Project Sages

About Project SAGES

President Havidan Rodríguez

Diversifying our faculty—particularly in the STEM fields—is a key component of UAlbany’s core priority of Diversity and Inclusion. This award will help accelerate our progress toward creating a faculty that more closely mirrors our highly diverse undergraduate student population. As the principal investigator of an NSF ADVANCE grant at my former institution, I can attest to the transformational power of these initiatives as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as to significantly impacting the institution’s climate and culture.
– President Havidán Rodríguez


The University at Albany is a doctoral institution with a strong commitment to research excellence. It boasts a highly diverse undergraduate population and strives to excel as a diverse and inclusive campus community; yet, women and women of color are underrepresented in the faculty ranks of STEM departments.

The goal of Project SAGES is to create an environment in which women of all backgrounds and identities can thrive and develop their careers to their fullest potential. To accomplish this goal, Project SAGES seeks to increase the number of women scientists in STEM fields through proactive recruitment and unbiased hiring procedures and retain them by creating a climate and culture in which women feel supported, thrive; and advance in their careers from assistant to associate to full professor.

NSF Advance

ADVANCE encourages institutions of higher education and the broader science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community, including professional societies and other STEM-related not-for-profit organizations, to address various aspects of STEM academic culture and institutional structure that may differentially affect women faculty and academic administrators. As such, ADVANCE is an integral part of the NSF's multifaceted strategy to broaden participation in the STEM workforce, and supports the critical role of the Foundation in advancing the status of women in academic science and engineering.

Co-PI and Project Director
Edelgard Wulfert
Distinguished Service Professor
Marlene Belfort
Distinguished Professor, Senior Advisor of The RNA Institute
Senior Personnel

External Advisory Board

Karen Horton, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology, University of Maine

Kelly Mack, PhD, Vice President for Undergraduate STEM Education and Executive Director of Project Kaleidoscope, Associate of American Colleges and Universities (AAAC&U)

Marie Mora, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, University of Missouri – St. Louis

Bruce Stillman, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, and William J. Matheson Professor of Cancer Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Virginia Valian, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Hunter College-CUNY

Internal Steering Committee

Andrew Berglund, Professor, Biological Sciences and Director of The RNA Institute

Pinka Chatterji, Professor, Economics

Jose Cruz, Professor, Political Science

Karin Reinhold, Associate Professor, Mathematics and Statistics

Yanna Liang, Professor and Chair, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering

Marina Petrukhina, Carla Rizzo Delray Professor of Chemistry, Chemistry

Ryan Torn, Professor and Chair, Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences

SAGES NSF-Sponsored Seed Grant Program

With funds from the NSF ADVANCE Project SAGES and support from the Offices of the President and Vice President for Research, WISH is providing pilot funding to build diverse collaborative teams in the STEM fields. The goal of this program is to catalyze and support UA faculty in the pursuit of external grants to maximize women and minoritized women scientists’ success in the tenure and promotion process. 

The award: Women in Science and Health (WISH) will award three seed grants per year to research teams led by a female PI, with a maximum of $15,000 per award.

Eligibility: Each research team must be led by a female PI who is a tenure-track assistant professor, tenured associate professor or research scientist on a permanent track and  has a primary appointment in a department or institute at UAlbany in one of the STEM fields. The STEM fields, as defined by NSF, include mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, computer and information sciences, psychology, economics, sociology, and political science. The team must include at least one co-Investigator who is a tenure-track or tenured professor or research scientist/professor on a permanent track.  Co-investigators who have a primary appointment outside the primary investigator’s department or outside of UAlbany are encouraged: however only UAlbany investigators are eligible to receive funds from this mechanism.

Instructions: Proposals should include a one-page specific aims page, a two-page research plan, biosketches for all investigators (in the NSF or NIH format) and a budget. The specific aims page should provide a short background, the goals of the project, a description of the project team, and a description of how the project will lead to submission of a federal proposal. The research plan must present a timeline that includes plans to submit a federal proposal within two years. Biosketches should be provided in the NSF or NIH format, as relevant, in the new required format  SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae. References should be included with the proposal but are not counted in the page limit. Please use the budget template provided after registering a statement of intent.

Format: The research proposal and specific aims should be formatted with 0.5 inch margins on all sides. Single-spaced 11 point font of Times New Roman or Arial (or similar) should be used.

Budget: The maximum budget is $15,000. All expenses must be justified. More than 50% of the funds must be allocated to female researcher(s), and all funds must be awarded to researcher(s) with a primary appointment at UAlbany. Funds can be used to purchase supplies, fund student researchers, or cover other justified research expenses. Funds cannot be used to cover summer salary for the PI or co-Is.

Reporting: A one-page progress report will be due at six months and a one-page specific aims for a federal proposal will be due at one year after the start date of the award. Awardees must agree to submit one federal grant application within two years of receiving the SAGES funds.

Review: The award proposals will be reviewed by a diverse, multidisciplinary team that includes experienced grant reviewers for federal agencies and members of the SAGES’s Internal Steering Committee. Proposals should be written to be understood by researchers outside the fields of the applicants. Priority will be given to proposals that facilitate the acquisition of critical data that will result in publications and support efforts to obtain federal funding.

Statement of intent: A statement of intent must be submitted on or before Sept. 15, 2023 at 5:00 pm EST. The name of the proposal, keywords, and names/contact information for the PI and co-Is should be provided here.

Proposal submission deadline: Oct. 15, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Awards will be made by the first day of the 2024 spring semester.

Proposal Submission: Full proposals and budget should be submitted to [email protected].

Questions? Visit the SAGES website or contact Melinda Larsen [email protected].


NSF Project Sages


WISH/Project SAGES 2022-2023 Seed Grant Award Winners
Chinwe Ekenna
Assistant Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Computer Science
Aubrey Hillman
Assistant Professor
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences
Cara Pager
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences; The RNA Institute
WISH/Project SAGES 2021-2022 Seed Grant Award Winners
Cuicui Chen
Assistant Professor
Department of Economics
Cecilia Levy
Associate Professor of Physics
Department of Physics
Sweta Vangaveti
Research Scientist, Advanced Computational Facility Manager
The RNA Institute

NSF-Sponsored Postdoctoral Visitation Program

As part of Project SAGES, STEM and SBS departments will be encouraged to develop a Postdoctoral Visitation Program. Departments will identify promising postdoctoral fellows who are women or women of color and invite them to campus to give a research seminar. The purpose of the invitation is for faculty to assess the postdoc’s potential and for the postdoc to be given an opportunity to meet the faculty and develop a favorable impression of UAlbany. After such visits, departments will proactively maintain contact with promising candidates and, when a search is authorized, will invite them to apply. This program is intended to increase the number of women in the applicant pool and to enhance chances that women are hired. 

To assist with this initiative, departments may apply for Project SAGES funds via the Women in Science and Health organization (WISH). Project SAGES will support up to four in-person visits each year. Departments are encouraged to supplement visits with departmental resources and also to seek additional sources of funding. 

NSF-Sponsored External Sponsor Program

The External Sponsor Program: The program is designed to allow female assistant and associate professors to develop a scientific relationship with a prominent expert in their field who will support and mentor them and provide an intellectual sounding board. The sponsor will also assist with networking and the visibility of women beyond the UAlbany campus. Sponsors will receive an honorarium of $2500 per semester, with the initial award being for the full academic year, pending the successful partnership in the first semester. The application process is described below and has a deadline of 5 p.m. April 10, 2023. There will be three awards made initially, starting at the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester.

Eligibility: Assistant professors on tenure-track, tenured associate professors, or research scientists on a permanent track, must be full-time UAlbany employees to be eligible to apply. They need to be in a STEM/SBS field, as defined by NSF (computer and information sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, economics, psychology, political science, or sociology.)

Why Apply? Having an external sponsor is an excellent way to receive important guidance on research projects, manuscript submissions, and grant applications. In addition, an external sponsor, as a leader in the field, can assist with networking and making important connections that increase a junior faculty member’s visibility and create opportunities. Current recipients of the External Sponsor Award state “[my sponsor] is very well-connected and has made several key introductions for me” and “[my sponsor] gave me publishing advice you can only get from a journal editor.”

The Sponsor and Travel: Sponsors must be experts in their field of research (male or female) who are highly engaged in professional activities, such as national societies, editorial boards, and grant review panels. They cannot have served as a previous mentor to the applicant during their training. Sponsors will be approved by the department chair or institute director of the applicant, in consultation with the Project SAGES Internal Steering Committee. An agreement articulating the responsibilities of both sponsor and applicant will be signed by both parties. In addition to the sponsor honorarium of $2,500 per semester, funds are available during the second semester for the sponsor to visit campus to interact with the junior faculty in person, and for the faculty in turn to visit the sponsor’s institution.

Process: One of the co-PIs of Project SAGES will contact a given sponsor on behalf of the applicant, but it is acceptable for the applicant to make the initial contact if desired. Once they have agreed to serve as sponsor they will interact with the junior faculty by phone or Zoom at least once per month, to ensure ongoing guidance specific to best strategies for funding, vetting of research ideas, review of manuscripts and grant proposals, and guidance concerning tenure and promotion from the viewpoint of an experienced external tenure reviewer. The sponsored faculty member will provide a written report each semester on the advice they have received, how their actions may have been guided by that advice, and what outcomes they have achieved and would like to achieve going forward. When visiting UAlbany, the sponsor will give a well-publicized seminar for which the junior faculty member will serve as host, providing them with campus networking opportunities and recognition beyond their home department. The sponsor will see the junior faculty member’s laboratory in action, speak with their graduate students and postdocs, and review the faculty member’s progress. Following the visit, the sponsor will provide a letter to the faculty member identifying strengths and weaknesses and providing advice on specific strategies for advancement. Additionally, sponsored faculty will be invited to the sponsor’s institution to give a seminar and develop more extensive networking opportunities.

Application: Use the form below to provide the names and affiliations of the applicant applicant and sponsor and the name of the UAlbany department chair. Send the following materials to [email protected]: a letter from the department chair approving the sponsor, the applicant’s CV, a link to the sponsors website, and a statement of anticipated benefits from establishing a relationship with the sponsor (500-word limit). The application deadline is 5 p.m. April 10, 2023.

Questions: Contact Marlene Belfort [email protected]

2022 Winners
Chinwe Ekenna
Assistant Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering; Department of Computer Science
Gabriele Fuchs
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences; The RNA Institute
Sujata Murty
Assistant Professor
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences
Cara Pager
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences; The RNA Institute
2021 Winners
Aubrey Hillman
Assistant Professor
Department of Atmospheric & Environmental Sciences
Hyun-Kyoung Kwon
Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
Betty Lin
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology; Psychological Services Center
Haruka Takayama
Assistant Professor
Department of Economics

Allyship Training

An important goal of Project SAGES is to increase awareness of gender diversity and to promote equity and inclusion in STEM-related departments. In this context, the term “allyship” is often used, and many of us would like to take meaningful actions as allies, but we might not be not sure of what it entails and how to be an ally. Some of us may also have concerns about overstepping or misreading situational cues and therefore feel uncomfortable offering support.

In a two-hour interactive online discussion on allyship by certified executive coach Kim Meninger, MBA will familiarize us with key strategies and action steps to serve as allies to others and create an inclusive work environment.

Bias Mitigation and Allyship: What They Can Do for You and Your Department

This workshop will be conducted by

* Certified Executive Coach Kim Meninger, MBA, and
* Associate Certified Coach Deb Becker, MILR
on Friday, March 4, 2022, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Indicates required field