Research Seed Grants


The Illinois Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) Research Seed Grants are designed to facilitate the development of research expertise among ISGC members in aerospace engineering, astronomy, Earth and space science, and other areas of interest to NASA. Applications by faculty from non-research-focused institutions and pre-tenure faculty will be given preferential consideration. The grants will allow the award recipients to obtain the preliminary results needed to support larger proposals to NASA and other federal or non-federal funding agencies.  Emphasis will be placed on research in an area of interest to NASA.

Funds available

Funding requests up to $10,000 will be considered. Funding will be released incumbent upon authorization of funds by NASA. We anticipate selecting six of these awards.

 PLEASE NOTE: Funds will be paid through your Space Grant affiliate’s existing subaward.

Period of Performance

Funding has been allocated to these grants for the period April 10, 2022 – April 9, 2023. Funding will be released incumbent upon authorization of funds by NASA.


Participation in this program is limited to faculty or staff (professorial and research) at an ISGC affiliate: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Institute of Technology, Adler Planetarium, Discovery Center Museum, DePaul University, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,  University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago State University, Bradley University, and City Colleges of Chicago. Member institutions (and individuals) are not limited to one proposal.

Applicants may be faculty members or research scientists who are either early career (Ph.D. up to seven years postgraduate) or starting a new area of research.  Member institutions (and individuals) are not limited to one proposal. Women, under-represented minorities, and persons with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should describe the relevance of the proposed work to NASA’s currently funded research priorities and programs of the NASA Mission Directorate(s). Proposals are required to address one or more research priorities of the Mission Directorates and Centers. The current NASA mission directorates are as follows:

Aeronautics Research
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate works to solve the challenges that still exist in our nation’s air transportation system: air traffic congestion, safety and environmental impacts.

Space Operations Mission Directorate*


Space Operations Mission Directorate will oversee mature human spaceflight programs, such as the International Space Station and commercial crew and cargo missions. The operations directorate is also in charge NASA’s efforts to commercialize low Earth orbit, an objective the agency hopes will lead to privately-owned space stations.


Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate*


Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate will manage NASA’s Artemis moon program, including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the Human Landing System, the spacecraft that will carry astronauts to and from the lunar surface.


NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond.


Space Technology
The Space Technology Mission Directorate is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed to achieve NASA’s current and future missions.


Please visit each NASA organization’s website to find detailed information about current projects and current areas of interest.


* NASA announced Sept. 21, 2021, that it will organize its Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate into two areas (Space Operations Mission Directorate and Exploration System Development Mission Directorate).



For more information detailing the four mission directorates, visit:


  • Programs should have an emphasis on aerospace, physics, astronomy, cosmology, Earth system science, and other interdisciplinary space-related science or engineering fields relevant to NASA.
  • Grants must be matched (at least one-to-one) with funds from non-federal sources. Prior to the execution of a subaward agreement, the source of matching funds must be identified and confirmed by a letter from the appropriate authority. Waived indirect costs and faculty effort can qualify as matching funds.
  • Proposals can include requests for salary, supplies, and travel support. ISGC funds cannot be used for the purchase of equipment (as defined by NASA guidelines.)
  • The project principal investigator will complete the Student Data Information Form and encourage students to participate in the NASA longitudinal tracking program.
  • The project principal investigator will meet (virtually or in-person) with the ISGC STEM Coordinator, Heidi Bjerke, at the midpoint of the grant to discuss progress.
  • The project principal investigator will submit final report information to the ISGC STEM Coordinator, Heidi Bjerke,
  • All application materials must be submitted by February 20, 2022.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by ISGC Directors and selected based on adherence to the above criteria, scientific merit, and equitable distribution of resources across the Consortium. Programs targeted to women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Proposal submission for this program is limited to faculty/professional staff (research and professorial) at ISGC affiliate and lead institutions.

Proposal Requirements and Format

Applications must be submitted online – Research Seed Grant

  • Use 12-pt font, 1″ margins, and single spacing. Tables and references may utilize a smaller font.
  • Abstract not to exceed 150 words
  • Purpose – include the audience, educational objectives
  • Project goal(s). Indicate explicitly how these goals are specific, measurable, aligned with NASA and Space Grant interests, realistic, and within the funding time frame.
  • Relevance to one or more NASA Mission Directorates
  • Method – what activity(ies) will take place
  • Results – anticipated enhanced benefits
  • Evaluation plan – brief self-evaluation plan and how the program will be continued after ISGC funds are no longer available
  • Timeline for the project containing information about when the effort is expected to occur – summer, academic year, or both
  • Total Page limit: 5 pages max
  • Detailed budget, a sample template is found here, if needed.
    • Budget narrative and details that substantiates costs. The proposed budget shall be adequate, appropriate, reasonable, realistic, and demonstrate the effective use of funds (both NASA and cost-shared) to align with the proposed projects.
    • Direct Labor costs shall be separated by titles (e.g. professor, graduate research assistant, etc.) with estimated rates and total amounts of each. PIs should seek to leverage other sources of support for their direct labor costs (e.g., non-federal matching funds, other grants) so as to maximize funding provided to students.  However, support for the PI is possible with strong justification citing the absence of administrative support for the grant and is limited to $4,000.
    • Domestic travel shall include the purpose, the number of travelers, the number of trips and expected location, duration of each trip, transportation costs, and per diem.
    • Other costs shall also be explained in reasonable detail and substantiated whenever possible. The certified negotiated indirect costs for the institution shall be included.
    • The amount and source of cost-shared funds are identified.
    • No page limit on budget.

 Reporting Guidelines

STUDENT DATA (If Applicable to your grant) 

  • Upon proposal acceptance, an Excel spreadsheet will be sent to the recipient. This is for gathering demographics information for college/university students involved in the program. Students who are directly funded and/or work over 160 hours on the program must be willing to provide this information and participate in the NASA longitudinal tracking program.
  • Longitudinal tracking is required for all students until they take their next step. For example: if you are a junior who receives a scholarship, we will ask for your information yearly until you enter graduate school or take a position in your career field.
  • Upon request, send the completed spreadsheet for college/university students who will have worked (or will likely work) >160 hours during the funding period or receive any direct funding from ISGC. The number of hours of effort and amount of ISGC funding provided will need to be reported. Changes/updates due with the final report.


  • Midpoint progress report due – (this can be a virtual or in -person discussion). The ISGC STEM Coordinator (Heidi Bjerke, ) will contact awardees to setup this short project discussion.
  •  Final report due within 30 days of end of grant according to project timeline.
    • Complete the final report spreadsheet and add any relevant information in the email or a separate document.
  • If possible: 5-10 photographs relevant to the program, involving participants, with captions. Each person with a recognizable face must have signed a photo-release form found here.


  • Researchers submitting NASA-funded articles in peer-reviewed journals or papers from conferences now shall make their work accessible to the public through NASA’s PubSpace at . PubSpace provides free access to NASA funded and archived scientific publications. Research papers will be available within one year of publication to download and read.
  • Papers and presentations should acknowledge ISGC funding using this statement: “The material contained in this document is based upon work supported by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant or cooperative agreement. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA. This work was supported through a NASA grant awarded to the Illinois/NASA Space Grant Consortium.”


December 1, 2021

Application Opens

February 20, 2022

Applications Due

The first week of March 2022

Awards announced and subawards established

April 10, 2022

New grants begin

August 12, 2022

Summer data forms sent

October 3, 2022

Summer data forms due

December 16, 2022

Fall data forms sent

January 27, 2023

Fall data forms due

April 9, 2023

Grant year ends

May 26, 2023

Spring data forms sent

June 10, 2023

Spring data forms due

  • Heidi will contact you at the midpoint of your project for a brief check based upon your timeline.

The final report, i.e., completion and submission of the final Excel data form, is due 30 days after the grant’s end based upon the specific project timeline.

Inquiries:  Send questions to Heidi Bjerke at