Grant Program and Application

The Center for Security Research and Education (CSRE) at Penn State offers grants to support interdisciplinary research, curricular development, or educational activities addressing the broad range of security challenges confronting society.


CSRE grant applications may be submitted by any full-time Penn State faculty member (as defined in Penn State Academic Policy AC21 found at

Applications for Spring 2020 Impact, Homeland Security, Open Topic, and Education Grants must be received by Feb. 14, 2020.

Grant Amounts

CSRE offers five types of grants:

  1. Impact Grant, which may be awarded by a selection committee in an amount not to exceed $50,000. The Impact Grant is designed to support multiple faculty working together to pursuing significant external funding.
  2. Homeland Security Grant, which may be awarded by a selection committee in an amount not to exceed $50,000. The Homeland Security Grant is designed to support multiple faculty working together to pursue significant external funding around one of the following topics:
    • Detecting and mitigating cybersecurity threats on internet of things platforms;
    • Enabling materials for sensor networks, secure communication and resilient microelectronics;
    • AI, machine learning, and big data solutions for detecting and mitigating terrorist threats;
    • Net assessment of violent non-state actors;
    • Social dynamics influencing the community response to geo-political and economic events.
  3. Open-Topic Research Grants, which may be awarded by a selection committee in amounts not to exceed $15,000. Research Grants are designed to assist applicants in obtaining external funding and are awarded pursuant to an annual or semi-annual call.
  4. Education Grants, which may be awarded by a selection committee in amounts not to exceed $2,500. Level 2 grants are designed to support interdisciplinary security-related curricular or educational program development and are awarded pursuant to an annual or semi-annual call.
  5. Director’s Grants, which may be awarded by the CSRE director in amounts not to exceed $1,000. These grants are designed primarily to support interdisciplinary security-related public programs and may be submitted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Grant Criteria

Applicants may seek funding to address the threats currently facing national and international people, physical and electronic infrastructure, food and water supplies, public health, and the natural environment, as well as the implications of society’s responses to these threats on economic well-being, civil liberties, and culture.

  1. All proposals must:
    • Clearly reflect the inter-, multi-, or transdisciplinary nature of contemporary security challenges by incorporating expertise from multiple, diverse disciplines (e.g., the physical sciences and social sciences) and, ideally, involve collaboration among multiple units. The fact that a proposal involves faculty from different Penn State academic units is not “interdisciplinary” if the faculty members are from the same academic discipline;
    • Clearly describe the objectives to be achieved, including clear data collection and analysis plans where applicable;
    • Provide a proposed budget for how CSRE funds will be used;
    • If the applicant has received a previous CSRE grant, provide a status update if work is still in progress, or, evidence of positive outcomes if the grant is completed;
    • Include an endorsement from the applicant’s and co-applicant’s department head, dean or chancellor.
  2. Proposals will receive additional favorable consideration if they:
    • Include commitments for matching funds from one or more departments, Colleges, or Institutes;
      Note: Deans and directors of CSRE member units may be willing to provide additional funding to encourage applications for CSRE grants. Interested faculty should inquire within their college or relevant CSRE-member institute;
    • Are submitted by a principal investigator from a CSRE contributing unit.
  3. Education Grants must clearly describe why CSRE support will provide unique value to innovative interdisciplinary curriculum development and an endorsement from the applicant’s and co-applicant’s department head, dean, or chancellor that the curriculum has the potential for lasting impact.
  4. Research Grants must:
    • Describe how the grant will lead to additional external funding, to include potential funding sources, submission deadlines, and subject matter;
    • If the applicant intends to use CSRE funding in conjunction with funds obtained from other grant sources, include a commitment to use CSRE funding only for the express purposes described in the proposal;

Allowable Expenses

Allowable expenses include:

  • Salary for undergraduate or graduate research assistants;
  • Purchase of research materials including books (note: purchases of IT equipment are not permitted);
  • Funds to support operating expenses for a public event;
  • Travel for research;
  • Travel to present research findings or testimony to government or international agency groups;
  • For the Impact and Homeland Security Grants, course buyouts subject to express approval by the relevant academic unit administrator and CSRE.

Expectations of Grant Recipients

As a condition of accepting CSRE funds, recipients agree to the following:

  • Investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update (beginning on the one-year anniversary of your award) in the format of Attachment 1 and upon completing the project. These materials allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the success of our seed grant program;
  • If you need to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget during your projects, please send a request to with the specific details of these changes;
  • Recipients must appropriately acknowledge CSRE support in relevant publications, speaking, and promotional activities. Information on public display of the CSRE logo may be obtained from;
  • Upon request, recipients must be willing to participate in reviewing future CSRE grant proposals and are encouraged to participate in CSRE-sponsored events.

Application and Selection Process

  • Selection Committee and Process. All grant applications (except Director’s Grants) will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary committee of three or more CSRE representatives. All proposals must satisfy CSRE eligibility criteria. In addition, proposals submitted within the same application cycle will be evaluated comparatively to determine which is most worthy of receiving finite CSRE grant funding. Under these procedures, it is possible that a fully qualified proposal may not be among the best qualified to receive funding.
  • Applications should be submitted at:
  • Interested faculty with questions may contact CSRE Interim Associate Director John Hodgson at