Burning Questions Research Planning Grants Program

Encouraging academic researchers to pursue burning questions

What is this program?

  • This program supports the planning of research and the advancement of recently launched projects related to the “burning questions” we have collected. For example:
    • Hire graduate students to assist with preliminary literature surveys
    • Obtain help for teaching (e.g. in order to devote time to prepare applications for major research grants from the government)
    • Undertake pilot studies (e.g. studies that help produce a ‘proof of concept’) that will lead to full studies
    • Pay a coordinator to assemble a multi-disciplinary team for a large research project (e.g. identify and contact possible members for the team)
  • The planning grants are meant to serve as stepping stones. They should be used to develop sound plans and lay solid foundations for work that goes beyond the research funded by the grants. Applicants must have larger, more substantial projects in mind, or in an early development phase, or in progress only for a short time when they apply.
  • Applicants (or at least one member of a team with 2-4 persons) must be employed by or enrolled in universities/ academic research institutions that can receive these grants. And they must hold PhD/doctoral degree or be PhD students of such degree program.
  • The university or institution that receives a grant need not be located in the U.S., but it should be equivalent to a U.S. not-for-profit tax-exempt organization, and be able to accept grants in U.S. dollars.
  • Each grant’s minimum is US$1,000, maximum is $10,000.
  • Grant period is four months.
  • The total number of grants given each year or round is not fixed.

Why this program and approach?

  • This program incentivizes academic researchers to explore the feasibility of developing robust projects to study the “burning questions”. And it encourages researchers who have started projects recently highly relevant to these questions to move forward rapidly with their work.
  • Academic researchers often face the challenge of insufficient time and funds to prepare grant proposals, seek collaborators, come up with a proof of concept. Many excellent ideas are not developed and proposals not written simply because researchers do not have the time to focus on them or do not have the funds to carry out some preliminary work that is required. The program aims at supporting researchers who face such challenges.

Grant recipients

Learn about the grant recipients.