The Grant-Writing Experience through Mentorship (GEM) program provides funding to enhance the professional development of new investigators through one-on-one research and grant-writing interaction with successful research mentors. The purpose of this program is to build USU’s research capability and increase extramural funding for scholarly activities by enhancing the proposal development skills of newly hired USU researchers. To facilitate this goal, it is expected that funded GEM projects will result in the development and submission of at least one proposal to an external funding agency.

GEM grants provide 1-year seed funding of up to $10,000 to establish active collaboration between a new USU investigator and a more established colleague willing to serve as a research and proposal writing mentor.

Questions? Contact Jerilyn Hansen at or (435) 797-3437.

Proposal Process


All USU tenure-eligible assistant professors and non-tenure track research assistant professors or research professionals with no more than 4 years in rank, or tenured faculty who have not been awarded external funding in the past 5 years, are eligible to apply. Research professionals with short-term commitments to the University (e.g., adjunct faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate research assistants) are not eligible. Eligibility for newly-hired faculty seeking awards in their fourth year will also be predicated upon a favorable third year review.

Effective FY16, applicants must complete the one-day faculty grant writing seminar to be eligible for a seed grant award.

If an application is turned down by the seed grant review panel, an applicant is allowed one re-submission of a revised proposal on the same subject in a subsequent grant cycle. Revised proposals must include the panel summary and a line-by-line description of how the review panel comments were addressed as an attachment (Appendix H).

Externally submitted proposals that received good peer review panel comments but were not funded are eligible for GEM funding consideration. Proposals that have already been submitted to an external funding agency and a funding decision is pending, or those already reviewed and found to be non-competitive, are not eligible for consideration of GEM funding.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify and enlist the collaboration of an established researcher willing to mentor him/her. Mentors must be successful tenured faculty or established research faculty from USU or an outside institution whose position is at least one professional rank higher than the new investigator.

NOTE: Former major professors or postdoctoral advisors are NOT eligible to serve as mentors on GEM projects.

Researchers may be awarded only one GEM grant (as PI).

Evaluation Criteria

All GEM proposals will be reviewed by a panel of USU researchers and administrators. In evaluating proposals, particular consideration will be given to the following criteria:

  1. Scholarly merit and relevance to the targeted external program announcement or RFP.
  2. Strength of mentor-new investigator collaboration; their expertise, resources, and research records as they relate to providing a productive mentorship experience; prior success with targeted funding agency by mentor will be viewed favorably.
  3. Effectiveness of the research plan in addressing specific issues that must be resolved to develop a strong research proposal for the targeted external funding agency.
  4. Degree to which the project will engage graduate, undergraduate, or post-doctoral researchers.
  5. Likelihood project will extend USU’s research capability and increase external funding for scholarly research activities.

Reporting Requirement

Grantees must produce and submit a new external proposal, directly facilitated by the GEM award within 3 months of completion of the project. If funding is not awarded for the external proposal, the PI will provide the RGS Office with reviewer comments as well as a written plan for resubmission.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The USU faculty member of the GEM project may serve as PI or co-I on the external proposal, but if the mentor is from another institution, USU must be the lead institution controlling the submission of the resulting external proposal (i.e., USU cannot serve as a subcontractor on the project).

PIs who do not submit the required proposals will be ineligible for future RGS funding of any type until this requirement is met.

Proposal Formatting

Each GEM proposal is limited to 8 pages:

  • Single-spaced text
  • 12-point font, 1-inch margins, page numbers
  • Page limitation includes figures and tables
  • Page limitation excludes cover page, references, summary budget, budget justification, and appendices

 Proposal Submission

An electronic (PDF) copy, plus a hard copy, of the entire proposal should be submitted to the Dean or Associate Dean for Research, as directed by the college. Applicants are advised to check with their colleges regarding internal submission deadlines. After internal review, the college will submit proposals to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies by April 15/October 15 for final review.

Cover Page (required)

Research Plan (required)

1. External Funding Target(s)

Provide a summary of the primary and secondary external funding targets (RFPs), including the name of the specific funding agency and program, URL for the RFP, maximum budget amount (if known), proposal process (e.g., is there a letter of intent or pre-proposal required?), and submission deadline(s). Describe the research or creative activity to be proposed in the external proposal. Contact with the Program Officer is strongly encouraged. Include a statement about any feedback received as a result of discussions with the Program Officer. Include brief descriptions of any supplemental documents that are required by the target RFP (e.g., NSF and NIH require data management or data sharing plans, and may require additional documents depending on the nature of the work; the National Endowment for the Arts requires artistic documentation in a specific format).

If – and only if – the external funding target has a cost-sharing requirement, describe college/department/PI plans to address the match obligation.

NOTE: If the external funding target requires a letter of intent, a pre-proposal, or is a limited submission program, a second external funding target must be included.

2. Introduction and Seed Grant Project Description

Describe the proposed research or creative activity of the seed grant, including a summary of relevant literature, specific objectives/primary questions to be addressed, expected outcomes/products, procedures and methods utilized, novel/cutting-edge aspects of the project, and broader impacts of the research. Provide an explanation of possible pitfalls/risks of the project and how these will be mitigated. Include a statement about how the seed grant and the external proposal will advance the career of the PI.

3. Relationship of Seed Grant Project to External Funding Goal

Explain how the seed grant’s project outcomes/products are relevant and necessary to the development of a strong and successful external proposal to the targeted funding opportunity. Describe how the seed grant work will enhance or be incorporated into the external proposal, including how a less than satisfactory outcome of the project will be mitigated in the external proposal. For example, seed projects targeting NSF can incorporate the involvement of Extension specialists to help improve the Broader Impacts requirement of the external proposal.

4. Management Plan

Describe the scope of work and responsibilities of the PI, mentor, and any other key personnel of the seed grant project. If the project includes multi- or interdisciplinary partnerships, describe how data, responsibilities, and information will be coordinated and how communication will be managed. Provide a timeline for major activities, including the preparation and submission of the external proposal.

References (required, no page limitation)

Summary Budget (required)

Budget Justification (required, no page limitation)

Provide a summary budget and justification for all proposed expenses, including mentor, student, postdoctoral researcher, and Extension specialist support; fringe benefits; supplies; equipment needed to generate preliminary data for the external proposal; and travel required to complete the research project.

Up to $1,000 of the total budget may be allocated to the mentor to support time and effort or research-related contributions to the project.

Unallowable costs include PI salary support, conference travel, literature review costs, and funding paid to other institutions (unless well justified).

Explain any departmental or college contributions to the project (not required, but could include providing student help, travel or administrative support, or other expenses associated with external proposal development).

Appendices (required, no page limitation)

Appendix A. Mentorship Plan (required) (1-page maximum)

Mentorship plan written by the mentor.

Appendix B. Curriculum/Curricula Vitae (required) (2-page maximum per person)

CV information is required for the PI and mentor.

Include as part of the CV a record of grant writing experience and role (PI or co-I). If no funding has been received, indicate any grant writing training received.

Appendix C. Current and Pending Support (required)

List the current and pending support for the PI.

For any current or pending projects that are related to the proposed seed grant project, include a separate description of the specific objectives and how they differ from the objectives of the seed grant.

NOTE: An applicant who is a new Assistant Professor (within first 2 years of appointment) must include a separate description of his/her new faculty start-up funding.

Appendix D. Conflict of Interest (required)

Disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest is required for the PI.

Appendix E. Education and Training Plan (if required by external RFP)

If the targeted external funding opportunity requires a major educational or training component, describe how these elements will be addressed. Outline any plans for recruiting, retaining, or educating students from underrepresented groups.

Appendix F. Special Requirements of Project (if applicable)

Identify any special requirements of project (human participants, animal use, hazardous materials, etc.).

Appendix G. Supplementary Documentation (if appropriate)

Letters of support from individuals not named as co-PIs or outside entities whose collaboration is integral to the execution of the proposed seed grant project.

Appendix H. Review Panel Comments (if applicable)

If seed grant proposal is a resubmission, attach previous seed grant review panel comments and address comments line-by-line.

If the research outlined in the application is intended to support resubmission of an external grant proposal that was not funded in a recent cycle, but did receive favorable scores from the agency review panel, a full copy of the review panel comments must be attached.

GEM projects are funded semi-annually, with start dates of January 1 or July 1. Applicants should select the timeline that best ensures they can develop and submit an external grant proposal within 3 months of GEM project completion. See schedule below for the semi-annual timelines of GEM submissions, awards, and outcome delivery.

An electronic (PDF) copy of the entire proposal should be submitted to the Dean or Associate Dean for Research, as directed by the college. Applicants are advised to check with their colleges regarding internal submission deadlines. After internal review, colleges should email an electronic copy of the fully signed proposal (as a single PDF file) to Sharece Cox ( in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies by April 15/October 15 for final review.

Schedule for GEM Submissions, Awards, and Outcome Delivery

Steps For January 1 Start Date For July 1 Start Date
Applicants confer with their Dean or Associate Dean about eligibility March – May August – October
Proposals are submitted to college office At Dean’s discretion

(allow ample time for review and signatures by the Department Head and Dean)

At Dean’s discretion

(allow ample time for review and signatures by the Department Head and Dean)

College reviews proposals for eligibility and quality September – October February – March
College submits proposals to the RGS Office October 15

(if this is a Saturday or Sunday, proposals will be due on Monday)

April 15

(if this is a Saturday or Sunday, proposals will be due on Monday)

Notification of awards by the RGS Office December June
Grant period January 1 – December 31 July 1 – June 30
External proposal submission Within 3 months of project completion date Within 3 months of project completion date