MRSEC Seed Grant Program

Solicited annually, the UC San Diego MRSEC Seed Grants are intended to provide short-term funding to initiate exciting collaborations within one of the two thematic areas – the Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) – of the UC San Diego MRSEC. IRG1 focuses on synthetic and computational aspects of the mesoscale assembly of materials. IRG2 seeks to develop stimuli-responsive ‘living materials’ by merging polymer science with synthetic biology.

The program is open to all faculty members within the UC San Diego materials research community. Successful execution of the proposed research is expected to lead to additional federal grants and the potential for long-term MRSEC funding. It is anticipated that each Seed Grant will provide $25,000-$75,000 direct costs for a one-year project, with the potential for renewal for a second year or for continuous IRG support, subject to review. Each Seed Grant must include one faculty-level PI, plus two or more faculty collaborators currently within the UC San Diego MRSEC.

Expectations of Grantees

Grantees are expected to integrate themselves into the MRSEC; this entails attendance at standing IRG meetings, the annual meeting, and NSF-hosted events. A progress report is expected annually.


Eligible applicants are ladder-rank UC San Diego faculty not currently within a UC San Diego MRSEC IRG. Each applicant may submit only one proposal in response to this call. Each applicant must identify at least two MRSEC faculty collaborators.

Review Criteria

• Intellectual merit of the proposed research activities, and likelihood to contribute long-term to center activities and gain future external research funding.

• Originality and potential to augment, strengthen, or strategically pivot IRG-research to new and creative endeavors.

• Potential to seed impactful collaborations within the UC San Diego materials research community.

• Potential to significantly impact the career trajectory of the PI.

• Potential to contribute to the diversity and inclusion goals of the MRSEC.

Proposal Submission

Proposals will be solicited biennially. The call for proposals and the proposal submission instructions for the 2021 MRSEC Seed Grant Program will be announced in Fall 2021.

2020 MRSEC Seed Grant Recipients


Alina Schimpf, Assistant Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Proposal Title: Precise Synthesis of Nanocrystal Building-Blocks

Zheng Chen, Assistant Professor, Nanoengineering
Proposal Title: Hierarchical Assembly of Structurally Oriented Metal-Organic Frameworks as Novel Ionic Conductors


Donald Sirbuly, Associate Professor, Nanoengineering
Proposal Title: Nanofiber optics for in situ real-time nanometrology

For further questions or to request additional information please contact Professor Jon Pokorski (email).