Learn all that you can about grant mechanisms targeted to undergraduate serving institutions such as:

   NIH - R15 (AREA) grants

   NSF - RUI grants

Both NIH and NSF also have special grant programs for minority-serving institutions.

Research grants are the most challenging grants to get at small institutions. Your most difficult task will be to convince reviewers that you can do the work

Be a PI or co-PI on an infrastructure or student support grant

Being a PI on a grant gives credibility & a track record and

    invitations to serve as a reviewer (helps you write better applications)

Program funds can subsidize your research in important ways

    - travel to professional meetings

    - buying supplies to support student research

    - supporting student lab workers

    - supporting administrative assistance

Find ways to accumulate preliminary data without funding.

- Make your research part of an advanced lab course

- Use leftovers from lab courses (equipment 0r


- Use leftovers from funded colleagues

- Host/mentor students in research programs

- Create a federal work-study job in your lab

- Be relentless in seeking professional development

     funds from internal sources

Focus on developing interesting hypotheses and a strong experimental plan that fits your repertoire of techniques

- Make sure that your research investigates important

   scientific questions.

- At small institutions the techniques & methodologies that are

   available are limited.  Design your hypotheses so that the techniques

   you have access to are the best experimental approach to test them.

- Design experiments so that the results distinguish between different

   hypotheses.  Focus on designing experiments such that getting one

   result is incompatible with one hypothesis, while getting the opposite result is incompatible with the alternative hypothesis.

It is important to include "potential pitfalls and alternative approaches" that are substantive and not simply problems with techniques.

Reviewers know that frequently experiments don't work,

and our hypotheses turn out to be wrong.

Your proposal needs to show that you know that too.

To craft a strong "potential pitfalls" section, start by

asking your self the following questions:

   1. What kind of results would cause me to abandon

        this experimental approach?

   2. What kind of results would cause me to discard

        this hypothesis?

   3. If I got those kinds of results, what would I do next?

Every project has some risk. You need to show that if things don't work out  you will still be able to use the grant funds to advance the science.

Get a mentor or colleague with grant writing experience to read your grant proposal

The most helpful reader is someone who has been successful at getting their research funded by the same program or agency where you are applying.

You need someone who will go through your proposal line-by-line. If there isn't anyone at your institution who can do that, look elsewhere. 

Offer to take your colleagues out to lunch if they will read your proposal.