The Ventures program is designed to fund research projects that stand out because they are particularly novel, creative, or urgent. They need not be tied to a current center Theme. Ventures may be high risk, yet potentially high-reward. They should be focused on quickly generating knowledge in response to a pressing need or unexpected opportunity, or on developing tools or approaches that could provide a new catalyst for the synthesis process. We are particularly interested in work in its early stages that has the potential to be transformative, and engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. Most funded Ventures will involve an individual or a small team of researchers who, working together, possess most of the diverse skills, expertise, and background necessary to complete the proposed activities. Additional resources and expertise, particularly in areas of data aggregation, computational science, and informatics may be available through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Participation by international researchers is encouraged. SESYNC is particularly interested in Ventures that engage new disciplines that have not traditionally worked in the environmental arena or that focus on under-appreciated areas that are particularly conducive to synthetic approaches. In addition, we seek Ventures that involve novel collaborations and new ways to approach problems through synthesis.
A Venture should be completed in about 18 months and should yield a discrete product that can be evaluated on its own merits.
To provide some context, a Venture might examine problems of the following types:
- a species for which large amounts of data exist is accidentally introduced into a new ecosystem, creating a need for predictions using synthesis and modeling;
- an emergent human population dynamic creates a need to synthesize existing human data sets with spatially explicit environmental data;
- an opportunity exists to synthesize comparable data for different nations on societal variables that are known to have environmental effects (e.g., resource needs of refugee settlements); and
- developing data integration or information processing tools that meet specific needs in socio-environmental synthesis.
These are provided simply as examples and are not meant to limit the possible areas that researchers may want to work in.
Venture proposals selected for funding will be those that rank highly with regard to their potential to be transformational. Selection criteria will favor Ventures that are:
- novel and highly creative;
- respond to an urgent or unexpected opportunity;
- contribute to science and policy, particularly those that reflect a clear national or international need or have the potential to be actionable in some way;
- if successful, produce meaningful synthetic research or advance the process of synthesis;
- engage highly qualified participants with appropriate diversity of scientific backgrounds and experience; and
- include a diversity of participants to broaden the engagement of underrepresented groups with respect to gender, ethnicity, disability and geographic location.
Support for Ventures will include travel, accommodation, and meals to work on-site at SESYNC or in collaboration with our institutional partners at RFF in Washington, D.C. In special cases, SESYNC may also support travel by Ventures investigators to visit and collaborate with our international research partner organizations, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ in Leipzig, Germany, and the Environment for Development Initiative (EfD) at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden).
SESYNC is not currently accepting proposals for this program.
The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer
Minorities and Women Are Encouraged to Apply