Binghamton University’s Division of Research is now taking applications for its Interdisciplinary Collaboration Grants (ICG) Program, which provides selected projects as much as $10,000 to support research that crosses academic disciplinary boundaries.
The ICG Program, founded in 2005, awards funding for “creative and artistic projects appropriate to the fine arts, traditional scholarly endeavors in the humanities and social sciences, and science and engineering experiments,” according to the Division of Research’s official guidelines for ICG applications.
Faculty from any department can apply to the ICG Program. They can request a maximum of $10,000 and must develop a proposal to obtain outside funding as well.
Proposals are evaluated by the Advisory Committee for Scholarship and Research (ACSR). The ICG Program is quite competitive — the ACSR received 15 proposals last year but awarded funding to just two of them, according to ICG Program guidelines.
Stephen Gilje, associate vice president of the Division of Research, said that the BU Research Foundation administers the ICG Program funds, though it does not make the decision on which projects to fund.
“We have awarded two to three grants each year,” Gilje said. “The grants have been awarded to a wide variety of disciplines. One of the interesting aspects of the program is that it couples faculty from very different departments to work together on a project of interest from different points of view.”
Gilje said that the Division of Research typically receives 10 to 15 applications per year and that it plans to support two projects this year.
Tim Lowenstein, a professor of geological sciences and environmental studies, was awarded an ICG in June 2009 for a project with J. Koji Lum, an associate professor of anthropology, to study ancient DNA.
“We are studying ancient DNA and other biological materials in natural crystals,” Lowenstein wrote in an email to Pipe Dream. “We have already found ancient DNA from prokaryotes [bacteria and archaea], algae and fungi, which is a fantastic discovery. We have also identified other ancient organic compounds within crystals [chlorophyll, carotenoids].”
Lowenstein said that when he applied for the grant, he completed a “one-page project description” detailing “efforts to prepare collaboration, and plans to seek grant funding for project in future.”
He spoke highly of the ICG Program.
“It is a fantastic resource to initiate interdisciplinary pilot projects,” Lowenstein said.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded Lowenstein and Lum a $400,000 grant to expand their DNA project for another three years.
Lowenstein encouraged students to get involved with research during their time as undergraduates.
“Sometimes, a small amount of seed money is just what is needed to pursue a scientific idea or problem,” Lowenstein said. “For students, get involved, do a research project; it will transform your college experience.”
Application packages for the ICG Program are due to Gilje by March 30, 2012, according to the program’s guidelines, which are available at http://research.binghamton.edu/VicePresident/ICG.php.
The Division of Research expects to announce the next ICG winners by May 1, 2012.