October 17, 2018
Funding Connection

ORD Opportunities
CoBRE, EPSCoR, K-INBRE, oh my!

Confused about the alphabet soup around these funding opportunities and wondering what they all mean? You are probably not alone, and so this week I am providing a primer.

EPSCoR is the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, created by Congress in 1978 to attempt to have Federal research funding be more broadly distributed nationally. Eligibility to participate in EPSCoR is determined on a state-by-state basis as a function of the amount of funding received by investigators in the state from a particular Federal agency. Kansas is considered an EPSCoR state for all programs except those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR program was the first, but other agencies have since adopted the model. The National Institutes of Health calls its program Institutional Development Awards (IDeA), with IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) and Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) components.

  • The EPSCoR and IDeA programs are intended to support development of research capacity in states and emphasize programs serving students and early career investigators. There are large, statewide awards focused on a particular overarching research topic area that then use the Federal funds to provide smaller starter grants for early career faculty. The NSF EPSCoR statewide grant is held by the University of Kansas in Lawrence and features a program of research on microbiomes of aquatic, plant, and soil systems with activities at KU, K-State, Fort Hays, Wichita State, and Haskell Indian Nations University. It also offers First Awards (up to $100K) and Research and Education Innovation Awards (up to $50K). Three early career K-State faculty received First Awards in the last competition.

  • NSF also offers smaller awards through EPSCoR Track II (multi-jurisdictional) and Track IV (early career faculty mini-sabbatical support) competitions. Both are limited submission opportunities, and more information can be found on our Limited Submissions web page.

  • The Kansas INBRE, hosted at the KU Medical Center, offers several types of faculty awards, including pilot, developmental, and bridging grants; postdoctoral awards; and student awards. Five K-State faculty hold current K-INBRE awards.

  • CoBRE awards are made to an institution to establish a multidisciplinary research center on a particular theme. The parent award includes funding for several early career investigators to conduct mentored research projects with the goal of developing their capability to receive significant external funding (specifically an NIH R01). The CoBREs also conduct competitions for other investigators around the state to obtain pilot funding for projects. There are seven active CoBRE grants in Kansas, three at KU-Lawrence, three at KUMC, and one at K-State. Multiple K-State faculty are receiving support from one of the CoBRE awards.

  • Wichita State holds the statewide NASA EPSCoR award and conducts several small grant competitions as well as providing funding for students and STEM outreach. 

Links to all of these programs are available from our Find Funding web page

The other way in which our NSF EPSCoR and K-INBRE programs contribute to development of researchers in Kansas is through co-funding of individual research grants that the regular discipline-based funding programs feel are meritorious but lack sufficient funding to support. As an example of the importance of co-funding, NSF EPSCoR provided co-funding of $4.7M in awards from fiscal years 2014-2018.

— Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research
Events and announcements
  • A Grants 101 and Writing Workshop from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. October 30 in Union 227 will cover topics including finding funding opportunities, interacting with program officers, developing your elevator speech, and building budgets. The session will conclude with a writing workshop led by The Writing Center, a division of the Department of English. Registered participants will receive brief writing prompts beforehand that will be discussed during the workshop. Find more information and register.

  • Science Foundation Ireland seeks nominations by October 31 for the SFI St. Patrick's Day Science Medal Award. The medal is awarded annually to a distinguished Irish scientist, engineer, or technology leader living and working in the U.S. Find more information.

  • NASA Research and Education Support Services is seeking persons willing to serve as peer reviewers for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program Training Grant Funding Extension — Opportunities in NASA STEM FY 2019-2020. Find more information.

  • Science Communication Week is November 5-10.
  • Register now for workshops with Jory Weintraub, Science Communication Director with the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, On the Spot Improv, and more.
  • Also plan to attend a Global Food Systems Initiative-sponsored author talk and panel discussion of "The Food Explorer" about David Fairchild, K-State alumnus and Manhattan native who traveled the globe and introduced avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes, and more to the American plate, by National Geographic writer Daniel Stone.
  • Find more information and register for workshops.

  • The Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (KCJCC) oversees the Federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program in the State of Kansas and awards JAG funds for criminal justice system projects. The KCJCC is developing a five-year state strategy to guide program awards and spending. KCJCC is requesting input from criminal justice professionals and other interested parties across Kansas. Respond to the survey by November 15.

  • The Laboratory Safety Renovation Program will accept proposals from October 10 through November 16. The program will award $500,000 from deferred maintenance support funds; proposals require a one-to-one department match and will be reviewed by the Laboratory Renovation Working Group. Find more information.
Agency news and trending topics
When plant breeders want to improve crops, they turn to the diversity stored in gene banks around the world. But many of these critical storehouses, which hold seeds and other plant tissues, are in poor condition as a result of funding shortages. Now, the Crop Trust, a nonprofit based in Bonn, Germany, is aiming to help crop gene banks find firmer footing by providing a steadier source of cash. And today it announced its first award, a 5-year, renewable grant of $1.4 million annually, to the gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines. 

When policymakers, farmers, researchers and executives gather in Des Moines, Iowa this week they will be taking a multifaceted look at how to meet the massive global challenge of feeding an estimated nine billion people by 2050. ‘Rise to the Challenge’ is the theme of the 2018 Borlaug Dialogue, the international symposium that surrounds the presentation of the World Food Prize, an annual $250,000 award presented for breakthroughs in improving the quantity, quality and availability of food.

On October 10, 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Request for Information (RFI) in the  NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts   to solicit public input on  proposed key provisions   that could serve as the foundation for a future NIH policy for data management and sharing. The feedback we obtain will help to inform the development of a draft NIH policy for data management and sharing, which is expected to be released for an additional public comment period upon its development. Comments on the proposed key provisions will be accepted through December 10, 2018. NIH will also be hosting a webinar on the proposed key provisions on November 7, 2018, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET. 

Finding it hard to concentrate on your writing? You’re not alone. Lots of people come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid sitting down and knocking out a few pages. In this [2-minute] video, Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz offers six tips that will get you off and running.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology  announced  on Monday that it would spend $1 billion on a new college within MIT to study artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, or machine learning, involves the development of software that, just like the human brain, takes in data, weighs it, makes a decision, and, often, takes action, all without human intervention. Commonly known as AI, it is already  revolutionizing such fields  as customer-service calls and transportation, though it also carries concerns over the implications of  machines’ taking the place of human beings.

Although National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters were able to predict where and when Michael was likely to make landfall several days in advance, the storm’s rapid intensification—jumping from a Category 2 to just shy of a Category 5 in 24 hours—proved tougher to anticipate.
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