Seed Projects in Arts and Sciences Research and Creative Activities (SPARC)

The SPARC (Seed Projects in Arts and Sciences Research and Creative Activities) program in the College of Arts and Sciences was created to stimulate innovative work that leads to significant outcomes in research, scholarship and creative practice.

College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) tenure-track and tenured faculty are invited to submit proposals for this internal seed funding program. Seed grants ranging up to $75,000 for two years will support work that demonstrably leads to one or more measurable outcomes, such as external grant submissions; scholarly publications or significant work disseminated through other methods, such as exhibitions or performances at major venues.

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Collaborators/co-principal investigators in CAS may hold either tenured, tenure-track or research faculty titles. Instructional and visiting faculty are not eligible for support. Tenured/tenure-track faculty collaborators from other academic units are welcome to be part of SPARC-funded projects, but may not serve as principal investigator, and other than payments for services, funds cannot be used to support costs in labs not directly supervised by CAS PIs.

Each faculty may submit only ONE proposal per review cycle as the primary/principal investigator. In addition a faculty may serve as co-investigator/collaborator on up to TWO additional proposals per review cycle.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should describe research, scholarship, and/or creative practice that is not currently supported by external funds or is eligible for support from internal sources (e.g., startup funding, bridge funding, Humanities Institute or OVPRED seed funding programs). SPARC will only support new projects. Projects that have already benefited from prior external or internal funding will not be supported. The program does not provide bridge funding. Projects led by faculty who have CAS-provided research funds or receive spendable return from endowments or named professorships are ineligible to receive support under this program.

The proposal category should be specified according to the funding range requested.

Category A: (up to $15,000) Funding in support of research travel

Funds in this category can be used to:

  1. underwrite the cost of travel to archives or similar venues for the purposes of viewing original source material. Support for costs of publishing research results derived from supported travel can also be requested under this mechanism. Note, travel to visit collaborators will not be supported.;
  2. underwrite the costs of shipping, presenting or performing the products of creative activities;
  3. provide “gap funding” that allows a faculty holding an externally supported faculty fellowship (e.g. Fulbright) to complete the fellowship residency without shouldering an undue financial burden. Note-this funding mechanism is not provided in lieu of top-up via partial FTE reduction and will require additional documentation beyond the normal application. Holders of residential fellowships that provide housing or underwrite housing costs are ineligible for this support.
Category B: (up to $75,000) Funding in support of research or creative projects that will be completed on campus

Funding for personnel costs (except faculty salary), supplies, community engagement costs and local travel can be requested. Support for purchases of small equipment ($10,000 or less) can be requested but must be thoroughly justified. Funding cannot be requested to support purchases of computers, or long-distance travel (air, rail or mileage costs for trips longer than 100 miles). 

Proposal Format

The narrative section of the proposal (1-4 below) is limited to three pages in length (single-spaced, with font no smaller than 12 pt Times or Times New Roman) and margins no smaller than 0.5 inches.

The proposals should include these six sections. Please write for an interdisciplinary audience that will not have specific disciplinary knowledge in your field of research.

  1. Abstract 300 words or less that summarizes the work being proposed, its significance and projected outcome(s)
  2. Introduction/background that describes how the new work relates to the current work of the proposers. This section must also provide broader perspectives on the proposed work’s significance and importance as a new direction in the discipline.
  3. Description of proposed new work, with a particular focus on how the project comprises a novel direction for the proposer that will elevate their research, scholarship and/or creative practice and open new avenues for innovative research and scholarship.
  4. Anticipated outcomes (e.g., publications, performances, new external grant proposals) with the inclusion of a timeline and specific suggestions for how to assess successful achievement of the outcomes.
  5. List of representative research, scholarship, and/or creative practice products produced by PI(s) from within the past 10 years (publications, books, performances, etc., as appropriate).
  6. List of prior funding, both external and internal (including fellowships) received within the past five years.

In addition, the proposer must provide a budget spreadsheet and a one-page budget justification containing sufficient detail to allow the review committee to understand the costs of each component of the proposed work and how it relates to the goal of the project. The budget submission must use the appropriate supplied budget spreadsheet template.

Download Budget Templates

ALL documents must be assembled and submitted as a single .PDF file. 

Please use a file name that consists of:

  1. your last name
  2. 3 letter department code 
  3. funding category

e.g., Smith-CDS-Category-A.pdf or Jones-RLL-Category-B.pdf

Deadlines and Submission

The proposal submission window for the 2023-2024 cycle is closed as of October 1, 2023.

2024-2025 proposal submissions will begin being accepted in summer 2024.

Award Review and Administration Process

  • Submissions will initially be considered on an annual basis, with a due date of October 1 for funding to begin the following January 1. Additional submission dates may be announced subsequently.
  • Review of all proposals will be performed by an interdisciplinary committee appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional reviewers may also be consulted as needed. The CAS Associate Dean for Research will serve as ex officio member of this committee and will supervise the review process. Final funding decisions will be made by the Dean of the College.
  • Proposals will be evaluated based on the perceived significance and quality of the proposed work as well as the anticipated outcome(s). Preference will be given to work that will clearly lead to a one or more measurable outcomes, i.e., publication, creative presentation/performance, or external grant submission.
  • Only proposals that are judged not to be a good fit for funding through other established internal mechanisms at UB (Humanities Institute, OVPRED Seed Funding) or SUNY will be considered. Projects that are sufficiently advanced and are judged to be likely to be funded externally will also not be considered for support. Applicants are encouraged to discuss the project with the Associate Dean for Research and/or their Sector Associate Dean.
  • Grant funds will be available for up to 24 months after initiation of the award. Awarded funds must be spent three months after the end date of the grant. Funds remaining after that period will be returned to the dean's office.
  • A final one-page report on the outcomes of the supported work is due six months after the end date of the grant. Failure to submit the final report by the deadline will result in loss of eligibility for future SPARC program grants.
  • Yearly funding for this program will be determined by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Award Recipients