Up to $25,000 for two years to strengthen established interdisciplinary research initiatives to be competitive for large-scale extramural grant submissions.

Pursuit Grants will provide support for strategic research initiatives that are competitive for large-scale extramural grants. Eligible interdisciplinary teams should be able to demonstrate ongoing research, clear research goals, and established partnerships. The funding could be used to collect preliminary data to strengthen the proposal(s) or for other activities aimed at submitting a proposal for significant extramural grants by the end of the SNIP grant term. 

Download the 2020-21 SNIP RFP


  • For all levels, projects must seek to address a critical research need and opportunity beyond the scope of a single laboratory or investigator's focused area of research. All proposed research projects must require the participation of interdisciplinary collaborators with complementary fields of expertise. All ideas for multidisciplinary topics are encouraged.
  • For the current cycle, Level II SNIP grants can also be expanded to initiate collaborations with investigators from other colleges at Penn State. Cross-college collaborations require written support and prior approval for the cost share (if funds are necessary for supporting non-CAS personnel) from the associate dean for research of the collaborating unit. Applicants are encouraged to initiate these discussions well in advance of the full proposal submission deadline.
    • Preliminary prior approval for this match has been granted by the College of Information Sciences and Technology (Prasenjit Mitra, Associate Dean for Research) for Level II match.
  • For Level II grants, teams must include at least three persons with faculty appointments and across different departments. Team members should be from at least two different departments in CAS. See specific proposal requirements below. Faculty from any college at Penn State may be included as participants; however, SNIP funds cannot be used to support any non-CAS personnel. The primary investigator (PI) must have a faculty appointment in CAS.

Specific proposal requirements for Pursuit Grants

Concept notes for Level II proposals are required.


A. Title, Thematic Area, Primary Investigator

a. Designate only one PI who will serve as the primary contact for the project. (PI must be a faculty member in the College of Agricultural Sciences.)

  1. Note: Include list of co-PIs and other participants in section D (described below).

B. Summary (200 words maximum)

a. Summarize the established research initiative or collaborative project and the proposed plan to develop and submit a proposal for large-scale extramural funding.

C. Proposal Narrative

a. Description of the initiative and future directions:

  1. Provide a brief description of the initiative/team.
  2. State and explain the significance of the research with particular attention to how the research is transformative and addresses a critical research need with potential to be competitive for large-scale extramural funding.
  3. Describe past activities that shaped the interdisciplinary collaboration.\
  4. Describe the current and future research goals of the initiative/team.
  5. Describe the plan and the target program for external funding (include the following: agency, request for proposals, submission deadline).
  6. Describe the proposed activities that will support the submission of (a) proposal(s).
  7. Provide benchmarks that will be used to measure the progress of the project during the funding period.

b. College readiness

  1. What key strengths in the college will contribute to success?
  2. What gaps in the college create a need for the initiative?
  3. How will the proposed activities address the gaps and capitalize on the strengths?

c. Benefits to the College and University:

  1. What impact will the project have on the stature and visibility of the college and university?
  2. What will be the lasting effects of the network or initiative?

d. Sustainability plan:

  1. Provide a plan for the future of the initiative or the collaborative research with benchmarks beyond the funding period.

D. Project team

(2-page maximum, individuals can participate in multiple proposals):

a. The team must include at least three CAS members: the PI and two or more co-PIs, preferably all from different CAS departments. At a minimum, team members should represent at least two different departments in CAS. Extraordinary exceptions will be considered with a strong justification that three or more distinct disciplines from CAS are represented within the team.

b. Faculty from any college at Penn State may be included as participants (be sure to note the budget restrictions and commitment requirements outlined below).

c. List all team members with their departmental affiliations and describe the role and responsibilities of each project team member, including how the expertise of each is required to address the proposed research problem.

d. Describe a plan to include additional faculty in the network, initiative, or project.

E. Budget and Justification

a. Include a detailed budget justification, providing a brief description and explanation of need for costs associated with Pursuit Grant activities. Use the following budget sections as a guide:

  1. Personnel (Fringe benefits ARE REQUIRED in personnel costs.)
  2. Travel (for invited guests)
  3. Meeting expenses and meals
  4. Honoraria (Honorarium payments are limited by the University to $1,000 or less. If payment to a visiting faculty member or other individual for speaking will exceed $1,000, payment can still be made, but must be identified as a Personal/Professional Service, and the University Scholar Agreement must be completed.)
  5. Purchased Services (i.e. AV for conferences, analysis of samples, etc.)

b. All other project costs typically allowed by federal extramural sponsors are allowed in this program.

c. SNIP funds cannot be used for:

  1. Faculty salaries (including supplemental) or standing appointment salaries
  2. Travel to professional meetings
  3. Support of personnel NOT in the College of Agricultural Sciences

d. Budgets can be constructed for a maximum of 2 years.

e. Please note that submissions to this internal competition do not require the budget to be created through the College's Grants and Contracts Office.

f. Funds from this program must be expended within two years of the award date.

F. Letter of Commitment for Cross-College Teams (if applicable)

a. Proposals with cross-college collaborations must provide a letter of commitment from the unit's Associate Dean of Research, confirming their unit's support.

b. Preliminary prior approval for match has been granted for collaborations with faculty in the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

How to Submit a Proposal


Submit a short concept note for proposals (max 300 words) using the online submission portal linked above by September 4, 2020. Concept notes are required for Level II proposals.

Include the following in the note:

  • A brief summary of the research problem and why an interdisciplinary team is required to address it;
  • Expected outcomes and duration of the grant (within the limitations outlined in the summaries on the first page of this RFP).


Full proposals must be submitted as a unified PDF by 5:00 pm on September 30, 2020, to the Office of Research and Graduate Education using the online submission portal linked above.

Proposal Review Process

  • Proposals will be evaluated by a review panel who will make funding recommendations to the CAS Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education.
  • Proposals from research teams established through SNIP grants are encouraged, but previous or current SNIP funding is not required.
  • Preference will be given to inter-departmental teams.
  • Evaluation criteria:
    • Presents an innovative approach to a clear and well-defined research problem.
    • Addresses a critical research need with potential to be competitive for large-scale extramural funding (funding required to robustly support multi-investigator projects).
    • Proposes research that is transformative with the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in order to pursue large-scale extramural funding rather than incremental (i.e., building only on one or two team members' research).
    • Demonstrates an already-formed robust interdisciplinary collaboration through past activities.
    • Identifies team members with the expertise required to address the proposed research problem.
    • Proposes activities that will realistically support the submission of a proposal for large-scale extramural grants.
      • Provides details for specific funding programs (including the agency, request for proposals deadlines, etc.).
    • Demonstrates the potential to have an impact on the stature and visibility of the College of Agricultural Sciences overall and faculty research in particular (i.e., building on existing strengths in the College of Agricultural Sciences or advancing new initiatives).
    • Includes adequate benchmarks for gauging progress in achieving the research goals.
    • Presents a convincing strategy for leveraging the initial support of this grant to stimulate a lasting impact through continued collaborations and longer-term funding (beyond the Level II funding period).

 Reporting Requirements

  • Interim reports on SNIP-funded Level II projects will be due at six-month intervals depending upon the duration of the proposed project (i.e. May 31, 2021; November 30, 2021; May 31, 2022)
  • A final report on a SNIP-funded Level II project will be due on November 30, 2021 or November 30, 2022 (depending on the term funded).
  • Submit all reports as a PDF to the Office of Research and Graduate Education (agresearch@psu.edu). Report templates will be provided.

Office for Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

Office for Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802