Junior Faculty Research Mentoring and Funding Opportunity

Background

The Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR) is one of 18 Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) funded by the National Institute on Aging. MCUAAAR is a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan, Program for Research on Black Americans, the Wayne State University, Institute of Gerontology, and the Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine and School of Social Work. The Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center (MRDRC) is one of four research centers within the U.S. Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Retirement and Disability Research Consortium.

Call for proposals

MCUAAAR, in partnership with MRDRC, seeks retirement or disability research proposals that focus on the well-being of older African-Americans and/or disparities among different race/ethnic groups. These awards, for the period 7/1/2022 to 6/30/2023, are available through the MRDRC via a cooperative agreement with the SSA.

Applications for the next round of funding open on October 18, and are due January 18, 2022. 8 p.m. (EST).

Pilot research studies conducted by junior faculty are funded as a vehicle for MCUAAAR’s mentoring process, which provides a firm foundation upon which the scientists can build successful academic research careers. MCUAAAR has been in existence for more than 20 years, and has been extremely successful in mentoring minority (mostly African-American) junior faculty.

Structured, integrative mentoring

  • All MCUAAAR scientists have a minimum of two formal mentors, one whom the scientist lists in their proposal and another who is a MCUAAAR faculty member (the latter mentor will be assigned by MCUAAAR during the first month of the award).  
  • MCUAAAR scientists and their primary mentors create an individualized development plan (IDP) that maps out the various tasks for their research project, new skills to be acquired, and target dates for publication and grant applications.
  • Mentees are encouraged by their primary mentors to seek advice and assistance from other MCUAAAR faculty members. Many mentees continue in their mentoring relationships after completing their formal tenure at MCUAAAR.
  • Because it is a mature center, several former mentees are now MCUAAAR faculty. 

Fall retreat

  • MCUAAAR annually holds a full-day retreat for all its scientists and faculty.
  • Each new and continuing MCUAAAR scientist presents an in-depth overview of their project and receives feedback from center faculty as well as other MCUAAAR scientists. 
  • Each faculty member provides a brief overview of their research, allowing scientists and center faculty to remain up-to-date on their colleagues’ interests and expertise.

Monthly MCUAAAR scientist updates

  • MCUAAAR holds 90 to 120 minute monthly meetings with all faculty and scientists.
  • Prior to the meeting, scientists provide a two to three page progress update.
  • At the meeting, each scientist gives a five to 15 minute presentation, including updates on their pilot study, publications, presentations, other activities (job market), and issues (human subjects, ethics, career planning).
  • Faculty, as well as other scientists, provide advice, feedback, and referrals.

REC and Analysis Core sponsored training sessions (~two per month) 

  • MCUAAAR’s Research Education Core (REC) leads training sessions with scientists focused on responsible conduct of research and professional development more broadly. Topics include ethical virtual data collection, the use of race in research, and resources and strategies for conducting research during the COVID-era
  • Analysis Core full-length sessions are designed to impart depth and explore specific applications of analytical concepts; mini-sessions are designed to provide breadth and a primer on resources for scholars to use in their work.

Summer workshop programs

  • Junior investigators are invited to attend interactive workshops on conducting research on African American populations.
  • Workshops emphasize training in the areas of: 1) writing proposals, 2) conducting and publishing research, 3) ethics and the responsible conduct of research, 4) providing technological tools to assist the research process, 5) individual feedback on a forthcoming research project, and 5) guided instruction on interviewing for university positions.
  • MCUAAAR also actively communicates with previous summer workshop participants through a listserv. Roughly two to three times a month, MCUAAAR sends notices about Request for Applications, various publishing opportunities, and announcements about academic positions.

Applicant requirements

Junior faculty and research scientists/ investigators are eligible to apply for this award. The mentoring program is for early-stage researchers who hold an academic rank, or appointment equivalent to, assistant professor. All MCUAAAR scientists have a minimum of two formal mentors, one whom the scientist lists in their proposal and another who is a MCUAAAR faculty member (the latter mentor will be assigned by MCUAAAR during the first month of the award).

The financial awards, for the period 7/1/2022 to 6/30/2023, are available through the MRDRC via a cooperative agreement with the SSA. Individual requests may not exceed $25,000 in direct costs. Funds cannot be used to support senior faculty salaries or to purchase equipment. Studies involving human subjects must be approved by institutional review board prior to release of funds. The mentoring program will continue for a second year after the funding period.

To receive funding, individuals must have demonstrated interest in retirement and disability topics that relate to the Social Security Administration’s research agenda. Collaborative research projects that address issues relevant to SSA from all academic disciplines, as well as those that involve faculty from more than one department, school or institute, are encouraged. All are invited to apply for the funding; members of under-represented communities are encouraged to apply.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to

  • trends in disability;
  • work in the modern economy;
  • age of retirement and its determinants;
  • racial differences in wealth;
  • subjective retirement;
  • reasons for leaving the labor market;
  • planning and preparation for retirement;
  • financial literacy;
  • pensions, accumulation of home equity, and other saving for retirement;
  • living arrangements in retirement;
  • intergenerational transfers of time and material support within family lines;
  • the importance of Social Security and other government benefits during retirement.

Proposals should recognize the importance of a person’s life course development as it relates to the specific analysis presented.

Each proposal must contain the following information:

  1. The name and contact information of each investigator.
  2. NIH Biographical Sketch of each investigator.
  3. Description of Proposed Research (not to exceed four single spaced pages, excluding references). This should include the following sections: Specific Aims, Research Strategy, Significance, Innovation, Approach and References.
  4. Budget. (PDF using the MCUAAAR budget template).
  5. Budget justification (one page).
  6. Other current grant support.
  7. NIH biographical sketch of the investigator’s mentor(s).

Only applications in Arial 11-point font or larger will be accepted. All application materials should be in PDF and submitted using the Qualtrics online application.

Awards are for the period 7/1/2022 to 6/30/2023.

Applications for the next round of funding open on October 18, and are due January 18, 2022. 8 p.m. (EST).

Questions regarding this opportunity should be submitted to Cheri Brooks at the Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center, mrdrcumich@umich.edu.

This funding is offered through a cooperative agreement between MRDRC and the Social Security Administration.