Armstrong Fund for Science RFP

Armstrong Fund for Science
Request for Proposals

[click here for downloadable RFP.pdf]


The Armstrong Fund for Science is intended for faculty members with aggressive research visions.  Grants from this program should be used to strategically expand their programs by positioning their research for large, extramural grants or key industrial partnerships.  The research should represent a new initiative: either a bold, new line of research, or the application of prior research to a field that has no precedent for it.  Only projects which support priority initiatives of the campus as determined by the Dean and approved by the Chancellor will be funded.

The Armstrong Fund for Science is intended to:

  • Enhance the faculty member’s ability to develop significant sponsored activities in areas of strategic relevance to the campus;
  • Permit faculty members to pursue adventurous ideas;
  • Build tangible, working relationships with industry;
  • Raise the campus’s national profile as a source of scientific innovation.

Awardees will be required to provide a final report at the end of the project.  A public lecture may be appropriate at the end of the grant, describing the results of the research.


All UMass Amherst tenure track faculty in one of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) colleges--Natural Science, Engineering, and School of Public Health and Health Sciences--are eligible.  Junior faculty and women faculty in STEM disciplines are encouraged to apply. Proposals from senior faculty will also be considered if they represent a new and somewhat risky direction for the faculty member’s research program.

Deadline:  February 1 (or the first business day following Feb. 1)

Allowable Use of Funds
These funds may be used for:

  • graduate students and expenses, including as a recruiting tool for exceptional graduate student candidates;
  • support for grant development and writing, e.g., release time;
  • travel in connection with building the research program;
  • honoraria and expenses related to bringing to campus key people that can help the research have the desired impact;
  • facilities to enable the research program;
  • expenses related to pilot studies;
  • dependent care expenses incurred by professional travel
These funds may not be used for:
  • The writing and preparation of manuscripts intended to be used as standard textbooks;
  • The preparation of lectures, demonstrations, syllabi or other course related materials;
  • The remedy of budgetary deficiency in other research contracts or grants;
  • Travel to sabbatical research sites;
  • Reprint costs or library fees;
  • Publication costs for individuals or department/disciplinary monographs or series.
Selection Criteria
The Selection Committee will consist of the Deans of the Colleges of Natural Science, Engineering, and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement.  The Committee will occasionally solicit external perspectives and input, and the donors may request additional representation on the Committee.  Finalists will be reviewed with the Armstrongs prior to announcing awardees.
 The criteria that will be considered include:
  • Preference will be given to unconventional ideas in the STEM disciplines.
  • Research must support priority initiatives as determined by the Dean and approved by the Chancellor, related to a specific program or a professorship involved in the highest quality work in the natural sciences.
  • Projects should focus on research that has a significant likelihood of major scientific or engineering impact.
  • Connections to society and industry should be well articulated.
Projects should be short term, no longer than 2 years, not to exceed $40,000.  There are no match requirements but external (i.e., industry) matches will be viewed favorably if they are relevant.

Description of Grant Application Process

Grants from the Armstrong Fund for Science will be awarded annually.  Applications will be due to the Office of Research Development (not through OGCA's typical procedure for external funding) on February 1.  Awards will be announced by March 20 to enable faculty to use the funds as a recruiting tool for exceptional graduate students, if desired. Funds will be disbursed in July or August.

Applicants will learn about the Armstrong Fund for Science by:
  • an e-mail that will go to all STEM departments by Dec 1;
  • the funding page on the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement “internal funding opportunities”;
  • significant coverage in early career workshops;
  • promotion to the deans at the bi-monthly Deans’ Research Meetings facilitated by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement; 
  • a press release on April 15 when the new Armstrong Fund for Science awards are announced.
Applications should include:
  • cover page/application with faculty member’s name, department and contact information, project title, brief description, and signatures of the applicant, her or his chair, and dean 
  • a statement of the proposed project, including description of the significant impact the research might have (3 page limit)
  • general rationale for requested level of support and budget (1 page limit)
  • a brief CV, (limited to 2 pages)
Submission Process
Applications go directly to the Program Administrator in the Office of Research Development, not OGCA.  (More details are available at the Application page.)
Link to FAQs.
For Further Information
Barbara Pearson
Armstrong Fund for Science, Program Administrator
Office of Research Development, Room 217
Arnold House 
715 N. Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003
413-577-0216 (fax)