travel, research supplies, equipment/facility recharge, etc. Travel to federal agencies and proposer workshops are strongly encouraged and are likely to be an important element in order to successfully obtain interdisciplinary research funding.  Funds for travel are limited to federal agencies, proposer workshops, and other related visits. Funds will be available almost immediately after awards are announced and will be provided to awardees on a cost reimbursable basis.  Reimbursement requests may be submitted to ORE periodically as significant amounts are expended. Funds may not be used for faculty salary, course buyouts, administrative staff, seminar speakers, or conferences. Consultant costs may be considered under certain circumstances.  Project seed grants will be awarded in two phases: recipients will be awarded 50% of funds to initiate the project, with the remainder made available upon completion and approval of a brief mid-term report on project status. All funds must be expended by the end of the 12-month project period unless an extension is approved by the AVCRD and the contributing College/Departments.


The internal proposal submittal deadline is December 13, 2017.  Estimated date for notice of award is March 1, 2018.

Application Format

Online submission will include completion of the form as well submitting the following documents:  External Funding Strategy, Research Plan, Quad Chart, Budget, Current and Pending Support, and CVs

  1. Online Application Form (see embedded form below).
  2. External Funding Strategy – No more than three pages: PI(s) should attempt to identify at least one agency that they have not received funding from in the past.  [Word or Acrobat Format]Strategy should address the following questions:
    • What specific funding opportunity will be targeted for subsequent funding? Specific program?
    • Who is the intended Program Manager/Officer?
    • What correspondence or interaction has been made or is planned with the Program Manager/Officer or federal agency (include emails and a description of interaction when possible).
    • What is the proposed timeline and target deadline (if applicable) for applying for external funding?

    Projects that do not indicate a specific opportunity will be returned without review.

  1. Research Plan – No more than three pages, single-spaced, 12-point font with one-inch margins. [Word or Acrobat Format] Note: References are not included in the 3-page limit.
    Proposals should include the following sections:
    1. Objectives. What are you trying to do?
    2. Current State-of-the-Art. Point out scientific challenges and limitations; quantify whenever possible; start broad but most importantly, get down to the root cause of the challenge you are trying to overcome – detail is helpful.
    3. Innovation/Differentiator. Highlight the innovative nature of your proposal by differentiating it from the current state-of-the-art.  Point out how and why your research should overcome the challenges and limitations you stated in (b) State-of-the-Art. Be specific and quantify when possible.  What’s new about your approach? Is it a first? What specifically differentiates your proposed research from your peers’ research at other institutions?  How might it revolutionize research and advance your field? Why hasn’t it been done before and what leads you to believe that now is the optimal time (ex. an observation, a recent discovery, or a breakthrough in your lab)?
  1. Quad chart – One page (see quad chart example template) [PowerPoint Format]
  2. Budget with breakdown of cost categories [Excel Format]
  3. Current and Pending Support for PI and senior personnel (see PI Current and Pending Support List template) [Excel Format]
  4. CVs – No more than two pages per individual investigator [Word or Acrobat Format]

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by UT/UTSI faculty, staff, and may be extended to federal funding agency program managers for feedback. Deans and/or department heads of the PI and co-PI’s may also be asked for input on the importance of the project for their college or department. Evaluations will be based on three major criteria (listed in order of importance):

  1. Innovation is viewed as disruptive research that uses existing technology in new ways and/or launches entirely novel approaches.
  2. External mission agency funding potential
  3. The feasibility of completing the project.

Office of Research and Engagement Programming Requirements

Awardees are required to work with a staff member from the AVCRD Funding Strategy Planning Program.  Awardees are also required to take part in at least one of the AVCRD workshops or training sessions during the period of performance unless they have completed one within the last 12 months.

Progress Tracking and Reporting

It is expected awardees will submit at least one external proposal based on the research.  Awardees are required to submit both a brief interim report (template provided to awardees) to release the remaining 50% of the funds and a final project report within 60 days of the award period end.  The final project report should include the results of the research, new funding targets identified during the process, efforts underway to obtain external funding, and efforts to generate publications. Lack of timely reporting may result in exclusion from future award opportunities. PI’s are responsible for tracking expenses associated with award.

For more information or questions, please contact

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