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SeFAC: Seed Funding for Advanced Computing

Introduction

Among the objectives of the Center for Advanced Computing and Data Science (CACDS) is the promotion of computation as a broad cultural enterprise on the UH campus. In the pursuit of this objective, CACDS has established the program Seed Funding for Advanced Computing (SeFAC), open to full-time researchers and tenured or tenure-track faculty members of any College, Professional School or Research Center of the University. Each grant will support a full-time doctoral student for one calendar year. Although not completely ruled out, support beyond this time limit will be granted only in very exceptional circumstances. It is expected that, at the end of the funding period, recipients will be in a position to write a research proposal to a funding agency, company or foundation.

While computation has long been a standard research tool in the sciences and engineering disciplines, less traditional users in the social sciences, the humanities etc. are also encouraged to apply.

The evaluation of proposals will be carried out by a panel composed of members external to the University of Houston who do not present conflicts of interest with the submitted proposals.

Program rules

  1. The program is open to full-time researchers and tenured or tenure-track faculty members of any College, Professional School or Research Center of the University of Houston;
  2. Only proposals, which contain a substantial computational component, will be considered;
  3. It is understood that most of the computations required by the project will be carried out on CACDS resources at no cost to the awardees;
  4. Proposals must conform to the format outlined below and must be submitted by the due date specified each year;
  5. The scientific staff, director and co-director of CACDS are barred from participation in the program.

Letter of intent

In order for the panel of external evaluators to be constituted in a timely manner with members qualified to evaluate the submitted proposals, proposers are asked to submit a letter of intent which includes a provisional title and abstract of the full proposal. Both the title and abstract can be refined later, but they must be clear as to the specific topic of the planned proposal. The letter of intent must be submitted one month prior to the deadline for the full proposal.

Proposal preparation

The proposal must conform to the following guidelines:

  1. The proposal is to be prepared with a font not smaller than 11 points, with each page fitting on a standard 8 1/2”×11” area with 1” margin all around;
  2. The first page must indicate the title, name of the proposer (and, if appropriate, of other participating faculty) and a concise abstract;
  3. The introduction, description of the problem and its significance and the methodology to be followed must occupy a maximum of 5 pages (the title and budget pages do not count toward the page limit). These sections of the proposal must present a compelling rationale for the need of extensive computational resources and must quantify the amount of resources necessary for the project;
  4. Any number of appendices of any length is allowed, but proposers are advised that, although evaluators may read them, they will not be required to do so;
  5. Proposals must include a budget page. Ordinarily the budget will be sufficient to support one doctoral student for one calendar year including salary, tuition, health fee and, possibly, support to present results at a conference. Faculty summer support is not allowed. In special circumstances, a limited amount of additional support may be available if crucial to the success of the project. Access to CACDS resources will be provided free of charge and should not figure as a budget item;
  6. Proposals must include a list of references and a two-page CV of the proposer including a list of the most significant papers;
  7. If the proposer received a SeFAC grant in a previous funding period, a two-page (maximum) description of the results of the previous project must be included as well.

Applicants should keep in mind that their proposals will be read by both specialists and non-specialists of their subject. While readers in the latter group are not expected to have a full understanding of the technical details, the proposal must be written so as to convey the essence of the proposed project to them as well; some specialists may want to refer to the Appendices for details.

Submission of letters of intent and proposals

Letters of intent and proposals must be submitted electronically by the applicable deadline through the CACDS web site www.cacds.uh.edu/sefac. For the 2018/2019 year the deadline is February 28, 2018.

Evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated by a panel of evaluators appointed by the CACDS director, none of whom is presently employed by the University of Houston or collaborating with UH faculty. The constitution of the panel is at the sole discretion of the CACDS Director in consultation with the Vice President/Vice Chancellor for Research and Intellectual Property. The number of members and their areas of expertise will depend on the letters of intent received. The panel will prepare a 2 ranked list of proposals and, in so doing, it may seek to balance the distribution of awards across disciplines if it finds it appropriate. Funding will be awarded by the CACDS director in consultation with the CACDS Internal Advisory Board according to the order in the ranked list, depending on the amount of available funds. The number of awards may be expected to be between 5 and 10 each year.

Final report

Within two months from the end of the funding period, awardees must submit a final report to the CACDS director describing the project outcomes and resulting publications. If a proposal resulting from the award is submitted to an entity external to the University of Houston, this proposal can be submitted in lieu of the final report.