The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ competitive professional development and mentoring program focused on research, Catalyst, is designed to help faculty members successfully apply for research grants from state and federal agencies, foundations and non-profits. The goal of Catalyst is to enhance the research capacity of the College and institutionalize systemic support for the advancement and success of early- and mid-career faculty by:
- Providing comprehensive training in the preparation of competitive grant proposals
- Establishing a research mentoring program, and
- Creating a community of practice aimed at facilitating and promoting the engagement of diverse groups of faculty in disciplinary and interdisciplinary research.
Group training and professional development seminars, including a six-week long boot camp, are designed to provide faculty with the tools and knowledge to prepare competitive, review-ready grant proposals targeting extramural funding opportunities in their field. Lectures, discussions, and hands-on writing activities are led by senior faculty, guest speakers – including former program officers, grant specialists, and consultants – and personnel from the College Office of Research.
Interdisciplinary peer group activities with peer-writing teams led by grant-successful faculty coaches, offer hands-on opportunities. Under the guidance of the coaches, faculty participants draft sections of proposals and meet weekly to review their progress, discuss challenges, and provide constructive feedback on their peers' proposals.
Faculty writing coaches with strong track-records of extramural funding and a commitment to faculty mentoring oversee the writing team discussions and help advise faculty on the best strategies and approaches for better writing.
Participants who complete the boot camp become “Catalyst Fellows,” giving them access to post-training resources and funding. These post-training activities provide additional opportunities for faculty to further enhance their grant writing skills and to strengthen relationships with potential funding agencies. Fellows also meet and talk with researchers from other departments and disciplines to foster collegiality, stimulate research ideas, and encourage interdisciplinary research collaborations.