The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Seed Grants from the Institute of Diversity Science

Human diversity emanates from biological, psychological, sociological, economic, environmental, and historical factors that influence every facet of human experience—health, work, education, environmental impact, etc.—in ways that may confer advantages or disadvantages on people’s lives. Diversity science searches for a comprehensive understanding of human behavior by (1) identifying causes of variation among individuals and groups, (2) investigating how social contexts impact those variations, (3) identifying the consequences of human variation/diversity, and (4) and designing solutions to mitigate negative consequences where relevant.

Research on the science of human diversity resides in many departments, schools, and colleges across UMass Amherst (College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Information & Computer Sciences, School of Management, College of Nursing, College of Humanities & Fine Arts), but these pockets of research have often been isolated from each other. The goal of the Institute of Diversity Sciences (IDS) is to bring together faculty and students whose research focuses on human diversity from multiple intellectual angles in order to foster integrative, interdisciplinary, and innovative directions for future scholarship and teaching.

This seed grant mechanism is one important way to achieve this goal by (1) encouraging new multidisciplinary research collaborations on human diversity among faculty and students from different units on campus that can be later leveraged to seek larger external research grants; (2) offering opportunities for mentored research experience for graduate and undergraduate students interested in human diversity in ways that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries; and (3) encouraging research teams to consider social impact goals.

The Institute of Diversity Sciences announces a new faculty research funding opportunity. The institute will distribute up to $60,000 in seed project funds to teams who apply through a formal RFP mechanism. Funds will go toward supporting new collaborative projects between colleagues from different departments at UMass. Ideal projects will focus on research, involve graduate or undergraduate students in that research (i.e., include an educational component), and have an eye toward social impact.


Grants will range from $5,000 to $12,000. Funds may be used to pay for personnel, equipment, supplies, data collection costs, consultants, compensation of community partners, etc.


  1. Team proposals must ensure that the topic of the project is related to human diversity, disparities, and/or inclusion broadly construed. The proposal should make an explicit case for how the proposed work fits this theme.
  2. Project team members must come from at least two different departments at UMass, and ideally (but not required) from different colleges/schools on campus. Team members may also include community partners. The emphasis of the project should be on building multidisciplinary connections. Both new teams of individuals who have not collaborated previously as well as pre-existing teams that have had prior collaborations are eligible for this seed grant, as long as the proposed project is new and not funded by another source.
  3. The PI must be a faculty member at UMass Amherst; graduate students, postdocs, faculty at the Five Colleges, and community members may be co-PIs.
  4. Proposed projects may involve new data collection or secondary analyses of existing datasets.

Priority will be given to:

  1. Projects that will be leveraged toward external grant applications. Proposals should provide details of the planned grant submission (e.g., name(s) of agency/foundation, timeline, and RFP/program announcement).
  2. Projects that involve graduate students and/or undergraduate students and thereby provide hands-on student training.
  3. Projects that include a social impact goal.

Project Timeline

Up to 18 months starting in Spring 2019. Teams may request a 6 month no cost extension if necessary.

Application Guidelines

Proposals must include the follow sections:

  1. Cover Page
    1. Title of proposed project 
    2. List team members, position, department, institution, campus address, email, phone number, mobile phone, role in project (PI or Co-PI)
  2. Project Proposal (5 single-spaced pages, 12-point standard font, 1-inch margins) 
    1. Overview of the project including specific aims, how it fits the disparity, diversity and/inclusion content theme, and how it fosters multidisciplinary connections.
    2. Significance
    3. Research methodology
    4. Expected outcomes of the work, with a brief description of plans and potential for future funding. E.g., explain how the proposed collaboration will move toward applying for an external grant. Specific details of the planned grant submission should be included (e.g., name(s) of agency/foundation, timeline, and RFP/program announcement, deadlines).
    5. Involvement of graduate and/or undergraduate students in ways that advance their education and training.
    6. Social impact component of this project. Does the project involve community partners? Will the results of this project be shared with the community to impact their lives?
  3. Budget and budget justification: $5,000 - $12,000 (not included in the page limit)
  4. Biosketch, NIH or NSF style (not included in page limit)
  5. References
  6. Supplementary Materials if relevant (not included in the page limit)
    1. Appendices if applicable
    2. Letters of Support if applicable

Create a single pdf file of all application materials. Submit application to Leyla Keough, Program Coordinator of the Institute of Diversity Sciences, via email:

Submission deadline: November 1, 2018, 11:59PM ET.

Review Criteria:

  1. Clearly stated goals and an emphasis on disparity, human diversity, and/or inclusion
  2. Intellectual merit of the proposal
  3. Feasibility of project
  4. Potential of the project to stimulate future collaborative research that is sustainable and competitive for external funding
  5. Addresses the priority areas noted in RFP description above.
  6. Reasonableness of budget


A brief report of results will be due 18 months after the award date. Awardees will be invited to give an oral presentation about their proposed project at one of the group meetings of this institute.

New This Year: Co-Review with Institute of Social Science Research (ISSR)

If your project involves interdisciplinary social science research to promote understanding and solving environmental sustainability problems and the PI of the team is a social scientist, your proposal may also be eligible for a Social Science & Environment seed grant from ISSR. In this case, you may request a co-review of your proposal by IDS and ISSR, and propose a larger budget of up to $22,000.

Co-reviewed proposals must fit two additional criteria (as well as the IDS criteria on pp. 1-2):

  • The proposal should describe how the project fits the theme of interdisciplinary social science research to promote understanding and solving sustainability problems
  • The PI of the team must be a self-identified social scientist

Co-reviewed proposals should follow the application and formatting guidelines for IDS proposals described on pp. 1-2. If co-reviewing is requested, please indicate that on your email submission. See this page for more information on ISSR’s Social Science & Environment seed grants.

For questions please contact:

Leyla Keough, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator Institute of Diversity Sciences