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A path less taken

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert receives major research funding from Open Philanthropy Project.

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert

For many scientists, the road to get funding for their research is long and complex. They submit proposals, wait for agency responses, and hope their project will garner enough interest to receive funding. A recent endeavor by Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, however, shows a potentially growing path for researchers to find grant alternatives.  

Last year, Schmidt-Dannert filled out a web-based application with a short research proposal on InnoCentive, an online platform that matches researchers with funders to focus on particular research areas. Her submission got her a $150,000 award from the Open Philanthropy Project to study protein-based biomaterials to coat surfaces with potential application in corrosion or icing prevention.  

“This grant has opened my eyes to philanthropic opportunities for research funding - especially since the funders seem to support high-risk,-high-reward type of research, which is difficult to get funded by traditional funding mechanisms,” says Schmidt-Dannert.

This philanthropic alternative to the more traditional grant approval process speaks to a new potential funding source for faculty. With a simpler and less-time-consuming application, Schmidt-Dannert sees this as a positive alternative for fellow researchers.

“Considering the amount of effort that goes into writing typical grant proposals that often will not get funded, the payoff for the small amount of effort that went into writing this proposal was much larger,” she says. “It is worth trying something off the beaten path.

For Schmidt-Dannert, this award will give her the opportunity to dig further into the field of nanomaterials, with potential uses in industry and beyond.

"Applications for functionalized surfaces are countless and may range from sensing, catalytic, self-cleaning surfaces to surfaces that provide adherence or tailored surface environments for biomedical applications,” says Schmidt-Dannert.

-Lance Janssen

January, 2019