The National Science Foundation is inviting applications for the 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.

As was the case the last two years, NSF has created specific tracks for the acquisition (Track 1) and development (Track 2) of a research instrument, and provided guidance that must be followed when applying for each track.  Also, instruments to be deployed in the field may require additional information to assess compliance with any applicable laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Endangered Species Act. For additional information about updates, please see the revision notes at the beginning of the program announcement.

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.

UCI may submit, or be included as a partner or subawardee in no more than three proposals (if three, then one must be for instrument development). Therefore, I am requesting that preliminary proposals containing the following be sent to my office (preferably by email to or@research.uci.edu) by October 20, 2014:

  • Project statement that clearly identifies whether the proposal is for acquisition or development
  • A summary (no more than 5 pages) that describes:
    • For Track 1 (instrument acquisition): the manufacturer and model number of desired equipment along with a detailed plan for maintenance and operation.
    • For Track 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.
  • 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 22, 2015, deadline.

For the complete NSF guidelines, including detailed information about the MRI Program, please refer to http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf13517.  Questions about our internal campus review process may be directed to Greg Ruth at greg.ruth@uci.edu or x4-0372.

John C. Hemminger
Vice Chancellor for Research