Budget Development: One cornerstone of your successful proposal
In our quest to reduce administrative burden on our faculty and to make the proposal development process more effective, we’ve discussed the PPF
and the resulting confirmation email. Time for bigger and better issues such as budget development. Budgets are sometimes very quick and easy, especially with MSU’s implementation of the Kuali Research system; more complex budgets can feel like a torturously long process. In discussions with the DER team, following are some suggestions to help streamline the process and reduce the number of back-and-forth emails that occur in the journey to a compliant and effective budget.
At the Outset:
Provided at the beginning of budget development, the following will expedite the process:
Include your target budget totals and
clue us into which line items are the most flexible when adjusting to hit those targets.
Provide a list of subawards/collaborators, target budget amounts for each, and the relevant contact information.
Remember to specify per year (or project period) OR total for each item requested—especially on non-personnel items. Example: if you state “$15,000 in travel” we are not sure if that is per year or total.
If you are aware of unique sponsor budget limitations (such as reduced F&A, disallowance of graduate tuition, etc.) or special requirements (such as cost share/matching, etc.), please mention it. Chances are that your DER research admin will find that information in the RFP, but mentioning it saves time!
Faculty/research staff: specify number of person months (or % of time) for faculty and staff; if a faculty member has a calendar year appointment no need to specify “summer” or “AY” (but if you do, we’ll figure it out!)
Administrative staff: nearly always covered by F&A and thus is not an allowable separate cost. If you have a special situation where additional administrative staff (or unusual tasks) are a requirement to make the project successful, please discuss it with your assigned DER research administrator.
Graduate research assistants: DER always defaults to half-time GRA appointments during the AY with summer hourly (and tuition during the AY to match). If you want something different, please specify. We can split GRAs (usually at 50% of half-time) if you are splitting their time between projects—this reduces the stipend, benefits and tuition by half. (Note: budgeting a true quarter-time appointed GRA reduces the budget by much less than 50% of a half-time).
Postdoc/research associate: please discern between this position and research assistants (which are other staff). We typically use the NIH minimum salary as a baseline, but if you will be appointing a postdoc with more specialized skills and need a higher salary just let us know.
Need undergraduate hourly employee(s)? Provide a lump sum amount and/or details such as the number of students, number of hours/week, and hourly wage.
Other Direct Costs
DER is required to accurately separate project expenses into the appropriate categories (object codes) of equipment, materials & supplies, and services; very often requests for these are combined under the umbrella of Materials & Supplies.
Materials & Supplies: Are the items listed expendable, tangible items? If not, they don’t belong in M&S. General office supplies are also not allowable as they are covered by F&A; however, specific project-based supplies can be included if you can justify why they are needed.
Equipment: Equipment costs are for individual items (or items combined into a functional system) that cost > $5,000 and have a useful life of at least a year. We often ask a lot of questions about equipment costs, as it does affect F&A return---we want to protect you from under-recovery of F&A should your requested costs be deemed as materials and supplies instead of equipment.
Other: Please separate out items such as lab services, testing, or other non-tangible costs.
Split domestic and international travel as appropriate
Provide details such as the number of trips, number of overnights, number of travelers, etc. Include if travel is for conferences or other purposes, and possible locations, if possible. We have tools to help us estimate travel costs but we do need some details to get started.
Participant Support Costs: If you intend to include PSC in your budget, please let us know early. It is important to remember that PSC only applies to costs for non-MSU employees/appointees who are participating for their own benefit. Please be patient if it seems we are asking a lot of questions—this is another area where we need to be sure costs are appropriately allocated due to the impact on F&A.
The Budget List
What’s the most effective way to provide your list? That’s really up to you. Don’t spend extra time creating a spreadsheet or a complete justification, unless that is the most effective way for you—a simple bulleted list with details is really all DER needs. Other tips:
If duplicating a prior budget, feel free to forward it and the related docs and simply indicate what needs to change.
Please mark or highlight any updates you make while reviewing a draft budget or justification so that we don’t have to compare each and every item to figure out what changed.
OSP requires budget justifications and Statement of Work for budget review. Please attach as separate documents, not just in the text of an email. If a sponsor doesn’t require a budget justification, an informal document providing relevant details may suffice.
Budget justifications are an opportunity to demonstrate why expenditures are reasonable, allocable, and necessary! Don’t underestimate the value of a budget justification as part of the proposal package. Two ago DER published an article on this exact topic (September 10, 2021) and it still holds true today.
Thank you for the time it took to read this long, but important article—I hope you were able to grab a few useful tips. If at any time you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Alex Delavan, DER Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
or myself at email@example.com. We’re looking forward to a busy and productive year!
Save the Date: DER is Here to Help (proposal & proposal development resources geared to promote success)
Date: Wednesday, September 20th from 12-1PM Location: Seminar Room (3405A EB) & virtually (Zoom)
Description: For newer faculty, it is critical to understand all of the incredible resources that are available to help strengthen each of your future proposals. It is also important to understand the required steps to submit a university-endorsed proposal. For more senior faculty, awareness of new resources may help to streamline your proposal development processes and possibly open new streams of funding. Join the DER team as we present DER is Here to Help. This seminar will focus on services offered within the Division of Engineering Research, and the various ways we can help you increase your sponsored research expenditures. Feel free to share any questions during the session.
Lunch will be provided in the Seminar Room!
More information will be sent to your EGR email in the coming days.
MSU has received a $1.2 million multiyear grant from the National Science Foundation to understand the security of autonomous vehicles’ vision systems
Recently, when customers began complaining that their vehicles with driver-assistance technologies were “phantom braking” or slamming on the brakes without any visible obstacles present, researchers at Michigan State University wanted to learn more about this phenomenon — why it happens and how to stop it.
“Frequent phantom braking incidents can erode confidence in autonomous driving technologies,” said Qiben Yan, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering. “If riders perceive the technology as unpredictable or unreliable, they’ll be less likely to embrace it.”
Autonomous vehicles have a vision system, composed of multiple cameras and radar, that uses radio waves to gather information the car leverages to navigate the world around it. In previous research, Yan and his team were able to show how the cameras in these vision systems can be deceived by hackers.
“We projected lights into the cameras of the vehicle, and the camera recognized this as a false object and hit the brakes; it is surprising how fake things can be created out of nowhere,” said Yan. “We were also able to make an object in front of the car disappear to the camera so that the vehicle couldn’t see an obstacle, and the vehicle hit the object.”
This new NSF grant — with Associate Professor Sijia Liu and MSU Research Foundation Professor Xiaoming Liu from MSU, and in collaboration with Virginia Tech — will help the researchers expand their knowledge by studying how cameras see these phantom attacks and identify ways to keep these vision systems more secure and resilient against nefarious attacks.
Description: The objective of this FOA is to competitively solicit cost-shared research proposals for pilot-scale field deployment and validation of efficient, cost-effective solutions ready for pre-commercialization that can eliminate flaring and non-safety related venting of natural gas at the well site.
Projects sought under this FOA include the use of innovative technologies for processing and separating oil and associated gas at the well site designed to eliminate flaring, as well as new technologies designed to convert the associated natural gas into value-added solid or liquid products. Proposals can also develop technologies that use both processing and conversion, provided the applicant demonstrates that the overall process is technically feasible, economically feasible and ready for pilot-scale field testing at the well site.
Proposals must include information on the performance of the technology to date and clearly illustrate pre-commercial status of the system in terms of its potential economic viability. Adequate consideration must also be given on how the proposed system will be deployed at the specific wellsite selected as part of the project. This should include details on any required construction and include consideration for existing infrastructure and the topology of the field site. Detailed discussion should also be included on the planned operation of the system at the well site that clearly establishes the daily target volume of natural gas that will be processed and/or converted, the required utilities, and the volume per day of any product and/or waste streams.
Additional Information: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will award grants that catalyze the voluntary implementation of electronic technologies (ET) for fisheries catch, effort, and/or compliance monitoring, and improvements to fishery information systems in U.S. fisheries. The Electronic Monitoring and Reporting (EMR) Grant Program will advance the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) sustainable fisheries goals to partner with fishermen and other stakeholders, state agencies, and Fishery Information Networks to systematically integrate technology into fisheries data collection and observations as well as streamline data management and use for fisheries management. NFWF’s priority fisheries include the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery, the New England groundfish fishery, the West Coast groundfish fishery, and the Alaska halibut and groundfish fisheries, but other fisheries are fully eligible and have a strong history of receiving funding. Proposals should address one or more of the program priorities listed below:
E-technology in fisheries data collection.
Modernize data management systems.
Matching contributions from non-federal sources (both cash and in-kind) must equal or exceed a 1:1 ratio (100% of the requested amount). NFWF recognizes that it may be a challenge to meet the required 1:1 match ratio. NFWF has a limited pool of funds available to assist with meeting the match requirement for certain applicants, especially those working with underserved communities.
Additional Information: The ICRG invites scientists to submit proposals to investigate the risks of online gambling in the U.S. and strategies for minimizing harm. Although open to a wide range of topics, the following are potential areas for grant applications:
Creating models for identifying behavioral markers of gambling problems among internet players in general and among specific bettors (sports wagering, casino games, for example) to distinguish players with gambling problems from players with no problems.
Identifying the most valid and reliable algorithms to detect problem gambling patterns.
Evaluating responsible gambling strategies used by online gaming companies for safety and effectiveness; for example, pop-up warnings, self-exclusion and self-imposed limits on time and money spent gambling.
Testing the effectiveness of responsible gambling messaging with customers such as warning messages when self-imposed limits on budget and time have been exceeded.
The ICRG will award one grant for this RFP. Domestic or international, public or private, non-profit or for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for ICRG funding. The Principal Investigator must have a PhD, MD, or other terminal degree.
Additional Information: The purpose of this award is to support highly innovative, high-impact research that could ultimately lead to critical discoveries or major advancements that will accelerate the field of cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular research. Research deemed innovative may introduce a new paradigm, challenge current paradigms, look at existing problems from new perspectives, or exhibit other uniquely creative qualities.
The Innovative Project Award (IPA) promotes unexplored ideas; therefore, preliminary data is not required and not accepted as part of the proposal. However, a solid rationale for the work must be provided. If you provide preliminary data, the application will be disqualified.
Proposed work should not be the next logical step of previous work but should have a high probability to revealing new avenues of investigation, if successful. The idea proposed here should not have been submitted in whole or in part in a previous proposal for AHA support.
At the time of application, PI must hold a post-baccalaureate Ph.D. degree or equivalent, or doctoral-level clinical degree, such as MD, DO, DVM, PharmD, or PhD in nursing, public health, or other clinical health science.
Additional Information: This RFP prioritizes biomarker programs that define a specific use and have potential for commercial and clinical translation, with an emphasis on clinical trials (see the Evaluation section below). The aim of this RFP is to further develop and validate established biomarkers for which there is a clear clinical need in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. This RFP prioritizes biomarkers with a defined context of use, a clear advantage over other relevant biomarkers, and a path to commercialization and/or clinical use. Specifically, this RFP focuses on:
Developing novel PET ligands for clinical trials
Supporting novel CSF biomarkers
Validating innovative MRI approaches in larger cohorts
Developing novel measures of functional activity such as EEG
The RFP supports advancement of neuroimaging and CSF biomarkers that can do one or more of the following:
Demonstrate target engagement for novel therapeutics
Detect signs of disease earlier and monitor progression
More accurately diagnose and distinguish between dementia subtypes
Additional Information: This grant supports highly promising healthcare and academic professionals, in the early years of one’s first professional appointment, to explore innovative questions or pilot studies that will provide preliminary data and training necessary to assure the applicant’s future success as a research scientist. The award will develop the research skills to support and greatly enhance the awardee’s chances to obtain and retain a high-quality career position.
At the time of application, PI must hold an MD, PhD, DO, DVM, DDS, or equivalent post-baccalaureate doctoral degree.
The award requires, at a minimum, a primary mentor and a secondary mentor who will provide counsel and direction and scholarship oversight.
Additional Information: The ADDF seeks to support
studies of cognitive symptoms due to health conditions, comparative
effectiveness research, and epidemiological studies that probe whether
the use or choice of drugs alters the risk for dementia or cognitive
decline. This prevention RFP supports:
Studies of Cognitive Decline and Risk Reduction
Comparative Effectiveness Research
Studies Leveraging the Consortium of Cohorts for Alzheimer's Prevention Action (CAPA)
Drug mechanisms or modes of action: Novel drug
mechanisms and modes of action related to the biology of aging and other
emerging therapeutic areas for dementia are considered high priority.
These include, but are not limited to:
Mitochondrial & metabolic function
Synaptic activity and neurotransmitters
Other mechanisms and modes of action related to the biology of aging (e.g. senescent cells)
novel mechanisms or modes of action that are supported by compelling
evidence demonstrating a rational biological connection to the disease
Please note: Anti-amyloid approaches (e.g.,
anti-amyloid aggregation, beta-amyloid vaccines, beta- or
gamma-secretase inhibitors) and cholinesterase inhibitor proposals will
not be considered
Unilever - Nutritional interventions for telomere defense - Unilever is seeking novel nutritional interventions, specifically ingredients or blends of ingredients suitable for dietary supplements, to help maintain optimal telomere length.
Private Company - Antibodies for food safety lateral flow assays - The company is seeking collaborators with expertise in developing highly sensitive, specific, and robust antibodies for use in lateral flow assays. They are also looking for opportunities to buy or license antibodies that are already developed.
General Mills - Making ice cream more resilient towards fluctuations in temperature - General Mills is seeking technologies to make ice cream more resilient towards temperature fluctuations in terms of textural and physical stability, without compromising the sensory experience. Potential solutions can include ingredients, processing, distribution, and storage.
Description:Constellation invites applications for its E2 Energy to Educate grants program. It awards grants to support hands-on student projects focusing on equity in energy, sustainability as a lifestyle, and a sustainable world.
Through the program, grants will be awarded in support of projects designed to reach at least 100 students that align with the program’s innovation themes:
Equity in Energy: With intentionality, we can increase diverse perspectives and representation in energy careers and reach underserved communities with clean energy innovations. Sample topics include energy careers and workforce development, energy projects for underserved communities, and environmental justice.
Sustainability as a Lifestyle: New technologies can power us into a cleaner energy future via electrification and sustainable choices. Sample topics include electric vehicles, buses, clean energy choices, onsite generation and storage, smart home energy tech, energy efficiency, and home energy data.
A Sustainable World: Innovative technologies and climate advocacy are helping achieve a carbon-free future. Sample topics include low-carbon energy, clean energy sources and technologies, energy advocacy, sustainability program design, waste-to-energy, combined cycle biomass, onsite generation and storage, energy efficiency, and fuel cells.
The program will award grants of up to $25,000 for grades 6-12 and up to $50,000 for colleges and universities.
For complete program guidelines, application instructions, and information about previous grant awardees, see the Constellation website.
Sponsor: Department of Energy - National Energy Technology Laboratory
Description: The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make funds available to eligible States for the purpose of mitigating methane emissions from marginal conventional wells (MCWs) by providing financial assistance to operators/well owners to voluntarily and permanently plug and abandon MCWs (including elements of environmental restoration required to comply with applicable State or Federal plugging and abandonment standards and regulations) on non-Federal lands as well as monitor methane emissions from MCWs.
Attention: Faculty, Research and Academic Staff, Postdocs, and Graduate Students
This four-part series will introduce participants to all aspects of building your broader impacts plan. Participants can register for one workshop or all sessions. Please be sure to register only for the sessions that you want to attend.
Description: Researchers are more effective in achieving intended societal impacts when they have taken the time to consciously consider their impact identity. A researcher's impact identity integrates research identity with urgent societal needs; personal commitments, preferences, skills; and institutional context. Come to this hands-on workshop to develop your impact identity and vision for achieving societal impacts throughout your career. Register at the link above.
Description: In addition to its intellectual merits, each proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) is reviewed according to the merits of its broader impacts (BI) plan, or the benefits of the proposed research to society. Come to this workshop to learn more about NSF's BI criterion and major BI goals, the six core components of a successful BI plan, and key resources to help you develop a winning proposal. An MSU researcher will share how he incorporated these components into his BI plan. Register at the link above.
Additional Workshops: Two additional workshops will be offered in Spring, 2024.
Description: DER has a catalog of research and funding seminars available on demand. Seminar topics range from critical instruction for new faculty through advanced training for senior research faculty. These presentations include instruction from experts regarding themes that include best practices in research, MSU policy, sponsor compliance, industry specific seminars, and more. Check them out today and utilize this incredible resource to help streamline your proposal development and promote success in your research. Watch now on demand!!!
Recent seminar presentations include:
DER is Here to Help (proposal & proposal development resources geared to promote success)
Tips for Writing a Persuasive Grant Proposal (grant writing to ‘sell’ a project to funders)
Finding Funding (tips for finding funding to support your research)
Roles and Responsibilities (tips for understanding roles and responsibilities at each stage of the project)
CAREER Award Workshop - Session 1 (best practices and strategies for producing successful NSF Career proposals)
Does effort reporting for your grants and contracts seem more cumbersome than it should be? CGA has compiled a very
helpful list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Topics range from reporting deadlines, to resolving errors, and everything in between!
As you peruse this list, you might notice that there is a dedicated email address for any questions or issues you may have when submitting effort reporting. Please use firstname.lastname@example.org to expedite service.