Case study: Princeton Center for Complex Materials

The Opportunity: A renewal application for a six-year center grant to fund research and educational activities focused on quantum materials and biology-inspired engineering.

The Stakeholder: Ali Yazdani, Class of 1909 Professor of Physics; Director, Princeton Center for Complex Materials

The Challenge: Planning and preparation of two submissions (pre-proposal and full proposal) involving 19 funded investigators and 14 collaborators. In addition to promoting collaborative research, the Center supports substantial education and outreach efforts dedicated to broadening diversity and inclusion in STEM.

The Process: Mary Sym, research development strategist, provided input on overall content strategy and responsiveness to the solicitation. She also worked with various campus partners to develop the sections on shared facilities, education, project management, and diversity. Mary worked alongside the team over several months to ultimately weave together a compelling 40-page project narrative for the funding agency.

The Outcome: On July 2, 2020, NSF announced an $18M award to fund the Princeton Center for Complex Materials, along with ten other Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers across the country. Together, they comprise a diverse and powerful network for materials science research and education that is poised to have ripple effects across the entire scientific community and society.

“Large-scale center proposals like this one are complex and multi-faceted, encompassing many elements beyond the technical aspects of the research. They require a team approach for which the Office of the Dean for Research can provide professional support.” - Ali Yazdani