Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grants

Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grants

The primary purpose of the Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant program is to facilitate the independence of our postdoctoral scholars and help launch their research careers. It does so by providing grants that assist postdoctoral scholars in developing independent research projects and serves as a stepping stone to external funding such as the NIH K99/R00 and F32 grant programs. To achieve these goals, a Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant provides up to $25,000 in research support.

The Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant is only open to USC Postdoctoral Scholars with the following job titles and codes: Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate (Job Code 98227), Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow (98223), Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellowship Trainee (Job Code 98219), and Postdoctoral Research Associate (Job Code 98067).

Applicants must be full-time postdoctoral scholars working with USC faculty throughout the award period.

Current Research Support Limits

Postdoctoral scholars who already have a significant externally-funded research award are not eligible. Among eligible postdoctoral scholars, potential for independence and future external funding will be an important consideration in making awards, with priority given to awards that make an appreciable difference in postdoctoral scholar’s research potential.


Evidence of a strong mentoring relationship with one or more USC faculty is a requirement for all applicants. This may be demonstrated in part by uploading a copy of the postdoctoral scholar’s completed Individual Development Plan, signed by both the postdoctoral Scholar and the mentor. A statement of support from the mentor is also required.

Types of Assistance

  • Research materials, small equipment and supplies that are necessary to carry out the proposed research;
  • Travel funds related to the proposal, including conferences and registration, and foreign travel, to complete research which promises to lead to publication;
  • Assistance with publication, including manuscript preparation and permission fees;
  • Salary for applicant (at their current rate), plus fringe benefits.

Grant Conditions

  • The Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant is not intended to supplement currently funded efforts or to provide interim bridge funding.  Applicants must clearly demonstrate how their project differs from that of their mentor’s and therefore cannot be funded by their mentor’s grant(s)
  • Awardees have discretion in the budgeting and rebudgeting of funds to meet their research needs within the general guidelines of the award and the terms of the proposal; however, funds may not be transferred to another project.
  • Permanent equipment required for the conduct of a research project, and purchased with Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant funds, becomes the property of the University.
  • Awards will include fringe benefits, but awards are not assessed indirect costs.
  • Awards are not transferable to other institutions. Recipients must be postdoctoral scholars working with USC faculty for the duration of the award period.
  • Awards are not transferable to other researchers.

Postdoctoral Scholars Mentor Criteria and Activities

Applicants are required to include a research mentoring component in their proposal. A well-considered and substantive research mentoring plan that promises to strengthen the applicant’s project will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. Any full-time USC faculty member at the rank of Associate Professor or above of any type may serve as a mentor. A postdoctoral scholar’s mentor may support the applicant’s research through activities including:

  • Identifying prior and current scholarship and research related to the project;
  • Assistance in preparing the research design and executing the research activities;
  • Arranging forums for the presentation, dissemination, and/or critique of the applicant’s research;
  • Identifying potential publication sources and assisting in the preparation and submission of articles and manuscripts;
  • Establishing linkages between applicant and other investigators at USC and at other institutions who are conducting research on the same or similar topics;
  • Identifying potential funding sources and assisting in the preparation of grant proposals to external funding agencies.

Research Proposal Evaluations

Research proposals submitted to the Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant are evaluated by faculty panels. The panels advise the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs on which proposals merit funding and at what dollar amount. Because of limited resources and intense competition, not all proposals can be funded and some will be funded for less than the requested amount. In reviewing research grant requests, the faculty panel will consider:

  1. The significance and originality of the proposed scientific research;
  2. Evidence that the project can be completed as proposed;
  3. The impact of funding on investigator’s ability to initiate scholarly research;
  4. The likelihood that the project will lead to independence and to external funding;
  5. Appropriateness of budget for proposed research or scholarly activity.

Notification and Term of Award

In the event of a favorable panel recommendation, and approval by the Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, postdoctoral scholars will be notified of the amount and conditions of the award. Copies of the notification of the award will be sent to department chairs and deans.

Reporting and Acknowledgement of Support

Awardees are asked to submit a brief report (including an accounting of expenditures and any external support received) within 30 days of the termination of the grant. A formal request for a final report will be sent to awardees at the close of the grant period. These reports will be reviewed and portions of the report may be reprinted to build support for the award among the university community and to make decisions about how best to use the award to promote productivity in the future.

Any publication arising from work supported by the grant should acknowledge the University of Southern California Postdoctoral Scholars Research Grant. Copies of publications should be submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.