Arturo Bronson, Professor MRG Materials Research Group
Factors Affecting Research • An exceptional research idea • Revolutionary -- change concepts or approach • Hypothesis driven -- creates a significant change • Evolutionary -- data gathering • Student Energy and Involvement • Research Infrastructure • State-of-the-art instrumentation, equipment and computational capability • Maintenance of foregoing infrastructure • Space for infrastructure and students • University Support • Administrative support (technical and non-technical) • Cost-sharing funds ?
ELEMENTS OF AN EXCELLENT PROPOSAL • Clear and Concise Objectives • Clear Statement of the Significance of Proposed Project • Delineates Clearly the Experimental Approach Needed for the Instrument • Discusses/Interprets Anticipated Results Acquired with Proposed Instrumentation Main Text
ELEMENTS OF AN EXCELLENT PROPOSAL • Has Realistic Budget Which is Completely Justified • Investigator is Competent to Conduct the Proposed Project or Research Appendices
No specific research plan was provided. Instrumentation does not fit proposed research effort. Literature search is outdated or PI states, “upon funding, literature search will be done.” State objective(s) and how instrumentation will enhance hypothesis-driven research. Discuss alternatives and the reasons your need enhances research. Use classic and current literature to support your analysis and discussion of research. POSSIBLE WEAKNESSES OF PROPOSALS Problems Fixes
POSSIBLE WEAKNESSES OF PROPOSALS • Investigator Lacks Background in Proposed Research Area. • Budget is Not Justified. • Equipment is not justified. • Requested cluster of instruments are unrelated. • Release time is not available for faculty with high course load. • Supporting Infrastructure is Inadequate. • Major Research Equipment • Facilities
Proposal Review Panel Strengths • Proposal is well-written. • PI knows the problems in undergraduate education. • PI and co-PI are well-connected.
Proposal Review Panel Weaknesses • Objectives are not clear. • No or little administrative support. • Integration of research into educational effort seems lacking in usage of instrumentation. • Proposed activity does not foster the integration of research and education. • Style of proposal seems disjointed and suggests a lack of coherency among PI and co-PIs.
Issues Focused by Reviewers • Budget must match the proposed activity. • Proposed instrument must have adequate laboratory space. • Proposal summary does not seem to: • Highlight main points or focus on research/education endeavors. • Describe the intellectual merit and broader impact of proposed activity. • Principal Investigator may seem too young or inexperienced for “multi-user” instrumentation.
POSSIBLE HEADINGS FOR INSTRUMENT PROPOSAL • BACKGROUND, NEED, RATIONALE AND BROAD APPLICABILITY • SPECIFIC RESEARCH/EDUCATIONAL PLANS FOR INSTRUMENT • Existing Research Activities (Objectives, Significance Driven) • Future Research Activities • Existing and Future Educational Activities (or Courses) • MANAGEMENT PLAN • Who will manage equipment (person, committee, chair) • Who will primarily operate instrument -- technician costs • Where’s the potential location -- square footage/renovation • Who will maintain or upgrade equipment --maintenance costs • BROAD IMPACT OF INSTRUMENTATION • Scientific and/or Engineering Enterprise (Transportation, Microelectronics, Biomedical) • Educational Aspect of Instrument (Course Description(s)) • Impact to Graduate/Undergraduate/ High School Students • REFERENCES
Integration of Education/Research • Courses/Short Courses/Tutorials • Types of Material Characterization • Present Fundamental Concepts • Develop Techniques • Discovery Driven Research • Faculty to Student Interaction • Graduate to Undergraduate Student Interaction • Upper-class to Freshman/Sophomore Interaction • Research Group Meetings (Formal and/or Informal Presentations) • Web based Instruction • Describe carefully and add human contact element. • Remote control of instrument may link high school student and/or teacher with research group.
Research Instrumentation in Educational Laboratories • Undergraduate Physical Measurement Laboratory • Temperature Measurements (Thermocouples/Pyrometers/Furnaces) • Strain/Stress Measurements (Software/Computer/ Instrumentation) • Undergraduate Corrosion Laboratory • Electrochemical Instrumentation (Software/Computer/Instrumentation & Data Analysis with Reactions and Equivalent Circuits) • Scanning Electron Microscope (Failure Analysis and Solid State Reactions) • Surface Analytical Techniques (Auger Electron Spectroscopy and/or X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy with Surface Reaction Analysis)
Student Peers & Instrumentation • Apprentice/Specialist - 1st/2nd year students support junior (or above) student tasks • Metallographic Preparation - Scanning Electron Microscope (Microstructures) • Solution Preparation - Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (Interface/Interphase) • Sample Preparations - Transmission Electron Microscope (Microstructures) • Senior design students aid/teach undergraduate and high school students’ projects • Electrochemical Techniques (Corrosion) • High Temperature Laboratory (Temperature Measurement and Reactivity of Materials)
Balances of Instrument/Equipment Needs • Research Endeavor versus Educational Effort • Graduate versus Undergraduate Education • Single or Double User versus Multi-user Instrumentation • Single Instrument Request versus Need for a Cluster of Instruments • Fundamental Research versus Applied Research • Experienced Researcher versus Learning Faculty Member • Young Researcher versus Mature Researcher
Summary of Eye Catching Problems in Proposals • Summary of proposal does not fill entire page with intellectual merit and broad impact of instrumentation and/or equipment. • Objectives of research are not stated or long list (>3) of objectives are given. (Focus or theme flies better.) • Significance or hypothesis driven research is not presented. (PI/co-PIs should have funded research.) • Proposed effort does not match budget. • Proposals have white space on pages. (Use the entire 15 pages allowable for the proposal.) • Headings and subheadings do not exist or are not organized. • Figures are not readable or figures highlight one area. • Spellings, grammar and style terminate proposal review.