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IHDSC Seed Award Program

IHDSC is committed to funding new projects that bridge multiple domains of expertise and further the mission of the Institute. Seed Awards are funded in collaboration with NYU’s Cross-Cutting Initiative on Inequality and NYU's Research Development Office.

Meet the recipients of the 2020-2021 Seed Awards!

This year, IHDSC funded six new projects that bridge multiple domains of expertise and further the mission of the Institute. We've prioritized research that aligns with our theme of "Unraveling Inequality, Expanding Opportunity" in partnership with NYU’s Cross-Cutting Initiative on Inequality and NYU's Research Development Office.

Learn About Our Seed Award Recipients
The seedlings of a dandelion are floating in the area in front of a background of blurred green plants
a group of dandelion in a field

We provide seed funding to new projects that fall under one or more of our focus areas:

We prioritize proposals that include:

  • A connection to IHDSC’s “Unraveling Inequality, Expanding Opportunity” theme
  • Early-career investigators 
  • Faculty or investigators who are new to IHDSC and/or NYU
  • New interdisciplinary teams 
  • Partnerships with community based organizations, non-profit organizations, NGOs, government agencies, or external groups focused on policy or practice

Eligibility & Restrictions

  • All full-time, tenure-track faculty members are eligible to apply. Research Scientists who have PI status are also eligible to apply.
  • At least one of the lead investigators must be from one of the core schools affiliated with IHDSC: 
  • Proposals must draw upon theoretical and/or analytic approaches from multiple disciplines.
  • A letter with the chair’s signature or review/approval from OSP is NOT required. Previous IHDSC seed grant awardees cannot re-apply for funding for the same project.  


An interdisciplinary group of faculty reviewers will evaluate proposals based on quality, feasibility, and the following other criteria:

Interdisciplinary nature:  
Proposed research projects must be interdisciplinary in nature. This criterion is often met by an investigator working collaboratively with one or more researchers in other disciplines, departments, or schools, where the theory and tools of two or more social science disciplines will be used.

Collaboration with faculty or researchers at NYU is strongly encouraged, but external collaboration is also acceptable. If partnering with an external policy or practice organization, it may be possible to meet the interdisciplinary criterion by including appropriate staff (i.e. Director of Research, Director of Evaluation) on the project.

Individual investigators are also eligible to apply, but applications should highlight plans for the investigator to incorporate theory, models, and methods commonly used in a discipline other than their “home discipline.” 

Fit with IHDSC priorities:
Reviewers will evaluate whether the project is a fit within the focus areas and funding priorities of IHDSC. A majority of research projects conducted at IHDSC include the study of human development in context or as a result of intervention. Context(s) may include, but are not limited to, families, schools, neighborhoods, the workforce, the justice system, or the economy. Interventions may be at the individual- (e.g., person) or setting- (e.g., community or school) level.
Pilot for future study: 
This RFA is specifically targeted as “seed” or “pilot” support for projects that are large in scope, where faculty members hope to secure future external funding. High priority will be given to investigators with a well-articulated plan for submitting grant applications for external funding (with funders, deadlines, and submission requirements clearly specified).

Proposals will also be considered from investigators who have recently submitted a grant application through IHDSC to federal or foundation sources, but would benefit from support to complete preliminary analyses or pilot research to increase the likelihood of gaining funding for such efforts. Please note that seed award recipients will be required to submit related external proposals through IHDSC, or as collaborative proposals through IHDSC and another unit at NYU.
Priority will be given to investigators with articulated plans for disseminating project findings, and with projects that have a high likelihood of informing a diverse group of academic, policy, and practitioner audiences. Successful applicants will be expected to engage with the Institute’s intellectual community, give at least one presentation about the project at an IHDSC event, or contribute to IHDSC’s blog, On the Ground.

Grantee Responsibilities

  • Participate in IHDSC-sponsored activities whenever possible
  • Meet with IHDSC staff to discuss external funding possibilities and plan for future proposals
  • Contribute content to IHDSC’s blog, On the Ground, or present to IHDSC’s community
  • Alert Institute staff of any external publications or media coverage resulting from the project
  • Submit annual progress/financial reports
  • Meet award requirements

How to Apply

Detailed instructions are available on IHDSC's online application portal. All applications must include the following seven (7) parts:

1. Proposal title

2. Abstract

3. Project Period

4. Project Description
The project description should be 3 to 5 single-spaced pages including all pictures, graphs, tables, and references. Be succinct. Please include answers to all of the following questions: 

  • Program overview and design
  • State of knowledge
  • Impact
  • Statement of potential results
  • Incorporation of students
  • Availability of funding

Detailed instructions and prompts will be available on the online portal.

5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Include CVs or Biosketches for all senior/key personnel inolved the proposed project. Each CV or Biosketch should be 10 pages or less. 

6.  Budget
Awards typically range from $10,000 - $15,000, and will not exceed $20,000. Funds cannot be used to support faculty effort. Budgeted expenses may include wages for student assistants, fringe benefits, travel related to data collection, fieldwork expenses, subject incentives, consultation, hourly assistance, etc. A budget template will be available on the online portal. 

7. Human Subjects Information 
All funded proposals that include the participation of human subjects as part of their research design must be reviewed and approved by the New York University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects (UCAIHS). Please indicate in your seed application whether human subjects will be involved in your research, and if so, the status of your human subjects application. 
Optional Attachments:
Feel free to include letters of support from any external partners or data collection sites.

Seed Award Stories:

Seed Award Spotlight: Dr. Susannah Levi

In 2019, Drs. Susannah Levi and Daphna Harel received a seed award for their project, "High Variability Phonetic Training as a Mechanism for Improving Underlying Reading Skills in School-Age Children." Read about what came from the project, how COVID-19 impacted research, and what else might grow out of their seed award.

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Seed Award Spotlight: Drs. Maaike Bouwmeester and Shilpa Sahay

Drs. Maaike Bouwmeester and Camilla Matuk received seed funding for their project, "Designing Frameworks for Multimedia Use in Informal STEM Programs for Young Learners." Dr. Bouwmeester and collaborator Dr. Shilpa Sahay discussed their nonprofit partnership and how their seed award served as a springboard for future research.

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Reexamining the Link Between Pregnancy Intentions and Maternal, Newborn & Early Life Outcomes

Dr. Sarah Cowan received an IHDSC Seed Award in 2019-2020 for a project that reexamines and extends previous research on the links between pregnancy intentions and early life outcomes by analyzing data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and 2-year follow-up data from six states.

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The State of Black Suburbs

"For many folks, when I start to talk about the Black suburban experience, they think that it's this moment of meeting of white and Black, of distance coming together. But there's a far more nuanced and complicated reality." Drs. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy and Kimberley Johnson received seed award funding for "The Black Suburban Governance Project" in 2020. Along with PhD candidate Kiara Douds, they discussed their research approach and early findings.

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Research Partnerships: Dr. Dillon & MoMath

Dr. Moira Dillon and Cindy Lawrence, Executive Director of the National Museum of Mathematics, received an IHDSC Seed Award to recruit children for interactive in-museum experiments to investigate how children reason about the general properties of geometric figures. Dillon and Lawrence talk about the process of developing their research partnership.

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Seed Award Spotlight: Dr. Natasha Strassfeld

Dr. Strassfeld’s pilot project, supported by the IHDSC Seed Award program, examines the experiences of professionals who work within the portions of the Cuyahoga County’s court system that serves incarcerated or detained youth.

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