Call for PCCM's Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs)

Thursday, Jul 5, 2018

PCCM is beginning the process of determining the Center’s research directions for the upcoming renewal proposal. The NSF is expected to announce the solicitation for the renewal competition in January 2019 with pre-proposals due in Spring 2019. 

The core of PCCM’s research lies in its three Interdisciplinary Research Groups or IRGs (see

An IRG typically consists of 6-8 Principal Investigators (PIs), from several Princeton University departments, who come together as a team to work on particular problems or areas within materials research. An IRG may have one or two PIs at other universities or in industry. The annual research budget is typically $500,000 -$750,000 (including overhead).

The “team” and “interdisciplinary” aspects of the IRGs are key features of the MRSEC program, and it is expected that the research program will be at the forefront in its sub-field worldwide. NSF requires that the research in each IRG is synergistic and readily distinguished from individually funded programs. A growing emphasis is placed on IRG ideas that connect to NSF’s Ten Big Ideas, which the agency sees as promising for future investment (

NSF also expects that Centers will redirect their research efforts in the renewal proposal to minimize overlap with the current programs. Therefore, we do not anticipate proposing our existing IRGs, as a group, for renewal, but instead seek to identify the most exciting research directions to propose. Proposals for IRGs will compete, through internal and external review, to determine the areas that PCCM will ultimately propose for its renewal.

We hope that there will be vigorous discussions among interested groups of faculty over the next five months to identify the prime research areas where we can propose a compelling research effort. Proposal-length IRG writeups are 10 pages long (including references). PCCM can email you copies of successful IRG proposals from our last renewal upon request. If you have an idea and a collaborative team to propose for an IRG, please contact the PCCM Director, Professor Ali Yazdani, as soon as soon as possible.

Please email your proposals to Ali Yazdani, Director of PCCM: by the due date of October 1, 2018.

For each IRG, submit:

  1.  10-page research write-up for proposed IRG (including references)
  2.  A brief description (1 page max) of industrial outreach activities that you foresee this IRG engaging in; specifically, partner companies with which the IRG would interact, especially if these companies would provide concrete support to the IRG (and a supporting letter for the proposal) 
  3.  A brief description (1 page max) of new K-12 educational outreach activities that could be initiated in connection with this IRG
  4.  The names of 3-5 external referees