Texas A&M School Of Innovation Calling For COVID-19 Proposals

Research teams are invited to compete for grants for research related to the pandemic.
By Alyssa Gafford-Gaby, Texas A&M University School of Innovation April 17, 2020

The Texas A&M University School of Innovation’s Innovation[X] Program has made a special call for proposals addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fall 2020 will mark the second year for the Innovation[X] Program, which provides grants for interdisciplinary research teams focused on complex, real-world problems. Selected projects will consist of a team of interdisciplinary faculty members and a multidisciplinary team of 10-20 students from the undergraduate and graduate level across the university.

a light bulb lit up with the words "Big Idea"
Teams of students and faculty are invited to compete for funding up to $20,000


Proposals should display a team-based approach to complex problems such as the pandemic, said Associate Dean of the School of Innovation Bob Shandley. The interdisciplinary nature of the teams within the program allow for better solutions for global problems, he said.

Successful proposals may be funded up to $20,000 for the upcoming academic year. The school is still considering the number of proposals that will be funded.

“Innovation[X]’s main goal is to get faculty and students, who may not normally work together, to come together to solve big problems,” Shandley said. “A lot of the big problems of the world aren’t easily solved with just one kind of discipline. We get students and faculty with different disciplines and different points of view to come together and provide a broader array of possibilities to solve that problem.”

Some Innovation[X] proposals have already been chosen to receive grants from the School of Innovation for 2020-2021. This special call offers an opportunity for research teams to address problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that go beyond scientific research.

Dean of the School of Innovation and Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Andy Morriss said proposals already accepted for the 2020-2021 academic year will still receive grants. He encourages teams to gear new proposals toward community and social effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“[A proposal] certainly can involve scientific research, but it doesn’t need to,” Morriss said. “There’s a whole lot of problems we are going to have to address as we go forward and it’s just as important to be thinking about social impacts of the virus as it is the scientific impacts.

“Science can definitely play a role in these projects, but we want to think about how this is affecting our community and how we can remedy some of the problems,” he said.

Leslie Ruyle, associate research scientist at the Bush School of Government and Public Service and assistant director pf the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, is a current Innovation[X] team leader. Ruyle’s research focuses on conservation and entrepreneurship, and how these two can be combined to help solve human-wildlife conflict.

While doing research in the Congo, Ruyle and her team had to work around an Ebola virus outbreak. Programs such as Innovation[X] allow for deeper understanding of such complex global issues, she said.

“When you start studying at the level offered by Innovation[X], you get really good results,” Ruyle said. “The same thing that is happening now happened with Ebola — you get bombarded with all these different things on the news.

“When you start studying it and getting a bit more critical and digging deeper, you really think about it in a different way, though,” she said. “Students who have worked on my team are viewing COVID-19 very differently than if they hadn’t been in the program.”

Innovation[X] proposals for COVID-19 are due by May 1 and may be submitted online. Visit the School of Innovation website for more information.

The Innovation[X] grants are similar to Texas A&M’s President’s Excellence Fund X-Grants in that both require faculty teams to be interdisciplinary. But the Innovation[X] program differs with the additional requirement of undergraduate and graduate student participation.

View previous Innovation[X] grant recipients for 2019-20* and 2020-21.

* This link is no longer active and has been removed.

Media contact: Jennifer Briggs,

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