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NSF EPSCoR RII Track-4: EPSCoR Research Fellows 2021

UPDATE!: A new solicitation  was issued by NSF on Jan 25. ORSP Research Development is still evaluating the new solicitation, and will be making some changes to this announcement, and the due dates, in the next day or so--please check back on January 27. 

Solicitation of UM Pre-Proposals for Limited Submission Opportunity

NSF EPSCoR Track-4: NSF fellowships fund junior faculty to spend up to 6 months at a remote, nationally prominent research facility, creating or advancing partnerships and/or accessing facilities that will have meaningful and sustained impacts on their research careers and competitiveness.

Limited Submission: UM can submit only 3 Track-4: NSF proposals.

Notes on the 2021 Solicitation: A new version of this solicitation, NSF 21-557, was released 1/25/21, creating a 2nd NASA-related Track-4 sub-track (Track-4: FAST), which UM is NOT eligible for. However, UM is still eligible to submit proposals to the Track-4: NSF sub-track, which is essentially identical to the old Track-4 track.  Proposers are strongly encouraged to read the new solicitation carefully before developing their proposals, as it contains updated language that they may find instructive in preparing competitive applications.

Purpose: EPSCoR Fellowships provide funding for faculty to spend extended time working at research facilities of national prominence, engaging in career-boosting activities there that would not be possible without temporary relocation: creating new partnerships, advancing existing partnerships, or moving in new research directions.

The fellowship host site may be any academic institution, government laboratory, Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), or commercial or non-profit research center within the U.S. or its territories. Host sites are generally expected to among the nation’s most prominent research facilities, and located at such a distance from the PI’s home institution (UM) as to make commuting impractical, thus requiring substantial funding for temporary relocation.

Proposals may focus on any area that NSF supports. All should include motivation and context for the work to be conducted, the PI’s specific plans for the fellowship period, a discussion for how the benefits would be sustained beyond the award period (e.g., by including plans for future proposal submissions), clear specifications of research goals, performance metrics, a project timetable, and an explanation of what specific opportunities will be made possible via the visit(s) to the host site.

PI Limitations: UM PIs must either be non-tenured faculty (pre-tenure tenure-track) or hold an early-career career-track appointment (long-term non-tenure-track) at UM. No co-PIs are allowed, but funds may be requested for an additional trainee-level researcher (e.g., graduate student or postdoc). Read eligibility criteria in solicitation carefully.

Budget: Each award may not exceed $300K over a 2-year period, including F&A, which is calculated at 26% of total modified direct costs for off-campus UM research projects. (Most awards are well under the $300K max). Funds may be used to cover:

·      up to 6 months’ salary and fringe benefits for the PI and one additional trainee-level researcher (including tuition, if appropriate) during the period travel fellowship;

·      travel and living expenses for the PI and the trainee (up to $50K total) during the fellowship period(s);

·      and other research-related expenses (up to $10K) to be incurred at the host site.

For example, a faculty member with a 9-month appointment might propose to conduct research during 2 summers at a host site with the assistance of a graduate student. The faculty could receive salary and fringe benefits over each 3-month summer period, and the student could receive a stipend, plus the cost of tuition incurred during the fellowship period. In addition, they PI and trainee could spend as much as $50K collectively on travel to/living expenses at the host site for those two summers, plus up to $10K in research expenses at the host site. This is just one scenario. See NSF solicitation for details[1].

UM Limited Submission Process: To be considered for one of UM’s 3 slots, prospective applicants should submit a Notice of Intent (NOI), followed by internal Pre-Proposal, to ORSP via the ORSP InfoReady Review Portal[2], by the dates listed below. ORSP will coordinate the selection the three finalists who will be invited to submit to NSF[3].

06/01/20                                   Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide NSF 20-1 effective.[4]
01/25/21                                   NSF solicitation released
01/29/21                                   This REVISED announcement issued via UMToday and ORSP Website[5]
01/13; 01/22                             ORSP Info Sessions (based on former solicitation NSF 20-543).  [6].
02/15/21                                   Non-binding Internal NOI due to ORSP InfoReady Review Portal.
03/01/21                                   Internal Pre-Proposals due to ORSP via InfoReady Review Portal.
03/16/21                                   ORSP announces which UM Pre-Proposals to move forward
04/05/21                                   Project Summary & Description to ORSP[7] if requesting Enhanced Review
04/19/21                                   Transmittal should be submitted to ORSP for review & routing
04/26/21                                   Full proposal due to NSF

Non-binding NOIs should include the applicant name, appointment, department, administrative supervisor name, tentative project title & host location, and keywords.

UM Internal Pre-Proposals must include the following items, combined into one PDF (and will be reviewed according to this score sheet. )

(1)     Project Summary: 1-page NSF-style Project Summary, including working title.
(2)     Abbreviated Project Description: (5 pages max)
(3)     Preliminary Letter(s) or E-mail(s) of Support from Primary Research Collaborator (does not have to be the final letter that would be submitted to NSF, but should make it clear that the collaborator is committed to host the PI at their institution, if selected for a fellowship, and understands enough about what is being proposed, and what sort of support is being asked of them, for that commitment to be meaningful). Preliminary Letter(s) of Support from the host site administrator(s) are not required at this stage, but may be included if desired. All letters should be current (have a recent date).
(4)     Letter or E-mail of Support from Administrative Supervisor[8] of PI (e.g., Department Chair). This one need not be final either, but should make it clear that the supervisor thinks the fellowship will help, and not hurt, the PI’s career, and should confirm, in very specific terms, the nature of the faculty member’s appointment, relative to the eligibility language in the solicitation. If the faculty member is will require a release from duties during the planned fellowship period, the chair should make it clear that this release will be granted. This letter need not be effusive.
(5)     NSF-Style Biographical Sketch (should be compliant and largely complete, according to the guidelines in NSF PAPPG 20-1)
(6)     Info on Previous Attempt (only required for PIs who have previously submitted unsuccessful Track-4 proposals to NSF.
Provide a complete copy of all of the NSF reviewer statements, as well as the panel review summary, for your most recent unsuccessful Track-4 submission to NSF, plus a less-than-on-page statement summarizing how your current proposal will address the shortcomings identified by those NSF reviewers. All these documents should be combined into one PDF file.

UM EPSCoR Research Fellows[9], Amounts (start years, NSF award numbers)

1)     Sasa Kocic, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, $161,681 (2017, #1738834)
2)     Ryan Garrick, Assistant Professor of Biology, $110,413 (2017, #1738817)
3)     Samuel Lisi, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, $190,024 (2019, #1929176)
4)     Brian Platt, Assistant Professor of Geological Engineering, $174,430 (2020, #1929145)

[2] Ole Miss InfoReady Review Portal:

[5] Any updates to this announcement will be posted at  

[7] Enhanced review is highly recommended to maximize competitiveness for this limited submission

[8] Administrative Supervisor will generally be the department chair. For non-tenure-track positions, the letter should describe the nature of the applicant’s “early-career, career track,” “long-term” appointment.