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

star_friedman_logo

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. This program has funded a broad range of projects, from research examining whether all strains of pathogens have the potential to become virulent, to work seeking to fabricate structures that would levitate in the Earth’s atmosphere and might be used for solar geoengineering. This program has also supported the use of new mobile technologies to monitor adolescents at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as 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. This year, a Challenge event featuring presentations from the award winners is scheduled for July 10, 2020. The funding period may begin as early as June 1, 2020.

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. To qualify for a collaborative award, a project must list at least two investigators who meet the program’s eligibility criteria. For multi-investigator projects, separate budget requests should be submitted for each lab. Only investigators based at the four participating schools may request and administer this funding.

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: Any expenses related to the cost of performing research may be listed, over whatever time period makes the most sense. These include but are not limited to: personnel costs, equipment, consultants, 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. For multi-investigator projects, separate budget requests should be submitted for each lab. School assessments and/or indirect costs should not be included in the budget request (these will be accounted for at the time of award). Faculty are encouraged to work closely with their grant administrators to develop a budget. There is no prescribed format for presenting this information. The committee will be looking to fund projects that can attain demonstrable results within one year. Longer-term projects will need to show milestones of success upon a one-year review.

Q: Should the budget request include indirect costs?
A: No, school assessments and/or indirect costs should not be included in the budget request (these will be accounted for at the time of award).

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. The funding period may begin as early as June 1, 2020.

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 (jcorby@fas.harvard.edu) or Susan Gomes, Director of Research Development and Strategy (susan_gomes@harvard.edu) for more information about this program.