Catalyst Grant

Pull Quote
*Applications for the 2022-23 grants are currently closed*
Oval at dawn


The Mershon Center aims to meet its goal by advancing interdisciplinary research and collaborative approaches to international, national, and human security by providing seed support for interdisciplinary research that will attract external funding. This is a multi-year award with the expectation of public outreach, inclusive of academic and non-academic publications.


Research Teams

Following our mission to support interdisciplinary work, research teams must include at least two Ohio State faculty and represent at least two disciplines, colleges, or schools. Research teams may also include scholars at other institutions, but must include two Ohio State faculty. We also encourage the inclusion of graduate student participation. Successful applicants may come from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, communications, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, public affairs/administration, public policy, psychology, sociology, and other fields.

The lead principal investigator (PI) on the proposal must be a faculty member, either tenure/tenure track or research, or a clinical-track faculty member who is engaged in research. PI status at Ohio State is required for all lead PIs. Co-investigators can be faculty, research staff or postdocs from intellectually distinct disciplines. Highly collaborative and interdisciplinary teams formed with attention to diverse perspectives and approaches, and include faculty at all career stages, are strongly encouraged to apply.


Budget Parameters

Mershon Center’s Catalyst Grants will provide from $50k up to $150k, for a 24-month period, allocated in two installments. The second installment will be contingent upon interim review of progress.

Allowable expenditures include:

  • Pilot fieldwork, instrument development, and out-of-pocket research expenses
  • Research materials or data acquisition/collection
  • Graduate student research payment
  • Meetings with visitors and shared support for multidisciplinary teams of researchers (travel expenses are subject to applicable restrictions)
  • Consultation with collaborations and/or experts from outside of Ohio State

Funds cannot be used to support or supplement faculty salaries or for travel to conventional academic meetings or conferences. External collaborators are welcome but cannot receive salary support  from Catalyst Grant funding. Ohio State faculty may request use of Catalyst Grant funds for teaching relief, but non-Ohio State faculty cannot use the funds in this way.  


Grant Recipient Expectations

Award recipients will be expected to be an active member of Mershon Center events specific to the category (international, national, human) of security the project falls under, and the Mershon Center more generally, throughout the duration of the award. Specific requirements include:

  • Writing a public-oriented post for the Mershon website and/or newsletter about the project
  • Giving a presentation about the project at the Mershon Center
  • Communicating regularly with Mershon Research and Programming Faculty leaders
  • Informing Mershon communications specialist regarding any publications, presentations, or media appearances regarding the funded research
  • Including Mershon as a recipient of indirect funding in external grants; indirect costs should be in proportion to Mershon’s funding of the project
  • Submitting a final report of activities and budget expenditures, along with a copy of the proposal submitted for external funding at the conclusion of the funding period


Proposal Requirements 

Proposals should describe the nature and scope of academic and policy impact, as well as the potential routes to external funding. Please see the required section headers listed below and submit to

  1. Standard coversheet: Include a descriptive project title and 250-word abstract.
  2. Brief Project Narrative: Provide a non-technical narrative describing the research priority that will be addressed, the proposed interdisciplinary approach(s) to be employed, and how the proposed research goal will advance interdisciplinary research and collaborative approaches to international, national, or human security.
  3. Team Member Bio-sketches: List the core team members with departmental affiliations, contact information, a brief overview of scholarship, and their anticipated roles on the proposed project.
  4. Research Plan: describe the proposed project (limit: three-pages single spaced, excluding figures and references). Please include:
    1. Specific research questions
    2. Background and/or a brief literature review
    3. A clear explanation of how the research connects to international, national, or human security
    4. An explanation of the significance and expected impact of the work on international, national, or human security (science and/or society), along with the anticipated contribution to the Mershon Center’s goals
    5. Proposed methods, plan of analysis, anticipated outcomes (e.g., datasets, peer-reviewed papers, op-eds, etc.), and a timeline
  5. External Funding Opportunity: Explain your leveraging plan for how the project will lead to external funding. Examples could include, but are not limited to the following: 
    1. Describing a direct relationship of the proposed study to a specific call for proposals (e.g., RFP, RFI)
    2. Summarizing a discussion with program officers at specified funding agencies (e.g., MSF, Carnegie, Templeton) indicating enthusiasm toward the project
    3. Summarizing potential partnerships with government agencies, private sector, NGOs, or other universities
    4. Importantly, please also address your plans for the project beyond the two years of funding.  
  6. Budget Narrative and Itemized Budget – Two- page maximum

Proposals should be single-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides and a font size no smaller than Arial font size 10. Itemized budget should annualize the planned expenditures into first and second year of grant support.


Review and Selection

A panel made up of Mershon Research and Programming Faculty will review the proposals and make final funding recommendations to the center director.


Evaluation Criteria

  • Research plan specificity
  • Links important normative and theoretical work, high-level empirical research, and applied research in ways that advance interdisciplinary research and collaborative approaches
  • Addresses current policy issues relating to international, national, and human security.
  • Explores and supports Mershon Center’s core research priorities: international, national, and human security
  • Crosses interdisciplinarity and methodological boundaries
  • Potential to produce new and/or innovative knowledge
  • Budget is detailed, appropriate, and fiscally feasible. Narrative justification provides explanation
  • Potential to stimulate intellectual activity within the Mershon community and throughout Ohio State on critical international, national, and human security issues; contributes to relevant contemporary debates
  • A clear, compelling, and detailed plan that addresses how the research will enable submission of a large, externally sponsored grant proposal by the end of the two-year performance period