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News: "Creativity is a Decision" Prize - Seventh Annual Competition

May 30, 2017

The Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is sponsoring a unique competition for submission of the most creative ideas for grant proposals in obesity-related research. This program has already proven successful in helping investigators to put forward their most creative ideas – the ones they might have even been afraid of being laughed at for – and getting them funded.

Winners in different award categories will receive cash prizes for submission of meritorious ideas that are cutting-edge and outside the box and that will lead to submissions of full-scale applications for extramural funding.

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Three categories of applicants are eligible: Graduate Students; Postdoctoral Fellows; and Faculty (both junior and senior faculty) & Staff.
  2. Applicants are welcome from every department and school within UAB.
  3. Winners must submit an extramural grant application for which they are eligible by November 6, 2017 in order to claim their prize.

Application Process:

  1. Prepare a one-page application, due on July 6, 2017, that includes:
    1. name, email, and telephone number of applicant;
    2. award level category (Graduate Student; Postdoctoral Fellow; and Faculty or Staff);
    3. a succinct description of the idea for the proposal with sufficient enough detail provided to allow for evaluation of merit. The proposal should focus on what makes this truly creative, innovative, and exciting and can be light on experimental details; and
    4. the name of the funding agency where the full-scale proposal will be submitted and the expected date of submission, which must be no later than November 6, 2017.
  2. Send all of these materials to

Women, individuals from traditionally disadvantaged groups, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Note, senior and junior faculty members are equally encouraged to apply.

Award of Prize:

  1. Applicants will be notified by August 8, 2017.
  2. Within each category, at least one meritorious applicant will be selected to receive a "pre-award" voucher.
    • Graduate Students - $1,000.
    • Postdoctoral Fellows - $2,500.
    • Faculty & Staff - $5,000.
  3. To claim prize, winners in each category must submit at least one proposal from those judged as highly creative to an extramural sponsoring authority (e.g., NIH, NSF, etc.) by November 6, 2017. It is expected that Winners will apply for suitable funding mechanism for their level. For example:
    • Graduate Students might apply for an F31 award from NIH or NSF grant (unless they negotiate an alternative with the NORC director in advance);
    • Postdoctoral Fellows might apply for an F32, K award, or R-series grant from NIH; and
    • Faculty & Staff might apply for an R-series award from NIH or a comparable award from NSF.
  4. Once a grant is submitted, winners can redeem their pre-award voucher for a cash prize.*

*This prize is not a grant to conduct research. The cash prize will be processed as a non-recurring element in your pay and will be considered taxable income. All awardees (including students) will be responsible for any taxes associated with the award.

Interested individuals may contact David B. Allison with questions.
David B. Allison, Ph.D.
Email: or

UAB is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can this be a multiple PI application?
    Yes, but one person must be name Corresponding PI and he or she can decide how to distribute the prize money among the PIs.
  2. Will junior or senior investigators be given preference?
    No. We want the most creative research, regardless of rank.
  3. Do I only get the prize if my federal grant application is funded?
    No. As long as you submit, you can claim your prize.

Past Awards

The title of this award is based on the writings of Dr. Robert Sternberg, including 'Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Teaching psychology students that creativity is a decision. The General Psychologist, 36(1), 8–11.'