Ignite Grants Spur Faculty Research

There may be good news for students looking to get involved in faculty research—BC has just created two new faculty grant programs. Thomas Chiles, Vice Provost for Research, says that the new programs are “designed to provide ‘seed’ funding for new faculty scholarship, encourage cross-discipline collaborations and help researchers compete for external funding”.

The Ignite program will award three or four grants three times a year to both tenured and non-tenured faculty. The grants will consist of up to $30,000, and are awarded throughout the year in order to respond more quickly to new requests and ideas.

In addition, the Research Across Disciplines and Schools (RADS) program will award grants of up to $50,000 once a year to five projects. These grants are specifically meant to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between faculties in different departments and schools.

Chiles also mentioned how intense competition for federal and private funding has become. The hope with these new programs is that the initial grant money from Boston College will make it possible for the recipients to secure more outside funding down the road.

Professor Jessica Black, one of the first recipients. Photo courtesy of Boston College GSSW

The first round of Ignite grants was approved at the end of the last semester in the spring of 2014 to a diverse group of recipients. The projects ranged from biology professor Charlie Hoffman’s work identifying a new method to study cellular signaling in mammals to education professors Mike Barnett and David Blustein’s work using robotics to teach science and encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers to minority students.

While the content of the projects are vastly different, they reflect BC’s commitment to working for the common good. The projects address learning disabilities, educational strategies for minority students, climate change, and first aid. Chiles believes that this new program is in accordance with the university's core mission, stating, “We are a research university and innovation, new ideas and discoveries come from our faculty," and it is in this tradition that the Ignite and RADS programs were created.

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