The Role of Biological Sex/Gender in Human Behavior, Health and Development

Request for Proposals

The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) invites Level 1 and Level 2 proposals for pilot research projects aimed at supporting the formation of new interdisciplinary teams and the development of external grant proposals to study significant issues in the areas of biological sex/gender, broadly defined. These constructs provide a key lens for social and behavioral science research with implications across SSRI’s five strategic aims. Example topics include biological sex/gender and its intersection with education, employment, and other domains; human physical and mental health and development; food security and nutrition; agriculture; environment and climate change; violence and security; poverty and economic well-being; and population processes. Projects can be at any level of analysis (micro to macro), can study any or multiple age groups, and be either domestic or international in focus. However, research teams must include interdisciplinary collaboration, and biological sex/gender must be central to the project and fully integrated into the problem, theory, research design and analysis, and expected outcomes.

We will prioritize applications that:

  • Develop collaborations involving junior and senior faculty
  • Propose novel research, including high-risk, high-reward and transformative, proof of concept projects that provide preliminary data necessary for external funding
  • Advance one or more of SSRI’s strategic aims

Further, priority will be given to projects that make a convincing case for how the research can yield externally fundable proposals that include a social and behavioral component and advance scientific understanding of biological sex/gender.

Eligibility

This mechanism is primarily designed to assist PSU social science faculty at University Park and the College of Medicine to advance their research by securing extramural funding. Although research teams can include students, post docs, faculty from other institutions and other external collaborators, our goal is to support interdisciplinary teams from Penn State's faculty. For this reason, team leaders should be tenure track or research faculty with continuing appointments. Single investigator proposals will not be considered. Investigators may be the lead or co-PI on only one proposal; however, investigators may serve as a collaborator on up to two proposals.

Funding Availability and Timeline

Up to $100,000 of funding is available through this seed grant solicitation via the SSRI’s Level 1 and Level 2 mechanisms (see below).

Timeline for Letters of Intent and Proposals

August 15, 2019 Call for proposals released
October 14, 2019 Level 1 and Level 2 Preproposals due by 5pm Eastern Time
November 8, 2019 PIs will be notified and full proposals will be invited
December 13, 2019 Full proposals due by 5pm Eastern Time
January 24, 2020 Seed grant funding decisions announced

Pre-proposals for Level 1 and Level 2 applications are due on October 14th. Pre-proposals identify the funding mechanism (Level 1 or Level 2) and include an abstract of up to 500 words that describes the study aims and methods and how the project can advance social and behavioral science on biological sex/gender, a preliminary budget, the project role of each team member, and an NIH or NSF biosketch for each team member.

Pre-proposals should be sent as one PDF document to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu.

Pre-proposals will be reviewed and teams will be invited to submit full Level 1 and Level 2 proposals that conform to guidelines below.

 

LEVEL 1 PROPOSALS

The Level 1 funding mechanism is primarily designed to assist PSU social science faculty at University Park and the College of Medicine to form interdisciplinary research teams directed at pursuing external funding by supporting meetings to discuss mutual interests, develop research questions, identify leaders, conduct literature reviews, and collect pilot data. Although external collaborators may be included, our focus is on developing ongoing PSU teams. For this reason team leaders should be tenure track or research faculty with continuing appointments.

  • Level 1 proposals range from $500-$5,000
  • Level 1 proposals are limited to 2 pages plus support materials
  • The SSRI Director and Associate Directors, relevant college Associate Deans and content experts will review these proposals
  • Funds are allocated for a 6-12 month period

Level 1 funds are intended to provide support for:

  • Development of new, innovative research projects aimed at attracting external funding
  • Creation of interdisciplinary networking groups
  • Support for meetings (including travel)
  • Graduate assistant time
  • Paying outside consultants
  • Small pilot studies

Level 1 funds are NOT intended to support:

  • Expenditures generally made by departments and colleges (e.g., travel to professional conferences, seed money for an individual project)
  • Delivery of outreach programs or services
  • Requests for funds for meals and snacks should be kept to a minimum
  • Student projects (masters, dissertation research)
  • Publication costs

Criteria for Review

  • Priority is placed on new ideas that involve cross-department and/or cross-college (interdisciplinary) collaboration
  • A well-articulated plan of activities
  • Teams comprised of investigators who range in seniority and experience
  • Proposals must provide strong evidence for access to the population of interest for human subjects research and access to necessary data sets for secondary analysis proposals; when relevant, investigators are expected to submit the appropriate requests for IRB approval of research
  • Proposals must make a clear contribution to social science
  • Promise of the research to lead eventually to external funding

Structure and Submission of Proposals

Proposals must be submitted as one document via email to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu. To complete your proposal submission, you must download, complete, and email the forms below:

Proposal Submission Form (see below)

Project Reports

Investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update and a brief (one page) final report upon completing the project. These efforts allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the successfulness of our seed grant program.

If you need to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget during the course of your projects, please send a request to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu with the details of these changes.

Example of a Successful SSRI Level 1 Proposal

Stephen Wilson, PI, Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts: To eat or not to eat: Effects of food availability on neural and subjective responses to food cues and monetary gains in restrained eaters. Collaborating investigator: Kathleen Keller, Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Food Science.

Questions? Contact Leif Jensen Ph.D., Associate Director, Social Science Research Institute and Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography

 

LEVEL 2 PROPOSALS

The Level 2 mechanism is primarily designed to assist PSU social science faculty at University Park and the College of Medicine to advance their research by securing extramural funding. Although research teams can include students, post docs, faculty from other institutions and other external collaborators, our goal is to support interdisciplinary teams from Penn State's faculty. For this reason team leaders should be tenure track or research faculty with continuing appointments.

  • Level 2 funding is designed to support research projects with specific research questions, a well-conceived theoretical basis, an identified team of Penn State faculty collaborators, and the potential to gain external funding
  • Level 2 proposals are between $5,000 and $20,000
  • For projects greater than $20,000, please consult with SSRI Associate Director Leif Jensen
  • The SSRI Director, Associate Directors, relevant college Associate Deans and researchers with relevant expertise review Level 2 proposals
  • Funds are allocated for a 12-24 month period

Level 2 funding support will be provided for:

  • Innovative interdisciplinary research, training, and integrated research-outreach projects that involve collaborations among Penn State faculty
  • Innovative workgroups or conferences that might include outside speakers and consultants. Note: The SSRI supports conferences only when they are specifically designed to enhance faculty expertise, thereby leading to new funded research. Proposals for conferences must indicate the expected date and specify that other sources of conference funding have already been explored.
  • Travel, consultants, graduate student time, or hourly support of activities
    • Note: special guidelines for international travel
      • Funds will be provided for only one investigator
      • Funds will not be provided for graduate students
      • Proposals must include a letter of support from the international collaborator(s) outlining his/her role in the project
  • Salary replacement cost of $7,500 (replacement costs for one course buyout in consultation with the department head in the semester of proposal writing/submission)

Level 2 funds are NOT intended to support:

  • Student (masters, dissertation research) or post-doctoral projects
  • New or ongoing projects of individual faculty or any on-going programs or research activities
  • Delivery of outreach programs or services
  • Funding for the kinds of activities supported by departments and colleges (travel to conferences, seed money for an individual's project, computer or software purchase, etc.)
  • Summer salaries
  • Projects involving a Penn State faculty member and external collaborators only; our goal is to build and support Penn State teams
  • Publication Costs

Criteria for Review

  • Priority is placed on new ideas for projects that involve cross-department and/or cross-college (interdisciplinary) connections among Penn State faculty
  • A well-articulated plan of activities
  • Teams comprised of investigators who range in seniority and experience
  • Proposals must include a specific product (e.g., external grant proposal; workshop and conference; or training activities) and a timeline for its attainment
  • Proposals must make a clear contribution to advancing social and behavioral science on biological sex/gender
  • For human subjects research, proposals must provide strong evidence for access to the population of interest; for secondary analyses, proposals must describe dataset availability; investigators are expected to prepare and submit the appropriate requests for IRB approval.

Structure and Submission of Proposals

Proposals must be submitted as one document via email to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu. To complete your proposal submission, you must download, complete, and email the forms below:

Proposal Submission Form (also see below)

Other Ideas to Consider as You Construct Your Level 2

  • Consult with SSRI Associate Director Leif Jensen about your project. Talk with any of the SSRI unit directors (Geographic Information Analysis (GIA), Survey Research Center (SRC), Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center (SLEIC), and Methodological Consulting Center) about how you might use the expertise of their units to enhance your research
  • If you need time and funding to network, organize your team, or further develop your research ideas, consider applying for a Level 1 project

Project Reports

Investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update and a brief (one page) final report upon completing the project. These materials allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the success of our seed grant program.

If you need to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget during the course of your projects, please send a request to ssri-seed-grant@psu.edu with the specific details of these changes.

Example of a Successful SSRI Level 2 Proposal

Jennie Noll, PI, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development: Child sexual abuse prevention: A RCT of a parent-focused module. Collaborating investigators are: Kate Guastaferro, Assistant Professor in the Methodology Center, and Yolanda Jackson, Professor of Psychology.

Questions? Contact Leif Jensen Ph.D., Associate Director, Social Science Research Institute and Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography