The Office Research Administration and Development (RAD) is inviting proposals for the development of research clusters in which teams of USM faculty and students from a wide range of disciplines collaborate across traditional boundaries to bring knowledge to bear on issues of intellectual, scientific, social, economic, environmental and cultural importance and to work more effectively with the private sector, other institutions and the community. Partnerships should emerge naturally from shared research interests and needs, and take into account future external funding opportunities, and USM’s unique strengths. The overarching goal of the clusters is to coalesce the depth of USM faculty expertise to address community needs, to bring greater internal and external attention to USM faculty research and scholarship, deepen its cumulative impact, and help leverage external funding for sustained collaborative efforts. RAD anticipates making 6-8 research cluster awards between $50,000 and $150,000 per award for development projects of no longer than two years.
Because the source of funding for this competition is the Maine Economic Improvement Fund, research clusters must focus on one or more of the following targeted areas: Aquaculture and Marine Sciences, Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture Technologies Environmental Technologies, Biotechnology, Information Technologies, Composites and Advanced Materials, and Precision Manufacturing. However, because the scale and complexity of Maine’s challenges necessitate collaborative, interdisciplinary, system-based approaches to research, clusters do not have to be exclusively STEM-based. Clusters that focus on collaborative research efforts that coalesce around the questions and challenges posed in the targeted areas that require participation from arts, humanities, and social sciences disciplines are strongly encouraged.
A cluster can also be comprised of faculty from the arts, humanities and social sciences as long as the cluster’s focus is on the utilization, and hence, the growth of a targeted area(s) such as information technology, to address challenge(s) in which USM has the expertise and the potential to be a national leader. Such a cluster must include members of the technology sector(s) as team members and must explain how the cluster will contribute to the growth of the sector(s). For example, the digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing (such as data visualization, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, computational analysis), digital publishing and the disciplines of the humanities, and embraces a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Another example is the rapidly unfolding revolution in digital technologies that continues to have profound effects on the major institutions of the creative economy, especially the library, the publishing house, the museum, advertising, art and antiques markets, computer and video games, crafts, design, designer fashion, video, film and photography, music, performing arts, publishing, software, television and radio, and the institutions and businesses involved in the development of digital technologies. These creative industries are important to Maine’s economy and to future employment at a time when other sectors such as manufacturing and financial services are in decline.
Detailed information on this competition, including application package and due dates, is available online.