BACKGROUND: Key goals of VTSGC is to build research infrastructure and help Vermont's academic faculty establish ties to NASA and become nationally competitive for external research funding. To support these goals, VTSGC holds an annual research competition to award Research “Pilot Grants” Proposed research projects must be strongly aligned with new and/or ongoing NASA research priorities or technology needs and should have the potential to link Vermont faculty to NASA colleagues at NASA Centers and/or Mission Directorates.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Eligible principal investigators are those persons who are full-time faculty members at any of Vermont's higher educational institutions.
AREAS OF INTEREST AND NASA LINKS: Proposed research projects must be in an area that is strongly aligned with a new or continuing NASA research priority or technology need, and the proposal packet must make an explicit connection with NASA. The proposal should also detail plans for establishing and/or strengthening links with NASA researchers. If contact has been established with colleagues at a NASA Center or Mission Directorate, a letter or email of support for the project from a NASA contact will significantly strengthen the case for funding. For Small-Scale Grants, a significant degree of NASA contact, including a NASA visit, is expected and should be fully detailed in the proposal package.
TYPES OF GRANTS AVAILABLE: Support may be requested for the following funding mechanisms:
RESEARCH PILOT GRANTS
Awards of up to $7,500 will provide seed money to explore a new research project in an area aligned with a new or continuing NASA research priority.
Funding awarded in this competition cannot be used to purchase general-purpose equipment, such as computers, and cannot be used to purchase items classified as capital equipment (i.e., exceeding $5,000 including shipping). Foreign travel is not permitted; note that NASA classifies Canada as foreign travel.
OBLIGATIONS WITH AWARDS: All awardees will be required to provide a final report within 30 days of the end of the award period. Additional research progress update(s) may be requested by the VTSGC Director during the award period to address annual reporting requirements to NASA.
REVIEW CRITERIA: Projects chosen for awards will be in research areas that strongly align with new and/or continuing NASA research priorities and technology needs and translate into long-term research capabilities. Moreover, these research projects should have a strong potential to become nationally competitive for follow-on “mainstream” funding. Projects and will also be aligned with. Successful proposals will have a clearly described plan to establish or strengthen links with potential NASA collaborators.
Priority consideration will be given to meritorious proposals that are:
- submitted by junior tenure-track faculty, and/or
- submitted by investigators who have not previously received support under Vermont NASA programs, and/or also aligned with State technological, economic, and educational goals
BUDGET AND MATCHING FUNDS: A detailed budget request and narrative should be part of the proposal package. All budget items should be fully explained. Lump sum dollar requests for expense categories are not acceptable, and detailed breakdowns must be provided to the extent possible. The budget request should contain only direct costs. For projects that contain support graduate students, the salary rates must mirror the current guidelines set by the institution and account for any fringe costs. Similarly, undergraduate research support must follow institutional salary guidelines and account for fringe costs (if applicable). Matching funds are required for proposals to be eligible for this competition. Funding requested from the VTSGC must be matched 1:1 by local non-federal funding. Common sources of matching funds include in-kind cost-sharing, such as designated research effort during the academic year. If awarded, the investigator will be required to provide signed letters of commitment from the appropriate institutional or other official responsible for the source of the match.