Interdisciplinary Science Institute Grants

Proposals are solicited for funding from the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI).

Proposals are solicited for funding from the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI). The Picker ISI considers two types of funding requests. Major Research Projects constitute the primary focus of the Institute and such proposals should follow the annual cycle described below. Proposals for Interdisciplinary Activities that enhance science at Colgate will be considered throughout the year.

I. Major Research Projects

Projects with annual budgets up to $150,000 per year for up to two years will be considered, with funding beginning as soon as March 1, 2019. Single year projects are often more exploratory in nature and can be renewed for a second year of funding. Applicants are encouraged to discuss possible projects with the Institute Director or members of the Executive Advisory Committee before beginning proposal preparation.  Descriptions of previously funded projects are available here.


Projects should consist of research involving interdisciplinary science broadly defined and should be led by tenure-stream or tenured faculty from any Division at Colgate University. The period of support will normally be two years, although more exploratory projects covering a single year or less are also encouraged and can be renewed for a second year with a second proposal. Institute funds are not intended to provide long-term support. All activities and progress on the project will be reported annually to the Director.


The following criteria are the primary considerations for support from the Institute:

  • The proposed project must be scientifically sound, and should result in significant contributions to scientific knowledge (i.e., peer reviewed publications).
  • The proposed project must involve a scientific question/problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach. It is recognized that the term “interdisciplinary” is not easily defined. The spirit of this criterion is that a proposed project should investigate a topic that an individual investigator could not satisfactorily study alone; the proposed project should bring together investigators with complementary expertise to open a new area of study or to tackle existing problems in creative new ways. Collaborative relationships may be intra- or inter-institutional. Collaborators may be from the same academic department or program; however, distinctions between the expertise that each brings to bear on the proposed project must be clear. The research team may include investigators from outside sciences and mathematics, when such expertise will enhance the scientific study.

These are the primary considerations for funding. Additional characteristics may be used for prioritizing projects, including:

  • The proposed project should have reasonable potential for sustained activity beyond the period of Institute support (i.e., ability to attract extramural funding).
  • The proposed project should involve students to the extent appropriate in order to enhance interdisciplinary learning and raise incoming students' awareness of Colgate’s science programs. 
  • Satisfactory progress on the proposed project would not be possible through internal funding sources (e.g., departmental funds, Research Council funds).

Supported funding categories:

  • Travel for participants to come to Colgate as well as for faculty and students to travel as part of the project and to disseminate the results of the project.
  • Release time for Colgate faculty (budgeted as $20,000 per course; maximum one course per participant per year). The justification for course release time should be consistent with the mission and objectives of the Picker ISI.
  • Supplies and general operating costs.
  • Wages and fringe benefits for staff. Staff are paid as Colgate employees. They are typically on campus but in special circumstances can be at a remote location.
  • Undergraduate wages and salaries.
  • Consultant fees.
  • Fees for access to equipment or data.
  • Equipment that is clearly required for proposed projects will be considered and should be discussed with the director. Large equipment expenses may be better provided through external funding (e.g. NSF, Research Corp., etc).


Deadline November 26, 2018

Faculty members planning to submit a proposal to the Institute for support of a research project must provide a pre-proposal that briefly (2-page limit) describes the goal(s) of the research project and the roles of faculty and other personnel involved in the project. Indicate whether funding for the project is being sought from other sources. In addition, please include a description of the anticipated budget needs, and for each collaborator on the project, a vita or a short biographical sketch (in NSF, NIH or similar style). Where a course release is being requested, please have your department chair or program director send an email verifying that they are aware of the request to the Picker ISI Director.

The Executive Advisory Committee of the Institute will review the pre-proposals.
Please send pre-proposals as pdf files by e-mail to Rene Beers

Full Proposals

Deadline January 25, 2019

Based on the deliberations of the Executive Advisory Committee, full proposals will be solicited. The pre-proposals will be used to guide conversations about the project between those preparing full proposals and the Director of the Institute. Full proposals should include the following:

  1. Institutional (“yellow sheet”) Grant Application Approval form (but you only need signatures of the Chair and Division Director).
  2. Cover page, listing title of project, principal investigators and affiliations.
  3. One page project summary.
  4. Project narrative (limit: 12 pages double-spaced, 12-point font) Please bear in mind the variety of backgrounds of the committee members (listed below). While ideas and methods that frame the proposal must be rigorous and academically sound, the narrative should be clear and comprehensible to faculty across scientific disciplines.
  5. Budget for each year broken down by category. See the guidelines provided by the Office of Corporation, Foundation and Government Support for budgets and travel.
  6. Budget explanation, including an itemized explanation for each category described in the budget and a discussion of expected timing for any course release.
  7. Either a vita or a short (NSF-style or similar) biographical sketch of PI(s) and other personnel.
  8. Supporting letters or other documents as appendices not to exceed 10 pages.
  9. Occasionally the committee may call on external reviewers to provide independent critical reviews of the proposal. You may provide a list of people who should not be reviewers (due to conflict of interest) and/or who would be good reviewers.

The Executive Advisory Committee's recommendations for funding are subject to final approval by the Dean of Faculty/Provost and President.

Full proposals are due on January 25, 2019. Awards will be made in March.

II. Interdisciplinary Activities supported by the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute

In addition to awarding major research grants, the Picker ISI also supports other activities that enhance interdisciplinary research in science and mathematics. Such activities may include sponsoring of workshops, speakers or colloquia, travel to explore potential projects, or ;miscellaneous scholarly initiatives.

To be eligible for support from the Institute, proposed activities must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  1. The proposed activity must have a clear interdisciplinary element.
  2. The proposed activity should request funding from any other readily available internal sources of funds (e.g., departmental, divisional).
  3. The proposed activity must have impact beyond the lifetime of the grant.

Requests for funding interdisciplinary activities may be made directly to Dan Schult (Director) and will be considered year round.

Executive Advisory Committee

Daniel Schult (Mathematics, Director)
Krista Ingram (Biology)
Michael Hay (Computer Science)
Peter Klepeis (Geography)
William Peck (Geology)
Tom Balonek (Physics and Astronomy)
Ann Jane Tierney (Psychology)
Ian Helfant (Director, Environmental Studies) ex officio

Mission Statement

The mission of the Harvey Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate University is to foster the creation of new knowledge that is obtainable only through the development of sustained interdisciplinary research. The Institute supports internal and external collaborations among faculty who bring expertise from different disciplines to bear on current and emerging scientific problems that remain intractable to the methods used within a single discipline. The Institute also encourages interdisciplinary approaches to learning through innovative curricular and research opportunities for students that may arise from the pursuit of interdisciplinary research projects.