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Joseph G. Sprague New Investigator Award


About the Award | Why this Award? | Informational Webinar | Eligibility & Evaluation | Timeline & Application


Investigators from research and academic institutions, and professional practice, are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be either a current graduate student or someone who has graduated with a research degree within the past three years and is currently engaged in research in either a practice setting or academic institution. Applicants may have extensive professional experience, but must be in the early stages of their formal research career to qualify (i.e., no more than three years following the graduation date of the degree year). Age is therefore not a factor in eligibility consideration.

Applicants may be involved in a research study that is part of a larger research agenda (a grant-funded project at a university).  If this is the case, however, the applicant must clearly articulate how their individual study scope is an identifiable “sub-project,” led by the candidate. These applicants should describe how their individual research is contributing to the body of knowledge apart from the larger research scope. These applicants should also define how this study increases their individual skillset in the context of the larger opportunity. There should be no doubt that the applicant is the lead investigator for the study described in the application. As such, the award is not intended for a research team although the candidate may include industry experts/academic advisors in an advisory role. It should be clear that any listed advisors are not conducting the research.

Applicants with recent degrees who are working in non-academic settings (e.g., an A/D firm, non-profit) are eligible but must clearly identify how the proposed project is an independent investigation. The topic should be in an area of interest that the candidate would like to pursue to advance their own research interests and development. This should not be a company-led project for which the applicant is the researcher. A letter of support from the employer is encouraged.

All applicants should submit a fully developed research proposal meeting the page limits as detailed in the Application Requirements. Only the approved templates are to be used. The proposal should not be developed in design software or with a Word format using different fonts, sizes, and layouts. This is to ensure a consistency of applications for the reviewers. Deviations from the provided template and page limits are grounds for disqualification.


Proposal submissions will be reviewed and scored by a multi-disciplinary jury based on the following weighted criteria (listed in order of importance):

  1. Scientific quality of the proposal (including study purpose, significance, research question/hypothesis, anticipated outcomes, practical implications, literature review, conceptual or theoretical framework (optional), study design and methods)
  2. Industry contribution (including innovation & new knowledge, dissemination plan)
  3. Readiness/Feasibility (including researcher’s capabilities and experience, project feasibility as described in the proposal, Human Subjects protection/Administrative approval)
  4. Administrative (including budget justification, task schedule/timeframe)
  5. Writing Quality (grammar, spelling, clarity, appropriate use of research terminology)
  6. Engaging content (compelling case that this is a unique, timely, high quality study)

The award decisions will be made at the discretion of The Center based on the recommendations of the jury. Reviewers are required to respect the confidentiality of the information provided in the proposals. Applicants will receive written feedback from the jurors following the announcement.