How to Apply for a Seed Grant

The MRSEC invites proposals for the 2022-23 Seed competition. MRSEC Seeds should show strong potential to either (1) redirect existing IRGs in productive, innovative new directions or (2) nucleate new interdisciplinary efforts in materials research in pursuit of future external funding or as potential future MRSEC IRGs (interdisciplinary research groups) in the next NSF MRSEC competition in 2025. Seeds should be high risk, high reward and have potential to show preliminary results on an 18-24 month timescale. If you have an idea for a Seed proposal that relates organically to one of the existing IRGs, you are strongly encouraged to consult with the membership of that IRG or the MRSEC Director before submission. Slides from the recent Materials Cafe Discussion about Seeds are available.

Seed proposals contain three parts: (1) a project description, not to exceed 5 pages total (12 point font, 1” margins; the page limit does not apply to references), (2) a very brief budget description, and (3) CV's of the principal investigators, of any reasonable length. The format of the budget statement is flexible. Support of graduate students is encouraged. Seed projects are anticipated to be funded at $75K in direct costs for 18–24 months. There are no indirect costs.

The MRSEC Executive Committee will coordinate the review of the proposals. The Executive Committee will solicit the advice of anonymous reviewers as needed, and will recuse as needed to mitigate any conflicts of interest. Criteria for support include: (1) Promise for transformative advances in materials research beyond that possible for single-investigator efforts; (2)  Compelling coupling of theory, measurement and new materials synthesis or fabrication; and (3) Qualifications of the investigators

If the Seed proposal envisions potentially nucleating a new IRG for the next NSF MRSEC competition, then the project description should contain a short paragraph that describes any overlap of Seed research with current research supported by the nationwide NSF MRSEC program. Note that the NSF generally prefers to avoid substantial overlap between the research topics within its stable of MRSEC IRGs, so strong overlap with an existing MRSEC IRG elsewhere is a significant concern. Information about these programs can be found at http://www.mrsec.org.

If you are submitting a similar Seed proposal to the currently open MRI Seed competition, please note this in your project description so that potential co-funding opportunities can be explored.

Proposals should be submitted in a single self-contained pdf file to vhc2@psu.edu. The deadline for submission is midnight on February 6.