Frequently Asked Questions – Interdisciplinary

For general questions: Russell Schwalbe at

Computer or web related questions: James Leaver at

For questions specifically on content of application, contact one of the Associate Vice Chancellors (2-1044):

Lea Jacobs, Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts & Humanities

Jan Greenberg, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Social Studies

Norman Drinkwater, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Biological Sciences

Steve Ackerman, Associate Vice Chancellor for Physical Sciences

The Research Competition is funded by a gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Since its founding in 1925, WARF has served the UW–Madison scientific community by patenting research discoveries at the UW–Madison and licensing such technologies to leading companies in Wisconsin, the U.S., and worldwide. WARF distributes the income from these commercial licenses in an appropriate manner between the UW–Madison Office of the VCRGE, the inventors, and their departments ( The Research Committee Competitions are two means by which the Office of the VCRGE distributes the gift to faculty and permanent PI’s on campus.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (VCRGE) is embarking on a three-year experiment, establishing an independent competition that will support projects that take the work of the co-PIs in novel directions. Proposals must push the research of the co-PIs in new directions and must bring together techniques and insights from different fields in ways that a single investigator typically could not successfully carry out. Successful applicants will propose research that asks questions that could not be answered within the framework of a single discipline and where the integration of skills and understandings of the co-PIs promises to produce innovative scholarship and the possibility that each participating investigator will leave the project with a greater understanding of fields beyond hers/ his than s/he had before initiating this project. Where possible, successful proposals should offer the potential for future external funding.

The PI and Co-PIs must be from at least two different divisions (Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Studies), as determined by each investigator’s tenure home.

No. In the previous years, multidisciplinary applications had to be from a team of researchers representing at least two fields. For the interdisciplinary proposal, the team of researchers must represent at least two divisions. Under the new competition plan (in which researchers can submit one standard divisional proposal for review and one interdisciplinary proposal), collaborators from the same division can still collaborate on proposals. They would do so, however, through the standard competition.

Interdisciplinary applications will be evaluated by a committee composed of one current or former member from the Research Committees of each division as well as all four divisional associate vice chancellors (Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Studies) from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. When you indicate “interdisciplinary” on the application form, you will be asked to list all co-PIs and to explain how your proposal fulfills the objectives of the “interdisciplinary” competition. Your interviewer will want to speak to all the co-PIs during the interview.

No. The application will require that all co-PIs indicate what each member of the research team brings to the proposed project and why the proposed research could not be carried out by any of the co-PIs individually.

No. But in addition to an interdisciplinary proposal, a PI can also submit one individual or one collaborative proposal through the standard competition.

Yes, however, investigators are limited to serving as the PI on one proposal and a co-PI on two additional proposals.

Last updated on 11/09/2014

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