UCR Research and Economic Development Newsletter:  Feb 3, 2013

Michael Pazzani

Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development


Back Issues of Newsletter: http://or.ucr.edu/vcr/newsletters.aspx


·         Submitting a Winning NSF Proposal: Overview

·         Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention

·         NIH Funding Opportunities and How to Navigate the NIH System for Grants and Fellowships, Feb 20

·         NSF Inspire Program: $1.5M per page

·         Reports.gov: The Times They Are a-Changin’

·         Reminder: Tech Coast Angels:  Feb 11 4:00PM

·         Surf Scooters

Submitting a Winning NSF Proposal: Overview


On February 1 a workshop was held in which UCR faculty discussed strategies for writing a successful NSF proposal.   The slides from their presentations are available at http://research.ucr.edu/vcr/talks.aspx


Below is my brief summary of some points made by each speaker:

·         Julia Bailey-Serres, Professor of Genetics:

o   Use of bold, italics, numbered sections corresponding to objectives/hypotheses can make main points stand  out. Reviewers and panel members benefit from obviousness.

o   A picture is worth many words (small effective figures – one per page help).

·         Donna Hoffman, Professor of Marketing, Co-Director, Sloan Center of Internet Retailing

o   Don’t Guess What Winners Look Like; Learn

o   Sizzle is Great, But Don’t Forget the Steak

·         Cindy Larive, Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry

o   Build Credibility:  Publications area key predictor of success,

o   Be a reviewers, submit thorough well-considered reviews on time

o   Choose broader impacted that you are committed to and feel will have real value

·         Michael Pazzani, Vice Chancellor for  Research  and Economic Development

o   Novel, Important, Coherent and Achievable ideas get funded

o   Make the novelty and importance stand out in first paragraph

·         Victor Rodgers, Professor and  Chair, Department of Bioengineering

o   Talk to program officer before you begin writing

o   Get Involved in Broader Impacts early so you have a track record

·         Jan Stets, Professor of Sociology and former NSF Program Director, mentions some common problems:

o   Merit criteria are not met

o   Not theoretically grounded or methodologically sound

o   Not making a contribution (it’s already been done) or the contribution is incremental with no breakthrough

o   Disconnected – proposed research does not follow from

o   the original idea

o   Trust me – lacks sufficient detail about proposed approach

o   Overly ambitious – impractically large project

o   Unreasonable budget – budget items don’t follow from the research plan


I recently came across a presentation that included two additional tips:

·         Proposals that include figures or graphs on at least 30% of the pages are more likely to be funded

·         Teams that start two months before the request for proposals is issued are more likely to be funded


A phone call with an ONR program officer revealed this insight: Don’t just send a proposal full of good ideas, send a proposal that relates the good ideas to the objectives in the call for proposals.



Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention


In the spirit of starting early and learning what has been funded in the past, USDA/AFRI is about to issue a new request for applications on its childhood obesity program.    Here is more info and a list of some of the grants that funded last year.


This Challenge Area Focuses on the societal challenge to end obesity among children, the number one nutrition-related problem in the US.  Food is an integral part of the process that leads to obesity and USDA has a unique responsibility for the food system in the United States. This program is designed to achieve the long-term outcome of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents 2-19 years.   Details are available at http://nifa.usda.gov/fo/childhoodobesityafri.cfm.  Past awards included


·         Prevention Of Late Adolescent Obesity In The College Environment: An Optimal Default Paradigm, Loeb, K. L., Fairleigh Dickinson University

·         Fighting Obesity Among Low-Income 9-14 Year Olds: A Home-Based Intervention Using Mobile Phones To Deliver Customized Nutrition Outreach, Clarke, P. Univ Of Southern California

·         Smarter Lunchrooms: Does Changing Environments Really Give More Nutritional Bang For The Buck?, Wansink, B. C., Cornell University

·         Measuring Parenting: Current Status And Consensus Reports Baranowski, T., Baylor College Of Medicine

·         Ninos Sanos, Familia Sana (Healthy Children, Healthy Family): A Multi-Intervention Program To Prevent Childhood Obesity In Mexican-Heritage Children In Rural California, De La Torre, A., University Of California, Davis

·         Parental Feeding Practices, Core Nutrition Messages, And The Prevention Of Obesity Among Preschool Children, Grutzmacher, S. K., Univ Of Maryland

·         Homestyles: Shaping Home Environments And Lifestyle Practices To Prevent Childhood Obesity: A Randomized Control Trial, Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Rutgers University

NIH Funding Opportunities and How to Navigate the NIH System for Grants and Fellowships, Feb 20


GGB, CMDB, and Microbiology are jointly sponsoring a seminar featuring Dr. Glen McGugan from NIH (Parasite Biology Program Officer in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Disease for NIAID). He will talk on “NIH Funding Opportunities and How to Navigate the NIH System for Grants and Fellowships, Feb 20” The talk will be at 2PM in Genomics Building Auditorium 1102A


NSF Inspire Program: $1.5M per page


Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE)  “support bold interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research” The goals of this program are to


·         Create new interdisciplinary opportunities that are not perceived to exist presently.

·         Attract unusually creative high-risk / high-reward interdisciplinary proposals.

·         Provide sufficient funding to pursue the novel idea beyond the exploratory stage.

·         Recognize and encourage innovative interdisciplinary research by unusually creative individual investigators, especially at early- to mid-career stages.


Proposals must be of interest to multiple divisions at NSF and may be up to 5 years.  A letter of intent (about 2 pages) is due

o   Feb 20, for up to $3M for large team awards

o   March 29, for up to $1M individual or small team awards


More details, including a webcast from NSF on the program, area area available at




Note that NSF discourages these types of proposals for INSPIRE


·         Projects in which the scientific advances lie primarily within the scope of one program or discipline, such that substantial co-funding from another distinct program or discipline is unlikely.

·         Projects that, in the judgment of cognizant program directors, can be expected to receive an appropriate evaluation through external review in regular programs.

·         Projects that continue well-established lines of research, in accordance with expected progress in their fields.


Previous awards include

·         Dankowicz, Harry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Asynchronous communication, self-organization, and differentiation in human and insect networks

·         Iskarous, Khalil, University of Southern California, Dynamical Principles of Animal Movement

·         Kaiser, Hartmut, Louisiana State University, STAR: Scalable toolkit for Transformative Astrophysics Research

·         Minai, Ali, University of Cincinnati, The Hunting of the Spark: A Systematic Study of Natural Creativity in Human Networks

·         Misra, Satyajayant, New Mexico State University, Towards Ubiquitous Adoption of Wireless Sensor Networks in Experimental Biology Research

·         Omenetto, Fiorenzo, Tufts University, Resorbable Electronics--Materials, Manufacturing, and Modeling

·         Onuchic, Jose, Rice University, Molecular Underpinnings of Bacterial Decision-Making

·         Paerl, Hans, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, An Ecologically-Driven Strategy for Ensuring Sustainability of Anthropogenically and Climatically Impacted Lakes

·         Peccoud, Jean, Virginia Tech, Modeling and optimization of DNA manufacturing processes

·         Weiss, Jeffrey, University of Colorado, Boulder, Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics of Natural Climate Variability: Sea-Surface Temperature and Ocean Heat Content

·         Woodbury, Neal, Arizona State University, Mimicking the Functional Complexity of Biology with Man-Made Systems



Reports.gov: The Times They Are a-Changin’


National Science Foundation (NSF) has moved its annual, final, and interim project reporting from FastLane to Research.gov. PIs and co-PIs must stop submitting new project reports in FastLane starting on February 1, 2013. On March 18, 2013, NSF will transfer its current project reporting service from FastLane to Research.gov. To assist the research community with this transition, the dates have been extended for all project reports originally scheduled to become overdue between January 31 and April 30, 2013. Starting March 18, 2013, you can use Research.gov to submit project reports.  For more information about the transition of annual, final, and interim project reporting to Research.gov, please visit the Project Report Informational Page


Unfortunately, PIs and program officers in the NSF trial of research.gov experienced frustrations in this transition.  If research.gov is frustrating you, the song Nettie Moore from Bob Dylan's recent album may be relevant to you.  It contains the lyrics

"Well, the world of research has gone berserk; Too much paperwork"



Reminder: Tech Coast Angels:  Feb 11 4:00PM


One way for UCR faculty or students to obtain funding to form a company is from angel investors.  Angels are high-wealth individuals who provide funds in exchange for equity (i.e., stock) in a private business (Occasionally funds are provided as loan, typically converted in equity at a later date).  Angel investors also typically provide advice on entrepreneurship and business. The Tech Coast Angels (TCA) are the largest angel investment organization in the U.S. with over 300 that have invested over $120 million in over 200 companies.  Investors affiliated with TCA funded a company I founded in 1999 (together with investors from a Silicon Valley group).


TCA will be hosting a meeting in the Alumni & Visitor center in which companies pitch for funding on Feb 11 from 4:00-6:00PM.  The goal of UCR hosting this event is not for students or faculty to pitch at this event but rather to watch the process and learn what interests investors and how to ask for funding.    Those attending will have the opportunity to apply for funding at a later date.


If you would like to attend, please inform Rebeccah Goldware (goldware@ucr.edu) by Feb 4.




Surf Scooters


Here’s a photo of two Surf Scooters from Coyote Point, Near SFO.


Surf Scooters


(click to enlarge)



Michael Pazzani

Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development 

Professor,  Computer Science & Engineering

University of California, Riverside

200 University Office Building

Riverside, CA 92521



Assistant:  Gloria Gallego