Last Thursday, we announced the exciting news that SciBridge is a recipient of a 2014 Materials Research Society Foundation "Grassroots, Member Proposal" Award. The award specifically strives to reward innovative "grassroots" projects - projects developed by the materials community at the "lowest" organization level. When John Paul and I applied for the grant in February, I strongly felt that we had a great idea but had no idea if this was the type of project that the MRS would support or if we fit their criteria for principal investigators. At that time, our non-existent funding was making it difficult to do even something relatively small like ship a small amount of titanium oxide to John Paul's university. Needless to say, we were ecstatic at this new turn of events.
The excitement of winning the grant has quickly led to the realization that we literally went from having zero funds to having enough to build and ship (the two amounts are about equal due to the high cost of shipping) about two dozen experiments. The obvious questions sprung up of who will administer the funds and how to organize the project in such a way that it will retain both broad participation as well as a core group of committed volunteers, both in Africa and the U.S. Over the past week, I have been - quickly - learning about the do's and don't's of grant applications and awards at the university level. Some things could have gone a bit more smoothly and there are already many "lessons learned."
The big picture is that we can now say that SciBridge WILL be able to pursue its goals. Winning the MRS award has given us the means to embark on this grand adventure, and we will continue to keep you updated as the journey unfolds! :)