Armstrong Fund for Science Application Directions

Submission Instructions:

1.   Assemble the four parts of the application in one file--coversheet (1 page), narrative (3 pages), short cv (2 pages), budget and justification (1 page). (Cover sheet and budget form are available for download.)

--Joint proposals may include 2 more pages for the co-PI's CV and an extra coversheet for the second proposer's contact information and signature (and another chair and/or dean's signature if the co-PI is from another department or college).

--Note: If you do not have a facility to scan the cover page with the signatures, include it in the file without signatures and indicate that the full coversheet will come by snail mail.

2.  Save your document file as a pdf renamed <yourname>_AFS15.pdf (no_spaces).

3.  Email the pdf to the Program Administrator, Barbara Pearson bpearson@research.umass.edu.
              (It does NOT go through OGCA.)

You should receive an email acknowledgment by the next business day. If you do not receive it, email a follow-up query to the same address, or leave a phone message at 545-5023.  A further back-up is to contact Michelle Wonsey, in the Office of Research Development, mwonsey@research.umass.edu, 577-3726.

FAQs:  

Q:  How do I know if my research "supports a priority initiative approved by the Chancellor"? 
A:  Your chair's and dean's signatures provide that assurance. You should not send a separate letter.

Q:  Do I include indirect expenses and fringe benefits in the budget?
A:  No for "indirect expenses" or "overhead" or "A&F" (all synonyms for the same expense) because it is already campus money.  
A:  Yes for fringe benefits because these are direct, not indirect expenses.
A:  Unfortunately, for the purposes of the curriculum fee, the money is NOT considered campus money, and so the curriculum fee is NOT waived.

Q: Does the 3-page limit on the narrative include references and figures?
A:  Most applications have fit the references into the three pages.  However, you will not be penalized if references go into a fourth page.  On the other hand, we love figures in the narrative, but they should fit within the 3-page limit.

Q: Are there any special formatting (font/margin, etc.) requirements?
A: No, (but) applicants are encouraged to consider legibility and ease of reading and not try to put too much text into your 3 pages.

Q:  How do I know if my research qualifies for the award, especially if I am in Public Health?
A:  All research in CNS and the College of Engineering apply.  In SPHHS, the research is eligible if it is focused on fundamental physical processes, but generally ineligible if it focuses on health services.  If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact the Program Administrator. 

Q:  Does the award require a match from an industrial partner?
A:  No.  (To date, no awards have secured a match from an industrial partner as part of the award.)  That said, if your project has an obvious industry connection, it may be viewed negatively if you do not point it out and let the judges know that you have considered this angle.

Q:  Will I be penalized in the judging if my proposal is for the same work I was hired for?
A:  Not directly, but if you have received a start-up package based on a line of work, the judges will consider that this is not new.  On the other hand, if you can pull out a piece of it and emphasize an innovative aspect of it (that is slightly different from what you are already known for), that would be more aligned with the rfp.

Q:  How can I find samples of funded proposals for the Armstrong Fund for Science?
A:  A "sample language" website is under construction.  In the meantime, the 2008-2010 awardees have said they are happy to share their proposals with interested applicants. (Contact them through "People Finder" or ask the Program Administrator for Fu's application, which he shared with me (for you), but he doesn't want it posted.)

Q:  Will I improve my chances by asking for less money?
A:  The fund will always award the maximum that it can. However, since the amount in the fund fluctuates with the market, awards also fluctuate.  The target award is $40,000 distributed $20,000 a year for two years; the minimum award is $20,000 for one year.  The soundness of the budget and its rationale is an important part of the selection criteria; the amount is not.

Q:  Are joint proposals permitted?
A:  Yes (and even encouraged).  Note the allowance for a second (or third) coversheet and CV in the directions for "assembling the four parts of the proposal."

Q:  May funds be used for the PI's summer salary?
A:  In principle, there is no rule prohibiting it for the Armstrong competition.  However, since other internal funding programs specifically disallow it, the evaluators tend not to view it highly.  From my observations, I would encourage applicants to "pay themselves" more indirectly (with equipment, travel, RA time, etc.).

Q:  Do I need to include academic year salary for the PI in the award?
A:  No.  This came up as part of a campus-wide initiative in 2011, but it didn't apply to the Armstrong (then or now). NO Academic Year salary is required for the Armstrong, and in fact, as noted above, paying your own salary is not a high priority category from the evaluators' perspective.

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