Pop-Up Institutes FAQ

What is the UT Pop-Up Institutes initiative?

UT Pop-Up Institutes are a VPR initiative designed to provide a research format intermediate in both scale and cost between short conferences and permanent organized research structures. The UT Pop-Up Institutes will be interdisciplinary teams that work together for about one month toward a common research-related goal, in a common physical space. They will produce a research product based on in-depth preparation for a larger future initiative, collaborative work to carry out a defined investigation, or an effort to bring a single or group of partially completed projects to a successful conclusion.

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Are there eligibility requirements?
  • 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.
  • A core of Institute participants must work together throughout the Institute’s run in a shared physical space on campus. The VPR office will help the selected groups obtain space for this purpose. Institutes cannot be “virtual” or decentralized with members participating remotely from their usual offices, labs, etc.
  • 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.

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Who can apply?

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.

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What is the time commitment for this project?

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 deciding which institutes to fund.

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What type of expenditures are allowed?

Allowable Costs. The total cost for a Pop-Up Institute must be split 50/50 between the participating units and the VPR Office.  The maximum allowable budget is $100,000, i.e., $50,000 contributed by the VPR and $50,000 contributed by the participating units.  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, and graduate stipends are permitted only in the VPR budget (participating units may not count graduate stipends toward their contributions).

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 the VPR office and is deducted from the VPR share of the budget. Example: For a total institute budget of $100,000, you would provide a VPR budget of $50,000 that consists of $40,000 of categorized expenses and $10,000 (10% of $100K) labeled “contingency.”

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.

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Can graduate research assistantships for participants be counted toward a department/unit/college’s contributions to a Pop-Up Institute?

No. You are welcome to support graduate students in any way you wish during the institute. The VPR will only count graduate student support as part of the match if these funds come from the VPR’s contribution.

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How do I secure matching funds from my department/college?

You should communicate your intent to apply for a Pop-Up Institute to your department or unit head in order to secure matching funds. The unit head should then provide the Letter of Financial Commitment to be included with the application.

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What do I include in the application package?

Upload the following items to UT's online submission portal (coming soon):

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 less than 300 words and should communicate the significance and impact of the Institute in terms that a non-expert can understand.

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 2018-2019 academic year to prepare for the Summer 2019 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 at https://research.utexas.edu/vpr-initiatives/pop-up/.

4. References (optional)

Up to one additional page may be provided for references.

5. Letters of Financial Commitment

Include the following in the proposal:

  • Letters of financial commitment (include account numbers if available)
  • Commitment of administrative support staff (treated as in-kind contribution. In-kind contribution does not qualify for VPR matching funds)

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 are counted in addition to the abstract and the 4-page 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 commitment (item #5, above) should confirm any expenses to be paid by the participating units/departments/colleges.

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Does the abstract count towards my 4-page scholarly justification limit?

No. The abstract can be a separate page, but must contain less than 300 words.

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What is the timeline for this program?

March 19, 2018Pop-Up Institute Proposal deadline. Proposals will be peer-reviewed and ranked by a group of senior researchers.
Early April 2018The VPR office will invite the top-ranked proposals’ Institute Leaders to elaborate on or answer any questions about their plans.
Mid-April 2018Final selection of two 2019 Pop-Up Institutes will be announced.
October 20182019 Pop-Up Institute dates, room reservations and outside participant invitations need to be finalized.

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Can I see an example of a successful Pop-Up Institute proposal?

The VPR office 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.

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What if my question isn’t answered here?

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

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