Applications open for 2020 interdisciplinary grants

UO biologist Annie Zemper

Faculty members looking to launch multidisciplinary research projects have until March 23 to submit letters of intent for the 2020 Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives, or I3, award program.

The I3 program helps researchers and scholars connect with one another. The award has been a catalyst for collaborative efforts tackling new research areas.

The program is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and awards up to $50,000 to promising UO research teams. The program is open to faculty members from all academic disciplines and puts a priority on ideas with high potential to lead to future external funding.

Past I3 recipients have included faculty members from biology, computer science, chemistry, physics, geography and other disciplines, and teams have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Keck Foundation, the Templeton Foundation and the National Security Agency. The program empowers interdisciplinary teams and helps them navigate challenges, including leaving their familiar research territory, learning to communicate in new ways with colleagues in other fields, and developing novel approaches.

Past I3 recipients have successfully leveraged their awards to build the foundations for long-term progress and new areas of research. Many were able to attract new scholars to the UO, file intellectual property and create new curriculum, demonstrating the broad impact of the award.

In addition to fostering intrauniversity collaborations, past research teams developed partnerships with outside institutions, including international nongovernmental organizations and local companies. Past I3 awardees include the following:

  • In 2017, Nichole Kelly, Elizabeth Budd and Tasia Smith studied strategies for future food access programs in rural communities, using the Oakridge Buying Club as a case study. The team presented their findings at conferences and workshops in California and Oregon.
  • In 2016, Michael Wehr, a professor in the Institute of Neuroscience, led a research team on behavioral modeling for speech processing in mice. The team developed both the hardware and software for a new modernized behavioral system and secured a $2 million National Institutes of Health grant and $138,000 NSF graduate research fellowship to continue research.
  • In 2015, a research team composed of Michael Raymer, a professor in the Department of Physics, and Andy Marcus, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, leveraged an I3 award to win a $3.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to work with an international team to explore the role of coherence in electronic transport processes that occur in the biomolecular machines responsible for energy transduction in living organisms.

I3 proposals are evaluated by a faculty committee, and final funding decisions are made by the vice president for research and innovation. The I3 award is administered by Research Development Services, which offers services for faculty members seeking support for research, performance, public service and scholarly projects.

Notification of awards will take place in early June. A mandatory letter of intent  is due March 23. Full applications are due by 5 p.m. April 20. For questions, please contact Research Development Services at