June 2011

Got grants?


Research Corporation for Science Advancement promotes the integration of teaching and research by funding early-career science faculty. 

Since 1912, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, a foundation dedicated to the advancement of science, has been funding grants, conferences and advocacy. RCSA supports faculty members who have innovative ideas for transformative research as well as projects that have the potential to integrate research and science teaching. The foundation’s programs specifically target early-career faculty members at both research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions. 

The Cottrell Scholar Award program

One of RCSA’s initiatives is the Cottrell Scholar Award program, which originated in the foundation’s concern about the separation of teaching and research in universities. The program seeks to reinforce the growing awareness that these two functions are complementary rather than wholly or partially exclusive. This convergence is essential for increasing the fraction of students attracted to and retained in science as well as for increasing science literacy in all students.

The CSA program supports early-career science faculty members engaged in both outstanding research and undergraduate teaching practices at doctoral degree-granting institutions. The ability of applicants to mount a strong research program and their commitment to teaching excellence at the undergraduate level are primary criteria in the selection of awards. 

RCSA also holds an annual conference to convene Cottrell Scholars. There, they are encouraged to share best practices and to build a community of exemplary scholar-educators dedicated to leadership in both research and teaching. Collectively, the scholars have the potential to change the way science is taught nationally. One of the program’s long-term goals is to build a Cottrell Scholar community that will contribute to the development of leaders who catalyze departmental change to enhance science education in research universities.

The Cottrell College Science Award program

The Cottrell College Science Award program is RCSA’s oldest initiative, created in the early 1970s to provide funding for research that enhances the professional and scholarly development of early-career faculty working with their students at primarily undergraduate institutions. Disciplines traditionally funded included astronomy, chemistry and physics. In recent years, the CCSA program has expanded to include research in other disciplines including biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. 

Grants are available for single investigators as well as for multidisciplinary teams in a pilot program for targeted institutions. The potential of a proposed research project to add to fundamental scientific knowledge is a prime criterion in its evaluation, as is its likelihood for developing into a viable research program capable of attracting support from other agencies.

A 2010 Cottrell Scholar Conference session


The Scialog® program

• Applications for the 2011 Cottrell Scholar Award proposal cycle are due August 1. Eligibility is limited to faculty members who started their first tenure-track position any time in calendar year 2008. 
• Preliminary Cottrell College Science Award program proposals are due September 15. Applications will be accepted from faculty members at public and private primarily undergraduate institutions of higher education in the U.S.

The RCSA’s Scialog® program supports research, intensive dialogue and community building. Scialog was conceived as a research grant program emphasizing annual meetings and the opportunity, encouragement and expectation to form cross-disciplinary teams. 

The initial Scialog program in 2009 focused on funding recently tenured scientists and building research teams to undertake groundbreaking studies in solar energy conversion. Funded projects included Boston University associate professor Sean Elliott’s “Transforming heme proteins into solar driven redox catalysts by site-directed zinc porphyrin mutation” and Emory University associate professor Stefan Lutz’s “Directed evolution of hydrogenase for efficient light-driven hydrogen production via quantum dot-enzyme hybrid systems.” 

The 2011 Scialog program focuses on fundamental research, at the molecular and nanoscale levels, that shows high potential to impact advanced energy technologies.

Kathleen Parson (parson@macalester.edu) is a professor of biology and chemistry at Macalester College and a consultant at RCSA (parson@rescorp.org).


James M. Gentile (gentile@rescorp.org) is president of RCSA.

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