RISE Frequently Asked Questions

RISE applications are evaluated by Columbia faculty within the application's disciplinary area(s) of expertise. Applications are never evaluated by individuals outside of Columbia, or by administrative staff, or by reviewers in a far-removed discipline (for example, an astrophysicist will not review an application in biochemistry).

Round 1 RISE applications are evaluated by at least three reviewers. Round 2 RISE applications are evaluated by at least five reviewers. All reviewers are screened for conflicts of interest. The names of reviewers are kept in strict confidence.

The RISE Evaluation Forms provide reviewers with the ability to anonymously provide feedback to applicants, which the Office of Research Initiatives will translate to applicants at the time of final notification. The names of reviewers are kept in strict confidence.

No; the RISE program does not set a quota on applications or winners from any particular department, school, or campus. Moreover, many successful RISE applications have PIs and Co-PIs from multiple departments and/or schools.

There are three common reasons why applications are unsuccessful in the RISE competition, each symptomatic of the applicant’s misunderstanding of the scope and purpose of the program:

  1. RISE is focused on discovery/basic research and is not appropriate for proposals in applied or translational research. While the development of an instrument or methodology that enables new discoveries may be appropriate for RISE, development of an instrument with the ultimate intent of commercialization is not. Applied or translational projects should consult a range of other internal seed funding programs across Columbia.
  2. RISE seeks to support groundbreaking and innovative collaboration across departments, schools, and/or campuses with the goal of fostering novel discoveries in the relevant discipline(s). Novelty is evaluated through the lens of the disciplines themselves, and not through the career trajectories of the researchers themselves. In other words, the proposed research must be objectively novel to the disciplinary field(s); charting a novel course in the PI’s career does not in itself justify RISE funding.
  3. Some of the most interesting and successful RISE proposals apply insights from one field to another quite far removed. However, more often than not, this novelty of application fails if the applicant team does not include a PI or Co-PI with a deep understanding of the target discipline. Reviewers from that specific discipline may interpret this lack of representation as a simplifying of assumptions or assertions, which ultimately undermines the proposal’s credibility.

Postdoctoral students and associate research scientists are not eligible to serve as PIs on RISE applications, but are eligible to serve as Co-PIs. Research Scientists are eligible to serve as PIs on RISE applications.

RISE-funded teams must comply with the following requirements and regulations.

  1. RISE funding is contingent upon the PI(s) remaining employed by Columbia University. The funding will not follow the researcher(s) to another institution.
  2. Teams must report any additional grants or gifts applied to the RISE-funded project (or similar projects). Receiving additional funding may not necessarily lead to RISE funding termination, provided that it is fully disclosed and promptly reported.
  3. Teams must provide a First Year Progress Report detailing the past year’s activities, which will be reviewed and evaluated prior to approval for the second year’s funding. (More information regarding this Progress Report will be distributed to winning teams at the appropriate time.)
  4. Teams must provide a Final Report at the end of the two-year period and are additionally requested to provide updates on subsequent papers or funding applications and other evidence of progress for several years thereafter. We understand that due to the innovative nature of RISE-funded research, it may take many years after the funding ends in order for the project to demonstrate success.

The RISE program recognizes that, occasionally, high-risk research leads PIs to ask new questions or develop new methodologies not originally proposed in the application. This change of plans is reasonable, although RISE staff request that any substantial changes to the project be reported as soon as possible. PIs are urged not to wait until the First Year or Close Out Progress Reports to notify staff of major changes to the funded project.

Applications may only consist of the Application Form, one single document listing contact information for Co-PIs, CVs from all PIs and Co-PIs, and, if applicable, proposal reviews from funding organizations explaining reasons for the proposal’s earlier rejection. No additional documents will be evaluated by reviewers.

RISE funds and encourages high-risk, interdisciplinary research collaborations with the goal of enabling researchers to then successfully apply for conventional funding opportunities. Rejection from such conventional sources may indicate that the proposal would be suitable for RISE funding, but rejection alone is not a sufficient qualifier for success in this competition. If the proposal was rejected for reasons such as “too early” or “insufficient preliminary data/evidence,” then that may be a sign of RISE suitability.

Please note: If a RISE application is for a project previously rejected from conventional funding sources, applications must include the full text reviews provided by the funding agency.

For more information, please contact RISE staff within the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research at [email protected].