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Cottrell Scholar Program to become more inclusive

The 21-year-old Cottrell Scholar Award (CS) program is undergoing a “round of modernization,” according to Robert Shelton, president of Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).

 “The CS program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing significant discretionary awards for basic research,” Shelton said, adding that effective with the competition starting in May 2015 the size of the initial CS award will increase by 33 percent, to $100,000.

 In addition, eligibility rules are being modified to admit scientists from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). Traditionally only faculty from major research universities have been eligible.

“After several decades of successfully supporting PUIs with Cottrell College Science Awards and Department Development Awards, we are now moving our support to the colleges to a higher level. PUI faculty will benefit enormously from being part of our stellar Cottrell Scholar Program,” said Program Director Silvia Ronco, adding that the new program will allow PUI and research university communities to network and learn from each other.

 While the major criterion for funding in the CS program is that the proposed research add to fundamental scientific knowledge, the successful CS candidate is one who is also passionate about excellence in teaching. A stringent peer-review process ensures the selection of exceptional scientists dedicated to early stage, high-potential research and educational innovations.

“The program seeks to nurture an active, forward-looking interdisciplinary community,” said CS Program Director Silvia Ronco. “It does this by affording Scholars the opportunity to engage in an annual networking event, and to share insights and expertise through the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative.”

Multiple competitive opportunities for research funding, career building and networking are incorporated into the updated program. Those opportunities include:

TREE (Transformational Research and Excellence in Education) Awards – celebrate innovative research and excellent educational accomplishments of outstanding Cottrell Scholars (2/year; $25,000 each)

LEAD (Leadership Enrichment and Development) Awards – support unique, high-impact leadership advancement opportunities such as workshops; leadership training; and sabbatical opportunities with leadership advancement components.  (Award size will vary according to proposed activity)

SEED (Singular Exceptional Endeavors of Discovery) Awards – support the very first instances of exceptionally creative new research or educational activities based on novel, risky/interdisciplinary/exploratory ideas. No preliminary data are required. ($50,000 for new research ideas and up to $25,000 for new educational endeavors).

A fourth method of recognition, reserved for post-tenure Scholars, is the prestigious Cottrell FRED Award (Frontiers in Research Excellence and Discovery), which supports the early stages of a major undertaking in high-risk/high-reward research with compelling potential to transform a field of study. Although proposed projects can build upon on-going research in the principal investigator’s laboratory, they are required to describe completely new directions. Outcomes of this research should compare in quality to research published in high-impact scientific journals such as Nature Communications.  (Up to three $250,000 awards per year).

“RCSA’s reputation is a valuable asset, enabling the Foundation to form partnerships and leverage our resources to accomplish our mission,” Shelton said.  “These multiple advantages reinforce the imperative that RCSA focus its financial, intellectual and personnel resources to have the greatest impact. Our modifications to the highly successful CS program are designed to maintain that impact on the advancement of science in America.” 

 

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