Important Deadlines

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time):

March 13, 2018

Second Tuesday in March, Annually Thereafter

Program Description

The primary driver for RII Track-4 investments is the desire to increase the competitiveness of EPSCoR-eligible institutions by catalyzing and strengthening the research programs of their talented non-tenured faculty. Over the long term, RII Track-4 investments are expected to result in sustained improvements in the individual research competitiveness of its awardees, and to stimulate broader improvements to the research capacity of the awardees’ institutions and jurisdictions. Proposals must demonstrate in a compelling way that each of these goals will be met.

RII Track-4 awards will provide support for Principal Investigators (PIs) to spend extended periods of time at premier research facilities within the United States and its territories (the “host site”). Up to six total months of salary support will be provided to the PI, corresponding to the time spent on her/his fellowship visit(s). In addition, each award will provide support for the PI to travel to the host site, including both transportation and living expenses for the duration of the fellowship visit. Up to six total months of salary support and travel expenses may also be requested for one additional trainee-level researcher – typically a graduate student or postdoctoral member of the PI’s group – to work with the PI to complete the planned activities at the host site. A small amount of additional support will be allowed to cover other travel and direct costs that are specifically associated with the fellowship project (e.g., purchasing supplies, shipping equipment, publication costs, etc.).

Successful RII Track-4 proposals will present exciting, vibrant fellowship ideas that will positively impact and potentially transform the PI’s individual career trajectory. Fellowships are also expected to more broadly impact the PI’s research field, institution, and jurisdiction. Proposals may focus on any area of science or engineering that NSF supports. All proposals should include motivation and context for the work to be conducted, the PI’s specific research plans for the fellowship visit, and a discussion of how the benefits gained from the fellowship will be sustained beyond the award period. Note that clear specifications of research goals, expected outcomes, and a project timetable are requirements for successful proposals. It is also crucial that the proposals explain clearly how the planned work would specifically benefit from the RII Track-4 fellowship mechanism – identifying what specific opportunities will be made possible via the PI’s extended visit(s) to the host site.

The most direct benefit of the RII Track-4 fellowship is expected to be to the PI’s individual research career trajectory. However, consistent with its programmatic focus on jurisdictional research capacity, NSF EPSCoR expects successful fellowships to also yield secondary benefits to the PI’s home institution and jurisdiction. At minimum, improving a PI’s individual research capacity will implicitly raise her/his institution’s overall capacity. However, it is expected that successful fellowships will include more proactive efforts to leverage the fellowship experience to achieve increased institutional or jurisdictional benefits. PIs are encouraged to present creative approaches for achieving this desired outcome within the overall constraints of the RII Track-4 fellowship mechanism.

Host sites may be academic institutions, government laboratories, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), or commercial or non-profit research centers. Host sites must be located within the United States or its territories. Only a single host site may be identified in the proposal – PIs are not allowed to split their fellowship period between two or more host sites. RII Track-4 is intended to provide opportunities for PIs to work at facilities of national prominence that would not otherwise be possible without the Fellowship. For this reason, host sites are generally expected to be outside of the PI’s home jurisdiction and located at such a distance from the PI’s home institution as to make temporary relocation necessary for the fellowship period. If a PI proposes a host site that does not meet these conditions, she/he is expected to provide a persuasive case for why the RII Track-4 funds are necessary for the proposed work to occur. In all cases, the partnership and support of the host site is critical to the success of the RII Track-4 projects; it is expected that proposals will clearly establish the parameters for this partnership. One or more primary research collaborators should be identified who will work with the PI at the host site to ensure that the goals of the fellowship are met. Proposals must include Letters of Support from the primary research collaborators confirming their understanding of the nature of the fellowship and providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the PI will receive the support necessary to complete the proposed activities. An additional Letter of Support is required from an appropriate host site administrator verifying that the PI will be provided with whatever site access is necessary to complete the project as proposed.

Achieving the range of benefits expected for successful RII Track-4 projects depends critically on the PIs’ achieving long-term success at her/his home institution, and maintaining the support of the institution in that process. Fundamentally, the fellowship project will require the PI to be away from his/her home institution for extended periods, entailing accommodation and careful management of the PI’s other professional duties. With this in mind, it is crucial that the PI of each RII Track-4 proposal discusses his/her fellowship plans with the appropriate administrative supervisors (i.e., the department chair and/or dean) to ensure that the plans are compatible with the institution’s short-term needs and that the fellowship will not negatively impact the PI’s long-term career trajectory at the home institution. Each RII Track-4 proposal must include a Letter of Support from the PI’s administrative supervisor confirming the administrator’s support of the PI’s plans and particularly to verify that the PI will receive whatever release time is needed from other professional duties to complete the fellowship project as proposed.

Absent exceptional circumstances, it is expected that the award duration for RII Track-4 fellowships will be for 24 months. For planning purposes PIs should assume that the award start date will be approximately nine months after the proposal deadline date. The 24-month award duration is intended to provide flexibility to the PI in how he/she plans the fellowship visit(s) in coordination with other professional responsibilities. The 24-month period is not intended to imply that the scope of work should require two years of effort. Research plans should be consistent with the support requested, and should focus primarily on the activities to be conducted during the fellowship visit(s). The maximum salary and fringe benefit support available through this award is six months each for the PI and one trainee (i.e., six months of support total per person, distributed as needed across the overall project period). Thus, despite the two-year award period, the scope of work proposed should not reflect greater than six months of effort total for the PI and one trainee, with that effort occurring primarily at the host site. Proposals that do not conform to this requirement may be Returned Without Review.

The proposed RII Track-4 activity should not duplicate any other activity supported by federal, jurisdictional, or institutional resources. However, RII Track-4 activities may leverage and build upon existing research infrastructure.

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