Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR)

The Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) program supports ideas that foster creativity, facilitate collaboration, and assist Auburn University in reaching new levels of distinction.  PAIR funds interdisciplinary research teams for up to 3 years.  Teams are expected to define an integrated interdisciplinary research effort distinguished by intellectual excellence and driven by a clear vision of fundamental scholarly advances, innovative discoveries, or technological developments having broad economic and societal impact.  PAIR is intended for investigators who seek to enhance their external research sponsorship through multiple, interdisciplinary collaborations. 

Goals of the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) 

  1. Provide for the formation and continued support of focused interdisciplinary groups working across fields and academic divisions, with distinct theoretical and methodological approaches, to explore innovative research questions. As an example, the health sciences is a focus area that is strongly aligned with the priorities of the university and addresses a wide range of disciplines.  
  2. Support the integration of disciplinary areas creating transformative interdisciplinary research teams working on innovative projects.
  3. Serve as a catalyst for developing scholarly projects that will attract external funding support for faculty, students and the University’s associated research infrastructure.

Collaborative proposals from all areas of scholarship are encouraged.  Each team must include a single lead-faculty principal-investigator, faculty co-investigators, and the participation of graduate and undergraduate students.  Other non-tenure track research staff members may also participate.  The proposed team shall clearly demonstrate the integration of its multi-disciplinary capabilities associated with the respective research area of interest.  The team must include participants from multiple academic or research oriented units on the Auburn University campus or Auburn University at Montgomery campus.  There is no restriction on the number of PAIR proposal collaborations in which any single faculty/researcher may participate, however an individual may serve as lead investigator on only one proposal.  While funds will not be provided to external entities, collaborations are encouraged from external participants (i.e., other universities, public or private entities).  It is required that any external partner demonstrate that they will contribute via their own financial support. 

Teams and their activities funded through PAIR are expected to lead to the development of various proposals for extramural funding.  Further, the area of scholarship should likely be such that more than one future sponsor may support further research in the selective work.  PAIR is fundamentally an investment to further the research and scholarship of the proposed team and increase their likelihood of attracting future extramural funding for their respective scholarly works.

Award Amount: PAIR funds will be allocated at an annual level of $100,000 ~ $500,000 per team, for a maximum of three (3) years.  Funding for the program is projected to be based on a three year cycle.  Colleges/schools/research units are strongly encouraged to reflect their support through leveraged resources such as, but not limited to, meeting space, technical support, priority use of existing equipment, support staff time and other contributions, including those from external partners, that demonstrate strategic commitment to the efforts of the participating units. It is noted that leveraged resources are additive to the initial award. The PAIR will be funded by, and at the discretion of, the Office of the President with an anticipated maximum of $5 million over the three-year period.  The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED) will provide administrative oversight for the PAIR initiative.

Commensurate with the level of funding requested, it is anticipated that PAIR funding may support the following categorical activities:

(Tier I – Early Career Award)  Activities that advance small teams’ scholarly efforts with the potential of seeding new initiatives.  A Tier I team should consist of faculty members from different disciplines who seek to form a closer partnership and to develop a track record of collaborative scholarly and/or creative endeavors (maximum of $100,000 annually). The lead investigator must be a tenure-track member of the Auburn University faculty. Potential outcomes of Tier I funding should reflect a team that is strongly positioned to pursue interdisciplinary funding opportunities from both federal and non-federal entities such as (but not limited to) NEH Collaborative Research grants; NIH R15 and R21 grants, foundation grants, industry funding, federal/non-federal planning grants, etc.  

(Tier II – Established Investigator Award)  Activities that may result in the creation or development of new Auburn initiatives (e.g., a new research area).  A Tier II team should consist of faculty that have a track-record of collaborative scholarly activities (joint presentations, papers, books; the design and generation of processes, products, artifacts, performances, etc.) and who seek to expand and enhance that collaboration by sustaining its operations via external sponsorship (maximum of $250,000 annually). The lead investigator must be a tenured member of the Auburn University faculty. Potential outcomes of Tier II funding should reflect a team that is well-positioned to pursue highly competitive federal and non-federal funding opportunities such as (but not limited to) NIH R01 grants, NSF INSPIRE grants, Gates Foundation Grand Challenges, etc. 

(Tier III – High Impact Research Award)  Activities that would position the team to be highly competitive for both federal and non-federal large-scale funding opportunities (e.g., externally funded “Center” grants) to address research questions of national and/or global significance.  A Tier III team should have a significant track-record of scholarly and/or creative collaboration, some level of externally funded research activities, and should be poised to make ground-breaking advances through a large, nationally recognized, externally sponsored effort (maximum of $500,000 annually).  The lead investigator must be a tenured member of the Auburn University faculty. Potential funding opportunities that may be pursued through Tier III funding may include (but is not limited to) NSF Center grants, NIH Program or Center grants, etc.

PAIR funds are principally intended to support the organization and development of teams including faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff.  Funds are to be used for meeting planning and participation, coordination/facilitation of symposia, preparation of planning documents, proposal development and commensurate activities including but not limited to the purchase of research-specific equipment, supplemental data collection, partial stipend support for student participation, travel costs and other related expenses eventually leading to external sponsorship of the proposed scholarly efforts. 

Selection Process: The selection process will be administered via the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED).  A selection panel(s) will be comprised of Auburn University Associate Deans for Research (ADRs) and other college/school-recommended subject matter experts as deemed necessary or appropriate.  It is anticipated that external subject matter experts will be utilized for the Tier III review; may be used for the review of the other Tier categories, and may be drawn from academic institutions, public entities or the private sector to provide input to assist the selection panel.  Final selection of successful proposals for funding rests with the President.  Each proposal must communicate the proposed research effort clearly both to disciplinary experts and to non-expert reviewers.  The following general evaluation criteria will be utilized during the selection process:

  • Demonstrated ability to articulate a well-integrated, interdisciplinary research program that is driven by a vision that will lead to scholarly advances, major discoveries or new technologies;
  • Strength and clarity of the proposal  to form a sustained research team capable of securing future extramural sponsorship and increased scholarly reputation;
  • Presentation of the strengths of the proposed multi-investigator, interdisciplinary team;
  • Specific qualifications, accomplishments and collaborative track record of the team; 
  • Potential positive impact on Auburn University’s efforts to achieve Carnegie Classification Level R1 – Highest Research Activity; and
  • Potential of the research to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes (broader impacts).

Due Date: Proposals are due on or before 4:45pm (Central Time) March 2, 2018.  Proposals should be submitted via the AU Competition Space.  See the PAIR 2018 Application Instructions for details on proposal format and a link to the AU Competition Space. Awards will be announced in April 2018 for projects beginning June 1, 2018.  Applicants are encouraged to submit non-proprietary content, or clearly mark proprietary information, when applicable.

General Reporting Requirements: Contingent upon the availability of funds and based upon the project’s successful progress, funding will be approved on an annual basis.  To assist in monitoring the respective project’s progress, award recipients are required to submit a Semiannual Report and an Annual Executive Summary Report.  A Final Performance Report will be due within ninety days after the end of the award period.  Reports will be structured similar to those required by a granting agency in the applicant’s field and should compare the accomplishments of the project in both quantitative and qualitative terms with the objectives stated in the approved proposal

Support for Award Recipients: Mentoring, technical and coordination support will be provided to award recipients throughout external proposal development and award management processes. The Office of Proposal Services and Faculty Support will facilitate these activities.  Contact Tony Ventimiglia ( or Bob Holm ( for guidance.   

Further Information: Questions about proposal preparation (including PI eligibility) or budgeting should be directed to Dr. Robert Holm at or 334-844-5877.

Robert Holm, Ph.D.
Proposal Services & Faculty Support

Phone: (334) 844-5877


Application Instructions

Application Deadline:   March 2, 2018 4:45 pm

Apply Here