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Office of the Vice President for Research

Opportunities for Faculty

ASPIRE: Advanced Support for Innovative Research Excellence

Through the ASPIRE program, USC faculty have the opportunity to compete for funding to begin a promising new research endeavor for later external funding, build up a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project and/or invest in the university's research infrastructure. The goal of these investments is to enhance the University of South Carolina's research capabilities.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is proud to invest in USC's present and future research excellence through the Advanced Support for Innovative Research Excellence, or ASPIRE program. Through this program, USC faculty have the opportunity to compete for funding in three primary tracks, each designed to bolster research excellence at the university.

  • ASPIRE-I: Innovation funding is designed to support faculty seeking to develop a relatively new line of research exploration for which they ultimately plan to seek new scholarly pursuits, including external funding.
  • ASPIRE-II: Integration encourages interdisciplinary, collaborative research by funding meritorious projects undertaken by groups of at least three faculty representing a minimum of two USC colleges or schools.
  • ASPIRE-III: Infrastructure helps faculty researchers invest in multi-user research equipment and/or facilities that will enhance USC's research infrastructure.

Complete details about each funding track, including eligibility information, sample requests for proposals and other required documentation are included below. If you have additional questions about the ASPIRE program, please contact Associate Director of Research and Grant Development, Beth Herron.


ASPIRE-I: Innovation

ASPIRE-I: Innovation funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research to encourage faculty to develop individual innovative research projects leading to the pursuit of external funding or to the promotion of scholarly activities.

ASPIRE-I: Innovation is unique among the three primary ASPIRE funding tracks, in that it includes four sub-tracks, each designed to support junior or senior faculty members with their unique funding needs for research projects that are early in the development process, or that have been previously funded by grants that were not renewed. The four sub-tracks are:

  • Track I funds will be for Junior Faculty (tenure-track assistant professors only) and will be awarded to encourage the development of research projects for further extramural funding or other scholarly pursuits.
  • Track II funds will be awarded to research faculty to encourage the development of research projects for further extramural funding (track II-A for non-tenure track faculty, assistant professor level and above; track II-B for postdoctoral scholars).
  • Track III funds will be awarded as bridge funds to faculty (tenure-track, tenured or research faculty) who have not been able to renew their recent grants.
  • Track IV funds will be awarded as innovative and exploratory grants for senior faculty (tenure-track or tenured associate and full professors) to expand or re-focus their research.


ASPIRE-II: Integration

ASPIRE-II: Integration funding is provided by the Vice President's Office for Research to support research involving at least two or more colleges/schools. This call is aimed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between at least 3 or more faculty members to develop preliminary data to apply for targeted program projects, Centers of Excellence grants or similar mechanisms of extramural funding. The goal of this internal grant is to seed new, or support existing, collaborative interdisciplinary research that is nationally and internationally competitive and has a strong potential to be supported and sustained by external funding agencies.


ASPIRE-III: Infrastructure

ASPIRE-III: Infrastructure funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research to develop infrastructure such as multi-user equipment and facilities with cutting-edge technology that is critical to the growth and competitiveness of USC's research portfolio. To pursue interdisciplinary research, it is critical that we have a state-of-the-art research infrastructure that can be used to sustain existing, and develop new interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence. This internal grant is aimed at providing support for such ventures. ASPIRE III funds may be used to complement extramural support for purchase of major equipment.


2021 ASPIRE Requests for Proposals

  • ASPIRE I proposals are due on Thursday, January 21, 2021.
  • ASPIRE II and III proposals are due on Thursday, February 25, 2021.


ASPIRE Application Forms and Guidelines

Faculty apply for ASPIRE funding through USCeRA, the University of South Carolina electronic research administration software system, but some forms must be completed outside of the system, and then attached. Additionally, some steps in the ASPIRE application process in USCeRA might require guidance. Below, you will find the forms and guidelines necessary to complete the application process for ASPIRE-I, -II and -III funding.



ASPIRE 2020 Terms & Conditions

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.