Support for Teams to Advance Interdisciplinary Research


Multidisciplinary research collaborations are vital to tackling some of the most pressing problems we face. Funding organizations recognize this, and often require interdisciplinary teams to come forward with new proposals addressing complex issues. By stimulating innovative, cross-disciplinary scholarship and research, STAIR grants serve as a stepping stone to external funding opportunities.

STAIR grants are designed to initiate new collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects at UBC. Teams of two researchers apply – the collaboration must be interdisciplinary and the researchers must not have worked together in the past.


Successful teams will receive funding to support two graduate students for one year ($20,000 for each student) and a $5,000 research stipend for materials and supplies, shared between the two PIs.

Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria

These grants are intended to stimulate new, interdisciplinary research collaborations for one year, with the expectation that results obtained will be used to secure additional funding for subsequent years. Researchers must be from different departments (one in UBC Science, the other may be in UBC Science or another faculty at UBC Vancouver). They must not have an existing research collaboration, and never have published together.

To limit demands on researcher time, proposals will initially be screened to ensure they meet guidelines for the program: originality of the proposed research area, interdisciplinary collaboration, and potential for obtaining external funding. Then, successful proposals will be selected by lottery.

Post-Award Administration

Decisions will be announce about four weeks after the application deadline. The grant period will be from May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. A one-page report detailing the outcomes of the project will be required by October 31, 2021. Participants may be asked to present at a symposium in 2021 or 2022.

Participating Faculties

  • Applied Science
  • Arts
  • Dentistry
  • Forestry
  • Land and Food Systems
  • Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Science
  • Sauder School of Business


Who is eligible to apply for a STAIR grant?

All UBC Vancouver tenure and tenure-track, research-stream faculty who are members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are eligible to serve as PI or co-PI. Affiliate or associate members of a UBC department can lead a STAIR grant application—but one applicant must have a UBC Science department or unit as their home, and must receive at least part of their salary from the Faculty of Science.

Can I be PI and/or co-PI on more than one application?

No, you can only be PI or co-PI on one STAIR grant submitted.

I've submitted a grant application with another professor who I've never collaborated with previously. Is the project eligible for STAIR funding?

No. If you already have a grant submitted (or accepted), then you've already met the goal of the initiative. STAIR is not intended to replace other sources of funding, but to help prepare researchers to apply for bigger collaborative grants.

How does the selection process work for STAIR grants?

Grants will be reviewed to ensure they meet minimum criteria for novelty and interdisciplinarity. For applicants who previously held a STAIR grant, the progress made on their previous grant will be considered. The remainder of the process is conducted by lottery.

Do I need to spend the funds within 1 year?

Yes, the funds for STAIR grants must be spent within 1 year.

Can I apply for an extension to spend the funds?

Extensions will only be provided in the case of exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Can a UBC-Okanagan faculty member be PI or co-PI of a STAIR grant?

Not for this cycle, but we will be exploring this for future cycles.

Are we limited to two applicants per proposal?

Yes, but you may include other collaborators in the project. However, the maximum funding will not change (two graduate students total for one year).

I received a STAIR grant previously. Am I eligible?

No, but you may become eligible for future competitions.

I applied for a STAIR grant previously but was unsuccessful. Can I reapply?

Yes, as long as you have not yet applied for other funding. It is OK if you initiated a collaboration as a result of the previous STAIR competition.

Can I erase the text in the square brackets in the application form?

Yes, you may delete that, but don't resize the text boxes or change the font size.

2020 Call For Proposals Postponed

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the next competition for UBC Science STAIR grants is postponed.


Mark MacLachlan
Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies

Dates and Deadlines

Updates pending.

STAIR Recipients: 2019

Complexity and biodiversity along productivity gradients

  • Leticia Aviles (Zoology)
  • Nicholas Coops (Forestry)

Efficient symmetry-aware probabilistic programming

  • Benjamin Bloem-Reddy (Statistics)
  • Frank Wood (Computer Science)

Quantifying the impact of the ribosome structure and translation dynamics on protein folding

  • Dao Duc Khan (Mathematics)
  • Simcha Srebnik (Chemical and Biological Engineering)

Using new mathematical and computational tools for constrained optimization with large data sets to improve cosmology experiments

  • Mark Halpern (Physics and Astronomy)
  • Michael Friedlander (Computer Science)

Automating the discovery and development of new materials: Project Ada

  • Jason Hein (Chemistry)
  • Margo Seltzer (Computer Science)

Development of an un-targeted metabolomics platform for global-scale profiling of neuroactive steroids

  • Tao Huan (Chemistry)
  • Kiran Soma (Psychology)

Investigating the ublquitin-proteasome system that regulates organellar inheritance

  • Jae-Hyeok Lee (Botany)
  • Thibault Mayor (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

Electrochemical activation of a biological 'pH muscle'

  • Philip Matthews (Zoology)
  • Dan Bizzotto (Chemistry)

A deep learning approach to analyzing retinal imaging for medical diagnosis

  • Ipek Oruc (Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences)
  • Yaniv Plan (Mathematics)

Effect of morphology and tissue composition on garment compression

  • Dinesh K. Pai (Computer Science)
  • Michael Koehle (Kinesiology)

Developing a theoretical framework for the evolution of symbiosis

  • Laura Parfrey (Botany)
  • Christoph Hauert (Mathematics)

Casual telepresence with neural avatars in fish tank virtual reality

  • Helge Rhodin (Computer Science)
  • Sid Fels (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Illuminating the genetic forces driving development by profiling with single cell RNA-sequencing at thousands of time-points

  • Geoff Schiebinger (Mathematics)
  • Kenji Sugioka (Zoology)

Computational sustainable architecture

  • Alla Sheffer (Computer Science)
  • Blair Satterfield (Architecture and Landscape Architecture)

Pinpointing U24 function by using a C. elegans model

  • Suzana Straus (Chemistry)
  • Kota Mizumoto (Zoology)