Announcement of The George Washington University & the Smithsonian Institution

Opportunity Fund Research Grants Program FY14

The George Washington University (GW) and the Smithsonian Institution (SI) are pleased to announce the third year of the competitive Opportunity Fund Research Grants Program. The intent of this initiative is to encourage new teams of GW-SI investigators to cross institutional and disciplinary boundaries; enhance established collaborative teams to move to the next level in their research; establish specific high-impact research foci and/or generate preliminary data to support new areas of scholarly endeavor; and encourage scholarship and research that leads to new funding opportunities.  

This year we would especially like to invite teams focused on arts and humanities scholarship to apply. Projects relating to the following topics are encouraged, though any projects involving faculty from GW and the SI will be accepted for consideration:

Civil War 150th Anniversary

Immigration and Migration

Innovation (current, emerging and out-moded technologies to provide low cost effective solutions to benefit the poor and marginalized)


Recovering Voices (focusing on endangered languages and indigenous knowledge)

Urban Waterways (from shared perspectives on environmental justice, civic engagement, ecological conservation, and community development)


GW and SI scholars are encouraged to develop joint Opportunity Fund Research Grant proposals.  In order to be considered, proposals meeting the guidelines must be submitted no later than Thursday, December 1, 2013.  Proposals should address the scholarly merits of the proposed research as well as identify research and institutional benefits and potential future funding opportunities from any federal or non-federal source (including foundations and faculty scholarships/fellowships) that would be available based on the data collected or findings obtained from performance of the seed-grant project.  There are likely to be 4–6 awards with a budget of up to $50,000; the final number of awards will depend on the quality and quantity of proposals received as well as the proposed budgets. It is expected that the budgeted award distribution will be approximately equal between institutions.  An individual principal investigator (PI) will be limited to one team award; however, an individual can be a collaborator on other applications.


Eligibility: All full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty and full time contract faculty members having primary academic appointments at GW and all scientific and scholarly SI staff are eligible.

Program Focus: This program seeks to encourage groups of researchers (minimum of two PIs—one from each organization) to collaborate on new avenues of research that would not otherwise be explored by either institution alone. This year we would especially like to invite teams focused on arts and humanities scholarship to apply. The research project must not significantly overlap in focus with ongoing funded research in any of the participating laboratories and programs and is expected to lead to applications for newexternal funding from any federal or non-federal source.

Expectations: Award recipients are expected to produce sufficient preliminary results so that within 12 months after expiration of the award, a follow-on proposal for external funding can and will be submitted. Awardees will participate in future progress reporting session(s) and other events that bring researchers from GW and SI together. GW grant recipients are expected to remain faculty members on campus throughout the course of the grant, with any substitutions for PIs requiring approval in advance from the GW–SI steering group. Similarly, SI scientists and scholars are expected to remain with their museum or research center and to seek similar approval for substitutions.

Review: Proposals will be evaluated by a committee of scientists and scholars from both organizations with wide-ranging expertise appropriate, but not limited to, the submitted proposals.  Applicants should not expect detailed written critiques of their proposals. Proposals will be reviewed for: 1) how well the project meets the goals of the Opportunity Fund Research Grants Program, including the composition of the team of investigators, 2) scientific or scholarly merit (e.g., significance, approach, novelty, and qualification of investigators to carry out the research), and 3) likelihood of attracting outside funding from any source. Scientific or scholarly merit of the proposed studies will be the most important factor assessed in this competition.           

Allowable Expenses: Research supplies; purchase or rental of equipment for new research; travel for research purposes (excluding travel to meetings or symposia); matching funds for research items; salary support for a temporary position (one year or less) for technicians, research associates (post-docs), and/or graduate students.

Expenses Not Allowed: Salaries for PIs, including summer salaries; secretarial support; general telephone services and postage; alterations or renovations of laboratory space; purchase of laboratory or office furniture; purchase or binding of periodicals and books; dues and memberships in scientific societies, or indirect costs.

Conditions of the Award:

1.  Awards are made to PIs and are not transferable without prior approval.

2.  Equipment purchased with grant funds shall become the property of either SI or GW and must remain should a PI leave their respective institution.

3.  A brief annual progress report (after one year) and a final technical and financial report (after two years) will be submitted to the GW–SI steering group.

4.  Periodic surveys will be conducted to obtain data on interim progress or updates on patents, inventions, the creation of new companies and technology for commercialization, and other areas of interest to the organizations involved.

5.  Three years after the project ends, PIs must file a follow-up report listing all presentations, published papers, and extramural funds that have resulted, in whole or in part, from the project.

6.  Funds should be budgeted for completion and exhausted at the end of one calendar year. For the current round of funding, the award start date will be Feb 1, 2014 and the award end date will be Dec 31, 2014.

Remaining or unspent funds (after Dec 31, 2014) are to be returned for subsequent competitions. If there are extenuating circumstances, PIs may request (in writing) a no-cost extension with rationale, timing of deliverables, and any variations from their original proposed project budget from the GW–SI steering group.

Any changes to the proposed budget after the award is made must be requested in writing and approved.

Proposal content: The proposal should identify specific research goals that will enhance the success of a full proposal and provide a specific targeted timeline by which these objectives can be reasonably achieved. Finally, the proposal should provide a budget that accurately reflects the intended use of the funds with respect to the proposed objectives for each institution.


Proposals must contain the items outlined below under the page limitations provided. Proposals not meeting these guidelines will not be considered for funding.


Cover page (one page), including:

*Title of project

*Names of all co-PIs—specify position and affiliation

*Statement of collaborative effort—a specific statement as to how the collaboration between the investigators is necessary to move this research forward. If this is an existing collaboration, state how this seed funding will take the collaborative research to the next level of success. This should include processes for maintaining communication and interactions among the project’s participants.

*Names and signatures of Department Chair and/or unit head of each PI


Proposed research (maximum five single-spaced pages in a font no smaller than 11), including:

*Project motivation—rationale for project and advantage of the GW–SI collaboration

*Project description—include your research approach and expected outcomes

*A statement describing how this interaction will affect the research program's long-term future direction

Project Budget:

A sample budget in an Excel spread sheet is attached. On the budget sheet, please identify those charges that will be processed through the SI and those that will be charged through GW. Amounts charged to each institution should be approximately equal.

Please note that although awards will be announced in February 2014, no funds will be released until after that date. Funds must be expended within the calendar year; i.e., from Feb 1, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014.

Budget Justification (maximum two single-spaced pages in a font no smaller than 11):

Describe in sufficient detail: the specific uses for any purchases (supplies, equipment), state the reasons for any travel and provide the amount for airfare, local transport, etc, state the reasons for any other expenses (such as honoraria, stipends, other).


Additional information, including:

*References (Including full titles of publications)

*Biographical sketches—NIH or NSF format (all senior personnel; see attached for an example)

*Future funding source(s)—be explicit—which program in which agency or foundation will be targeted for a full proposal of this type.

*Targeted deadline for any proposals for future funding 

Proposals must be submitted electronically to Andrew Cunningham ( as a single PDF file  no later than December 1, 2013.  Review and selection will occur in November.  Announcement of awards and initiation of funding will be February 1, 2014. 

Questions regarding the program may be directed to:

George Washington University: Geralyn Schulz, Associate Dean for Research Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (202) 994-6130 or 

Smithsonian Institution: Michelle Delaney, Director, Consortium for Understanding the American Experience, (202) 633-3810 or; Scott Robinson, director, Smithsonian Office of Sponsored Research, (202) 633-7113 or