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2. Overview of the STAR Program
Pages 20-63

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From page 20...
... for supporting extramural research grants and graduate fellowships in engineering and the environmental sciences. The program was established to augment EPA's research and scientific activities by funding independent but coordinated research efforts at academic and nonprofit research institutions.
From page 21...
... This chapter reviews the evolution of the STAR program; the components ofthe current program, including the research fields it covers; and the procedures for selecting research topics and awarding grants. EVOLUTION OF THE PROGRAM Robert Huggett, the assistant administrator of EPA for ORD, reorganized ORD and initiated the STAR program in 1995 by reallocating $57 million in funds from other ORD-sponsored research efforts (primarily the "exploratory research" program)
From page 22...
... 22 CD Cot o to o o .
From page 23...
... 23 The program began with three components: focused requests for grant applications, an exploratory research grants program (which invited grant applications to conduct exploratory research in environmental physics, chemistry, and biology without designating particular program foci) , and a graduate fellowship program (EPA 1 996a)
From page 24...
... Part of the evolution has been in response to changing agency research priorities. The amount of money allocated to the exploratory grants program has diminished; the emphasis has shifted to "focused" research solicitations, although some of these solicitations may also support some very basic, or "core," research efforts.
From page 25...
... Where the agency considered this to be a problem, it has made the RFAs more focused. That also was apparently one of the reasons for reducing the exploratory research grants program.The agency recognized that some research topics could be
From page 26...
... The agency has since increased emphasis on reviewing the progress of individual research efforts, encouraging coordination among researchers, and stimulating cooperation between intramural and extramural research efforts. The primary mechanism for accomplishing those ends is the "progress review" meetings, which include all the principal investigators working on a particular topic.
From page 27...
... COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM The STAR program has three main components: individual investigator awards, research centers, and student fellowships. Individual Investigator Awards Individual investigator awards provide funding to individual investigators or small teams of cooperating investigators who propose to conduct research on topics identified by the agency.
From page 28...
... The program is the only federal fellowship program designed exclusively for students pursuing advanced degrees in environmental sciences.5 The STAR fellowships provide more financial support than most other fellowships (Hogue 2002~. For instance, NSF fellowships offer a total of $27,300 annually to doctoral students for 3 years.
From page 29...
... STAR fellowships are highly competitive: only 10% of applicants receive funding (NCSE 2003~. Prospective applicants are evaluated on the basis of rigorous peer review, academic and employment records, and potential.
From page 30...
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From page 32...
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From page 33...
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From page 34...
... Five kinds of research centers have been funded: five Airborne Particulate Matter Centers, 12 Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research, five Hazardous Substances Research Centers, five Estuarine and Great Lakes Program Centers, and four Statistics Centers. In much of its analysis, the committee focused on three particular research topics: particulate matter as an air pollutant, ecologic indicators, and endocrine disruptors.
From page 35...
... Following the publication of the 1997 criteria document for particulate matter, a fine particle standard was established, and many questions were raised that required additional research for the subsequent criteria document to be issued 5 years later. The STAR research program on PM has enabled EPA to respond to this need more comprehensively than it could by just using its intramural program.
From page 36...
... 36 an Cal as as sit o ˘ Em as D ad 5 Ct E v U
From page 37...
... . · Dosimetry and Modeling: Develop new models regarding the amount of particulate matter deposited in the lungs of exposed individuals.
From page 38...
... PM research planning and coordination in EPA is guided by the recommendations of the National Research Council Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter and EPA's multiyear plan for PM. A PM program manager assists in coordinating research across the agency through a research coordinating team.
From page 39...
... The STAR program has been involved in ecologic indicators and assessment research since FY 1997. It consists primarily of core research, focusing on the development of indicators that integrate resource types, incorporate multiple levels of biologic organization, and address multiple spatial scales.
From page 40...
... 40 o ok by .= o o of o as as he to of ˘ Ed v]
From page 41...
... Research on the development of ecologic indicators is not typically conducted elsewhere in EPA. Endocrine Disrupters ORD first listed endocrine disruptors as a high-priority research topic HERA considers the centers to be part ofthe Estuarine and Great Lakes program, but the committee has included them with the ecologic indicators program because they are intended to make substantial use of ecological indicators for assessing the environmental health of ecosystems on which the program is focusing.
From page 42...
... For instance, the STAR program is attempting to fall information gaps concerning exposure to endocrine disruptors and epidemiologic research because the ORD laboratories have little capacity to undertake such research themselves.
From page 43...
... 43 so o so o 5 an ad sit o ˘ V]
From page 44...
... Planning The STAR grants process begins in the ORD research planning process. The STAR program was designed, from its beginning, to be integrated into and complement EPA's overall research and development program.
From page 45...
... 45 ·—o (~O .' ~ E `~: .m o it' ~ En: a)
From page 46...
... The STAR project officer and the leader of the appropriate research coordinating team use the multiyear plans to guide their preparation of RFAs. The draft RFAs are reviewed and approved by the appropriate program offices end representatives of regional offices and other ORD units to ensure that they are consistent with the intention of the multiyear plan.
From page 47...
... However, project officers have no role in the selection of panel members. When a panel has been selected, every member receives abstracts of all the proposals, and three or more panel members are selected to be principal reviewers for each proposal.
From page 48...
... If an RFA is being jointly funded, the cooperating agency or organization may take on the responsibility of conducting the scientific peer-review process. If EPA is responsible for peer review, the cooperating institution can participate in it under the same restrictions as the STAR project officer and at the conclusion of the process may identify the particular proposals it wishes to fund.
From page 49...
... The modifications Occasionally, a grant that is not in the highest-priority group from the relevance-review panel is selected because it received an "excellent" rating from the scientific peer-review panel, an apparently parochial ranking has skewed the distribution of the priorities, it will provide better program balance with the rest of the ORD research proposal, a principal investigator on a higher-ranked proposal has not performed well on past STAR grants, or there is a substantial difference of opinion between ORD participants and participants from the rest of the agency (Preuss 2002b)
From page 50...
... The interactions between the principal investigator and the project officer at this stage are considered to provide the same advantages as the preproposal discussions used by some other funding organizations without creating concerns about potential conflicts of interest, because funding decisions have already been made. The principal investigator submits a response, a modified proposal and budget, and all the certifications and other submissions required under federal rules, for final processing.
From page 51...
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From page 52...
... is hiring additional administrative staffto deal with some ofthe administrative requirements. That may not noticeably speed up the grant-making process, but it will at least reduce the project officers' workload and allow them to pay more attention to the substance ofthe research efforts, to monitoring research progress, and to communicating research results to potential users.
From page 53...
... , the STAR project officer is expected to monitor grant performance, including the submission ofthe annualprogress reports end the grantee's compliance with federal requirements, such as the OMB data-quality guidelines. Project officers also attempt to visit all the research centers and institutions that receive large individual grants to check on research progress.
From page 54...
... . · STAR research capsules, prepared at the request of EPA program and regional offices, which provide brief summaries of all the individual research projects that STAR is supporting on specific scientific issues.
From page 55...
... A notice indicating the availability of the grants, the eligibility criteria, the submission requirements, and the deadline for submissions is published in the Federal Register and on the STAR Web site, and copies are sent to graduate schools that have programs in environmental sciences and to individuals and organizations that have requested notification. The fellowship announcement is generally posted in mid-August and remains open for about 90 days, closing in midNovember.
From page 56...
... · Entering doctoral student without another graduate degree (applicants who at the time of submission are applying for or are enrolled in a doctoral program, have completed less than 1 year toward this degree, and have no other graduate or other professional degree EMS, DVM, or JD]
From page 57...
... Typically, more applications are ranked excellent by the peer-review panel than EPA can afford to fund. The final decision about which of the "excellent" applications receive funding is made by the NCER staff according to such criteria as achieving a balance of fellowships among universities, filling identified shortfalls in particular disciplines, achieving a rough proportion among disciplines between the number of "excellent" applications end the number offellowships awarded, and emphasizing applications in disciplines that EPA considers particularly important to fulfilling its science mission.
From page 59...
... The agency also puts an unusual amount of effort into preparing research solicitations and funding projects that have high relevance to its mission and program needs. · As the STAR program has developed, it has been able to induce other agencies with similar interests to enter into partnerships and provide supplementary funds.
From page 60...
... U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Announces the Availability of 1996 Grants for Research on Endocrine Disruptors Role of Interindividual Variation in Human Susceptibility to Cancer Risk- Based Decisions for Contaminated Sediments.
From page 61...
... 2002b. Airborne Particulate Matter (PM)
From page 62...
... Water and Watersheds Grants Program: An EPA Science Advisory Board Review. A Review by the Ecological Processes and Effects Committee (EPEC)
From page 63...
... 2000. EnvironmentalResearch: STAR Grants Focus on Agency Priorities, But Management Enhancements Are Possible: Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives.


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