Internal Grants & Awards

FAQs for Junior Faculty Seed Grants in STEM (JFSG) – Review, Award and Reporting Information

Starting with the FY2019 cycle, the name of the program has been changed. This was done to better reflect the purpose and goals of the program. The Junior Faculty Seed Grants in STEM program was previously called the Faculty Research Grants in Science and Engineering Program (FRG).

In recognition of the increased costs of conducting research, the maximum requested amount per proposal is increased to $15,000. It is estimated that 16-20 proposals will be funded annually.

Tenure-track Assistant Professors are eligible to apply for the grant program.  Applicants must be a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the time of application and at time of funding, July 1.

A detailed return on investment analysis of the FRG was conducted. Significant changes to the program resulting from this analysis include:

  • Focus of support on junior tenure-track faculty (Assistant Professors) whose units have high expectations of research productivity, independence, and attraction of funding from extramural sources
  • Focus on faculty who currently lack substantial extramural support from any source to support development of a suitable research program per unit expectations
  • Restriction of a single award to any faculty member during his or her period of eligibility

The following is an executive summary of the return on investment analysis.

Methods, data sources, and outcome measures:

From 2006 to 2017, 593 proposals were received from 424 applicants. Major outcomes of interest for the analysis were number of extramural grant proposals submitted, number awarded, and dollar amounts received. This information was extracted from the UGA Grants Portal Report for each applicant, regardless of outcome of the FRG application. In recognition that pursuit of funding frequently requires several years of effort, primary analysis of these outcomes was restricted to 201 applicants for whom 5 years of data following the year of proposal submission was available. For those who applied multiple times, the earliest successful record was considered. The first analysis compared those who had received an FRG (n=126) to those who had applied but were not awarded an FRG (n=75). The second analysis considered only those applicants among the 201 who held no extramural funding at the time of application (n=142); among these, 90 had received an FRG and 52 had applied but were not awarded an FRG.

Major results and summary findings:

Analysis 1: FRG recipients tended to be more likely to submit extramural grant applications and submitted significantly more proposals overall that non-recipients. However, rates of success in securing extramural funding and cumulative funding levels did not differ as a function of FRG application success.

Analysis 2: Considering only those FRG applicants who had no extramural funding at the time of the FRG application, FRG recipients tended to be more likely to submit extramural grant applications and submitted significantly more proposals overall that non-recipients. While rates of success in securing extramural funding did not differ as a function of FRG application success, cumulative five year funding was significantly higher among FRG recipients.

Conclusions:

Receipt of an FRG enhances subsequent likelihood and frequency of submission of extramural grant proposals. In the absence of current extramural grant support at the time of application, receipt of an FRG is associated with subsequent ability to attract higher levels of extramural funding.

Proposals are peer reviewed by faculty committees formed specifically to align with discipline areas represented by the applicant pool. Proposal assignment to a committee is determined by a number of factors, including discipline and proposed technical approaches; keywords provided by applicants are critical to this process.

Applicants may recommend reviewers at UGA, but should not assume that those reviewers will be available. Service on review committees is voluntary. Therefore, in preparing a proposal for this program, applicants should remember that the review subcommittees cannot include specialists in every field. Thus, proposals must communicate the significance of the work to scholars from other disciplines. Moreover, a basic summary description of the experimental approach(es) that renders them understandable to scientists from other departments and disciplines should be included. Note that this is different from submissions to most external funders, where panels are likely to include (or are entirely composed of) researchers close to the discipline. Taking this into consideration, a pared down version of even a strong external grant application may not be a strong JFSG.

Reviewers assess the following criteria to generate proposal scores.

General

  • Does the proposal communicate the importance of the work and the enthusiasm of the proposer?
  • Have the proposal format guidelines (especially page limits) been followed?

Significance

  • Is the importance of the project within its field made clear?
  • Is the field one that is, or should be, within the scope of the University’s research program?
  • Will successful completion of the project have an impact upon the field?
  • Is the project significant to the development of a program of scholarly activity by the proposer?

Project Design

  • Does the proposer have the necessary background and expertise?
  • Are the objectives clearly defined, and is the basic question to be answered clearly identified?
  • Is the proposed work feasible and are expected outcomes adequately described and realistic?
  • Are project activities well planned, and do they realistically fall within an appropriate timetable?
  • Are all necessary facilities available?

Budget

  • Have all requested items been justified?
  • Is the amount requested reasonable and consistent with the total funding available to this grant program?
  • If equipment is requested, has the possibility that it is already available elsewhere on campus been addressed? An explanation why the equipment wasn’t provided upon hiring should be included.
  • If support for graduate students is requested, is it clear that their activities are essential to the proposed research program?

Appropriateness to the Program

  • Is the proposal consistent with the “seed money” concept, which gives (early career) faculty an opportunity to establish themselves and initiate new programs of research?
  • Will the proposed project lead to further funding from external sources?
  • Would it be more appropriate for this proposal to be submitted directly to an external sponsor?

Notifications are typically available by the end of May. Notification, however, is dependent on the proposal review timeline, which is dictated by peer reviewer availability.

Funds are available on July 1 of the fiscal year following proposal review and selection.

Funds not used within the award year will be forfeited unless a one-time request for a one-year extension is submitted and approved by May 1 of the first budget year. Email johngay@uga.edu to request an extension, justifying why the project could not be completed during the grant period and detailing the plan to complete the project in the second year.

If, prior to a JFSG being awarded, external funding is obtained to support any of the proposed items or activities, in whole or in part, the grantee must promptly notify Office of Research at ovprip@uga.edu.

It is expected that those who receive a JFSG will continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Any grant recipient who, because of resignation or any other reason, fails to remain eligible at least through June 30 of the award year may be required to return the grant funds.

Funds are to be spent as outlined in the approved budget and justification that are submitted with the original proposal. If changes are required, a budget reallocation request must be submitted and approved before major changes in budget will be allowed. In the request, JFSG recipients must clearly justify how the budget changes are still for the purpose of the original project that was funded.  Requests may be emailed to ovprip@uga.edu.

JFSG recipients are expected to use the funding to generate pilot data that is then leveraged to compete for extramural funding opportunities.

Recipients will be expected to sign an acceptance letter certifying commitment to utilizing the grant support as intended by Office of Research and as proposed, adhering to the proposed budget, and fulfilling all Office of Research requirements for progress and final reports.

Yes. The Office for Proposal Enhancement, headed by Jake Maas, provides a number of services designed to increase the competitiveness of UGA investigators’ proposals for extramural funding. JFSG recipients are especially encouraged to participate in OPE’s Peer Review program (for NIH R01/R21 and NSF CAREER proposals) and Mock NIH Panels. Individual assistance is also available; contact OPE as early as possible for more information and guidance at jnmaas@uga.edu.

By accepting an JFSG award, the recipient certifies understanding and agrees to comply with Office of Research reporting requirements. Failure to comply may negatively impact eligibility for future funding opportunities offered by Office of Research.  At the end of the funding period, FRG recipients will receive an email containing a link to an initial report survey which captures information regarding activities and results obtained during the grant period. At the end of the following fiscal year, a similar emailed survey for the final report will collect information on publications and grant proposals generated as a result of the grant.

Funds for awarded JFSGs come from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. Any publications resulting from the supported project should acknowledge the source of funds: “(a portion of) this research was supported by a grant from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.”