Conference simplifies grant funding process

By Robyn Sanders

Baylor professors and researchers planning to apply for research funding from the National Science Foundation will have the opportunity to learn more about submitting proposals at the NSF Regional Grants Conference next week.

The University of Texas at Austin will host the conference on Oct. 17 and 18.

Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research, said having the conference in Austin provides a great opportunity for faculty and staff because these conferences are held only twice a year and are typically far from Baylor.

The conference will feature presentations on new and current NSF policies and procedures, discipline-specific breakout sessions, and new programs and initiatives.

NSF representatives and program officers will be present for attendees to meet with, ask questions and get feedback from.

The National Science Foundation is a federal funding agency that is responsible for close to 20 percent of all federally funded basic research conducted by colleges and universities in the United States.

About 40,000 proposals are accepted by the NSF every year, and of those about 11,000 are funded.

Hyde said because of the extremely exacting standards of the NSF, it can be difficult for proposals to be accepted.

“To write a successful proposal is really an art,” Hyde said.

Dr. Bryan Shaw, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said this will be his first NSF conference.

“I expect to learn what this funding agency is looking for in terms of research projects, research areas, how they have determined to prioritize science funding,” Shaw said. “I also expect to learn some of the rules and nuances of the application process, which change from every few years to every few years.”

Dr. Touradj Solouki, a newly hired professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was previously a professor of chemistry at the University of Maine and said he attended multiple NSF workshops while there.

“I’ve also been in a lot of NSF review panels,” Solouki said, “which is a really fantastic way of learning how proposals are reviewed and what’s the best way to get your grants submitted and be successful.”

Solouki said although attending NSF conferences is not new for him, there is still plenty to learn.

“NSF, like many other things these days, evolves and changes. There’s a lot of new things, a lot of new research topics, a lot of new procedures to follow, and so I’m really excited and looking forward to it that I only have to drive an hour and a half to get there,” Solouki said. “And it was very nice that it was encouraged by the university.”

Solouki’s research focuses on environmental and biomedical sciences, as well as instrument development for biomedical research. Solouki said he has submitted proposals to the NSF before.

“Some have not been successful, and some have,” Solouki said. “Any funding is great, but especially NSF.”

Hyde said NSF research funding is very prestigious, so he encourages faculty members to attend the conference.

“My goal is always to help our faculty to be successful,” Hyde said. “That, in turn, is helping Baylor and our students.”