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PREP Program

2023-24 PREP Cohort on the ISCE porch.
The 2023-2024 ISCE PREP Recipients (back row, from left): Shaddi Hasan, Ruichuan Zhang, Rachel Cheng, (front row, from left) Rachelle Kuehl, Jessica Rich, and Sweta Baniya. Photo Courtesy of Cyndi Booth.

Applications are now open for the 2024-25 ISCE Social Science PREP Program.

A summary of the application guidelines and the complete RFA are below.

Deadline: June 6, 2024 (Extended from May 30)

The Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment is offering the Preparing your Research for an Extramural Proposal program for a cohort of faculty members in the social sciences who are planning to submit a research grant proposal to a federal agency (e.g., NIH, NSF, NEH) for funding in the next year. The program is intended for faculty who are relatively new to the proposal writing process, or whose prior proposals for which they have served as PI or a co-investigator have not been funded, but who are actively pursuing an externally funded research agenda. Faculty selected for the program will receive ISCE funding to support activities related to the development of their proposal and mentoring to prepare the proposal to be submitted no later than August 2025.


This two-semester, structured program consists of didactic and interactive sessions where cohort members learn (a) the grantsmanship process, including how to write a compelling narrative and develop a budget; and (b) to craft a competitive grant proposal.

Anticipated fall activities include:

  • Mandatory 1 to 2 in-person sessions per month to learn grant writing basics and review funding agency requirements; and
  • Development of a compelling 1 to2-page concept paper that presents the project idea for communicating with a program officer.

Spring semester activities include:

  • Mandatory, in-person monthly sessions of approximately 2-3 hours each that will consist of writing, reviewing, critiquing, and discussing cohort member proposals; and
  • Development of a complete draft of a proposal to be refined and submitted by August 2025 (or soon thereafter, dependent on agency deadline).

Cohort members are required to spend time outside of sessions on tailored assignments (fall) and preparing their proposals and brief written reviews of their peers' proposals (spring). The ISCE leadership team will provide group and tailored mentoring throughout the year.


Faculty from any department/program across Virginia Tech’s campuses whose research addresses significant societal concerns that impact people and places through a social sciences lens.

  • The program is designed for faculty in a tenure/tenure-track position at the assistant or associate level.
  • Priority will be given to faculty who have an advanced degree in a social science discipline or whose home department is typically within the realm of the social sciences and humanities.
  • Proposals for the development of the NSF CAREER Award, student education/training programs, or individual fellowships are not supported by this program.


The updated deadline for applications is June 6, 2024. A single pdf file of the application [last name_ISCE_PREP.pdf] should be emailed to Yancey Crawford ( Notification of awards will be made by mid-July 2024. The funds will be transferred to the faculty’s home department and must be spent by June 2025 in accordance with university guidelines.


ISCE anticipates making up to 6 awards of up to $10,000 per award. Awardees will:

  • Receive group and tailored mentoring from ISCE leadership;
  • Participate in in-person grant writing seminars that will include comprehensive instruction on the details of successful proposal development and resources of the University that support proposal submission;
  • Participate in in-person working sessions with other cohort members to share progress and obtain feedback for continuous improvement.


For complete information, read the full RFA. To apply, use the required cover sheet and budget form in addition to submitting the proposal narrative as described in the RFA.


Contact Yancey Crawford (   


2023-24 PREP Cohort
The 2023-2024 ISCE PREP Recipients (back row, from left): Shaddi Hasan, Ruichuan Zhang, Rachel Cheng, (front row, from left) Rachelle Kuehl, Jessica Rich, and Sweta Baniya.
  • Sweta Baniya, assistant professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, “Compounding Crisis and Communication: Strengthening Transnational Disaster Response and Community Resilience via Social Justice Oriented Crisis Communication”
  • Rachel Cheng, assistant professor of food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “Case-control Study of Foodborne and Non-Foodborne Acquired Salmonellosis in Children”
  • Shaddi Hasan, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, “Advancing Digital Equity through Scalable Techniques for Improving Broadband Data Collection and Integrity”
  • Rachelle Kuehl, research scientist for the Center for Rural Education, “Teaching Race in Rural Places: Investigating Contextualized Challenges, Successes, and Solutions in Contentious Times”
  • Jessica Rich, research assistant professor for the Center for Coastal Studies, “A Comparative Study of Environmental Decision-Making in Coastal Virginia and Greenland”
  • Ruichuan Zhang, assistant professor for the Myers-Lawson School of Construction in the College of Engineering, “Assessing Adaptive Buildings for Inclusive Disaster Response”

To read the VTx article, click here.

The 2022-2023 ISCE PREP Recipients from left to right: Michael Sorice, Elinor Benami, Junghwan Kim, Heather Davis, Hannah M. Sunderman, Karin Kitchens, and Clara H. Suong.
  • Elinor Benami, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “Reassessing drought indicators used to finance relief payments in the U. S. Crop Insurance Program.”
  • Heather Davis, assistant professor of psychology in the College of Science, “Investigating shame as a mechanism underlying eating disorder comorbidity.”
  • Junghwan Kim, assistant professor of geography in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, “Assessing urban walkability with an artificial intelligence (AI) method: A case study in small-sized U.S. cities.”
  • Karin Kitchens, assistant professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science, “Identifying variation in juvenile sentencing.”
  • Michael G. Sorice, associate professor of forest resources and environmental conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, “Ecosystem stewardship as a policy target: Cultural expectations for private lands in the United States.”
  • Hannah M. Sunderman, assistant professor of agricultural, leadership, and community education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “An intersectional approach to leader(ship) identity development through meaning making.”
  • Clara H. Suong, assistant professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science, “Popular but unimportant? Power and language in digital diplomacy.”

To read the VTx article, click here.