Casey Taylor
Biz/Tech Reporter

Staff and faculty at Humber are once again vying for funding for their research, while the Staff-Initiated Research Fund is seeking to foster their efforts.

SIRF is a competition open to faculty and college staff to promote original, externally focused research.

“Basically what we’re talking about is research that has some application beyond the classroom,” said Laura Keating, research facilitator with Humber Research.

The goal for the fund is for applicants to eventually receive funding from external grant agencies. For college research, this often means showing potential for stimulating local economic development, said Keating.

The fund provides up to $8,000 in seed money out of a budget near $50,000.

She said last year they provided grants to 10 of 15 projects that applied as most didn’t ask for full funding.

“The funds are used for various research costs,” said Keating. “Most of them also have to have student engagement so usually there’s a significant salary component.”

Keating said applicants can also seek out other modest funding for things like travel costs and small equipment.

Comprehensive applications should include a description of the project as well as a budget justification.

“It needs to be a relatively well developed concept,” said Keating. “They have to have a specific research question that they’re working on.”

Applicants must also submit a final report to the department detailing their findings as well as potential affects it may have on Humber students, faculty and curriculum.

Alex Connaty, a PhD candidate in biology at McMaster University said the school will give start up grants for research but he hadn’t heard of anything similar to SIRF.

“I know there are many third party granting agencies that fund research,”  said Connaty. “But as for school competition-based funding for staff and faculty, I’m not aware of one.”

Connaty has worked on research projects with professors as part of his studies.

“As far as a competition to offer research funding, I think Humber’s pretty unique in the college world,” said Keating. “I know that there’s lots of colleges that support it but I don’t know that they have this grant that’s been specifically set aside for it.”

Past recipients include Julie Valerio, a professor in the School of Health Sciences, in 2011-2012. Her idea saw a natural playground built at Humber North.

Bernie Monette, a professor in the School of Media Studies and Information Technology, won funding in the most recent rounds of competition. His idea’s to examine how web users look at links prior to clicking them.

SIRF funding is awarded  on a competitive basis, and attempts are made to ensure a wide range of departments are represented in its recipients.

“We want to make sure we’re touching all areas of the college and providing opportunities for research across the board,” said Keating. “The other thing that we really are promoting is collaboration.”

Application deadline for this year’s competition is Feb. 26 with a funding period from April 1, to Jan. 31, 2015.