Birck Nanotechnology Center

BNC: Policies Governing Space and Equipment

August 31, 2003; revised August 1st, 2008

  • Laboratory space and office space in the BNC building will be assigned by the Director,  In the event that a proposed assignment would result in a significant transfer of space between major functional laboratory groupings, these decisions will be made in consultation with the Internal Advisory Committee (IAC).
  • Occupants of the BNC building must maintain an active research program that utilizes equipment in the BNC, or that benefits from close interaction with other occupants of the BNC.
  • It is expected that laboratory space and equipment in the BNC will be open to all qualified users, except in cases where such access adversely affects the cleanliness, safety, or functionality of the space or equipment.
  • Each laboratory and each item of equipment will be assigned a faculty-in-charge (FIC), a engineering staff member, and an “Expert User”. The FIC will be the faculty member (or designee) most intimately involved with the use of the space or equipment. The engineering staff member will be the support person responsible for modifications and maintenance of the laboratory or equipment.  The Expert User will be jointly named by the FIC and engineering staff member and will provide leadership among the user community.  These individuals will establish rules governing access to the laboratory or equipment, including training requirements, scheduling, operational procedures, functional restrictions, etc. Such rules are subject to approval by the BNC Director and Facility Manager, in consultation with the Policies and Procedures Committee.
  • In cases where equipment is shared by a large number of users, a user fee will be established to prorate the cost of operation among users proportional to their actual usage. The fee will be established by the FIC, the engineering staff, and the business office, subject to approval by the BNC Director, and will not exceed the estimated per-use operation cost of that equipment, including anticipated replacement parts, minor upgrades, service contracts, etc.  These rates will be periodically compared with actual costs, and brought into alignment with those costs.  If a piece of equipment is restricted to a small group of users, that group can elect to provide their own maintenance and operational expenses. In such cases, no user fee will be charged.
  • The BNC Director will act as FIC of the cleanrooms and work jointly with the Facilities Manager in consultation with the Policies and Procedures Committee to establish regulations governing access, training requirements, operational protocols, and sanctions for violation of operating rules.
  • To support operating expenses of the cleanrooms and the laboratories, monthly cleanroom and laboratory access fees will be charged.

Financial Support offered to Faculty

The following categories of support are offered to resident and affiliated faculty.  Unless otherwise indicated, funds are typically budgeted for each category at the beginning of the fiscal year, and are allocated according to this budget until the funds for that fiscal year are fully committed.   

Kirk Endowment Exploratory Research Recharge Grant: As a consequence of the generosity of Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk in endowing the BNC Director position, funds are available to explore new avenues of research in the BNC.  A typical scenario would involve a faculty member or a group of faculty members who would like to acquire preliminary results for a new unfunded line of research that has potential to enhance the prospects for sustained external funding. These grants are only to be used to cover BNC recharge and lab access fees, and cannot be used to support salaries, materials and supplies, travel, etc. (see “Seed Grants” below).  To apply, contact the BNC Director with an estimate of the funds required (typical period not to exceed one year), a brief description of the research, and a statement describing the expected outcomes; for example, an outcome might be the acquisition of preliminary data to strengthen a multi-investigator proposal.  Each such request will be considered on an individual basis, and a decision will typically be made within one week of the receipt of a request.  To maintain flexibility, there will be no fixed dates for submission, and grants may be approved at any time, pending availability of funds.  No lead PI may have more than one grant at a given time.  To be eligible for a subsequent Kirk grant, the lead PI must include a statement describing the outcomes from the prior Kirk grant.    

In summary, a request for a Kirk grant should be made by e-mail to the BNC Director and should contain the following information:

  • PI, Co-PIs and their affiliation (all PIs and their respective school or department heads should be cc’d on the request)
  • Brief synopsis of proposed research (no more than one paragraph)
  • Proposed Start and End dates (duration not to exceed 1 year)
  • Statement that the proposed research is not currently funded
  • Anticipated application of funds (e.g., lab fees, usage of Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, usage of Surface Analysis Lab, etc.)
  • Amount requested (typically $3K - $15K)
  • Anticipated outcomes (e.g., preliminary data for a multi-investigator proposal to NSF)
  • If the lead PI has received a prior Kirk grant, a statement describing the outcomes of that prior grant must be included.

Cost Sharing on Proposals: BNC resident or affiliated faculty members may request cost sharing contributions from the BNC for proposals that involve the use of BNC facilities.  These requests may involve recharge grants or contributions toward the purchase of equipment for the user facilities.  Please contact the BNC Director with such requests.

Recharge Support for Undergraduate Researchers: The BNC offers $1,000 annual recharge grants to the faculty advisors of undergraduate researchers who will be using the BNC facilities.  The majority of such requests will be associated with summer undergraduate research programs, although requests may be made for undergraduate researchers engaged in research projects during the academic year as well.

Support for Visiting Scholars:  A resident or affiliated faculty member may request BNC support for travel and living expenses for visiting scholars.   The request to the BNC Director should include a statement of how the proposed BNC Visiting Scholar will engage with the broader BNC research community (e.g., seminars, short courses, etc.), the length of the stay, and any special requirements (e.g., visa, accommodation of family members, etc.).  The funds available are limited, and it is likely that the BNC contribution will need to be leveraged. 

Contributions to Start-up Packages for new Faculty: Depending on the availability of funds, the BNC may be able to contribute to the start-up packages for new faculty.  Typical contributions may include recharge grants to cover a portion of the user fees at the BNC for the first year, and contributions toward the purchase or installation of equipment that will be installed in the BNC as part of the user facility. Requests for start-up grants for new faculty may be submitted at any time, and will receive priority consideration. Requests should include an explanation of how the research will advance the mission of Discovery Park and foster collaborative interdisciplinary research. Information on the potential for attracting additional research funding should also be provided. The proposal should include statements from both the Department Head and Dean of the College hiring the new faculty member. These statements should provide the total funding package for the candidate, with other sources of support identified if possible. Proposals will be evaluated based on: (i) the quality of the proposed research, (ii) how the equipment will impact the research areas in the BNC, and (iii) the potential for enhancing the mission of Discovery Park.

Seed Grants: Seed grant competitions to support exploratory interdisciplinary research in nanoscience, nanoengineering and nanotechnology will be announced as funds become available.  Typically, Seed Grant budget requests will not be limited to recharge expenditures.  Restrictions and foci will depend on the specific program and source of funds.