By Peggy Diaco
Do you have research ideas that need funds, but are intimidated by federal grant requests?
Christina McDonald, director, OSPR and assistant to Provost Bruno for research is here to help.
A grant information workshop was held last Thursday to enlighten and encourage faculty to apply for federal grants.
The panel was made up of Christina McDonald, Jerry Ross, physics, Bonnie Green, psychology and Peng Zhang, exercise science.
The panel along with Kristin Noblet of the math department recently attended a conference in Washington D.C. held by the Council for Undergraduate and Research (CUR) to learn about the many grants available to Universities like ESU for undergraduate research.
According to McDonald, the grants are known as PUI’s which stands for Primarily Undergraduate Institutions.
“This conference brings faculty members face-to-face with program officers from federal agencies and you get a really intimate opportunity to speak to them face-to-face to learn about these opportunities,” said McDonald.
CUR’s mission statement states that they “believe that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research.”
They also state that research helps students succeed in their studies. Dr. Green, along with Dr. Olivia Carducci and Dr. Michelle Jones-Wilson recently were awarded a grant for four million dollars for five years from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
This collaborative grant will assist transfer students from community colleges complete their education in science, technology and math at ESU.
“This is a real opportunity for us,”said Bonnie Green. “This takes a lot of time and commitment. I could not do the research I do now if I did not have a grant.”
These federal grants are targeted primarily for undergraduate institutions and there are levels of grants that are open for applications that institutions like ESU are eligible to receive.
“Many institutions do not apply for grants because they assume they are fighting bigger institutions,” said Green.
The lower the level number of the grant, the more competitive it is to obtain.
RO1 is a very competitive level. R-15 is less competitive and a good level to apply for.
“These grants are very appealing and good for faculty,” said Zhang. “R-15 is good with any undergraduate institution. You get ranked when you get evaluated.”
“The NIH website has a great tool called the “matchmaker,” said Green.
According to Green, this tool can be found on the NIH website.
This tool allows you to review similar grant projects that have been funded.
To learn how to use this tool, go to this website link where there is an instructional video: https://report.nih.gov/tutorial/matchmaker.aspx.
By entering your project text into the proper box, matchmaker will analyze and come up with the top 100 funded grants that most matches your project idea.
If you do apply for a grant and you do not receive it, do not be discouraged.
“If you are passionate about research, keep on trying and work through it. Reach out to the program officer and they will guide you to a better path,” said Green.
“Even a turned-down grant is not three months wasted. The material is still valuable,” said Ross.
Faculty and students are welcome to approach Christina McDonald with research ideas for grant funding and she will help you to find possible funding and might also suggest other departments that might be willing to collaborate.
“One theme can pull in many disciplines. Even the smallest idea can grow and develop as a grant funding idea,” said McDonald.
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