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Scholarly Studies Awards Program in the Arts and Humanities 2016 Call for Proposals

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The Acting Provost/Under Secretary for Museums and Research is pleased to announce continued support for the FY 2016 Scholarly Studies Awards Program (SSA) in the Arts and Humanities for staff research.


The SSA awards will be focused on funding research that supports the Smithsonian’s Grand Challenges for Valuing World Cultures and Understanding the American Experience.

Multidisciplinary projects with multiple investigators are strongly encouraged, as are projects that have obtained or are seeking external funding.

How It Works:

The maximum one-year SSA award is $50,000 per project, but proposals with smaller budgets are encouraged. The total award must be obligated within the fiscal year for which it was awarded and completed within two years. Additionally, all services and travel must be completed and expensed within the fiscal year in the year in which funds are awarded.


Principal Investigators (PIs) must be Smithsonian federal or trust research staff in the arts and humanities, or have emeritus status in related areas.

Fellows, research associates, interns, contractors, or affiliated federal agency staff are not eligible to apply as PIs.

Funds may be used to support fellows, but only as part of the overall research program. SSA awards should not be requested for the primary purpose of supporting independent fellowships. Funds may not be used to support salary for the PI.  Stipends for interns may not be supported through an SSA award.

A staff member may the primary PI on only one proposal, but may be co-PI on additional proposal(s).

Deadline for electronic submission of proposals to the Office of Fellowships and Internships is September 15, 2015. Museums and research units may set earlier deadlines for internal approvals. Fiscal Year 2016 grants will be awarded no later than October 1, 2015.


Proposals must include a short project summary (less than one page), project description (see below), budget and budget justification, bibliography, and an abbreviated CV for each Principal Investigator (PI).

CV’s are limited to two pages, but should demonstrate the relevant qualifications of the major participants.

If applicable, an outline of previous support for the project and/or current or pending additional sources of support should be provided.

Project Descriptions:

The description is limited to five double -spaced pages. It should describe the proposed work and link it to related research, the broader intellectual or disciplinary context, and to one or both of the Smithsonian’s Grand Challenges for Valuing World Cultures and Understanding the American Experience, while making a case for originality, significance, and the advancement of knowledge.

Requests for funding for fellowship support should clearly indicate either the qualifications of a pre-selected fellow (if appropriate) or the process for selection of the fellow.

Proposals should be clear about the role of fellows versus employees, consistent with Smithsonian policies.

Workshop and pilot study proposals must be clear about linkage to scholarly goals.

Proposals will benefit from work plans that are clearly linked to their budgets.

Within-Unit Review:

Unit Directors, Research Directors (when appropriate), and Supervisors or Chairs must review the proposals before submission to assure they are consistent with unit priorities and, if applicable, unit budgetary constraints.

This review is documented by signatures on the proposal form. In particular, the unit review should pay attention to proposed cost shares from unit funds. No priority ranking of proposals from within one unit is necessary, and multiple applications per unit are encouraged.


Applications should be sent electronically, as one single PDF file, to the Office of Fellowships and Internships at siofi@si.edu. Application deadline is September 15, 2015. Museums and research units may set earlier deadlines for internal approvals.

Proposal Review:

The Director of the Grand Challenges Consortia for the Humanities and OFI will convene the peer review of the SSA proposals by a committee of Smithsonian history, art, and culture scholars.

The Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture will make final funding decisions based on the committee recommendations.

Review criteria:

Proposals will be assessed with regard to the following factors:

1.  Relevance to the Smithsonian’s Grand Challenges and the goals, objectives and strategies stated in the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan;

2. Relationship of the project to the applicant’s unit priorities and initiatives;

3. Extent to which outside support for the project has been obtained or applied for;

4. Degree to which the study would advance the current state of knowledge in the field, and lead to scholarly publication(s), and contribute to a larger, more comprehensive, or innovative research agenda;

5. Significance of ideas or research questions proposed;

6. Methodology or research plan (clear, adequate, and appropriate);

7. Ability of investigator(s) to conduct proposed research;

8. Appropriateness of budget items and costs.

FY 2016 grants winners will be notified no later than October 1, 2015.

General Proposal Guideline Summary:

1. Project summary (less than one page);

2. The actual project description, formatted in 11 point or larger font type size, not to exceed five double-spaced pages;

3. The budget and budget justification (form below);

4. Abbreviated CV from each Principal Investigator (PI), not to exceed two pages;

5. Summary of other previous, current, and/or pending support for the project;

6. Bibliography.

No other attachments are allowed.  Proposals violating length and formatting guidelines will not be reviewed.


Contact: Michelle Delaney, Director of the Grand Challenges Consortium for the Humanities, 202-633-3810, delaneym@si.edu  and Gordon Bullock, Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI), 202-633-7052, bullockg@si.edu

SSA Cover Sheet and Budget Form (pdf)

FY 2016 SSA Awardees:

Eleanor Harvey, SAAM, “American Cosmos”

Melissa Ho, HMSG, “One Thing: Vietnam”

Samir Meghelli and Portia James, ACM, “Making the Migrant Metropolis”

E. Carmen Ramos, SAAM, “Tamayo: The New York Years”

J.Keith Wilson, FGA/AMSG, “Jades for Life and Death”

FY 2015 SSA Awardees:

Jose Barreiro, NMAI, “Cuba Indigenous Gens: Family Counts and Settlement History”

L. Antonio Curet, NMAI, “Households in the Ancient Caribbean”

Evelyn Hankins, HMSG, “Robert Erwin: All the Rules Will Change”

Igor Krupnik, NMNH, “The Smithsonian Handbook Pledge: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 1: A Window to the 21st Century Humanistic Scholarship”

Karen Milbourne, NMAfA, “Visionary Leadership: King Lewanika and the Look of an African Nation”

E. Carmen Ramos, SAAM, “Tamayo: The New York Years”

Margaret Salazar-Porzio, NMAH, “Yesteryear Meets Tomorrowland: World Expos and the Development of Cold War American Urbanism”

Donna Strahan, FGA/AMSG, “Characterization of Red Inlay in Ancient Chinese Bronzes”

FY 2014 SSA Awardees:

Massumeh Farhad, FGA/AMSG, “The Arts of the Book in the Islamic World”

Adrienne Kaeppler, NMNH, “Polynesian barkcloth: Transforming our understanding through integration of history, culture, conservation, and material analysis”

Stephen Loring, NMNH, “Searching for the Caribou House: a community anthropology initiative with the Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi) of northern Quebec-Labrador, Canada”

Dana Moffett, NMAfA, “Exploring Origins and Prestige: The technical analysis and documentation of Yoruba egungun masquerade costumes”

Julian Raby, Keith Wilson, and Nancy Micklewright, FGA/AMSG, “The Art of Sogdiana”

FY 2013 SSA Awardees:

Joshua Bell, NMNH, “Fixing Connections II: Communicative Repair among Adolescents”

Lauren Horelick, Malcolm Collum and Russ Lee, NASM, and Jennifer Giaccai, MCI, “The Origin of Stealth Technology”

Emily Jacobson, Lee Glazer, and Blythe McCarthy, FGA/AMSG, “Whistler’s Watercolors”

Blythe McCarthy, FGA/AMSG, “The Art and Science of Chinese Lacquer”

Melinda Zeder, NMNH, and Christine France, MCI, “First Steps Toward Animal Domestication in the Taurus/Zagros Arc”

FY 2012 SSA Awardees:

Anne Goodyear, NPG, “Extraordinary Portraits: Abstracted Identity in American Art”

Gabriela Perez Baez, NMNH, “Comparative Study of Tone Phenomena in Zapotec Languages”

Carlene Stephens, NMAH, “Studying Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory Recordings”