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Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program (RISE and IFHA)

The UC Davis Campus Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program (IFP) is an initiative of the Office of Research designed to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarly activities on the UC Davis campus. The IFP is facilitating the formation and enhancement of interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative programs in areas of importance to the human condition, such as human health, agriculture, the environment, energy, education, the arts, culture, social structures, and the economy.  The IFP consists of two complementary sub-programs:

The intended outcome of IFP is to empower faculty teams to become competitive in securing major funding from government, private industry, philanthropic and other external sources to support transformative interdisciplinary research and creative activities. Successful proposals are those that demonstrated the greatest potential for scientific, social and cultural impact as judged by factors including interdisciplinary design, innovativeness, originality, impact on graduate and undergraduate interdisciplinary training opportunities, and potential for generating new grants and contracts and economic development. 

Funding for the IFP comes from indirect costs generated by awards to UC Davis under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  These research-related revenues were set aside by Chancellor Katehi for campus-wide reinvestment in research, consistent with the Chancellor’s Vision of Excellence and the goal of reaching $1 billion in sponsored research activity. 

Objectives of the Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program (IFP)

The main objective of IFP is to support the development of internationally recognized interdisciplinary themes from across the UC Davis campus in all the schools and colleges. These themes are expected to:

    1. Conduct outcomes-based and mission-oriented research and creative activities across the boundaries of disciplines;
    2. Advance the frontiers of human knowledge and experience;
    3. Enhance opportunities for undergraduate research and interdisciplinary graduate student and postdoctoral fellow training;
    4. Drive the creation of intellectual property, where appropriate;
    5. Facilitate the development of research partnerships with external institutions and organizations; and
    6. Become self-supporting within a 3-year time frame.

The IFP will also facilitate the development of facilities and infrastructure to support the mission of the interdisciplinary themes. Should funding remain after this stage, additional RFAs may be issued.

Proposal Process

Both the inaugural RISE and IFHA internal funding competitions are complete. Concurrent with each RFA (Request for Applications) release, Office of Research staff visited the academic units to present the program and answer questions. The submission deadline for RISE was April 2, 2012, and for IFHA, January 10, 2013. Funding decisions were made by July, 2 2012 for RISE and June 17, 2013 for IFHA.

The proposal submissions were 12-page narratives addressing a specific set of questions outlined in the RFA plus supporting documentation, including a budget, budget justification, and CVs of key participants. 13 RISE grants (out of 119 submissions) and 7 IFHA grants (out of 30 submissions) were awarded. Awards ranges were between $100,000 and $1,000,000 over a three-year period, with the possibility of additional funds being committed for renovation of facilities.

Review Process

The Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) established an External Advisory Committee (EAC) to evaluate proposals in each sub-programmatic area. Each EAC was comprised of outstanding members of the relevant peer community drawn from academia, government, and private foundations, and chaired by a distinguished UC Davis emeritus faculty member.  The review committees advised the VCR on the merits of the thematic proposals and ranked them for funding.  The VCR, in consultation with the Provost and the Chair of the Academic Senate, was responsible for final decisions and for implementing the recommendations of the EACs.  The review process was managed by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives.  The external peer-review process was designed to eliminate potential conflicts of interest and to promote transparency.

For further information please contact:

Harris Lewin
Vice Chancellor for Research