Maryland Transportation Institute Seed Grant Competition

The Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) is accepting multidisciplinary research project proposals in areas that will advance transportation and lead to major external research funding proposal submissions. The MTI intends to fund four to six (4-6) grants of up to $50,000, subject to a sufficient number of high-quality proposals being received. This seed grant funding opportunity aims to promote multidisciplinary collaboration, increase external funding support for transportation-related research, and advance the ranking and prestige of the transportation research program at the University of Maryland (UMD).

The deadline is February 4, 2019.

Eligibility and Conditions of the Award

  • Only MTI affiliated faculty members and affiliated center researchers at the University of Maryland – College Park are eligible to apply. All Co-PIs on a proposal must be affiliated with MTI. Check the MTI website for a list of affiliated faculty members and affiliated centers/labs at UMD. To become an affiliated faculty member or affiliated center, please email the MTI Director, Dr. Lei Zhang (, and copy MTI Assistant Director, Catherine LaPadula ( with a request to become an MTI affiliate before the proposal deadline.
  • MTI is set up to promote interdisciplinary collaboration. All project proposals must demonstrate multidisciplinary research and be led by at least two (2) Co-PIs in different research areas. Proposals involving researchers from more than one UMD college are preferred. Proposals involving multiple departments within the same UMD college are also acceptable. Proposals only involving a single UMD department are not eligible for MTI seed grant funding.  
  • The product of the seed grant proposal must include the development and submission of at least one major external funding proposal during the seed grant project period, or within six months of the seed grant project end date. This major external funding proposal must be routed through the MTI. If the required major external funding proposal is not submitted, the Co-PIs involved will not be eligible for any future MTI seed grant funding. In addition, the Co-PIs’ home departments will not be eligible for MTI funding for two years. When routing the resulting external funding proposal through MTI, the investigators’ home college and home department will be given 100%-unit credit and all of their currently entitled DRIF returns. In other words, routing the proposals through MTI will not affect the DRIF return to PIs’ home colleges or home departments. In addition, at the request of proposal PIs, MTI can offer proposal support to the PIs as they prepare and submit the external funding proposals (research coordination, organization of proposal team, organized outreach to funding agencies, technical and proposal writing support etc.).
  • Brief quarterly progress reports are required for all seed grant projects. A final research outcome summary report is also required one (1) month after the seed grant end date (report templates will be provided by the MTI upon award);
  • Grantees should notify MTI of any papers published or awards received in relation to funded MTI seed grants. MTI will send out a short performance indicator forms to PIs to collect such information each year in the first three years after the conclusion of each seed grant project.
  • Only costs listed in the proposal are allowable. Awards are non-transferrable and the MTI Director must approve any budget changes in writing before they are incurred.
  • Award funds will be transferred to the department on a reimbursement basis for and will be issued at least quarterly. Co-PIs departments must set up accounts for the successful project. A statement from KFS must be provided to the MTI Assistant Director before reimbursement to a department account is made. Alternatively, the MTI can administer the award.

Proposal Guidelines and Formatting

Proposals should contain the items outlined below, within the page limitations provided. Proposals failing to meet these guidelines will not be considered for funding. Font should be consistent throughout the proposal and be at least 12 point for text and 10 point for tables/graphics.

Proposals should be emailed to as a single PDF document by the lead PI, with copies to all co-PIs. Only the PDF attachment will be reviewed.

  • Cover Page – Maximum One (1) Page
    • Title of Project
    • Name, title, email address, and home departments/colleges of all Co-PIs
    • Statement of Collaboration
      • Describe the nature and importance of the proposed multidisciplinary collaboration, how the collaboration between the investigators from different colleges/departments/units is necessary to move this research proposal forward, and related external funding opportunities.
  • Proposed Seed Grant Research – No more than Four (4) single-spaced pages
    • Background and Project Objectives - Describe the current research activities/strengths at UMD in relevant research topic areas and present the project objectives.
    • Approach and Project Tasks: Describe the overall strategy, methodology and analyses to be used to accomplish the project objectives, and project tasks.
    • Significance and Expected Outcomes
      • Explain the importance and Impact of the proposed research;
      • Describe how the MTI seed funding can help promote multidisciplinary research collaboration at UMD and the expected collaboration outcomes.
    • Future Funding –
      • It is expected that each MTI seed grant will lead to at least one major externally funded research project proposal. A “major grant proposal” is defined as a proposal with more than $500k of external funding. However, MTI will also consider proposals in research areas that historically have smaller funding amounts per proposal, as long as the Co-PIs can demonstrate how the MTI seed funding can effectively promote multidisciplinary transportation-related research at UMD. Please clearly identify the sponsoring agency (agencies) and if possible, funding programs that the project team will pursue based on their MTI seed grant research findings. Please also provide any relevant track records and evidence of past successes. Please also include the expected date of the submission of the external research project proposal(s).
  • Budget and Timeline – Maximum Two (2) Pages
    • Proposals should include a budget table with all relevant costs up to $50,000. MTI Seed Grant funds are not to be used for the purchase or maintenance of computers, laptops, phones, and/or equipment. MTI seed grant funding is not subject to indirect costs, but should include any applicable fringe benefits for personnel. 
    • A timeline of proposed research activities. The suggested period of performance is March 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.
  • Leadership Endorsement: Please include letters signed by Co-PIs’ department chairs/unit heads that support your MTI seed grant proposal submission. A support letter may simply include a statement that supports the proposal and confirmation that the department/unit will meet the conditions of MTI seed grant program outlined in this RFP.  
  • Appendix – Maximum One (1) Page (only for proposals including human subjects)
    • If the seed grant project will involve the use of human subjects, please include a brief description of the activities using the NIH guidelines. Any seed grant research proposals approved for funding and involve the use of human subjects must obtain appropriate human subjects approval through the University’s Institutional Review Board before the funding will be released.

Proposal Review and Selection

MTI staff will screen all submitted proposals to determine whether the proposals meet the RFP’s requirements. Proposals that do not meet minimum requirements or are determined to be outside the scope of the RFP will be removed from further consideration. Remaining proposals will be reviewed by the MTI Steering Committee members (see the MTI website for the list of current Steering Committee Members), with any potential conflict of interest identified and addressed in the review process. The MTI Director will make final funding decisions based on review comments and ratings from the MTI Steering Committee members. The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Importance and impact of the proposed multidisciplinary research that builds ties between colleges/departments/units at UMD;
  • The potential of the proposed multidisciplinary research to compete in and win external funding; and
  • Overall quality of the proposed research and the proposal team.

It is expected that proposals will be reviewed and winning proposals selected by March 2019.



Please email the MTI Director, Dr. Lei Zhang ( and MTI Assistant Director, Catherine LaPadula ( , if you have any questions related to the MTI Seed Grant Program.


Published January 25, 2019