Pop-Up Institutes FAQ

Pop-Up Institutes are a hybrid planning and seed funding mechanism that supports interdisciplinary research teams to rally around a research format that’s intermediate in both scale and cost between short conferences and permanent organized research structures.

Funded Pop-Up teams will spend the academic year preparing for a burst of activity focused on a specific area of research. Their Institute then "pops up" for one month in early summer, providing dedicated resources, time and space for researchers across campus to combine their unique perspectives and distinct skill sets in pursuit of a common goal. Each Pop-Up is expected to produce a research product based on its in-depth preparation for a larger future research initiative.

We invite collaborations that focus on any area of scholarly inquiry. Priority will be given to topics that have not already been the focus of previous years’ Pop-Ups. The focus must be on research. Pop-Up Institutes may not be used to support curriculum transformation, revamping of graduate education programs, or other academic/instructional goals. They also may not be used to support administrative program development, faculty salaries, or research scientist salaries.

Some attributes that are common to successful Pop-Ups include:

  • Many opportunities for real time, in-person exchange of ideas and discussion
  • Cross-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary collaboration: participants cross college boundaries
  • Experts from outside UT are convened: to meet with Pop-Up participants, and to provide depth and breadth to the discussion
  • Definite research-related goals that explore a problem or an idea. For instance:
    • the outline of a short-term project
    • laying the groundwork for a long-term research partnership
    • ways to share data among traditionally siloed groups
    • working to solve a problem that affects different areas of the population
  • Applicants must be part of a mature Research Interest Group - RIG.
  • UT Austin faculty (tenured/tenure-track or non-tenure track) and permanent, senior-level staff researchers are eligible to serve as Pop-Up Institute leaders. An individual may be named as an Institute leader on only one proposal, but may contribute resources to multiple proposals.
  • We encourage proposals in any area of scholarly endeavor.
  • Pop-Up Institute focus areas and activities must be research-related.
  • Institutes must be interdisciplinary.
  • One or more tangible deliverables (e.g. a draft proposal, a technical report, a software tool, a journal article draft, a completed compendium) must result from an Institute – this is not a month-long conference or a curriculum development exercise.
  • A core of Institute participants must work together throughout the Institute’s run in a shared space that may be virtual or follow current Covid-19 guidelines for group gatherings.
  • The Institute must serve some strategic purpose for one or more of the units that contribute participants.
  • Participation by non-UT researchers is welcome if their membership in the Institute supports its plans. No more than 25% of the participants, however, can be from outside UT Austin.
  • Applicants must be part of a mature Research Interest Group - RIG.
  • Departments, Colleges, and Organized Research units with more than 5 faculty members and/or Senior Research Scientist/Engineers (or equivalent senior research titles) are eligible to submit, via one PI, one proposal as lead but may contribute members or resources to any number of proposals.

Yes. Titles that have PI status are eligible. Salaried tenured or tenure-track academic or research faculty may apply. Also eligible are certain non-academic titles that can be granted PI status. Visit the Office of Sponsored Projects website for more information.

The Institute Leader will be responsible for the research leadership and the development of the research product of the Institute. OVPR will lead the logistical and administrative aspects of the institute. The Leader will develop the Institute format together with OVPR following best practices learned from past Pop-Up Institutes and other interdisciplinary research programs.

For the institute to work, the leader plus a core of essential participants must be physically present over most of its duration. For a four-week institute, this might mean 3 of the 4 weeks, or 4 days per week for the whole time. We are leaving this flexible but want to make clear that the size and firmness of the participant commitments will be significant factors in a decision about which institutes to fund.

Allowable Costs. All Institute costs, including space/facility rental, travel and lodging, supplies, meals, equipment rentals, etc. are allowed. No salary costs are permitted except for institute-specific graduate student stipends.

OVPR will contribute up to $50,000 of the Pop-Up Institute’s total cost. Pop-Up teams may provide additional funding or in-kind contributions from their home units or departments in support of the Pop-Up effort; such additional contributions will be considered favorably in the review process.

Required Contingency. An amount equivalent to 10% of the total Institute cost must be reserved for contingency, to cover unanticipated costs. The contingency is to be expended only with permission by OVPR. Example: For a total institute budget of $80,000, with a Pop-Up contribution of $30,000 and OVPR contribution of $50,000, the contingency would be calculated as 10% of $80k, such that $42,000 (of the $50k) is considered categorized expenses and $8,000 (10% of $80K) are “contingency” funds.

Other In-Kind Contributions. In-kind contributions include materials, equipment or services that are given without charge to the program or organization. These items should not be included in the budget of cash revenues and cash expenditures submitted with proposals. However, in-kind contributions should be noted in the budget justification.

No; administrative support is considered an in-kind contribution. In addition to providing cash support, OVPR staff will provide a share of the administrative support staff effort to be shared with an equivalent position assigned on the Pop-Up side, for purposes such as: scheduling meetings, arranging catering, and advertising/promoting Pop-Up events through the OVPR website and distribution lists.

Yes; this expenditure is allowed any time after the award, as long as there’s written rationale supporting the need included in the proposal.

Yes; but PIs can also opt for adding just stipends in the budget if they wish to employ existing GRAs.

Intent to apply should be communicated to the department or unit head in order to secure financial support. The unit head should then provide a letter declaring the financial support to be included with the application.

Upload the following items to UT's online submission portal.

  1. Proposal Cover Page
    List the institute title, a single Institute Leader and all faculty/Senior Researchers who have made a participation commitment, together with their department/unit affiliations.
  2. Non-technical Abstract
    This abstract must be <300 words and should communicate the significance and impact of the Institute in terms that a non-expert can understand. The abstract text does not count toward the 4-page limit for the scholarly justification statement (see Item #3, below).
  3. Scholarly Justification (Main Proposal Text)
    May be up to 4 pages long, single-spaced in at least 12 point font with at least 1 inch margins. The justification should address the following:

    • Description of the Pop-Up Institute’s focus areas and research-related activities. In other words, what takes place during your one-month Pop-Up Institute?
    • Rationale for including the disciplines involved.
    • Description of the tangible deliverables (e.g. a draft proposal, a technical report, a software tool, a journal article draft, a completed compendium) that will result from the Institute.
    • A work plan and schedule that outlines work to be done during the 2019-2020 academic year to prepare for the Summer 2020 Institute. To get some idea of the types of organizing activities that Pop-Up Institutes undertake during the academic year, visit existing Pop-Up Institutes’ websites.
  4. References (optional)
    Up to one additional page may be provided for references.
  5. Letters of Financial and/or In-Kind Contributions (optional)
    Include the following in the proposal:

    • Letters of financial support (include account numbers if available).
    • Commitment of in-kind contributions (such as administrative support staff).
  6. Letters of Time Commitment
    Letters of time commitment from principal participants including explicit commitments to be present for some stated amount of time must be included with the proposal. Note that the extent and firmness of these commitments will be a factor in rating proposals, as will an openness to accepting members beyond the proposing group. The letters of commitment and references do not count toward the 4-page limit for the scholarly justification statement.
  7. Budget Spreadsheet (must use Pop-Up Institute Excel template)
    Use the provided Excel template to provide a categorized budget.
  8. Budget Justification
    Submit a budget justification (not to exceed 2 pages, single-spaced in 12-point font) explaining the basis for the proposed costs. Letters of financial support (item #5, above) should confirm any expenses to be paid by the participating units/departments/colleges.

No. The abstract can be a separate page, but must contain less than 300 words. The optional sections, the budget, the letters of commitment are counted in addition to the abstract and the 4-page scholarly justification statement.

OVPR can put you in touch with our previously funded Pop-Up Institute leaders, so that you can ask them questions about their proposal strategy or request a proposal from them directly. Contact us for more information.

Yes. A final report on the Pop-Up’s activities, participants, and outcomes is due to the VP for Research Office no later than October.

FebruaryPop-Up Institute Proposal deadline. Proposals will be peer-reviewed and ranked by a group of senior researchers.
  • OVPR will invite Research Interest Group leaders who applied, to meet in person to elaborate on or answer any questions about their plans.
  • Final selection of 2021 Pop-Up Institutes will be announced.
May-AugustPop-Up Institutes "pop-up" for their one-month burst of activity.
OctoberPop-Up Institute reports are due to the VP for Research.

Contact the VP for Research office if you have any other questions about the UT Pop-Up Institutes.

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