Transdisciplinary Research Acceleration Grants (TRAG)
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- Important Dates
- Program Information
- Award Information
- Proposal Requirements and Submission
- Review Process and Recipient Obligations
- Application Opens: early February 2021
- Application Due Date: March 31, 2021 (11:59pm)
- Announcement of Awards: May 2021
- Project Start/Funding Date: June 2021
The Office for Research and Creative Activities is pleased to announce the 2020-21 call for proposals for “Transdisciplinary Research Acceleration Grants” (TRAG). The purpose of these grants is to catalyze transdisciplinary research and creative activities by supporting early stage projects with the specific goal of facilitating investigators’ chances for attaining extramural funding. Grants may be used to advance work-in-progress, including the development of proof-of-concepts, the creation of mock-ups/wire-frames/functional prototypes, or the collection of pilot data, among other deliverables and outputs. Successful TRAG projects are expected to be beyond the preliminary “ideation” phase but not yet ready for extramural funding. In 2020, the TRAG program funded its inaugural cohort of nine projects (from of a campuswide pool of 33 applications). More information about the recipients can be found here .
Projects must have one lead principal investigator (PI) and at least one co-PI from a different school or division at UCLA. Both PIs must hold UCLA academic faculty or academic administrator appointments as of 7/1/2021 (individuals in the senate, lecturer, adjunct, other non-senate, or academic administrator series are all eligible). Visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and individuals without UCLA appointments are not eligible to serve as the PI, although they may serve as co-investigators or team members.
Each faculty member is limited to one application as lead PI, but may serve as a co-PI or co-investigator on more than one application. PIs or co-PIs who have a currently funded TRAG are not eligible to apply. PIs or co-PIs who applied last year and did not receive funding are encouraged to reapply.
PIs, co-PIs, and team members may apply for other funding through ORCA (such as the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants or the Arts Initiative Grants) provided that the applications are for distinct projects. The same project is not eligible to apply for more than one ORCA funding opportunity. If you are unsure which funding opportunity makes the most sense for your project, please contact Kathleen Sprunger at [email protected].
TRAG proposals must represent a research or creative collaboration from at least two distinctly different disciplines where the contribution of each collaborator’s expertise is evident and critical for the success of the research. Applications must demonstrate how the collaboration will rely on the combined expertise of team members to enable research or creative activities that otherwise could not have occurred within the confines of a single discipline.
Currently funded activities are not eligible for consideration. Should any aspect of a proposal receive alternative funding, the primary applicant must notify the program contact (Kathleen Sprunger, [email protected]) within 5 business days. Proposals that build off other funded work are eligible, but the application should describe how the proposal is distinct from existing funded work.
The following activities are not eligible for funding under this mechanism:
- Seminars, courses, or curricular development
- Conferences or conference support, workshops, or training programs
- Publishing subventions
Program Guidelines & Preferences
Project descriptions should be written in plain English, understandable by reviewers from a variety of disciplines.
Projects are expected to be sufficiently developed to demonstrate competitiveness for extramural funding after completion of a TRAG (although we recognize project development cycles may require additional time beyond one year).
Preference will be given to projects led by a PI with a primary appointment in a department or unit affiliated with one of the following Divisions or Schools:
- Anderson School of Management
- Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
- Herb Alpert School of Music
- Humanities Division
- Luskin School of Public Affairs
- School of the Arts & Architecture
- School of Law
- School of Theater, Film & Television
- Social Sciences Division
Preference will be given to projects that advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the research enterprise and demonstrate broader, public impact. Finally, projects led by or involving early-career faculty will be given preference in the evaluation process.
It is anticipated that about 8 projects will be funded, with a maximum award of $30,000 per project.
Period of Funding
Funds will be available for distribution approximately 4-6 weeks following the announcement of the awards, so long as the research team provides all requested information including IRB/ARC approvals, if applicable, in a timely manner. All funds should be expended within approximately 12 months of the fund transfer. PIs/Project Directors will be permitted to apply for one no-cost extension of an additional 12 months.
Funds must be used for direct research costs such as materials, supplies, personnel (including staff and student salaries/fee remissions), and travel to the extent that such expenses are directly related to the proposed project. Funds may not be used for UCLA-based faculty/investigator salaries or support including teaching buy-outs or summer ninths, or departmental overhead costs (indirect costs). Proposed activities and expenditures must comply with all applicable university policies and procedures. If proposals involve compensating non-UCLA affiliated personnel, then an explanation of why this expertise or service is critical for the success of the project must be included in the project narrative.
All proposals must be submitted through the TRAG application portal and include the following elements:
To be entered in the appropriate fields in the application form in the portal:
- Proposal Title
- Name, academic rank/title, School/Division affiliation and Departmental affiliation of the PI, co-PI, and key co-investigators
- A project abstract (150-word maximum), which may be used in announcing recipients of the grants.
- NOTE: The information above does not need to be included in the Project Narrative document.
To be uploaded in the application form in the portal:
- I. Project Narrative (6-page maximum, 12 pt. font minimum). Please address the following elements and indicate each topic section with a header.
- a. Research Questions/Creative Activities: Statement of question/issue to be addressed, current state of knowledge, and general research approach to be used
- b. Transdisciplinary Approach and Activities: Why a transdisciplinary approach is needed to address the question/issue under investigation, and how transdisciplinary activities will be achieved—as distinct from members working separately on discrete pieces of a project. A statement of key team members’ roles should be included
- c. Current Progress and Funding Potential: Summary of existing work to date and potential for extramural funding, including identification of specific funding agencies or calls for proposals
- d. Public Impact and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Statement on the public impact of the project and if (and how) the project advances diversity, equity, and inclusion
- e. Timeline and Outcomes: Timeline of activities and anticipated outcomes
- II. Budget. Please provide a listing of the projected expenses, along with written justifications, using the budget template form.
- III. Biosketch for key personnel (2 pages maximum per investigator, including professional appointments/affiliations, awards/honors, and publications).
- IV. Statement of other project support for all key personnel. Please include all support, not just any that is related to the proposed project. This section can be in a list format; it does not need to be a narrative.
- V. Proposed plan to ensure fair collaboration practices in terms of gender, rank, discipline, and participation of students and community partners (as appropriate).
Animal Activities/Human Subject Review
Projects involving animal or human subjects require appropriate review board(s) approval prior to the release of funds. The approvals or waivers will need to reference the applicable funding mechanism. Note: Do not seek IRB/ARC approval for any work to be funded by the TRAG program until after successful award notification.
Animal Activities – Research activities involving animals must receive approval from the Animal Research Committee (ARC).
Human Subjects – Please be sure to determine whether human subjects are involved in your project, and hence the need for Institutional Review Board (IRB) review. For information about submission requirements, available training, and applicable policies and procedures, please refer to the Office of the Human Research Protection Program website.
All submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2021. Each proposal and all corresponding information must be submitted through the TRAG application portal.
Each proposal will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- The extent to which the proposal “accelerates” transdisciplinary research and creative activities
- Novelty, significance, and potential public impact of the project
- Qualifications of the lead PI, co-PIs, and co-Investigators
- If and how the project advances diversity, equity, and inclusion, and ensures fair collaboration practices
- The extent to which the proposal supports new rather than long-standing research collaborations
- Potential for external funding and further scholarship
- Project feasibility
- The proposed use of funds. The review panel may elect to disallow certain proposed expenditures.
Obligations of Recipients of TRAG Funding
Within one month of completion of the project or within 13 months following the transfer of funds (whichever is sooner), PIs must submit a project report including the following information:
I. Progress report – status of research and progress to date
II. Primary outcomes including any publications, presentations, or portfolios made possible by the award
III. A list of external funding applied for/received as a result of the project and/or new directions developed for the project after TRAG support.
IV. Financial report accounting for how funds were spent
V. The UCLA Office for Research & Creative Activities and the Transdisciplinary Research Acceleration Grants program must be credited in any work product resulting from this funding
For questions regarding the program, please email [email protected].