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Request for Proposals

Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series (IRSS)
UNCW Associate Provost for the Research, Innovation & Commercialization Office


The Research, Innovation & Commercialization Office (RICO) is requesting proposals for a year-long (academic year 2021-2022) Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series (IRSS) at UNCW.  The goal of the IRSS program is to build interdisciplinary capacity in areas of growing research strength by (1) fostering communication and promoting collaborations among UNCW investigators, and (2) connecting this local community with the national knowledge network and creating an intellectual community of peers.  Proposed IRSS should focus on a theme, problem, or broad question in which UNCW has some existing research capacity and a clear opportunity to grow its research contributions and overall success. 

Proposal Criteria & Guidelines

Proposal Due Date: May 14, 2021 at 5 pm, submitted through InfoReady
Awards:  Awards will be announced by June 1, 2021 to enable projects to successfully start in the Fall 2021.
Funding Availability: July 2021-May 2022
Awards: Award maximum is $10,000; 1-2 awards will be made depending on fund availability.  As these are internal awards, no F&A is allowed.

Proposals must include the following items:

Title Page

The title page should state the project title, identify a lead-principal investigator, list all principal investigators and seminar organizers and their departments, and a 100-word synopsis of the proposed IRSS.  

Project Description (maximum of 3 pages)

In the project description, your proposal must identify an interdisciplinary topic of potential interest to multiple investigators at UNCW with a strong potential for research growth.  The topic must cross two or more disciplines (operationalized as departments or schools at UNCW).  The proposal should describe the selected interdisciplinary topic, clarify the topic’s significance, and explain why this should be a strategic research area to grow at UNCW.  In addition, the proposal should characterize UNCW’s current capacity to address the topic, and explain the potential for future research growth.  Evidence of UNCW’s current capacity might include a list of potential UNCW collaborators, related recent publications, related undergraduate or graduate programs, and sponsored research.  Evidence of the growth opportunity might include new faculty hires, new or proposed degree programs, potential community partners (governmental agencies, non-profit and for-profit organizations), and external sponsor interest (e.g., stated priorities like NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, National Science Board’s Vision 2030, NOAA Blue Economy Strategic Plan 2021-2025, or the NIH Strategic Plan) and funding capacity. 

Please include a draft plan for the seminar series.  This plan should identify an organizing committee (may overlap with project-PIs) with at least one organizer from each discipline, along with the targeted seminar time and place, seminar frequency (e.g., weekly, biweekly), anticipated attendance, and a draft list of desired or planned external and internal seminar speakers.  Consider if there are other associated activities or events to which hosted speakers might also contribute (e.g., student or class interactions, other seminar series on campus). 

Budget & Budget Justification (1 page)

The proposed budget can be used to support travel, in accordance with UNCW travel polices, and hosting costs of seminar speakers as well as community building activities associated with the seminar (e.g., advertising, small receptions that encourage community interaction with speakers).  The majority of the funds should be used hosting external speakers. The proposal must include a budget plan and justification. 

While this award is to support interdisciplinary research and require an interdisciplinary leadership team to be successful, please identify a lead principal investigator and department who will be responsible for managing the award. 


One- to two-page biosketches of the principal investigators and all key personnel.  These will be used by the reviewers to help evaluate the qualifications of the team to develop the research theme at UNCW. The biosketch should include a summary of your education/training, a list of up to five scholarly products most closely related to the project, a list of up to five other significant scholarly projects, a list of any previous related sponsored research, and a list of up to five examples that demonstrate the impact of your professional and scholarly activities.  These may include among others: innovations in teaching/training, development of research tools and methods, database development, service to your scholarly community (e.g., serving as journal editor, organizing conferences, society leadership), and broadening participation of historically disenfranchised groups in your discipline. 

Support & Commitment

The Chair or Director of the primary departments engaged by the proposed IRSS must indicate their support for the project by certifying this proposal in the InfoReady routing process.  Departmental support for space and any necessary project administration should be clear.  

Any members of the organizing committee who are not listed as Co-PIs on the proposal must also indicate their support for the project by certifying this proposal in the InfoReady routing process.

Principal Investigator Eligibility

All UNCW faculty are eligible to serve as PIs. 

Deliverable & Project Reporting

The primary deliverable for this project is the Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series, with the goal of building internal and external research collaborations.  At the end of the project, the PIs are responsible for submitting a summary report that describes the seminar series and associated activities, lists the actual seminar speakers (with discipline, department, and institution), estimates seminar attendance, and identifies other desirable outcomes such as the formation of new research collaborations, development of new related publications, and the submission of related research proposals for external funding.

Proposal Review & Evaluation

Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee assembled by the Associate Provost for the Research, Innovation & Commercialization and scored as follows:

  • Excellent (very impressive proposal; deserves high priority)
  • Very Good (high quality proposal; no serious concerns)
  • Good (average proposal; some doubts or concerns)
  • Fair (some deficiencies; needs improvement to meet the objectives of the RFP)
  • Poor (serious concerns or some conceptual flaws)

Evaluation criteria include the following: 

  • Intellectual merit of the proposed seminar and theme
    • Potential of the research theme to advance knowledge
    • Degree to which the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts
  • Building a collaborative knowledge network
    • Extent to which the proposed activities are likely to build new and interdisciplinary research collaborations among UNCW faculty
    • Extent to which the proposed activities are likely to build new faculty connections and collaborations with external leaders in the selected research theme
  • Opportunity for UNCW to grow research success in the selected theme area
    • Quality of the seminar series proposal. Is it well-reasoned, well- organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does it clearly explain the growth potential of the research theme at UNCW?  Is the budget well considered and justified?  Does the plan incorporate mechanisms to assess success?
    • Qualifications of the organizing team to develop the research theme into a strong area of research at UNCW
    • Alignment of research theme with external funding opportunities and priorities for research