Overview

The UT Dallas M.E.G.A. (Major Extramural Grant Award) Grant Competition is an internal funding mechanism designed to support the pursuit of a major extramural funding opportunity. These funds will enable acquisition of new equipment, group/meeting coordination and travel, and/or performance of key experiments to best position UT Dallas faculty to compete for large awards. In addition, funds can be used to support a fraction of summer salary or a negotiated buy-out of teaching obligations for one or more faculty on the team to focus on assembling a major funding proposal. Pending availability of funds, MEGA proposals will be accepted two times a year (February 15, August 15). The targeted single extramural award must have a total budget to UT Dallas of no less than $6M for the total award period and must include full indirect costs. PIs who accept a UT Dallas MEGA award commit to the pursuit of this extramural funding within 12 to 24 months of receiving MEGA funding. Activities that are not eligible for support through this mechanism include consulting, dissertation completion, research/analysis pertaining to the operation of UT Dallas, and curriculum development.

Award Information

  • The maximum allowable budget for a MEGA is $200,000.
  • The duration of the MEGA award is 12-24 months.
  • Pending availability of funds, MEGA proposals will be accepted twice per year.

Dates

Submission Deadlines: February 15th &  August 15th

Eligibility Guidelines

  • The project will have a single PI and no more than one co-PI, both must have a primary UT Dallas appointment and be either tenured, on tenure-track, or be a Center Director.
  • Teams whose MEGA proposals are not selected in a given award period may resubmit their proposals the following year.
  • A PI or co-PI may only receive one MEGA award in a 3-year period (e.g., a PI who receives an award in September 2019 is not eligible to receive another award until September 2022).
  • A faculty member may submit only one MEGA proposal as a PI or co-PI during each submission deadline.
  • Faculty participating in the review process are not eligible to apply concurrently for an MEGA grant.

Program Guidelines

MEGA funding is meant to position UT Dallas faculty to be leaders of major funding opportunities associated with high-impact engineering and science. A successful MEGA proposal will demonstrate the following:

  • The proposal must provide compelling evidence that one or more external funding opportunities exist that are relevant for the proposed work.
  • Receipt of a MEGA grant should be targeted for 12 to 24 months ahead of the anticipated submission deadline for one or more target external grant programs.
  • Adjunct faculty, affiliate faculty, visiting researchers, and postdocs are not eligible to serve as either PI or co-PIs but may be participate in the proposed project.

Required Submission Materials

Proposal documents should have 1-inch margins and use 12-point font. Upload one combined document (preferably in PDF format).

  • Summary. In 300 words or less describe the project, the potential impact, and the collaboration for a general audience.
  • Proposal. Limited to four pages with the following section headings in sequence. The bibliography does not count against the page limit.
    • Rationale and Vision. Explain how the funds will position UT Dallas for leadership and success in the targeted program.
    • Plan. Provide a description of your plan and explain what you need to accomplish during the MEGA award period to be competitive for external funding.
    • Team. Explain why the project team has the background and abilities to pursue the project and become competitive for external funding in this research area.
    • Justification. Explain why proposed activities/resources derived from the MEGA award will increase the likelihood of securing the targeted extramural funding.
    • Participating Personnel. List participating faculty members, providing a clear explanation of each member’s role in the collaboration. Also list any named graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and/or research scientists. If the proposal involves unfunded contributions from outside UT Dallas, describe the source(s) of the contributions.
    • Collaborations. Describe all partner organizations involved, identifying the type of organization (university, federal lab, industry, etc) and the role of each. Letters of support may be included and do not count against the page limit.
  • External Funding Opportunities. Limited to one page, list the target program deadline, sponsor, and anticipated funding amount. Identify any back-up proposal submission plans the MEGA support could enable. Include a timeline with milestones for development of the targeted external proposal.
  • Budget. Limited to two pages, provide a table with each expenditure category and line item descriptions.
  • Budget Justification. Limited to three pages, provide a justification for all expenditures. If there is a requested buy-out of teaching obligations, a letter from the PI’s Dean must accompany the justification to verify the requested amount and expectations. Unless there is a strong justification otherwise, it is expected that the requested funds will be spent within UT Dallas.
  • Co-funding. Co-funding from within or outside UT Dallas is neither required nor considered for priority in funding. However, if a project requires funds exceeding the stated limit, an academic unit may provide co-funding. If so, provide a description of the source and planned use of the funds to support the overall goals of the project. A letter of support from the academic unit authority should accompany the application expressing commitment to provide the funds during the MEGA award period.
  • Biosketches. Provide NIH/NSF format biosketches (including page limitations) for the faculty Key Personnel. Identify the role the individual in the project.
  • Current and Pending. Provide NSF format current and pending support for the faculty Key Personnel

Application Review Process and Evaluation Criteria

MEGA grant applications will be reviewed by a committee comprised of UT Dallas faculty with a range of scientific, technical, and research experience. Applicants will receive a brief list of strengths and weaknesses with a numerical rank (10=highly meritorious and recommended for funding, 1=low priority for application consideration). Awards will be announced following the completion of the reviews and funding will be available soon thereafter. Evaluation criteria include:

  • Relevance of project goals, plans, and expected outcome(s) to prepare the team for the targeted external funding opportunity.
  • The skills and abilities of the team for the pursuit of the external funding.
  • Strenghts of the collaboration and partner organizations, if applicable.
  • The targeted funding program(s), associated funding level(s), and timeline for pursuit.
  • The extent that the MEGA support is vital for the collaboration.
  • The extent to which the MEGA funding will enhance the competitiveness in securing external funding.

Awardee Requirements

Upon award, the PI must submit the following information to the Vice President for Research:

  • Within 1 month of award: one page text with graphic representation of the project and team. The document must be suitable for presentation on the Office of Research website.
  • Within 12 months of receiving the award: A two-page progress report including research outcomes, other outcomes (manuscripts submitted/presented, conferences, etc.), and progress toward securing external funding. If either research progression or plans toward submission of proposals for external funding has been impacted, a clear explanation for the delay and a mitigation plan is required.
  • Within 1 month of project end: A three-page (max) final progress report including research outcomes, other outcomes (manuscripts submitted/presented, conferences, etc.), and external funding submission details.
  • Upon request: provide a brief presentation at UT Dallas during a research symposium or other event to highlight the MEGA impact.
  • Recipients will serve on a Seed Grant review panel for the following review cycle; this means recipients cannot be PIs or collaborators on proposals submitted the cycle following the cycle in which they were awarded. By accepting an award, recipients agree to score and provide written comments on assigned proposals before the review deadline and participate in in-person review meetings.

Allowable Expenses

  • Supplies, equipment, reagents, facility use and publication costs
  • Graduate student stipend and benefits
  • Postdoctoral or Research Scientist support and benefits
  • Faculty summer salary and/or buy-out of teaching obligations
  • Travel, conference/workshop attendance, or conference/workshop hosting for team-building to support the proposal submission for external funding

Unallowable Expenses

  • Transfer of funds to institutions or individuals outside of UT Dallas
  • Administrative or secretarial support
  • Indirect costs

Other Terms and Conditions

  • Funds will not be released until all necessary compliance related approvals and/or training are acquired, such as IRB, IACUC, IBC, RCR and COI.
  • Funds expire and must be used within 24 months of award such that no carryover of funds will be permitted unless approval has been provided by the Office of Research. Any unused funds must be returned to the Office of Research.
  • Failure to comply with any of the Awardee Requirements will result in suspension of MEGA funding and faculty becoming ineligible for future seed grant competitions from the Office of Research.
  • The MEGA award must be acknowledged in any resulting publications, exhibitions, or events, including press releases, using the following language: “This project was funded (or partially funded) by The University of Texas at Dallas Office of Research through the MEGA Program.”