VTSGC Faculty Research Competition - Pilot & Small Scale Awards

Applications for the next round of awards will open in early 2024 - stay tuned!

BACKGROUND: Key goals of the Vermont Space Grant Consortium (VTSGC) and Vermont's NASA EPSCoR Program are 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 and VT-NASA EPSCoR Program will hold a competition to award Research “Pilot Grants” and “Small-Scale” Grants.(1) 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 must align with new and continuing NASA Mission Directorate priorities.)

WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Eligible principal investigators are those persons who are full-time faculty members at any of Vermont's higher educational institutions. Note: All support from VTSGC-based funding is strictly restricted to US citizens only, both faculty and any involved students; NASA EPSCoR funding does not carry this restriction.(2)

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 strenghten 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 (VTSGC ). Awards of up to $6,500 will provide seed money to explore a new research project in an area aligned with a new or continuing NASA research priority. As part of that $6,500 funding, the Research Pilot Grant has embedded $1,500 to fund travel by the faculty member to visit a NASA Center, for the purpose of forming or solidifying research collaborations.
• Small-Scale Research Grants (VTSGC and VT NASA EPSCoR). For more established research projects, the VTSGC and VT NASA EPSCoR Programs offer Small-Scale Grants of up to $25,000. Small-Scale Grants may include funding for project components such as, but not limited to, the following: summer support of faculty, graduate and undergraduate student research support; supplies and small-scale equipment items; domestic conference travel and travel funds to visit collaborator(s) at a NASA Center. Small-Scale Grant budgets will ordinarily include travel funds to visit a NASA Center. Small-Scale Grant applicants must have an existing NASA contact/collaborator who will provide a letter of support for this project.

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 / VT NASA EPSCoR Director during the award period to address any and all 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 will translate into long-term research capabilities. Moreover, these research projects should have a strong potential to become nationally competitive for follow-on extramural funding. 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 propose graduate student support, 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 and VT-NASA EPSCoR 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 institution or other official responsible for the source of the match.

PROPOSAL PACKET: The completed proposal packet shall include the following items:

Cover Page
• Project narrative (limit of five pages for Small-Scale Grant; three pages for Pilot Grant, exclusive of references)
• A short section explicitly detailing NASA alignment (limit of one page)
• Letters of support (electronic is acceptable) from NASA collaborators (mandatory for small-scale grant applications; strongly encouraged for pilot grant applications)
• A detailed budget request with detailed justification and matching plan
• If applicable, a signed letter of commitment from the appropriate institution or other official responsible for the source of the match
• Two-page CV’s for any faculty participant(s) and other key project participant(s)

**If you are a UVM faculty member, you must work with your SPA representative to ensure the application is routed through Click. External faculty see below.

In addition to the above list of documents needed, a non-UVM principal investigator will need to submit a subrecipient monitoring form. This document can be found at:

ELECTRONIC APPLICATION PROCEDURE: All proposal applications must be submitted electronically to the VT Space Grant Office.

The proposal packet described above must be saved as a single PDF file and emailed to Program Administrator Ellen KW Brennan, PhD (Ellen.Brennan@uvm.edu) with CC to Director Bernard Cole, PhD (SG.Director@uvm.edu).


1. Note that the availability and number of these awards are subject to annual NASA funding allocations.
2. Standard restrictions on any ITAR-related research still apply.