April 2020


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Elizabeth Picard Dean <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Apr 2020 13:25:08 +0000
Elizabeth Picard Dean <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Colleagues,

Last month, we announced the 2020 COS/VSE Seed Grant program with another $75,000 in funding available. In that announcement, we indicated that proposals were not targeted to any specific area of topic. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit us all with a fury. Based on these new circumstances, we are redirecting the seed funds towards COVID-19 research.  If you have already submitted a proposal on a non-COVID topic, it will be considered. Going forward, only COVID-19 related proposals will be considered. If you have been working on a proposal but not yet submitted it to us, please reach out to one of us to discuss.

Because of the urgency associated with such research, we would like all seed grant proposals to be submitted by May 15. Awards will be made by June 7 to support research over the summer. Many agencies are creating rapid award programs around COVID-19 research. A full proposal to a sponsoring agency based on the results of a seed grant should be submitted no later than September 30 but may be made earlier based on sponsor deadlines.

From $10,000 to $25,000 each

Seed funding proposals are invited from faculty of COS and VSE who want to conduct research to support a COVID-19 related proposal that will be submitted to a sponsoring agency by September 30, 2020.  Funds can be used for meetings, supplies, students or post-docs, equipment, or other common research uses provided they are spent consistent with university guidelines on research continuity during the COVID-19 crisis. Use of funds for faculty or administrative staff salaries is not allowed.

Total funding is $75,000.

The key deliverable for awards will be the submission of one or more proposals to extramural funding agencies, including federal (NIH, DOE, DOD, NSF, DHS, NASA, etc.), state, and non-profit foundations.

Funds will be provided for one-time awards that may be used through September 30, 2020.

Research that is already supported by other sources is not eligible for funding. Gap funding to bridge support between external grants or contracts will not be considered. The applicants must clearly demonstrate that the proposed project is likely to generate extramural funding. Thus, the proposal must not overlap with any existing grants.

Procedure for Submitting Proposals

Applications will be accepted through May 15, with the review and decision occurring by June 7.  Applications must be sent via email to [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> AND [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> (copying [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>).

Seed Fund proposals should identify the program and agency to which a future proposal will be submitted, describe the research project in clear language, delineate how the award will result in a more competitive proposal, and include a budget for the Seed Fund grant and when the proposal will be submitted for funding consideration. It is recognized that new COVID-19 funding opportunities are emerging almost daily. While the Seed Fund research is being performed, PIs may choose to redirect their efforts towards an unanticipated funding opportunity.

Please include the following in the application:

1.       Abstract (1 page)
2.       Technical Proposal: limited to 4 pages (single spaced, 12 point font)
The project description must include, in this order:
                                • General background.
                                • Technical significance of the research.
                                • Impact of this research and application areas where this research can or will be applied.
                                • Specific objectives and anticipated results.
                                • Description of methods including anticipated barriers or technical difficulties.
                                • Also specify the resources needed for this project (equipment, materials, etc.) and indicate their availability.
                                • List of other faculty with whom you will be collaborating and their role in the project.

3.       References: limited to 1 additional page
4.       Specific plan for development of the extramural proposal
5.       Budget
6.       Current and Pending Support
7.       If you have been a recipient of an MDR award(s), list any application(s) submitted for external funding as a result of the award and it they were funded.
8.       Biographical Sketch
9.       Letter of support from department Chair (if you are the Chair of your department, your letter of support should come from the Dean of your College).

Any COS or VSE faculty member whose research is administered through OSP is eligible. Participation of tenure line faculty who have not received tenure yet is highly encouraged.  George Mason University faculty members whose research is administered through affiliated institutions, emeritus, adjunct, and visiting faculty, as well as post docs, are not eligible to lead projects, but may be included on the research team. Each PI may submit only one proposal (as PI) during each proposal cycle. At least one faculty member from COS and one from VSE must be part of the proposal.

Criteria for Selection
The overall merit of the research project will be considered and evaluated by a review committee, composed of the ADRs from COS and VSE and faculty members representing the disciplines of the applicants. The final selection will be made by the ADRs based on the following criteria:

Intrinsic merit of the work
- Potential for the award to provide a basis for further COVID-19 related research support from external sponsors. As such, a clear plan for external funding must be provided.
- Potential impact of the research on some aspect of the COVID-19 crisis.
- Likelihood that the proposed work will be completed and a proposal submitted by September 30.

The review committee may request additional information as needed to make a decision about an application.

Award Conditions
Award funds may be used to support reasonable and necessary costs  to conduct the research consistent with restrictions currently placed on the execution of Mason research projects. A proposal that requires a waiver from those restrictions must clearly identify that to be the case and will require pre-approval by the Research Continuity Committee before an award will be made. No Seed Grant funds may be spent on salary for participating faculty.
Reporting requirements
​A summary of the proposal to the sponsoring agency should be sent to the ADRs of COS and VSE along with a letter explaining how the Seed Grant supported the creation of the proposal.

Best regards,
Pat Gillevet – Interim Associate Dean for Research, COS
Art Pyster – Associate Dean for Research, VSE