INTERFACE Seed Grant Program

The NRT INTERFACE program is pleased to announce the 2018 Interdisciplinary Seed Grant competition.  This competitive program provides funds to support and encourage individual researchers to form interdisciplinary teams to stimulate exciting and innovative research directions in chemical science, biological science, physics, and polymer science and engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Proposals that (i) include an interdisciplinary team of investigators, (ii) integrate experimental and computational approaches, (iii) compliment the complex materials interfaces theme of the INTERFACE program, and (iv) diversify/broaden the range of participants (e.g., funding source, discipline, department, culture, underrepresented, etc.) engaged in the NRT INTERFACE program are encouraged.

Seed grants awarded for the 2018-2019 funding cycle will range from $5,000 - $20,000 for a maximum 6 month period.  Awards are anticipated to begin Dec 1, 2018 and end no later than May 31, 2019.  The budget request should be commensurate with the scope of work.

Objectives of the INTERFACE Seed Grant Program

  • To provide graduate students professional development opportunities to experience grant writing, peer review, and project management processes.
  • To catalyze innovative and potentially transformative research directions through interdisciplinary, synergistic, and team-based approaches
  • To stimulate collaborations across disciplines among graduate students, preparing them for future interdisciplinary research
  • To stimulate faculty-graduate student collaborations and mentoring of graduate students by INTERFACE associated faculty

Due Date: October 15, 2018 (5:00 pm CST)

Anticipated Award Start Date: December 1, 2018

Final Report Due: May 30, 2019

Eligibility: Eligibility as a Principal Investigator for the Seed Grant Program is limited to NRT trainees (Cohort 1 and 2).  PIs are encouraged to build an interdisciplinary team by engaging other NRT trainees and other graduate students as Co-Principal Investigators and/or Collaborators.  Proposals should be developed with faculty guidance and mentorship; however, the proposal packages should be written and assembled directly by graduate students.  Proposals written directly by faculty will be disqualified from the Seed Grant competition.

Proposal Submission: Proposals packages (cover page, project summary, project description, references cited, budget and justification) should be uploaded as a single PDF document using the submission form below. Proposals that exceed the stated page limits and/or omit any information requested under the proposal guidelines will not be reviewed. 

Proposal Guidelines

  1. Cover Page (1 page maximum): proposal title; names, titles, contact information and departmental affiliations of PI, Co-PIs, and collaborators (if applicable).  Faculty advisors should also be identified for each graduate student listed as PI or Co-PI.
  2. Project Summary (1 page maximum, 11-point font minimum, Arial, TNR, Calibri; single spaced, 1 inch margins): The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity. The overview includes a description of the activity that would result if the proposal were funded and a statement of objectives and methods to be employed. The statement on intellectual merit should describe the potential of the proposed activity to advance knowledge. The statement on broader impacts should describe the potential of the proposed activity to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. The Project Summary should be written in the third person, informative to other persons working in the same or related fields, and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader. It should not be an abstract of the proposal.
  3. Project Description (3 pages maximum including any figures and captions; 11-point font minimum, Arial, TNR, Calibri; single spaced, 1 inch margins): The project description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken, the objectives for the period of the proposed work, expected significance, and the relationship of this work to the present state of knowledge in the field.  The project description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of experimental methods (step-by-step experimental protocols are unnecessary). Proposers should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful.  If applicable, the proposers should briefly describe how the project will be executed as a team effort.
  4. References Cited (no page limit)
  5. NSF Style Biosketch (2 page maximum per investigator):  A biographical sketch (NSF-style) is required for each individual identified as senior personnel.  Refer to the NSF Grant Proposal Guide for instructions on formatting [GPG Link].
  6. Proposal Budget and Budget Justification (2 page maximum): Each proposal must contain a budget for the funding period requested.  Budget line items are limited to a) Materials and Supplies, b) Small Lab Equipment under $5,000. The amounts for each budget line item requested must be documented and justified in the budget and justification form. Unallowable Expenditures:  Seed awards will not support graduate/undergraduate stipends, faculty summer salaries, purchase of computers, or the purchase of lab items great than $5,000.  Travel will be considered for specific purposes with appropriate justification (i.e. visit to user facilities for access to instrumentation).  Conference travel requests will not be considered in this RFP.  The INTERFACE Executive Committee reserves the right to request budget revisions for any proposal recommended for funding.

Documents and Templates (click links to download)

2016 Request for Proposals (PDF)

Cover Page Template (MS Word); Project Summary Template (MS Word); Project Description Template (MS Word); Project Budget and Justification Template (MS Word)

Review Process

Each proposal will be reviewed by members of the NRT INTERFACE Executive Committee and by external reviewers (members of the NRT Advisory Board, national lab and academic communities).  Review criteria include:

Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and

Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  • What is the potential for the proposed activity to advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and to benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  • To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  • Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success
  • How well qualified is the individual or team to conduct the proposed activities?
  • Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at USM or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Additional Specific Review Criteria

  • Interdisciplinarity – What is the degree of interdisciplinarity and the potential for high impact synergies among the disciplines?

New requirement for 2018 submissions: PIs must provide the name, email address, and area of expertise of three external reviewers. Selection of reviewers should adhere to the NSF Conflict of Interest policy ( for the PI, CoPIs, and their faculty research advisors.

Funding Acknowledgement

All publications and presentations resulting from work completed using NRT Seed funding are required to include the following acknowledgment:  Research support provided by the NSF NRT “Interface” Seed Grant program (Award #1449999) through the University of Southern Mississippi.

Post-Award Administration of Funds

All expenditures using NRT Seed Funds must be approved by the NRT Director (Derek Patton).  All orders will be routed through the NRT Program Coordinator (Elizabeth Cranford).  These procedures are in place to ensure accurate accounting and appropriate use of NRT funds.