CALL FOR PROPOSALS: NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program (NSF 15-504)

**Please pay special attention to the information/instructions herein regarding UCI faculty participation as sub awardees on NSF MRIs and the potential impact on UCI’s application limits (see below with internal application instructions).**

The National Science Foundation is inviting applications for the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program, which is designed to increase access to scientific and engineering equipment for research and research training.  This program seeks to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering, and to foster the integration of research and education by providing instrumentation for research-intensive learning environments.  Each proposal may request support for the acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single research instrument for shared inter- and/or intra-organizational use; NSF encourages development efforts that leverage the strengths of private-sector partners to build instrument development capacity at MRI submission-eligible organizations.

Award Information

Approximately $90 million will be available for 175 MRI awards ranging from $100,000 to $4 million (except for mathematics, and social, behavioral, and economic science disciplines, which may request less).  A 30 percent cost share is required.

A number of restrictions are associated with these awards (depending on the type of proposal).  For example, instrumentation intended for research with disease-related goals is normally not supported, but instrumentation for bioengineering research is eligible for support.  Please refer to the award guidelines (Section II: Program Description) for a full listing of these restrictions.

Application Limits and Internal Application Instructions

UCI may submit no more than three proposals: (if three, then one must be for instrument development).  NSF includes participation on funded sub awards as part of an organization’s three-proposal allowance.  Specifically, if a UCI faculty member/team participates as a funded sub awardee on another institution’s Acquisition proposal (Track 1) or as a funded sub awardee on a Development (Track 2) proposal in excess of 20%, it will reduce the number of “lead” proposals UCI may submit (See Section IV: Eligibility Information for more info).

In light of these restrictions, it is important that faculty considering participating as a sub awardee on an NSF MRI proposal notify the Office of Research (via email to as soon as possible (and prior to the internal deadline listed below for lead proposals).  Please note, sub awards that count against our organizational limit will be prioritized by the proportion of use at UCI, with 100% UCI use getting the highest priority.

UCI Faculty seeking to submit a UCI-lead/co-lead NSF MRI proposal, are asked to submit preliminary proposals containing the following information to the Office of Research (via UCI Review), by October 13, 2017:

  • Project summary (no more than 5 pages) that clearly describes:
    • ForTrack 1 (instrument acquisition): the manufacturer and model number of desired equipment along with a detailed plan for maintenance and operation.
    • ForTrack 2 (instrument development): details about the design and construction phase of the project.
    • Research and research training activities and projects to be conducted with the instrumentation.
    • Impact the instrumentation would have on meeting the research and educational goals of the organization or consortium.
  • A preliminary budget estimate of equipment costs and any additional costs (e.g., personnel, travel).
  • CV’s or bio-sketches (no more than 2 pages each) of the primary researchers who would be using the equipment on a regular basis.
  • Support letter from the Dean (or the equivalent in units without a Dean). Dean’s letters are required to show their awareness and support of the proposal being submitted for internal review.  We are not requiring a cost share commitment at this stage.

If necessary, an ad hoc committee will be convened to review the preliminary proposals.  The selected PI(s) will be notified in ample time to meet NSF’s January 10, 2018 deadline.

For the complete NSF guidelines, including detailed information about the MRI Program, please refer to  Questions about our internal campus review process may be directed to Greg Ruth at or x4-0372.