News & Events

Launch of Strategic Priority Support Mechanism 2021

Published: Tuesday, 09 March, 2021

This week, we are launching our fourth annual call for proposals to identify short-term strategic priorities for the Earth Institute. The Strategic Priority Support Mechanism 2021 will continue to stimulate interdisciplinary environmental research activity across the Institute, the University and beyond, with funding of up to €10,000 awarded to each of 2-4 multidisciplinary teams per annum.

Full details of the call, including eligibility, evaluation and the application process can be found here. The application deadline is 5pm on Monday 31 May – if you have any questions please contact Earth Institute Director Professor Tasman Crowe or our Research Manager, Caitriona Devery.  We are very happy to discuss ideas in early stages of development and may be able to help you find co-applicants.  Applicants should propose a project on a topic which could be considered strategically important, within one or more of the Institute’s cross-cutting dimensions and research themes.

Last year, two strategic priority projects were supported through the scheme: Re-EcoNet led by Tancredi Caruso, and Measuring Sustainable Actions at Community Level (Community SDG Dashboard), led by Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo. This brings to seven the total number of projects funded so far. 

Applications to the scheme are an opportunity to bring together an interdisciplinary team to address a topic of mutual interest. The scheme aims to fund activites that will establish or enhance applicants' profile in an emerging area or substantially progress an agenda, and will be fully supported by the institute. 

In non-Covid times the scheme often funded the cost of events, travel and website development, but recently projects are increasingly using the budget to fund a short-term appointment to support the project delivery. Full details of eligible costs are included in the call document. 

Some of our previous awardee experiences


"Over a 2-year period, the UCD Centre for Irish Towns (CfIT) will have evolved from an idea to an approved centre for research and training in UCD, all facilitated by the SPSM. The financial award has allowed us to develop communications tools and run events (pre-COVID!), and the direct supports from the Earth Institute, for example in terms of contacts, advice and human resources, have been invaluable. The SPSM scheme is really a leg-up, with the Earth Institute crew cheering you on. It has built momentum and given us confidence to progress and develop our idea". 

-  Dr Philip Crowe and Dr Orla Murphy, Centre for Irish Towns


"The Earth Institute’s Strategic Priority Support Mechanism (SPSM) call has been instrumental in facilitating practical work between academics, researchers and the community in the SDG Dashboard Project. Partnership is central for action research into sustainable development, but without funding support it is difficult to take forward the implementation of local actions, or the organising of community co-creation and capacity building events. The Earth Institute’s SPSM goes beyond financial support in enabling the implementation of such initiatives and associated activities. The team behind the SPSM has helped us coordinate efforts and disseminate the project and its findings, as well as facilitated networking connections and provided assistance as and when needed."

- Dr Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo, Community SDG Dashboard


DIVERSICROP’s primary aim is to develop a COST Action application that will investigate selected underutilized crops well-suited to European climates and environments and extensively cultivated in Europe’s past. The original idea stemmed from conversations between the two Co-PIs at UCD and Earth Institute research events, where they learned that both were investigating crops but from very different perspectives – one focusing on modern crop science and the other on crops grown thousands of years ago. They developed a collaborative project – DIVESRICROP – which also brought in UCD researchers in nutrition and policy to enable a more comprehensive approach towards diversifying crop production and sustainably producing nutritious food. The SPSM initially enabled a framework to develop the project and attract collaborators. It has since facilitated the appointment of a project administrator (which has been crucial in a project with a large and diverse team and a complex research challenge), and we have benefited greatly from the wealth of experience in the Earth Institute on project and network development.

- Dr Sónia Negrão and Dr Meriel McClatchie, DIVERSICROP


Interactions within Re-EcoNet have supported the key idea for an application to the SFI Frontier for the Future Programme. If funded, the project would support a post doctoral researcher and a PhD fellow for four years, plus the costs of research on the response of plant-soil microbe network to extreme perturbations.  Re-EcoNet activities have also led to the draft of a literature review paper on network methods with Tancredi Caruso, Matthias C Rillig and Diego Garlschelli as authors. The manuscript is almost ready for submission. We're planning to launch a website with a YouTube channel to start disseminating our key ideas.

- Dr Tancredi Caruso, Re-EcoNet