SSRI announces Dr. Frances Keesler Graham Early Career Professorship Call for Proposals

The Dr. Frances Keesler Graham Early Career Professorship will provide supplemental funding to social and behavioral science faculty members at Penn State who are working in the interdisciplinary field of developmental neuroscience. The award will rotate every three years, providing seed money (approximately $20,000 per year) for innovative research projects and programs.

Dr. Graham attended Penn State as an undergraduate from 1935 to 1938. As a young woman whose career aspirations in the sciences challenged the conventions of the period, she was grateful for the education, encouragement, and opportunities she received at Penn State, which included a fellowship for her first year in graduate school at Yale University.  After completing her doctorate in psychology at Yale in 1942, Dr. Graham went on to become a renowned scholar in developmental psychology and psychophysiology.  Her work serves as a foundation for what is now the rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field of developmental neuroscience.  Dr. Graham received many honors during her career, including membership in the National Academy of Sciences, President of the Society for Research in Child Development, and Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1983. Her daughter, Mary B. Graham, created this Early Career Professorship to honor the work of her late mother.


Tenure track Penn State faculty members in the social and behavioral sciences at University Park and the College of Medicine who are within 10 years of having completed the Ph.D. at the start of the award period.   

Application Process

Applications should first be submitted for approval to the candidate’s Department Head and then to the College Dean. Each Dean may submit up to two proposals to


August 15, 2016:  Proposals are due to SSRI

October 1, 2016:  Funding decision announced


The application should be no more than three single-spaced pages, not including items 4-6 below. 

1. Title of project and name and affiliation of the candidate

2. Goals for the Dr. Frances Keesler Graham Early Career Professorship

    • Describe the research area and its significance for developmental neuroscience and the social and behavioral sciences, more generally.
    • Explain how the Professorship will play a significant role in advancing the candidate’s research, teaching, and engagement.

3. Activity Plan

    • Describe the activities that will be undertaken during the Professorship period, including how these activities will advance the goals of the Professorship and a timeline for their accomplishment.
    • Explain how the Professorship will lead to a proposal for external funding.

4. Budget for a research project/program extending over 3 years with maximum expenditure of $20K per year.  Salary and travel costs are allowed but proposals will be judged for their potential to advance an innovative program of research, so should be included judiciously.

5. NSF or NIH biosketch

6. Statements of support from the Department Head and Dean

Items 1-6 should be saved in a single PDF document for forwarding to

Review Criteria

  • Merits of the proposal, including its innovation, significance and relevance to  developmental neuroscience and the social and behavioral sciences
  • Qualifications of the candidate
  • Clarity, rigor, and feasibility of the work plan
  • Likelihood of an external proposal resulting from the Professorship.

Progress Reports

The Awardee will provide a progress report at the end of the funding period (Year 3), highlighting progress made and tangible outcomes (e.g. papers, presentations, proposals).