UC Observatories Mini-Grant Program 2017-2018

Call for Proposals

Date: September 15th, 2017

Deadline:  Friday, October 20th, 2017


The University of California Observatories announces a call for proposals to its 2017-2018 Mini-Grant program. A major change this year is that the Instrumentation and Faculty Service Mini-Grant programs have been combined into a single program. The 2017-2018 Mini-Grant program will support development of astronomical instrumentation and technology, observatory infrastructure, and requests for summer salary support and teaching buyout in support of significant service to UCO.

Scope and Goals:
The primary goal of this program is to provide funding for instrumentation design, technology development, workshops, or other activities that directly address the strategic and functional goals of UCO. Examples of activities that may be supported include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Design of new or upgraded instrumentation and AO capabilities for Keck, TMT, or Lick
  • Development of enabling technologies for future UCO instrumentation, telescopes, or AO
  • Technology prototyping for the above, including potential costs of testing on a telescope
  • Workshops or meetings for instrumentation planning or instrument science teams
  • Software development for data pipelines or observatory infrastructure
  • Purchase of equipment (such as filters or gratings) for UCO instruments
  • Purchase of lab equipment to be used for UCO-related instrumentation work
  • Upgrades of hardware for campus remote observing rooms
  • Writing of major external funding proposals for UCO-related instrumentation
  • PI of a major Lick, Keck or TMT instrument
  • Managing major UCO facilities
  • Leadership role in fostering international technological or scientific collaboration or partnerships for UCO facilities or instruments
  • Sustained major fundraising activities on behalf of Lick, Keck, or TMT

Appointment to one of the following UCO positions will automatically be accompanied by one month of summer salary or one quarter of teaching buyout annually:

  • UC Co-Chair of Keck Science Steering Committee (SSC)
  • UC Co-Chair of TMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC)
  • Chair of UCO Advisory Committee (UCOAC)
  • UC Liaison to TMT Board


Funds Available:
The total amount of funding available for this proposal call is $300K. An individual PI may submit more than one proposal if the proposals clearly address distinct topics or activities. Matching with campus-based or external sources of funding is encouraged but not required. Funds are expected to be used over a one-year period, but grantees may submit a request for a one-year no-cost extension at the end of the grant period if the project duration exceeds one year.

Salary Support or Teaching Buyout:
In direct connection with the above instrumentation, infrastructure or service goals, funding may be requested for salary support for faculty (up to a maximum of one summer month per year), researchers, postdocs, or graduate students. The funding request must be clearly justified in terms of the time required for the project personnel to carry out the proposed instrumentation-related activities. Standard benefits rates may be included on salary costs. Proposal PIs should base their budget requests on actual salary and benefits costs as provided by their departmental financial officers. Faculty may also choose to request funding for up to one quarter (or one Berkeley semester) of teaching release. Teaching buyout should only be requested in circumstances where an unusually high level of faculty effort is required. Time freed up from teaching must be used to pursue the UCO-related activities as described in the proposal. Before requesting teaching buyout, faculty should check with their department chair to confirm that the teaching release is allowable, and with the UCO Assistant Director Anna Korossy (akorossy@ucolick.org) to determine the UCO buyout rate that has been negotiated for your campus.

Funding may not be requested or used to support or subsidize the astronomical research of the PI or Co-Is (e.g., paying for travel to observing runs, support for time spent analyzing Keck or Lick scientific data, etc.).

Who May Apply:
The criteria for eligibility to submit proposals as PI are the same as the criteria for eligibility to apply for UC Keck observing time as PI: this includes UC faculty and full-time staff in research-series appointments. UC-affiliated faculty, research staff, technical staff, or postdocs are eligible to be co-investigators.

Proposal Content:
The proposal should be a maximum of four pages in length. It should contain a descriptive title, brief abstract, and a list of the names and campus affiliations of the PI and any Co-Is. Please limit the "Project Justification" text to two pages (12 font or larger; single-spaced) with up to one additional page for figures and references. The Project Justification should include a description of the project goals, methods to be employed or activities undertaken, and the roles for personnel involved in the project. The last page of the proposal should include a specific budget request broken down by major items, a timeline of the proposed activities, and specific proposed deliverables. Since funding will be allocated from UCO, administrative overhead (F&A) should not be included in the proposal budget. Costs for equipment or supplies should be based on actual vendor quotes whenever possible, and must include sales tax.

Proposal Submission:
Proposals should be submitted by email in pdf format to the Executive Assistant to the Director, Graseilah Coolidge (gcoolidge@ucolick.org), and cc’d to the UCOAC Chair, Gillian Wilson (gillianw@ucr.edu) by close of business on Friday October 20th, 2017. It is very important to write “UCO Mini-Grant Proposal” in the email subject line, so that proposals won't get lost. You will receive an email acknowledgement of the receipt of your proposal within one business day.

Proposal Evaluation and Selection:
Proposals will be evaluated and ranked by the UC Observatories Advisory Committee (UCOAC). The final decision on funding will be made by the UCO Director. Criteria for selection will include relevance to UCO goals for instrumentation and technology development, support of the capabilities of the Keck, Lick, and TMT Observatories, timeliness and feasibility of the proposed work, and benefit to the UC astronomical community as a whole. Following the proposal selection, PI's of successful proposals will be asked to provide the contact information of a financial officer at their campus to coordinate the transfer of funds. UCO will provide reviewer comments to all PIs after the selection process has been completed. A summary of previously-approved proposals may be found at the end of this document.

Reporting requirements:
At the conclusion of the one-year funding period, the PI will be required to submit a report describing the work undertaken and results obtained as a result of the grant. The report will be read by the UCOAC and the UCO Director, and will help the UCOAC to evaluate the efficacy of the Mini-Grant program as a whole. If your proposal is requesting funds for a continuation of a 2016-2017 Mini-Grant, one additional section of the proposal (2 pages maximum) must describe the activities, outcomes, and expenditures from your prior UCO allocation for this program. Requests for no-cost extensions must be accompanied by a progress report on expenditures and progress to date. Please submit all reports and requests for extensions to Anna Korossy (akorossy@ucolick.org) with a .cc to Graseilah Coolidge (gcoolidge@ucolick.org). The due date for reports will be announced to successful PIs via email.

Strategic Planning Documents:
You may want to show how your proposed instrument project relates to the new 2016 strategic plan for Keck, the 2013 UCO Strategic Plan, and the 2009 Strategic Plan for Lick.



    2016-2017 funded UCO Instrumentation and Service Mini-Grants (FY17)

  • Enhancing Multi-Object Spectroscopy with Ground-Layer Adaptive Optics at Keck – Jessica Lu, UC Berkeley
  • A Wide-Field AO-Fed Integral Field Spectrograph for Keck – James Larkin & Michael Fitzgerald, UCLA
  • A Mini-IFU for Keck-AO/NIRSPEC – Andy Skemer, UCSC & Michael Fitzgerald, UCLA
  • FOBOS: A Fiber-Fed MOS for Keck – David Schlegel, LBNL
  • A MKID-based Multi-Object High Resolution Spectrograph – Ben Mazin, UCSB
  • Next-generation hardware for Remote Observing at UC Facilities – Graeme Smith and Jason X. Prochaska, UCSC
  • Replacement UPS for UCLA Remote Observing Site – Ian McLean, UCLA
  • Fostering the TMT international science collaboration – Tommaso Treu, UCLA
  • Working Toward New UCO Funding & Partnerships – Andrea Ghez, UCLA
  • Fundraising activities for Lick Observatory – Alex Filippenko, UC Berkeley

  • 2015-2016 funded UCO Instrumentation Mini-Grants (FY16)

  • Public Release of the MOSDEF Data Reduction Package for the MOSFIRE spectrograph on Keck I – Mariska Kriek, UC Berkeley
  • Proposal Preparation and Team Building for the TMT Coronagraph, a Second Generation Instrument – Michael Fitzgerald, UCLA
  • A Workshop to Develop the Science Case for FOBOS, a Proposed New Optical Multi-Object Spectrograph for Keck – David Schlegel, LBNL
  • Preparations for KRAKENS, a Proposed MKID-Based Imager for Keck – Ben Mazin, UCSB
  • Upgrade to UC Santa Barbara Remote Observing Site – Crystal Martin, UCSB


  • 2015-2016 funded Service Support (FY16)

    (Formal Service Mini-Grants did not exist at this time)

  • Working Toward New UCO Funding & Partnerships – Andrea Ghez, UCLA
  • Fundraising activities for Lick Observatory – Alex Filippenko, UC Berkeley



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