Science is foundational to discovery in nearly all fields of inquiry. Carnegie Mellon University is singularly situated to address critical issues facing our society – disease, climate change, the future of work – through foundational research, and by leveraging our strengths in data-intensive approaches and computational methods.
Our key strategies are to cultivate and enable an environment for curiosity-driven foundational scientific research; to exploit strengths that elevate our Mellon College of Science and science across the university; and to embrace new paradigms in scientific discovery driven by interdisciplinary research and the convergence of disciplines.
With the creation of a new $20 million endowed fund administered by the Office of the Provost, and a $4 million expendable fund for block grants based in the Mellon College of Science, Carnegie Mellon is launching the Science@CMU initiative. Goals for this initiative include:
- Investing in faculty at all levels;
- Increasing graduate fellowship support;
- Constructing a new science facility;
- Developing resources to support undergraduate research; and
- Spurring interdisciplinary work with an array of seed grant opportunities for faculty.
PURPOSE AND FOCUS:
Science@CMU demonstrates a strong commitment by the university to investing current resources – as well as future fundraising efforts – toward the advancement of fundamental scientific research in math, physics, chemistry, and biological sciences, supported within a rich interdisciplinary community contributing world-renowned expertise in statistics, computer science, and engineering.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE:
Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates alike will benefit from Science@CMU. The Mellon College of Science Block Grant Program will be administered as a campus-wide call for proposals and an internal competition for faculty at all levels.
APPLICATION AND REVIEW:
Funding allocations from the endowment for Science@CMU will be made at the discretion of the Provost in consultation with the deans of Carnegie Mellon’s schools and colleges.
For the Mellon College of Science Block Grant Program, a campus-wide call for proposals will be made once each year for projects within the life sciences, broadly defined, to include the development of tools, technologies, methods, and basic and applied research. Investigators from any school or college are eligible, recognizing that the next great breakthroughs in science are as likely to be born of foundational research in chemistry, physics, biological science or psychology, as they are in computational biology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, biomedical or electrical engineering, or robotics. The review panel will consist of five faculty members representing colleges and schools across campus, the Dean of the Mellon College of Science, the Vice Provost for Research, and a representative from the foundation which has provided the fund.
Evaluation of proposals will be based on:
- Scientific merit – Does the proposed work represent important initial steps towards achieving a significant advance in science? How will this funding set the stage for larger scale support?
- Transdisciplinary collaborations – Does the work involve collaborations between multiple faculty, especially faculty from different colleges and schools at CMU? How will this work serve to link the collaborative groups that will benefit from and leverage the existing strengths of CMU?
TYPE OF SUPPORT:
Faculty chairs strengthen the university’s ability to attract, retain, and support talent, and funds from endowed chairs provide the most productive faculty members with discretionary funding that will allow them to devote more time on core scientific work.
Graduate fellowships provide flexible support for doctoral students, especially in their first year of study, allowing them more freedom to find their direction as scientists. Graduate fellowships also aid faculty members by expanding core funding for initiating new ideas and generating preliminary data.
Facilities funds provide flexible funding to expand science labs and offices, including renovated labs and new equipment. These funds especially support new junior faculty or provide resources to begin new areas of inquiry. Because Carnegie Mellon’s labs are largely shared facilities, new facilities, equipment, and renovations benefit the maximum number of students and faculty from many departments.
Undergraduate research is the heart of the University intellectual community, where students discover for the first time the thrilling process of creating new knowledge. Research grants, summer fellowships, and presentation awards are the primary sources of funding for undergraduates. In May of each year, Carnegie Mellon holds its campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research, the Meeting of the Minds.
Seed grants for faculty research will be offered through a new expendable fund establishing the Mellon College of Sciences Block Grant Program at CMU. An array of grants will be awarded through internal competition for workshops and professional development, research projects of early-career scientists, and seed funding for collaborative research efforts.
- Workshops and Professional Development Grants: up to $25,000 for the organization and execution of workshops, symposia, and professional development activities intended to foster new, transdisciplinary collaborations. Such gatherings would be focused on new areas of research, collaborations, or approaches that are not yet fundable but could lead to the gelling of ideas and interdisciplinary partnerships.
- Early Career and Individual Investigator Grants: up to $150,000 aimed at new collaborative research projects, with special consideration for collaborations with MCS partner institutions and new cross-college collaborations. With a special focus on early career investigators, such grants may support graduate students and build the basis for work that leads to future funding.
- Collaborative Research Grants: $250,000 to $500,000 to support proposed work representing important initial steps towards achieving significant advances. These would be one- to two-year projects establishing relationships among investigators and students from different disciplines.
- Moonshot: One grant of $1 million to support a high-risk, high-reward set of activities bringing together a focused group of scientists from diverse fields to collaborate on a scientifically challenging question, the understanding of which may result in a high impact to society. This opportunity provides a faster timeline than those offered by NSF, NIH, etc., further emboldening investigators by allowing them to initiate work within three months of submitting proposals for review.