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Seed grant brings together researchers from Penn State and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

By Cole Hons and Brianna Lumpkin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences has initiated a new grant program to seed collaborative, interdisciplinary projects that would bring together researchers from Penn State and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

The Penn State Inter-Institutional Partnerships for Diversifying Research (IPDR) program aims to ensure that the University’s inter-institutional research reflects the diversity of populations that could directly or indirectly benefit from its findings, making these discoveries more broadly applicable and impactful.

“We are proud to leverage our interdisciplinary strengths to make tangible commitments to diversifying research — not just at Penn State, but across the nation — through the partnerships that will be fostered by this new initiative,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State. “It is imperative that R1 institutions like ours do all we can to maximize our commitment to inclusivity and equity in academia — a commitment that Penn State research takes very seriously.”

Though led by the Huck Institutes, the initiative is co-sponsored by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute, Materials Research Institute, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Penn State Cancer Institute.

“On behalf of Huck, I would like to thank our partners, the other six Interdisciplinary Institutes who committed resources — funding, time and effort — to help foster a diverse research community,” said Camelia Kantor, associate director or strategic initiatives for the Huck Institutes. “It was truly exciting and humbling to see all seven institute directors under OSVPR come together to share their passion for DEI and eager to provide support of this important initiative.”

Melanie McReynolds, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Early Career Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, shared some personal insights with Kantor when the initiative was being created.

McReynolds said, “As a former participant of an initiative and partnership between Alcorn State, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and Penn State, I see the value in this seed grant and know it will leverage collaborative efforts and advance equitable science for all institutions and personnel involved.”

Professor of Meteorology Jose D Fuentes chairs the Social Justice Research Council at Penn State, and was also invited to provide input into the design of IPDR.

“Meaningful partnerships with MSIs will surely lead to greater exchanges of faculty members, students and administrators from both institutions to share not only expertise and research infrastructure, but more importantly the human resources needed to achieve education and workforce development potential,” Fuentes said.

The IPDR grant provides support for up to two years. Estimated funding will be up to $30,000 per award. All tenure-line, research or clinical faculty are eligible to apply as principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI. IDPR grants support collaborative research efforts with the following groups of Minority Serving Institutions:

  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Hispanic Serving institutions
  • Native American-Serving Non-Tribal Institutions
  • Predominantly Black Institutions
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities

Proposals are due May 8, with an anticipated award announcement on July 6. Full details are available at the program’s infoready application page.