Brain and Behavior Seed Grant Program FY 2017

The University of Maryland’s Brain and Behavior Initiative has announced its FY17 Seed Grant awardees.
Through our seed grant program, we successfully promote collaborations among faculty from research areas that are traditionally exclusive. A successful seed grant competition fosters new research projects undertaken by faculty who have never worked together before as interdisciplinary teams. These collaborations are truly interdisciplinary.

Our second round of seed grants was successful in attracting highly interdisciplinary teams. Proposals were reviewed by external brain and behavior experts who ranked them highly. Nine awards were made to 24 faculty members with home departments ranging from Dance, Biology, and Psychology to Engineering and Computer Science encompassing 5 colleges and the Division of Research.

The following teams were awarded seed funding:

Pamela Abshire (ECE/ISR), Karen Bradley (Dance), Adrianne Fang (Theatre), Brad Hatfield (Kinesiology), Jonathan Simon (ECE/ISR/BIO): Dance and EEG: Neural correlates of expressive movement
Andres De Los Reyes (PSYC), Sarah Racz (PSYC/FIRE), and Erica Glasper (PSYC): Biobehavioral links among social anxiety, risk-taking, and substance use
Robert Dooling (PSYC), Karen Carleton (BIOL), Farrah Madison (PSYC): Identifying candidate genes associated with sensorineural hearing loss in a novel vertebrate model
Heidi Fisher (BIOL) and Erica Glasper (PSYC): Characterizing biological changes associated with shift in reproductive strategy
Jonathan Fritz (ISR) and Bill Idsardi (LING): New representations in neuronal ensembles during initial language acquisition
Megan Fritz (ENTL), Carlos Machado (BIOL), and Quentin Gaudry (BIOL): Unraveling the neurogenetic architecture of human preference in mosquitoes
Luiz Pessoa (PSYC/MNC) and Joseph Jájá (ECE/UMIACS): Computing with trajectories: Novel methods for understanding spatiotemporal function MRI data
Robin Puett (SPH) and Stephanie Kuchinsky (MNC/CASL): Impact of meditation experience on the brain-body connection: Behavioral, physiological, and neural measures of stress-resilience
Joshua Singer (BIOL) and Patrick Kanold (BIOL): Control of cross-modal sensory plasticity by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells

All funded teams will be provided support for proposal development throughout the grant period and are expected to submit at least ONE proposal to an external sponsor within 18 months of the start of their seed funding.  


The mission of the Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) at the University of Maryland (UMD) is to generate novel tools and revolutionize multidisciplinary approaches to understand complex behaviors produced by the nervous system. The purpose of this call for proposals is to foster new collaborations and enable generation of pilot data to promote multi-year, multi-million-dollar proposal submissions that pursue innovative collaborative work at the interface of neuroscience, engineering, computation and physical sciences, cognitive science, and/or humanities.

Guidelines for proposals

This Request for Proposals provides three funding track opportunities. All proposals must target one of the central themes of the BBI

  • Neural Circuits, Learning & Plasticity, Motor Control
  • Sensation, Perception, Communication
  • Mental Health

Proposal Tracks

BBI recognizes that interdisciplinarity is a process and wishes to support researchers at different phases of their progress.

Track 1: Proposals to Track 1 should be high risk, high impact, exploratory research collecting pilot data necessary to prepare proposals to funding sources supporting innovative and interdisciplinary projects such as those listed by the BRAIN Initiative and funded by agencies such as NIH, DARPA, IARPA, NSF, etc.  Proposals submitted to this theme have a maximum budget of $100,0000, plus fringe and tuition.

Example: Toward functional molecular neuroimaging using vasoactive probes in human subjects.

Track 2:  Proposals to Track 2 should be broadly interdisciplinary and include topics as well as partners outside of traditional neuroscience. Specifically, we are looking for teams that include strong participation from the arts, humanities or other disciplines in addition to neuroscientists. Proposals submitted to this theme have a maximum budget of $75,000, plus fringe and tuition.

Examples: For NSF: At the intersection of neuroscience and art and For NEA: Joining the Spectrum: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into Theatre as an Intervention for Autism Diagnosed Teens

Track 3:  Proposals to Track 3 are to support interdisciplinary projects that need short-term support to gather additional pilot data in order to submit for external funding. While calls for interdisciplinarity are growing, the BBI recognizes that in order to be successful immediately these pioneering projects may be more traditional in their interdisciplinarity and external proposals are expected to be targeted to more standard NIH R01/NSF type announcements.  Proposals submitted to this theme have a maximum budget of $50,000, plus fringe and tuition

PI Eligibility

All proposals must be multidisciplinary with at least two Principal Investigators (PI), both of whom are tenured, tenure-track, or research faculty at UMD. Individual investigators may not participate in more than two proposals; if both proposals are awarded, the PI will receive full funding. Outside collaborations (e.g., UMB, NIH, etc.) are allowed, but no money will be awarded to support non-UMD investigators.

Submission Process and Deadlines

Final proposals should contain the following sections (in order):

1.     Signed Proposal Cover Sheet (see template)

2.     Proposal (not to exceed 4 pages)

  • Description of the project, including specific subsections for Significance, Innovation and Approach (no more than 2 pages). Important: please strive to make the impact of the proposed work clear to individuals both within and outside of your discipline.

Describe the following in no more than 2 pages:

       How the work fits the chosen track and how it fits one of the central themes of the BBI. 

        BBI Themes:  1) Neural Circuits, Learning & Plasticity, Motor Control; 2) Sensation, Perception, Communication; 3) Mental Health.

  • The necessity of the collaboration to achieve your goals, what each individual brings to the collaborative effort, and the history of collaboration between the PIs, if any.
  • The specific target (funding mechanism and submission date) for a forthcoming proposal to an external funding agency. The proposal must describe how the BBI seed grant will enable the submission of your externally funded proposal.

3.     Detailed budget and justification (see template)

4.     Short bios of the PIs (2 pg max/PI; any format)

All text should be in Arial 11pt, 1-in margins, single spaced. Merge all documents into a single pdf named PIsLastName_BBI FY17Seed proposal with the subject line of the email: BBI FY17 SEED GRANT PROPOSAL. Questions should be directed to:

Proposal deadline: Friday, January 13, 2017 by 11:59 pm EST

Updated deadline: Tuesday, January 17 by 5:00 pm EST

Selection Notification Date: April 2017; Expected Start Date: May 2017

Selection criteria

Seed Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, each proposal will be externally reviewed. The selection of finalists will be made based on the relevance and potential impact of the research on the related BBI themes, the necessity of the collaboration to achieve the goals of the proposal, and the likelihood of funding from external sources.