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Catalyst Grant

Mershon Center Catalyst Grant Competition
Fiscal Year 2024-2025
Due date February 1, 2024


For a general understanding of Mershon's mission and funding goals, please review the overview of Mershon funding on our website.

Scope and eligibility

Mershon will offer occasional grants to catalyze and advance original, high-impact interdisciplinary team projects. Grants will support the early phases of strongly conceptualized collaborative investigations that seem likely to make significant original contributions to the understanding of security issues, with important implications for policy or practice. We are open to supporting an experimental or exploratory phase in cases where the stakes are clear, a novel approach is taking shape, and the PIs can credibly commit to prioritizing the project.

2-year grants, $50-150K. Disbursed in two installments, the second contingent on interim review. Funds can be used for a range of purposes that advance the research, subject to University rules and regulations, but course releases must be negotiated with the researcher's chair. Supplemental salary and salary support are not available for either Ohio State or external faculty. Instead of seeking to maximize the funding win, the budget should reflect a manageable plan of work that supports the activities necessary to move the project to the next stage.

The final product is negotiable, depending on the fields and the project stage: it might be an external funding application, a joint publication, a dataset, a policy white paper, etc.

Two of the researchers, including the lead PI, must be OSU regular faculty (tenure-track or clinical), preferably from different departments. The team as a whole must draw from multiple disciplines OR be otherwise differentiated (for example, internationally or professionally) in ways relevant to the topic; diverse perspectives and multigenerational teams are strongly encouraged. PIs should not be concurrently involved in other large funded projects.

Submission Instructions

All application materials should be sent via email attachments (coversheet saved as a Word document) to mershon.faculty@osu.edu  .  Please identify each electronic document with the lead PIs' last names, the grant, and document type (i.e. smithCATALYSTcv.doc or smithjonesCATALYSTprojectnarr.doc).

For questions regarding the application process or budget, allowable expenses, travel, or disbursement of funds, please contact Kyle McCray, Business & Operations Manager at the Mershon Center, at mccray.44@osu.edu or at 614-292-3810.

Proposals must contain the following items:

  1. Standard Coversheet including project title and a 100-word abstract (available below). 
  2. Project Narrative and Research Plan (ca. 10 pages, spaced as you prefer), including
    a.  Summary. Non-technical summary of the security issue that will be addressed, the novel approach being proposed, and how the proposed research collaboration will advance the approach.
    b.  Statement of the problem and its significance for international, national, and/or human security.
    c.  The proposed approach and how it should break new ground in relation to prior literature/prevailing approaches
    d.  Proposed research activities for the catalyst period, with research questions and goal, methods, timetable, and anticipated outcomes.
    e.  Proposed final product, transition, and expected next stages
    f.   Justification of Mershon as a context for the project. How does the project benefit Mershon and how, apart from the money, does Mershon benefit the project?
  3. Team Member Bios: List the core team members with departmental/institutional affiliations, contact information, a brief overview of scholarship, their anticipated roles on the proposed project, and whether they have already agreed to participate.
  4. Budget Narrative and Itemized Budget, broken down by 1st and 2d yr. 2- page maximum. Please explain if additional funding will cover essential expenses. 
  5. CVs of the PIs.


Applications will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary faculty committee. Applicants may be invited to discuss the project and budget with the committee and, in some cases, to revise and resubmit. Applicants will receive an initial response by March 15, and revise-resubmits will be due by May 31.

Criteria for evaluation include

  • the intellectual excellence, originality, and potential impact of the proposed approach
  • the relevance and importance of the problem addressed for international, national, and/or human security
  • the clarity and specificity of the project plan
  • the viability of the proposed activities: qualifications of the team, evidence of their commitment to the project, reasonableness of the proposed activities within the projected timeframe and resource availability
  • the constitution of the research team as an ensemble reflecting both the needs of the project and the stakes of the problem, theoretical, normative, empirical, and/or applied
  • the anticipable reciprocity of benefits between the project and Mershon

Faculty grantees are expected to participate in the life of the Mershon Center, both informally and formally. Collegiality and curiosity, objectified by a reasonable level of showing up, are essential to cross-disciplinary learning. In proportion to the support given, affiliates are also called upon for specific forms of service, taking their schedules into account. We hope, of course, that grantees will remain engaged with Mershon after the granting period and will continue to collaborate with us.

Specific granting requirements include

  • Regular contact with Mershon leadership regarding project developments, including a brief annual report.
  • Present the project to Mershon colleagues on a Mershon Monday or other occasion for interdisciplinary feedback
  • Submit one or more brief public-oriented posts on the project, with appropriate photos or graphic material, for the Mershon newsletter and website. Grantees should also keep the Mershon Center communications specialist abreast of publications or other research updates and discuss ways in which the center can assist in promoting or supporting research.
  • Submit a copy of the final product and a close-out report, including any follow-on plans for external funding.
  • Credit the Mershon Center for International Security Studies as research funder in all relevant publications and professional activities and list it as an associated org on the PA-005 form if you apply for external funding. Discuss proportionate indirect costs with Business&Operations Manager Kyle McCray in relation to any external applications.

Grantees who do not fulfill the grant requirements will not be eligible for future funding.