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Program details

Research at the interface is most powerful when it is driven by collaborations of young researchers given sufficient resources and a fast timeline. We therefore present the Interdisciplinary Opportunity Award program for new, short-term (one-year) collaborative projects driven by trainees (graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, not PIs).

At the Annual Center Symposium, a topic will be announced. Self-selected teams of interested junior researchers need to produce short abstract-like proposals by the end of the Symposium. A preliminary proposal is due by the end of the Symposium (Tuesday at 4:30pm). Full proposals (<3pages) must be submitted within two weeks, which will then be evaluated quickly (~2 weeks) by a Center committee. The winning teams will receive $8,500 to support the collaborative project over one year plus travel and registration to the Center Early-Career Researcher Symposium and next year’s Annual Symposium on Multiscale Cell Fate, scheduled for March 2020 and October 2020 respectively, to present their results. Winning proposals are selected for their ambition, their feasibility (within a year), and their potential to lead to lasting long-term collaborations.

The 2019 theme is:

A tale of two scales

The proposal must explicitly link two scales (or more), either:  two timescales (e.g., nanoseconds to years; molecular dynamics, chemical kinetics, cell movements, cell differentiation, human aging), or two length scales (e.g., atoms, base pairs, molecules, cells, tissues, organisms), or two scales in information space (e.g., phylogenic distance, within-population variability to speciation).

Award rules and pre-proposal

  • A topic will be announced at the 2019 Annual Symposium.
  • Form a self-selected team with other early-career researchers (graduate students, postdocs, undergraduate students). The teams must include members from at least two labs, who are on different sides of the mathematical and experimental spectrum (very broadly interpreted), and at least one member from UCI.
  • A short abstract-like pre-proposal is due by the end of the Symposium on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 at 4:30pm. It should be e-mailed to with subject “2019 IOA” and must include the following information:
    1. Team member names and affiliations,
    2. PI names and affiliations,
    3. Project title,
    4. Brief project description
  • Full proposals (<3pages) must be submitted by November 15, 2019 (see details below), and will then be carefully evaluated.
  • PIs must send an e-mail acknowledging support before winning teams are awarded.
  • The winning teams will be informed by the end of November via email.
  • Winning teams will receive a budget of $8,500 for research expenses to support the collaborative project over one year. For example, this may include travel between the collaborating institutions, or experimental consumables. Some restrictions apply; please contact for more information.
  • The funds must be expended within the year. We emphasize fast project result generation!
  • The winning teams are required to:
    1. present a “work-in-progress” talk at the Center’s Early-Career Researcher Symposium, scheduled for March 2020. At least one team member must therefore attend, although all team members are encouraged to do so. Travel expenses and registration will be covered by the Center. And,
    2. all team members must attend and present their final results at the next year’s Annual Symposium on Multiscale Cell Fate, tentatively scheduled for October 2020. The Center will cover travel expenses and registration for all team members.

Full proposal instructions

After submitting a pre-proposal, the next step is the submission of the full 3-page proposal. This proposal should include:

    • Names of participants, their career stage (grad student, postdoc, etc), their institutional affiliations, and their PI names,
    • The project title, which matches the title from the pre-proposal,
    • A project description including its significance.

A rough budget is not required in the proposal, but you are welcome to include one if you wish.

Separately, the PIs involved (thesis advisors for PhD students) must send an e-mail acknowledging their support for the proposal. This can be very brief (for example, “I support STUDENT NAME’s IOA proposal.”). If the PI is committing resources, e.g., lab equipment or computing cluster time, this should be mentioned in their e-mail of support too.

These items should be e-mailed to with subject “2019 IOA.”

The deadline for the full proposal is Friday, November 15th at midnight. Winners will be informed by November 31st.