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

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.

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 (via UCI Review), by October 19, 2015:

  • Project summary (no more than 5 pages) that clearly 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.
To apply through UCI Review:

  • Visit
  • Look for this call by name under “Open Competitions” and click the hyperlink
  • Click “Apply” on the right hand side under “Application Tools”
  • If you’re not already signed in, click “UCI WebLogin” and fill in your UCInetID username and password
  • All details are automatically saved as you enter them. When you are ready to submit, click “Submit Application” at the bottom of the page. You will receive a confirmation email once your application has been submitted and accepted.

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 13, 2016, 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.

James W. Hicks
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

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