Research Seed Grant

Details at a Glance

  • Awards: up to $5,000
  • Funding period:  May 10, 2021 – April 30, 2022
  • Apply online: Applications must be submitted online via Submittable. Applications open September 1, 2020
  • Submission Deadline:  November 11, 2020
    • NOTE:  By mid-October, faculty members should have communicated with the MSGC Campus Representative at their institution due to processes that need to be completed before a proposal can be approved and submitted to MSGC.
  • Award notification and disbursement: Award recipients will be notified of their selection by early March 2021.  The cost-reimbursable sub-award agreements are expected to arrive at MSGC’s affiliated institutions late spring 2021.

Program Description

The MSGC Research Seed Grant Program supports junior faculty and research scientists at MSGC affiliate institutions. The program also helps mid-career and senior faculty develop new research programs. The objective of this program is to allow award recipients to develop the research expertise necessary to propose research activities in new areas to other federal or nonfederal sources. Investigators should describe the connection to NASA strategic interests as detailed in NASA Strategic Plan 2014.  Preference is given to research focused on aerospace, space science, and Earth system science.  Researchers working in other related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, including educational research topics in STEM, are also eligible to apply.


  • Eligibility: Participation in this program is limited to faculty (professorial and research) at MSGC-affiliated institutions.  Applicants may be faculty members or research scientists who are either early career (PhD up to seven years postgraduate) or starting a new area of research.  Member institutions (and individuals) are not limited to one proposal.  Persons who receive a Research Seed Grant in are not eligible to submit a proposal the following year.  Women, under-represented minorities and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply
  • Merit: The merit of the proposal will be judged based on primary and secondary criteria.  The primary merit criteria are scientific merit, relevance to NASA strategy, clarity of the proposal, quality of the relationship between the budget and the statement of work (including narrative about how both Space Grant funds and the matching funds will be used to carry out the project), and the ability of the research to advance the faculty’s future research efforts.  Secondary merit criteria are interdisciplinarity of the project and the potential for follow-on funding.  With regard to the last point, include a plan for proposal submissions to federal and non-federal sources based on the work to be completed.
    • Because reviewers come from a range of scientific fields, the writer should carefully consider the terminology used in the proposal.  MSGC campus representatives can provide guidance on how to optimize the competitiveness of a proposal.
  • Use of funds: Funding can be used for salary, stipends, fringes, research supplies and services, and domestic travel. MSGC funds cannot be applied toward foreign travel or the purchase of equipment.  According to 2 CFR 200.33, the definition of equipment is: Equipment means tangible personal property (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per -unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. See also §§200.12 Capital assets, 200.20 Computing devices, 200.48 General purpose equipment, 200.58 Information technology systems, 200.89 Special purpose equipment, and 200.94 Supplies.
  • Cost sharing: MSGC funds for Research Seed Grants must be cost shared at least one-to-one with funds from non-federal sources.  The source of matching funds must be identified.  Cost-sharing from university units such as departments, Dean’s or Research Offices, must be confirmed by a letter from the appropriate authority. The ratio of cost shared to sponsored funding is not a factor in award decisions.  Information about allowable cost-sharing can be found in 2 CFR §200.306 and 2 CFR 1800.306.
  • Indirect costs (IDC):  IDC is allowed, but consideration should be given to the fact that IDC will lower the funding available for the research and decrease the unrecovered funds that can be applied for cost sharing.

Application Requirements

Approval from the Office of Research (if not UM) and the MSGC Campus Representative on the applicant’s campus is required prior to submission of an application to MSGC.

Applications must be submitted online.  The proposal, which must be uploaded as a single pdf, should include the following.  Use 12-pt font, 1″ margins, and single spacing. Tables and references may utilize a smaller font.

  1. Program description, including an abstract (not to exceed 150 words); timeline for the project containing information about when effort is expected to occur – summer, academic year, or both; and references.  Page limit: 6 pages.
  2. Detailed budget, using the budget and justification template.
  3. Budget narrative and details that substantiates costs.  The proposed budget shall be adequate, appropriate, reasonable, realistic, and demonstrate the effective use of funds (both NASA and cost-shared) to align with the proposed projects.  Direct Labor costs shall be separated by titles (e.g. professor, graduate research assistant, etc.) with estimated rates and total amounts of each. Domestic travel shall include the purpose, the number of trips and expected location, duration of each trip, airfare, and per diem.  Other costs shall also shall be explained in reasonable detail and substantiated whenever possible. The certified negotiated indirect costs for the institution shall be explained sufficiently. The same shall be done for cost-shared funds.  No page limit.
  4. Biographical information for the PI. Page limit: 1 page.
  5. List of significant publications. Page limit: 1 page.
  6. List of grants.  Note grants received in the last five years and grants pending.  Limit:  2 pages.
  7. Letter from the designated signer from the institution’s Office of Research verifying approval of the proposal (not required for UM because it is lead institution)..
  8. Letter/s from authorized individual/s regarding commitment/s of the non-federal cost sharing.

Reporting Requirements for Award Recipients

A final report is required by May 31, 2021, giving a complete report on research expertise development activities and the status of proposals submitted based on the activities funded by the MSGC Research Seed Grant. Content in this report may be utilized in the MSGC Newsletter, Frontiers.  Report submission is accomplished by uploading the materials into a secure folder. The MSGC Program Manager will work with the applicant to see (college) student data uploaded into a secure folder as well. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) may not be emailed.  The following pdfs may be downloaded for complete reporting information: