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The Spring 2023 CNS Catalyst Grant Competition Request for Proposals is now accepting applications 

You may download the spring 2023 request for proposals Here


Catalyst Success Spotlights

Congratulations to the Spring 2022 CNS Catalyst award winners: Christopher Jolly/Megan Gray (Standardization and Application of Methodology to Study Pediatric Nutrition Immunology) and Hang Ren/Michael Cullinan (Mechanical Control of Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage)

Several previous CNS Catalyst award winners have leveraged the results from their “catalyzed” studies into successful NSF, NIH, and DoD proposals. Congratulations!

  • Molly Cummings, “NSF/Collaborative Research: UV-MultiSpectral-Polarization 3D Imaging of the Underwater World” (NSF, $630,448)
  • Marvin Whiteley, “Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy: A Tool for Studying Chronic Wound Infections” (DoD, $98,146)
  • Ilya Finkelstein, "Mechanism, Specificity, and Design of CRISPR RNA-mediated Gene Regulation" (NIH, $2,347,245)
  • Su Yeong Kim, "Socio-cultural Stress Profiles, Stress Responses, and Academic and Health Outcomes in Mexican American Adolescents" (Russell Sage Foundation, $50,000)
  • Su Yeong Kim, "Socio-cultural Stress Profiles, Stress Responses, and Health in Mexican American Adolescents" (NIH, $457,615)
  • Carlos Baiz, “Protein Structure and Dynamics in Ultra-heterogeneous Environments” (NIH Maximizing Investigators' Research Award for Early Stage Investigators, $1,023,424)
  • Alex Huk, "Maximizing flexibility: Optimized neural probes and electronics for long term, high bandwidth recordings" (NIH U01, $4,154,653)
  • Tim Yeh and Jenny Brodbelt, "Studying interactions among metal nanoclusters, host ligands and small-molecule analytes" (NSF, $599,559)


About CNS Catalyst Grants

The CNS Catalyst Grant program is a College of Natural Sciences (CNS) internal funding mechanism meant to inspire interdisciplinary research collaborations that will seed efforts to secure external funding. Proposals for interdisciplinary projects with faculty members from different UT departments or colleges, including Dell Medical School, are requested. Principal investigators who accept a CNS Catalyst Grant must commit to the pursuit of external funding for the collaborative effort within 12 to 18 months of receiving Catalyst Grant funding. The CNS Strategic Research Initiatives Office will, as needed, assist teams receiving Catalyst Grant funding with the development of their proposal to an external funding agency.


Since its inception in the spring of 2014, 123 proposals have been submitted to the CNS Catalyst Grant program over ten competitions. In addition to collaborators from 15 CNS departments and ORUs, these interdisciplinary proposals have included investigators from the Cockrell School of Engineering, the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Education, the Jackson School of Geosciences, and Dell Medical School. This broad expertise has enriched a diversity of proposed research topics ranging from the impacts of language brokering on educational outcomes in Mexican-American adolescents to the development of next-generation wound dressings. Click the link below to view past CNS Catalyst Grant winners.



Spring 2023 Grant Information


Up to four CNS Catalyst Grants ($50,000 maximum each) will be awarded to teams of two or more members to begin new interdisciplinary research collaborations. Projects should be proposed with a performance period of one year. Awarded funds will be available for two years. No-cost extensions will not be considered, and remaining funds will be swept after the expiration of the award.

CNS Catalyst Grant funding should develop new interdisciplinary research areas and teams, and enhance competitiveness of applications to external agencies.

 Allowed Expenses:

  • Materials/supplies/consumables
  • Equipment (<$5,000)
  • Graduate student support including tuition and fringe (UT-Austin only)
  • Postdoc or Research Scientist support including fringe (UT-Austin only)
  • Travel or conference hosting for team-building in advance of external sponsor proposal submission

 Unallowed Expenses:

  • Faculty salary (summer or otherwise)
  • Administrative support
  • Indirect costs


CNS Catalyst Grant funding is meant to catalyze new research collaborations in high-impact, emerging fields that have potential for external funding. With this goal in mind, we expect that a successful Catalyst Grant proposal will possess the following characteristics:

  • Project teams must include at least two members, one with a primary appointment in CNS and the other member(s) with primary appointments at UT. Team members must be tenure-track faculty, professional faculty, or research-track scientists with PI status. Team members must not have received external funding on a collaborative project together. Previously published collaborations are not disqualifying as long as the work was not funded by a shared grant. Adjunct faculty, visiting researchers, and postdocs are not eligible to serve as Co-PIs but may be named as investigators in proposals.
  • Eligible individuals may only participate in one application per cycle.
  • Cross-college collaborations are allowed.
  • Project teams must identify viable external funding mechanisms at the time of proposal submission to be targeted within two years of project completion.
  • Previous Catalyst Grant winners may apply no sooner than two calendar years from their winning competition cycle (e.g., a winner from Spring 2022 would not be eligible to submit another application until Spring 2024).
  • Previously awarded investigator teams are not eligible to submit a new Catalyst proposal as a team.
  • Non-awarded applicants from previous cycles may submit their proposal twice (i.e., original submission and one resubmission).


Applications must be submitted through Competition Space, UT’s online submission interface. To apply, visit https://utexas.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1890758. Login using your UT EID and password to create your application. Complete the application form and upload the required application documents described above and click “Submit Application” at the bottom of the page. You will also have the option to save a draft and return to continue your application at a future time. If this is your first time submitting a proposal through Competition Space, refer to the “Note” at the end of this RFP for further instructions. Application components should be combined and uploaded as a single pdf and submitted by the deadline of 5:00 PM CST on March 6, 2023.


All application documents should be formatted using 1-inch margins and no smaller than 11-point font. Recommended fonts are Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, and Times New Roman. The documents listed below are required, unless otherwise noted, and must be submitted by the application deadline.

1. Lay Summary with Keywords. In 200 words or less, provide a lay summary for your collaboration and proposed project. Describe the potential impact for a general audience. Following the lay summary, include 5 – 10 keywords that categorize the research proposed in this application.

2. Proposal. Limit to three (3) pages. Organize the proposal in the specified order using the section headings and instructions provided below.

  • Rationale and Vision: Explain what makes your team interdisciplinary. Explain the innovative and transformative nature of the proposed interdisciplinary research, describe the potential impact to the scientific field(s), and provide an assessment of how the project team is positioned to develop competitive external proposals in this research area. The Catalyst Grants review panel will not be experts in your field; please write this section accordingly.
  • Justification: Explain why a Catalyst Grant is required to initiate the collaboration, emphasizing the barriers (technical, procedural, etc.) that currently hinder your proposed project/collaboration and how a Catalyst Grant will impact the team’s probability of success in securing external funding.
  • Participating Faculty: List participating faculty members, providing a clear explanation of each team member’s role in the collaboration.

3. Bibliography/References: No page limit. List citations/references in a document separate from the proposal.

4. External Funding Landscape. Limit to one (1) page. Summarize the external funding landscape for which the seed-funding proposal is being prepared and plans to pursue external funding. Include an anticipated timeline with milestones for development of an external proposal, names of potential sponsoring agencies, and relevant deadlines for those agencies.

5. Budget and Budget Justification. No page limit. Submit a detailed budget that outlines expenditures in appropriate categories for each year of the proposed project. Provide a justification for expenditures.

6. Response to Prior Reviews: Limit to one (1) page. For applications being resubmitted, summarize any changes made to the proposal to address prior reviews.

7. Biosketch/CV and Current and Pending Support: For all members of the investigator team, submit a current biosketch or CV and current and pending funding information (direct cost per year and total duration). NIH, NSF, or similar format preferred.


A standing faculty review panel will evaluate CNS Catalyst Grant applications. Proposals should be written in a manner accessible to non-experts. The following evaluation criteria will be used and given equal weight:

1. Demonstrated commitment by the faculty team to establish a new interdisciplinary collaboration.

2. Evidence that Catalyst Grant funding will enable the faculty team to overcome identified barriers that currently prohibit a successful collaboration.

3. The proposed collaboration’s potential to enhance their competitiveness in securing external funding.

4. The project is in a high-impact, emerging interdisciplinary field and has the potential for innovation.

5. The scientific merit and rationale of the proposed project are sound, and the scope of the proposal is feasible for the Catalyst performance period.


In addition to submitting a proposal for external funding, awardees will be required to submit a final report upon completion of the project and within one month of the end of the award. Awardees may be asked to serve on a standing review committee for future Catalyst Grant competitions. Awardees may also be asked to describe results of Catalyst Grant-funded work at a future CNS event, such as an Advisory Council meeting, or in a CNS communication.


Submission window opens: January 23, 2023

Submission deadline: March 6, 2023

Announcement of awardees: May 2023

Anticipated award start date: September 1, 2023

Award end date: Two (2) years after award start date

Anticipated date unexpended funds swept: September 1, 2025


Program website: https://cns.utexas.edu/strategic-research-initiatives/find-funding/catalyst-grant-program

Application website: https://utexas.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1890758

Program questions and application submission interface questions should be directed to CNS Strategic Research Initiatives: CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu

The form and timing of Catalyst Grants are subject to change in subsequent years.

The content of this announcement is relevant only for the 2023 competition cycle.

Note: If this is your first time submitting a proposal through the proposal submission website, you will first need to affiliate yourself with the College before you can submit. To do this, login with your EID and password, then click on the “Hello, [Name]” link at the top right of the website. This will take you to your user profile. In your user profile, under “Primary School or Department,” select “Natural Sciences, College of” and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Save Changes button. You will now be able to apply.