Featured Funding Program: National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)

You, too, could have a beautiful, space-age
Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program, a National Science Foundation funding mechanism, serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training.

An MRI award supports the acquisition or development of a multi-user research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. The MRI program provides funding to acquire critical research instrumentation that advances fundamental science and engineering research.

Additionally, an MRI award is expected to enhance research training of students who will become the next generation of instrument users, designers, and builders.

Within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the MRI program has funded several pieces of shared equipment in the Department of Chemistry, including a spectrometer with nitrogen-cooled cryoprobe and a variable-temperature, dual-wavelength, single-crystal X-ray diffractometer.

Most recently, Department of Chemistry Professors Elizabeth Stone and Jim Gloer partnered with the College of Engineering to fund an Orbitrap mass spectrometer through the MRI program. The equipment is being used to study vehicle emissions related to human health and sea-spray particles linked to climate. 

Institutions are allowed to submit up to three MRI proposals in each cycle, and applicants are required to complete the internal application and review process. An MRI proposal must be selected by UI’s internal reviewers in order to submit a full proposal to the NSF. An MRI proposal may request up to $4,000,000 for either acquisition or development of a research instrument through one of two tracks:

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000and less than $1,000,000. 
  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1 million up to and including $4,000,000.

(Please note: The MRI program requires institutional match of 30% of the total budget. The Office of the Vice President for Research encourages Principal Investigators to apply to this program and is committed to working with colleges to identify funding to meet cost-sharing requirements.)

To learn more about the NSF's MRI program, please see the Major Research Instrumentation Program Solicitation.

  • Internal submission deadline: Thursday, October 29, 2020

  • NSF submission deadline: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 5 pm

  • You may begin an internal application here. Note: this page might require that you are logged in through self-service. 

Questions? Contact your department’s grant support staff member(s).

NIH-funded investigators: A similar funding opportunity, the S10 Instrumentation Program, will be featured in a future CLAS Research Resource newsletter.