FY 2017 Seed Funding Program

Georgia Tech's Institute for Materials (IMat) is pleased to offer a competitive seed funding program intended to foster a materials innovation ecosystem and associated development of competitive cross-cutting externally sponsored research team proposals in emerging areas of accelerated materials discovery and development.  Seed funding for FY 2017 will be offered in three programs:

  • IMat Faculty Fellows
  • IMat Graduate Student Fellows
  • MGI-Faculty Leadership Grants

The coupling of advanced in situ and in operando experimental methods for synthesis and characterization, high throughput methods for exploring potential materials and performing early stage qualification, computational materials science, and modern data science is a key strategy of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI)[1] [2] aimed at increasing the pace of materials discovery and development. This coupling is of course is too broad for a single initiative, as it reflects new scientific possibilities enabled by convergent advances in materials instrumentation, improved spatial and temporal resolution of measuring material structure and its evolution from atomic scale upward, predictive materials modeling and simulation via high performance computing, and data science and analytics.  This convergence of experiment, theory and simulation, and data science offers new pathways to inform decision making as necessary to increase the pace of materials discovery and development.  Indeed, the materials community is poised for a revolution in its ability to tailor and control structure and properties of new materials to address grand challenges in clean energy, sustainability, mobility, infrastructure, health, and security.

Background

The 2014 national MGI workshop Building an Integrated MGI Accelerator Network hosted by Georgia Tech on behalf of the Materials Accelerator Network[3] explored common needs among diverse classes of soft and hard materials and identified a number of science and technology needs.[4]

Building on Georgia Tech’s core strengths in materials, through IMat’s investment in shared facilities, advances in materials data science and informatics, and connectivity with materials simulation and design, Georgia Tech has developed a leadership position in the MGI by introducing the broader notion of a materials innovation ecosystem.[5] [6]  Certain aspects of this ecosystem are being increasingly emphasized in many contemporary federal funding calls, and require targeted development to address gaps and enhance our competitive posture for leadership in future cross-cutting research center proposals, including those at the intersection of materials and manufacturing.[7]  These include:

  • Coupling of materials synthesis and processing with computational modeling to accelerate the pace of materials discovery or development.
  • Coupling of in situ or in operando experiments with computational modeling and/or data analytics to enhance fundamental understanding of mechanisms and kinetic pathways of processes.
  • High throughput methods, ranging from rapid computational or data driven screening of candidate materials to more efficient combinatorial methods for synthesis, processing, characterization and property measurements.
  • Systems strategies for integrating experiments, computational simulation and data science that consider uncertainty in providing decision support.

At a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy[8] celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Materials Genome Initiative on August 2[9], various federal agency leads, industry and academia stakeholders reviewed the status and future directions for the MGI.  To date, over $500M in federal research funding has been devoted, with intent to continue and intensify investments over the next decade.

Description: IMat Faculty Fellow, IMat Graduate Student Fellow, and MGI-Faculty Leadership Grants

Seed funding investments from IMat are intended to build Georgia Tech’s foundational leadership capabilities in the materials innovation ecosystem. Three categories of seed funding are available this call, with number of awards made in each category depending on responsive and competitive proposals submitted.

IMat Faculty Fellow - Up to three awards

$10K direct discretionary funding for travel, student support, and other personal research program development will be provided to each IFF in FY 2017 to support proposed advances in capabilities and resources that contribute to an enhanced competitive profile for Materials Genome Initiative-related leadership from Georgia Tech in at least one of the following areas:

  •  Coupling of materials synthesis and processing with computational modeling to accelerate the pace of materials discovery or development.
  • Coupling of in situ or in operando experiments with computational modeling and/or data analytics to enhance fundamental understanding of mechanisms and kinetic pathways of processes.
  • High throughput methods, ranging from rapid computational or data driven screening of candidate materials to more efficient combinatorial methods for synthesis, processing, characterization and property measurements.
  • Systems strategies for integrating experiments, computational simulation and data science that consider uncertainty in providing decision support.

With an eye toward establishing a leadership position in MGI-related research initiatives, it is expected that IMat Faculty Fellows will explore integration of materials data science into their research workflows and proposals, through collaboration with the MATIN team[10] and will have collaborative discussions with the new IDEAS:MD3[11] materials data science and informatics institute.

Requirements:

  • Current early-career faculty are eligible (assistant and early stage associate professors or equivalent research faculty status)
  • Research in any class of materials is eligible for consideration
  • Should have strong potential to impact cross-cutting research capabilities and/or facilities (e.g., the Materials Characterization Facility) at Georgia Tech
  • Should provide evidence of building towards future leadership in any of the MGI-related areas listed above

Deliverables:

  • Presentations at selected IMat Cabinet and Advisory Panel meetings
  • Quarterly brief status reviews of action plan
  • Two page final report highlighting value-added contributions to Georgia Tech’s competitive position in the MGI

IFF proposal format:

  • 1 page: Cover (Clearly label “IFF Proposal”, title, name, unit(s), date submitted)
  • 2 pages: Motivation and background, new valued-added core science and technology advances in specific areas of the call that impact Georgia Tech’s competitive posture for MGI leadership
  • 1 page: budget and action plan
  • 2 pages: NSF format vita
  • 1-2 paragraph personal statement of longer term research goals and aspirations

IMat Graduate Student Fellow (IGSF) (up to two awards)

This $5K direct funding grant will “top-off” existing GRA stipends with in the intent of adding value to their existing thesis-directed materials research workflows by introducing one or both of the following elements:

  • High throughput methods, ranging from rapid computational or data driven screening of candidate materials to more efficient combinatorial methods for synthesis, processing, characterization and property measurements.
  • Coupling with materials data science and informatics through collaboration with the MATIN team.[12]

Requirements:

  • Preference is given to projects that presently are not emphasizing either of the above two areas, but want to explore their potential.
  • Graduate students in any academic unit may apply.
  • Awards should be used for augmentation of stipends of existing thesis-directed GRAs and not for bridging between other means of support or for augmenting TA duties.
  • The IGSF should seek to incorporate this experience into the student’s final thesis product.
  • Students should engage in training sessions and workshops for materials data science, and to serve as ambassadors/mentors for other students in their group and beyond.
  • Students are encouraged to consider enrolling in the following materials informatics courses:
    • ME/CSE 8803-IMI Introduction to Materials Informatics
    • ME/CSE 8803-MIP Materials Informatics Project
  • A statement from their research advisor regarding interest in and commitment to these requirements is necessary as part of the proposal

Deliverables:

IGSF proposal format:

  • 1 page: Cover (Clearly label “IGSF Proposal”, title, name, unit, research advisor, date submitted)
  • 1 page: Description of student’s primary materials research theme
  • 1 page: Description of plans to add value in the two key areas of the grant
  • 1 page: student vita
  • Up to 2 paragraph commitment statement from research advisor to iGSF grant requirements, including advisor signature

MGI-Faculty Leadership(MGI-FL) Grants (up to two awards)

The goal is to support and develop faculty leadership in acquiring preliminary results, conducting critical gap analysis, and team-building towards a competitive position to pursue future cross-cutting federal funding calls, e.g., NSF Materials Innovation Platform (MIP)[13] [14].  Proposals should describe scoping concepts for new, valued-added capabilities, either in methods or tools or new/improved faculty research capabilities.  Mid-career to senior faculty members positioned to assert collaborative leadership are encouraged to apply. Up to two awards at up to $20K each of direct funding will be provided to awardees.

Requirements:

  1. The proposal should specify the lead PI who will receive and administer this funding.  Potential collaborators (faculty, centers, user facilities) should be listed, including other academic institutions, industry, and national labs.
  2. The proposed budget should maximize impact on Tech’s cross-cutting research capabilities and not be constrained by any one category of expenditures or by the need to distribute amongst various investigators within a multidisciplinary team.  For example, the following items can be considered, among others: Identification of critical investments in teaming and related discussions, supportive travel expenses, strategic planning and analyses of research approaches and opportunities, design and scoping of new and innovative concepts.
  3. Research activities in any class of materials are eligible for consideration. Each proposal should describe Georgia Tech’s unique capabilities or potential in their area of interest.
  • Proposals must address how they will advance Georgia Tech’s competitive position in future MGI-related team proposals in one or more of the following: (i) coupling materials synthesis or processing with computational modeling and/or data science methods to accelerate the pace of materials discovery or development, (ii) coupling in situ or in operando experiments with computational modeling or data analytics to enhance fundamental understanding, (iii) introducing high throughput methods, ranging from rapid computational or data driven screening of candidate materials to more efficient combinatorial methods for synthesis, processing, characterization and property measurements, and/or (iv) developing systems strategies for integrating experiments, computational simulation and data science that consider uncertainty in providing decision support for materials discovery or development.

   4. The proposed work should impact new and improved cross-cutting research capabilities and infrastructure at Georgia Tech.

Deliverables:

  • Presentations at selected IMat Cabinet and Advisory Panel meetings.
  • Quarterly brief status reviews of action plan regarding progress in identifying and development new cross-cutting capabilities and infrastructure
  • Final report highlighting impact on materials innovation infrastructure at Georgia Tech, configurations for approaches to specific current and future proposal planning and team development, and how activities have been coordinated with materials shared resources and innovation initiatives within IMat.
  • Preparation of publicity and interface with IMat website highlighting new directions in materials innovation.
  • Delivery of an IMat Materials Innovation Lecture in 2017.

MGI-FL proposal format:

  • 1 page: Cover (Clearly label “MGI-FL Proposal”, title, name, unit(s), date submitted)
  • 1 page: Motivation and background, new valued-added core science and technology advances in specific areas of the call that impact Georgia Tech’s competitive posture for MGI leadership
  • 2 pages: Description of the proposed work and how it will advance Georgia Tech’s competitive position in future MGI-related team proposals in one or more of the four areas listed under the requirements section. 
  • 1 page: Concepts for new funding sources and proposals.
  • 1 page: budget and action plan
  • 2 pages: NSF format vita

Review Criteria

Proposals for each project category will be reviewed by a committee composed of Georgia Tech faculty.  Final award selections will balance available funds with requests and review recommendations.  Funding to be allocated to any category depends upon the submission of proposals that are considered responsive to the call as outlined and recommended for support in the review process.

Proposals should be submitted to cecelia.jones@imat.gatech.edu by 5 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2016.  Awards will be made in early October 2016 and funds can be spent through June 2017.

Questions

Overall program and proposal process: Jud Ready, IMat Innovation Support Lead, jud.ready@gatech.edu, 404-407-6036.