Pilot Project Grants


The Institute for Social Research (ISR) is excited to announce a new pilot grant program in collaboration with the College of Engineering (CoE). ISR produces groundbreaking and wide-ranging social science research — representing more than 20 academic disciplines — and is a leader in developing and applying new social science methods.

CoE is one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious engineering colleges with over 11,000 students, 17 undergraduate majors, over 60 graduate degree programs, and 14 academic units. Maintaining an emphasis on interdisciplinary research distinguishes both ISR and CoE.

ISR is partnering with CoE to invite proposals for pilot projects on the Study of Rural Contexts. Pilot grants from ISR foster innovative research that investigates social, behavioral, and economic aspects of life. CoE’s People-First framework emphasizes the application of advanced technology in interdisciplinary settings to address major societal challenges. The Study of Rural Contexts pilot grant program invites proposals for projects that bring together colleagues from CoE and ISR with a focus on rural areas. The intent of this program is to promote interdisciplinary research among faculty members at Michigan, as well as gain novel insights into rural living through this unique collaboration.

If you have a particular subject of study in mind and would like to be connected with another faculty member from ISR or CoE, please contact Paige Brann at pmbrann@umich.edu.


The Study of Rural Contexts pilot grant program will make funds available to support pilot research concerned with rural contexts. Proposals may involve but are not limited to behavioral and social science research, studies of geographic and socioeconomic contexts, mobility technology research, health related studies, research on the effects of climate change, projects in infrastructure and public health, and computer science/information technology research. The purpose of this program highlights the lack of research in these fields that focuses on rural contexts, and only requires that the collaborative project be centered on a rural setting.

Proposal Format

The application for funding can be accessed at http://apply.interfolio.com/115820.

Please attach the following in PDF format using 12-pt Times New Roman or Arial Font and margins of at least ½ inch.

  • Cover page that lists the following:
    • Project title
    • Names, email addresses, and institutional affiliations of key investigators
  • Abstract (300 word maximum)
  • Technical proposal up to 3 pages that incorporates the following:
    • Specific aims of pilot project (½ page maximum)
    • Significance of the topic of the project, and its contribution to the field (1 page maximum)
    • Brief statements that explicitly address the following:
      • How does this project highlight work of both engineering and social science?
      • How does this project contribute to the study of rural living?
    • Research plan, including timeline showing start/completion of major activities.
    • Budget justification
  • Documentation of human subjects approval (if necessary) by the appropriate U-M institutional review board (IRB), including PI Name, HUM Number, IRB Study Title and approval period. If the project has not yet received IRB approval, this should be explained in the application.


The project team must include at least one affiliate from the Institute for Social Research and one from the College of Engineering who holds a faculty position (including non-tenure track) or an approved postdoc-to-faculty transition position.

The pilot grant application is not currently under review with any other grant-administering program.


The amount awarded will be up to $75,000 per year for two years, based on the needs of the project.


Full proposals are due December 2, 2022 at 5 p.m.
Funding decisions will be made by January 13, 2023.

Questions may be directed to Paige Brann at pmbrann@umich.edu.

Expected Outcomes

The Study of Rural Contexts pilot grant program will culminate in a symposium where teams will have the opportunity to present and discuss their research findings.