Building from recent workshops exploring research and development opportunities in sustainability, the Seed Program for Interdisciplinary Research (SPIRe) – Sustainability is an internal funding mechanism designed to stimulate interdisciplinary research collaborations in sustainability that will advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Applications from PIs who are at an early career stage and/or from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups identified as underrepresented in the field, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. are highly encouraged. Successful proposals will include UTD faculty members serving as PIs from different UT Dallas departments, programs or schools. PIs who accept a UT Dallas SPIRe – Sustainability award commit to the pursuit of external funding for the collaborative effort within 12 to 18 months of receiving 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 SPIRe – Sustainability grant is $60,000.
  • The duration of the SPIRe – Sustainability grant award is 12 months.
  • Teams whose SPIRe – Sustainability grant proposals are not selected may resubmit their proposals the following submission period.

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2023

Program Guidelines

While the central idea must be new and distinct from what is currently externally supported, priority will be made to support those collaborations that are new, i.e., the participating PIs have no previous track record of co-funding on externally sponsored work (as co-PIs or PI and co- investigator). A collaboration can still be considered new if the PIs have served as co- authors on one or more peer-reviewed publications. A successful SPIRe – Sustainability grant proposal will demonstrate the following:

  • Compelling evidence that one or more external funding opportunities exist that are relevant for the proposed work. The funding levels should substantially exceed that which is provided by the SPIRe – Sustainability grant mechanism.
  • The timeline for submitting a SPIRe – Sustainability grant application should be 12 to 18 months ahead of the team’s anticipated submission to one or more target external grant programs.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • The PI and co-PI(s) must each have primary, full-time UT Dallas appointments to different academic departments and be PI eligible.
  • Adjunct faculty, affiliate faculty, visiting researchers, and postdocs are not eligible to serve as either PI or co-PIs. With the support of department/program head, research scientists can serve as PIs.
  • Individually, the PI and co-PI cannot have greater than $100,000 in their Research Enhancement and Chair cost centers discretionary funds. Start-up funding does not count towards the discretionary fund limit.
  • A faculty member may submit only one SPIRe – Sustainability grant proposal as a PI or co-PI during each submission period.
  • Faculty participating in the review process are not eligible to apply concurrently for a SPIRe – Sustainability grant.
  • The PI of the Sustainability Research Institute seed program is ineligible to receive SPIRE-Sustainability funding.

Allowable Expenses

  • Supplies, equipment, reagents, facility use and publication costs
  • Graduate student stipend, benefits and tuition
  • Postdoctoral or Research Scientist support and benefits
  • Travel, conference/workshop attendance, or conference/workshop hosting for team-building to support the proposal submission for external funding

Unallowable Expenses

  • Faculty salary and/or benefits (neither academic year nor summer support permitted)
  • Transfer of funds to institutions or individuals outside of UT Dallas
  • Administrative or secretarial support
  • Indirect costs

Required Submission Materials

Proposal documents should have 1-inch margins and use a 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 three pages with the following section headings in sequence. The bibliography does not count against the page limit.
    • Rationale and Vision. Explain the goal, the current state of the art and how your interdisciplinary collaborative work is innovative.
    • Sustainability Development Goal(s). Explain which goals are related to your project and how your work will advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
    • Plan. Provide a description of your plan and explain what you need to accomplish during the SPIRe-Sustainability grant 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. State if the team is new with the participating PIs having no previous track record of co-funding on externally sponsored work.
    • Justification. Explain why a SPIRe-Sustainability grant is required to foster the proposed collaboration and how the award will increase the likelihood of securing external 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 support for those contributions. Letters of support may be included and do not count against the page limit.
    • Acronym and Symbol Definitions. Provide a glossary of acronyms and symbols. Does not count against the page limit.
  • External Funding Opportunities. Limited to one page, summarize the external funding opportunities for which the SPIRe-Sustainability grant will enable the pursuit of external funding. Include a timeline with milestones for development of one or more external proposals, names of potential sponsoring agencies and solicitations and relevant deadlines for those agencies.
  • Budget. Limited to two pages, provide a table with each expenditure category and line item descriptions. The Office of Sponsored Projects budget template may be used.
  • Budget Justification. Limited to three pages, provide a justification for all expenditures.
  • 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 SPIRe grant award period.
  • Previous seed grant funding. Limited to two pages, if any team member has had previous seed grant funding through a UT Dallas Office of Research and Innovation grant, address the following:
    • Summary of the results of the completed work including accomplishments and external funding both sought and obtained
    • Detail the distinction between previous funding and the proposed project.
  • Biosketches. Provide biosketches in either NIH or NSF format for the faculty Key Personnel. Include a personal statement identifying the role of the individual in the project. Biosketches do not count towards the proposal page limit.
  • Current and Pending. Provide NSF format current and pending support for the faculty Key Personnel. There is no page limit for current and pending support.

Application Review Process and Evaluation Criteria

SPIRe-Sustainability 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 after. Evaluation criteria include:

  • Relevance of project goals, plans, and expected product(s) to prepare the team for future external funding opportunities.
  • The skills and abilities of the team for the interdisciplinary project and the pursuit of external funding.
  • Alignment between the project plan and the identified Sustainability Development Goal(s) with emphasis on proposals addressing environmental, social, economic and policy issues.
  • The targeted funding program(s), associated funding level(s), and timeline for pursuit.
  • The extent that the SPIRe-Sustainability grant support is vital for the collaboration.
  • Whether or not the collaboration between faculty PIs is new, where new teaming is prioritized.
  • The extent to which the SPIRe grant funding will enhance the competitiveness in securing external funding.
  • If applicable, the extent of difference between previous seed grant funding and the proposed project; and the past success of the seed grant funding.

Awardee Requirements

Upon award, you must submit the following information to the UT Dallas Office of Research and Innovation:

  • Within 1 month of project end: A three-page max 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.
  • Upon request: Provide a brief presentation at UT Dallas during a research or sustainability symposium or other event to highlight the SPIRe-Sustainability grant impact.
  • Recipients will serve on Seed Grant review panels, as requested.. 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.

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 12 months of award. No carryover of funds will be permitted unless approval has been provided by the UT Dallas Office of Research and Innovation. Any unused funds must be returned to the UT Dallas Office of Research and Innovation.
  • Failure to comply with any of the Awardee Requirements will result in suspension of SPIRe-Sustainability grant funding and faculty becoming ineligible for future seed grant competitions from the UT Dallas Office of Research and Innovation.
  • The SPIRe- Sustainability grant 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 and Innovation through the SPIRe-Sustainability grant program.”

Contact Us

For further information please contact Emily Lacy.