Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research: Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What types of projects will be funded under this program?
A: This program provides seed funding for innovative, interdisciplinary research projects in the life, physical, and social sciences with the potential for large impact. In 2018, this program funded a broad range of projects, from research examining whether all strains of pathogens have the potential to become virulent, to work central to the search for the physics that seeded the first structures in the Universe. Please click here to view award winners from prior years.

Q: What is the timeline for this program?
A: This annual program is announced in early January and has one deadline each year, at the end of February. In 2019, the review committee will meet to select projects for funding in April and the interdisciplinary Challenge event will be held on May 10. Award funds will be made available very soon after the Challenge event.

What happens at the Challenge event?
A: Awardees give a presentation about their proposed research at this annual event, which is open to the public. The role of the interdisciplinary audience is to improve the research project through pointed discussion. Awardees from previous years also provide an update on the research they had funded through this program

Q: Can a PI submit more than one proposal?
A: Yes, a PI can submit more than one proposal per competition provided that the applications are scientifically distinct. There is no cap on how often a faculty member can submit.

Q: Can a PI submit a collaborative proposal?
A: Yes, a PI can submit a collaborative proposal. Collaborations are welcome, but the lead investigator who submits the application must have a ladder faculty appointment in FAS, SEAS, HMS, or HSPH. Applicants may submit proposals involving partners from external institutions, including those based overseas, but funding may only be requested to support work that will be done by FAS, SEAS, HMS, or HSPH investigators.

Q: Can a PI submit a proposal for a project that has already been funded by the Challenge?
A: This program does not provide renewal funding; however, the Committee will consider applications to support new directions or extensions developed out of previously-funded work.

Q: What types of expenses are allowable in the budget request?
A: Funding may only be requested to support work that will be done by FAS, SEAS, HMS, or HSPH investigators. Any expenses related to the cost of performing research by an investigator at one of the four participating schools may be listed. These include but are not limited to: personnel costs, equipment, supplies, etc. PIs may request summer salary support. Any benefits-eligible personnel expenses in the budget must include the appropriate fringe rates for the year. Indirect costs should not be listed. Faculty are encouraged to work closely with their grant administrators to develop a budget. There is no prescribed format for presenting this information.

Q: Should the budget request include indirect costs?
A: No, do not include indirect costs in the budget request.

Q: Will submitting a budget request for the maximum award amount make a proposal less competitive?
A: No, applicants are encouraged to submit a budget that reflects the actual needs of the proposed project, up to the maximum award amount. Be advised, though, that the Committee may not be able to award all projects at the full amount requested.

Q: How will I receive my award from the Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research?
A: Awards will be transferred to a faculty member’s FAS research account as quickly as possible following the Challenge event, and the faculty member can spend this money to advance his or her proposed research in whatever way and over whatever time period makes the most sense.

Q: Can applicants include letters of support as supplementary documents?
A: No, letters of support should not be included.

Q: Who can answer other questions about the Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research?
A: Please contact Jennifer Corby, Research Development Officer ( or Susan Gomes, Director of Research Development and Strategy ( for more information about this program.