Frequently Asked Questions -- For Applicants and Awardees

Is there a formatting requirement for the 2-page curriculum vitae included in the Round 1 application?

No, there is no formatting requirement for the CV, although either the NSF or NIH biosketch formats are recommended. The most important requirement is that the CV not exceed two pages in length. 

How are applications evaluated? Who are the reviewers?

Eligible applications are evaluated by multiple reviewers in the application’s disciplinary field(s) of expertise; reviewers will complete their quantitative and qualitative reviews using this Evaluation Form. On the basis of the reviews, a select cohort of applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal; this proposal will be subsequently reviewed by multiple reviewers, who will make recommendations on which applications should receive funding support. All reviewers are screened for conflicts of interest as defined by the ORI COI Policy. The names of reviewers are kept strictly confidential.

Will the reviewers’ evaluations be made available to applicants?

Applicants may contact the Office of Research Initiatives (researchinitiatives@columbia.edu) to request a brief summary of the reviewers’ evaluations of their application. The names and verbatim comments of the reviewers are kept strictly confidential.

Is there a limit on the number of applications that can come from a department or school?

No; the RISE program does not set a quota on applications or winners from any particular department, school, or campus. Moreover, many successful RISE applications have PIs and Co-PIs from multiple departments and/or schools.

What are common reasons why applications are unsuccessful?

There are three common reasons why applications are unsuccessful in the RISE competition, each symptomatic of the applicant’s misunderstanding of the scope and purpose of the program:

1.    RISE is focused on discovery/basic research, and is not appropriate for proposals in applied or translational research. While the development of an instrument or methodology that enables new discoveries may be appropriate for RISE, development of an instrument with the ultimate intent of commercialization is not.

2.    RISE seeks to support groundbreaking and innovative collaboration across departments, schools, and/or campuses, with the goal of fostering novel discoveries in the relevant discipline(s). Novelty is evaluated through the lens of the disciplines themselves, and not through the career trajectories of the researchers themselves. In other words, the proposed research must be objectively novel to the disciplinary field(s); charting a novel course in the PI’s career does not in itself justify RISE funding.

3.    Some of the most interesting and successful RISE proposals apply insights from one field to another quite far removed. However, more often than not, this novelty of application fails if the applicant team does not include a PI or Co-PI with a deep understanding of the target discipline. Reviewers from that specific discipline may interpret this lack of representation as a simplifying of assumptions or assertions, which ultimately undermines the proposal’s credibility.

I am a postdoctoral student or research scholar: Am I eligible to apply?

Postdoctoral students are not eligible to serve as PIs on applications, but are eligible to serve as Co-PIs. Research Scientists are eligible to serve as PIs on applications.

Are there stipulations to receiving RISE funding?

RISE-funded teams must comply with the following requirements and regulations. Refusal or inability to comply may result in the immediate termination of funding.

1.    RISE funding is contingent upon the PI(s) remaining employed by Columbia University. The funding will not follow the researcher(s) to another institution.

2.    Teams must report any additional grants or gifts applied to the RISE-funded project (or similar projects). Receiving additional funding may not necessarily lead to RISE funding termination, provided that it is fully disclosed and promptly reported.

3.    Teams must provide a First Year Progress Report detailing the past year’s activities, which will be reviewed and evaluated prior to approval for the second year’s funding. (More information regarding this Progress Report will be distributed to winning teams at the appropriate time.)

4.    Teams must provide a Final Report at the end of the two-year period, and are additionally requested to provide updates on subsequent papers or funding applications and other evidence of progress for several years thereafter to enable us to sustain the program. We understand that due to the innovative nature of RISE-funded research, it may take many years after the funding ends in order for the project to demonstrate success.

May I submit additional supplemental documents in addition to those outlined in the Application Form?

Applications may only consist of the Application Form, one singular document listing contact information for Co-PIs, CVs from all PIs and Co-PIs, and, if applicable, proposal reviews from funding organizations explaining the reasons for the proposal’s earlier rejection. No additional documents will be evaluated by reviewers.

My proposed project was recently rejected from a traditional funding source; does this mean it is eligible for RISE?

RISE funds and encourages high-risk, interdisciplinary research collaborations, with the goal of enabling researchers to then successfully apply for conventional funding opportunities. Rejection from such conventional sources may indicate that the proposal would be suitable for RISE funding, but rejection is not alone a sufficient qualifier for success in this competition. If the proposal was rejected for reasons such as “too early” or “insufficient preliminary data/evidence”, that may be a sign of RISE suitability.

Please Note: If a RISE application is for a project previously rejected from conventional funding sources, applications must include the full text reviews provided by the funding agency.

Who may I contact for more information?

For more information, please contact RISE staff at rise@columbia.edu or (212) 854-7836.