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Interstellar Initiative Alumni Program

The Interstellar Initiative brings together Early Career Investigators from around the world — selected via a competitive application process — and groups them into interdisciplinary collaborative teams. With the guidance of leading senior researchers, each team develops a grant proposal centered on a novel scientific research question.

The Interstellar Initiative Alumni Program will bring together those who participated in prior rounds of the Interstellar Initiative to:

  1. Support the development and strengthening of teams and research projects to secure HFSP grants and other international awards
  2. Share best practices and science developed within the programs
  3. Provide continued networking and mentoring opportunities for Interstellar Initiative alumni

AMED and the Academy are delighted to support our Interstellar Initiative alumni in building and strengthening teams and research projects. For the alumni program, teams and projects will be developed over the course of two virtual convenings and an in-person workshop. Alumni will build their own teams or join with the previous Interstellar Initiative team. Team members will not be assigned.


Program Outline

  • Orientation and Networking Virtual Sessions

October 28, 2021 and November 12, 2021 at 7:00 AM EST – 9:30 AM EST

Will provide an overview of the Alumni program, and a networking opportunity for team-building. Participants can join with a pre-formed team, join their team from the prior Interstellar Initiative workshop, or as individual participants looking to build a new team. Choose one date to attend. Afterward alumni will start forming a team, if necessary.

  • Virtual Team-building Workshop

December 9-10, 2021, 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM EST

Opportunity for teams to work with mentors as they begin to develop a research project. After the December workshop, teams will continue to work on the research project and bring a draft proposal to the February Workshop.

  • Virtual Project Development Workshop and Symposium

February 22-23, 2022, 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM EST

Teams will come together to meet with mentors and further develop their research projects. There will also be a scientific symposium, highlighting science developed through the Interstellar Initiative.

Funding

After the Alumni events, AMED will make available competitive funds to new collaborative teams via a funding call that will be open only to Alumni. Details will be announced in January 2022.

*While participation in all events is encouraged, it is not required to attend every event or to join a team. Portions of each event will be recorded for those unable to attend live.


FAQ

Building new teams:

Will teams be assigned?

No

Do I need to be on a team to participate in the alumni program?

No, portions of the program will be available to all alumni.

Do all teams need to include a member based in Japan?

The teams must include at least one member based in Japan.

Can I work with the same team as from my first year in the Interstellar Initiative?

Yes

Any other restrictions on team composition?

We encourage teams to consist of 3-4 members from different disciplines and representing different countries focusing on solving a major research question.

Can we include a teammate who is not an alumni member?

No

What if I can’t find a team but I’m interested in joining a team?

You can ask the Academy and AMED to help you find a team.

Are there limitations on the scientific topic for the team projects?

This year’s theme is healthy longevity and projects must be interdisciplinary.

Can I participate on more than one team?

We strongly encourage alumni to participate on only one team to focus discussion during workshops. However, you can participate on up to two teams, as long as teammates agree and confidential information is kept within the team. Note as well that Alumni are only be eligible to receive AMED funding for one team only (additional AMED funding information below). 

Scientific symposium:

How will presentations be invited for the scientific symposium?

A survey will be distributed requesting more information for those interested in presenting more developed work at the February symposium. Priority will be given to presentations related to prior Interstellar Initiative projects. Those invited will be notified in December.

Team funding:

How do we apply?

After the Alumni events, AMED will make available competitive funds to new collaborative teams via a funding call that will be open only to Alumni (April 2022).A member based in Japan will apply to AMED on behalf of the team.

Do we have to participate in the December and February team-mentoring portions of the program to be eligible for funding?

No, but mentors’ comments from workshops are also considered in the AMED funding evaluation process and it is highly recommended to attend.

What is the amount of funding per team?

20,000-40,000 USD (subject to change)

Can I apply to both Alumni Call and HFSP?

Yes, you can apply for an Alumni grant and an HFSP research grant or any other international grants at the same time.

HFSP research grant was introduced during the orientations, but its research scope does not match with our idea and project. What shall we do?

AMED introduced the HFSP as a good example of the international and interdisciplinary team research grant. There are other international grants and we encourage ECIs to apply to the grants whose special features fit your research project and team the best.