The Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC), established in Sept. 2017 with major funding from the National Science Foundation, invites proposals for Seed Projects. The I-MRSEC is housed at the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) on the UIUC campus. The goal of the I-MRSEC Seed program is to bring new ideas and people into the Center. Current I-MRSEC research focuses on (i) metallic antiferromagnetic materials, and (ii) deformed 2D electronic materials interfaced with biological and chemical materials (  Seed projects are not required to align with current I-MRSEC research, but can be on any topic that is fundable by the NSF Division of Materials Research. The Seed award size is approximately $100,000 for 12 months; allowable expenses include student and postdoctoral salaries, materials and supplies, and instrument fees. No principal investigator (PI) summer salary is allowed. Standard F&A, benefit, and tuition remission costs apply. Current I-MRSEC faculty are not eligible to lead Seed Projects but may be collaborators.


Seed Project Proposal Requirements and Selection Criteria


There should be at least two PIs, preferably from two different departments, who will embark upon a new collaborative and interdisciplinary project. Junior faculty are encouraged to apply. Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria: (i) scientific excellence, (ii) degree to which collaboration is required for success, (iii) contributions the project is likely to make to further the mission of the I-MRSEC as a center for excellence in materials research (including education, diversity, and external collaboration goals). 

As part of the funding requirement, the personnel funded by the Seed Projects will participate in I-MRSEC meetings and activities, be required to submit an annual report of progress toward the end of the 12-month period, and acknowledge I-MRSEC in publications.  


Proposal Submission Details


  • The title page of the proposal should include the project title, names, affiliations, and contact information for the PIs. One PI should be designated the lead PI.
  • The Project Description should be 3-5 pages long and should describe the scientific rationale for the work, proposed collaborative experiments, the work’s innovation, and how the project would contribute to the mission of the I-MRSEC, which includes education, outreach, external collaboration, and diversity goals (see for more information). Use of relevant I-MRSEC or MRL facilities should be briefly described. Additional pages should be used for references, a short budget with justification, and up-to-date short biosketches and current & pending support of each of the PIs.


Seed Proposals are due as a single PDF file to the I-MRSEC Outreach Director Dr. Pamela Pena Martin, by 5:00 pm Monday March 2, 2020; email her at Decisions will be announced by April 1, for a May 15, 2020 start date.

Questions? Ask Professor Catherine J. Murphy, Deputy Director of I-MRSEC,