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More in the Game

Proposals for Early Career Grants at a Record Level

ABANY, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2017) — A mentoring approach to grant writing seems to be reaping benefits at UAlbany, where a record-setting 23 junior faculty members applied for National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career grants this year.

Proposals for Early Career grants though the National Science Foundation have gone up from 5 in 2011 to 23 this year.

NSF’s Early Career program offers five-year grants to tenure-track assistant professors. “It’s a good program for junior faculty because they are competing against their peers,” said Satyendra Kumar, the University’s associate vice president of research. “That gives them a higher success rate, and the five-year grant offers stability for their research.”

One reason for the increase in grant applications is Kumar’s work promoting grant writing. In May, 2016 – two months before he began at the University – he taught an Early Career proposal writing workshop for junior faculty. That year 12 grant proposals were submitted, up from a maximum of five over previous years.

This past May Kumar led the workshop again, with 20 assistant professors attending. Several of UAlbany faculty (including previous Career award winners Justin Minder and Rabi Musah) and Division of Research staff (Vince Delio, Adrienne Bonilla, Paula Kaloyeros and Beth Large) help in team-teaching these workshops. UAlbany’s Interim President James Stellar spoke to the workshop participants and emphasized the importance of research in preparing the skilled workforce of tomorrow. The grant proposal deadline was in July, and 23 proposals were submitted.

“We hope that this early effort and interest in learning how best to prepare a grant application will translate into a career of successful grant writing,” said Vice President for Research James Dias. “As long as we have new faculty to train, we will endeavor to do so.”

As part of the workshop, the participants join a mock review panel to critique proposals, and review and edit proposal summaries of their colleagues who share their proposals with the group. “The presentation is half the battle,” Kumad said. “Researchers have to know how to present their proposals so that they will be clear even to those who are not experts in their particular fields.”

UAlbany has had success with NSF Early Career grants in the past, winning one each year since 2012. Kumar called the grants, which typically range from $500,000 to $700,000 a year, “very prestigious.”

This year’s proposals come from a broad cross-section of the University, including the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Biological Sciences, Computer Science, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Mathematics and Statistics, and Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

For 2016-17, UAlbany principal investigators were awarded 23 new NSF grants, which contributed to a total of $6,490,837 in NSF funding during the past fiscal year. UAlbany researchers expended $4,994,725 to advance their NSF-funded research and scholarship during the same period.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.