Supporting new and early-career faculty is one of the key missions of the Office of the Vice President for Research. By investing time, attention and resources in junior faculty members with long careers ahead of them we can help them succeed in every area, including the highly competitive arena of federal grants, for years to come.
To further this mission, the Office of the VPR is pleased to offer the Propel Research Mentorship Program, which provides participating faculty nine months of intensive mentorship, education, editing support and more as they plan, draft, finalize and submit a proposal for a federal grant from either the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Propel, initiated in the 2021-2022 academic year, has two tracks for NIH and NSF applicants, but the Office of the VPR aims to expand the program to include tracks for additional agencies in future years.
Each year, new and early-career faculty, including research faculty, from any USC college or campus may apply for a spot in the fall Propel class. Selected participants will then spend nine months in the program, at the end of which they will have a polished grant proposal ready to submit to their target agency, either NIH (June submission cycle) or NSF (no-deadline proposals).
To qualify for the program, prospective faculty participants must:
- Complete the Propel application process.
- Be at a relatively early stage in their academic career, with the current title of assistant or associate professor (including assistant and associate research faculty).
- Be employed at USC Columbia, the USC schools of medicine in Columbia or Greenville, a four-year USC comprehensive institution or a USC Palmetto College campus.
- Be new to the federal grants application process or have demonstrated success in securing
relatively small external/internal research funding, especially from federal sources.
- For example, a health sciences faculty member who has received an NIH R03 or R21 grant, but has not yet secured a larger R01 award, or a faculty member in the sciences with a small NSF award who has not yet obtained a larger/collaborative NSF grant.
- Propel welcomes faculty members who have applied for larger federal awards but not had them funded.
Requirements for Selected Participants
Propel participants are expected to:
- Attend eight in-person program sessions held on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. between August and April, in preparation to submit their proposals at the end of the program life cycle. (In-person attendance is required for all sessions except in rare cases with approval from the program director.)
- Meet proactively and often (at least monthly) with their assigned mentor throughout the program life cycle. Program participants are expected to take the lead in scheduling time with mentors.
- Submit deliverables (draft proposal sections) to their mentor on schedule and implement their feedback.
- Plan, develop and submit a competitive grant proposal to their targeted funding agency at the end of the program.
Any USC faculty member that meets the criteria below may apply.
To be considered for Propel, faculty members must:
- Hold the title of assistant or associate professor (including assistant and associate research faculty).
- Be new to the fedral grant application process or have received relatively small external grant awards (or subawards) in the past.
- Be employed at USC Columbia, the USC schools of medicine in Columbia or Greenville, a four-year UofSC comprehensive institution or a USC Palmetto College campus.
- Not have received a large federal grant (such as an NIH R01 or a medium/large NSF award of about $500,000 or more). Propel welcomes faculty members who have applied for large awards but not had them funded.
Application Package Components
Applicants will initiate the application process (explained below) online using the Office of the VPR’s award application system, which is built on USCeRA. After the application is initiated, the applicant will complete the application package.
Required Application Materials
Applicants will answer two simple questions inside of the system, and will prepare and submit the following materials as PDF documents:
- Cover letter (letter of intent) of one to two pages in length, describing the applicant’s research area along with the federal agency and application type the final proposal will be submitted for.
- CV or NIH/NSF biosketch
- Past three years of completed/current/pending support documentation (optional)
To initiate an application, the applicant will log into our awards application website at vprinitiatives.research.sc.edu, using the same university network username and password they use to access USCeRA, etc.