Each semester, the Center for Excellence in Research under the Office of Research Initiatives and Facilities organizes workshops for USC researchers. These courses are designed to provide faculty, research staff, postdocs, PhD students and graduate students across all fields of study with specialized skills and knowledge in seeking funding from government, foundation, and corporate organizations as well as a variety of other topics. Click on the workshops below to register.

Join our mailing list to receive updates on upcoming CER workshops. 
Do you have an idea for a CER workshop? We’d love to hear from you!

For required investigator training, see the Research Training Finder.

Spring 2022 CER Schedule

Writing Compelling NSF Proposals

Paul Ronney, Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Viterbi

Arrrgh! My fantastic proposal was rejected! Why couldn’t those knuckleheads at NSF understand how brilliant my ideas are? Did they even read the proposal? Professor Ronney has served on many NSF panels and has reviewed many well-written (and not-so-well-written) proposals. In this workshop he will help you understand how the review process at NSF and other funding agencies works and provide specific recommendations for increasing your chances of getting funded, including how to anticipate panel dynamics and tailor your proposal accordingly.

Ethics of Community-Engaged Research

Silvia Da Costa, Director, Office of Research Initiatives and Facilities
Hossein Pourmand, Senior Executive Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations
Dana Irwin, Associate Director of Development, Corporate and Foundation Relations
Julie Slayton, Director, Office for Protection of Research Subjects

Lourdes Baez Conde, Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences; Associate Dean for Community Initiatives; Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
John P. Wilson, Professor of Sociology, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Architecture and Preventive Medicine, Dornsife
Esther Margulies, Associate Professor of Practice of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Sciences, School of Architecture

Thinking about a community engaged research project? Wondering what funding might be available?

Please join this interactive workshop and learn about how the Office of Research can support you, internal and external funding opportunities, how to complete the ethics clearance process, and hear about the rich experiences and insights from USC researchers for how they have conducted ethical community engaged research.

A Growing Field of Research: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture 

Joe Saltzman, Professor of Journalism and Communications, and Director of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture (IJPC), a project of the Norman Lear Center, USC Annenberg 

Here is an opportunity to investigate and analyze, through research and publication, the conflicting images of journalists in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, music, art, video games and other aspects of popular culture – demonstrating their impact on the public’s perception of newsgatherers.  As a University of North Carolina professor put it, “There are thousands of PhD studies and articles in the IJPC Database. All you have to do is look for them.”  Come join me to do just that.


Optimizing Grant Funding Success: What I Wish I'd Known When I Started

Lynn Carol Miller, Professor of Communication and Associate Dean of Research, Annenberg

Focused on 1) optimizing your chances of funding; 2) developing successful grant writing templates for grant writing and 3) increasing the chances your proposal will receive positive review and scores. Ideal for postdocs and faculty. NIH R01 used as example.

Obtaining Funding from Foundations

Hossein Pourmand, Senior Executive Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, University Advancement

There are thousands of charitable foundations around the world looking to fund research — the challenge is finding the right one for you. Learn from Hossein Pourmand how you can build a meaningful relationship with a foundation and the process, as well as resources available at USC to help you along the way.

Introduction to Advanced Research Computing Resources and Services

BD Kim, Director, High-Performance Computing, Information Technology Support Services

Nearly all scientific and engineering disciplines confront challenges in dealing with a vast amount of data or modeling complex processes across many scales. BD Kim will cover high-performance computing, cloud solutions, data workflow management, and other research computing related topics.

ARPA-H and TIP: New Federal Research Funding Programs

Steven Moldin, Executive Director of Research Advancement, Office of Research

This workshop will provide an introduction to two new federal funding agencies. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) has been proposed as a new sub-agency within NIH that is inspired by DARPA and that will be tasked with supporting bold, high-priority, high-risk, high-reward research to accelerate biomedical breakthroughs. The NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) is a new NSF directorate that will aim to advance science and engineering research and innovation that lead to breakthrough technologies that generate solutions to national and societal challenges. Its mission will be to accelerate the translation of fundamental discoveries from lab to market.

Strategies for a Mission Agency Young Investigator/Early Career Award

James Murday, Director Of Physical Sciences, Office of Research Advancement

Mission agencies are federal agencies that support research as a means of furthering the agencies’ goals, such as securing national defense, addressing national energy challenges, etc. James Murday will provide tips on how to structure a successful proposal, approach program officers, the amount of funding available, guidance toward topic selection, and due dates, followed by a panel discussion.


Paul Bogdan Bogdan, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Viterbi
Eli Levenson-Falk, Assistant Professor of Physics, Dornsife
Serghei Mangul, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Pharmacy
Darby Saxbe, Associate Professor of Psychology, Dornsife

How to Obtain NIH Funding

Steven Moldin, Executive Director of Research Advancement, Office of Research

The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year. Steve Moldin will review the NIH grant process — from conceptualizing your proposal to getting funded — as well as show you how to identify which institute to target, prepare for the review process, and build relationships with agencies.

Submitting an IACUC Protocol for Review

Brett Lund, Director, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Find out when and why you need to submit an IACUC protocol, understand the requirements for an IACUC protocol, and learn how to navigate the IACUC review process here at USC.

NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program: Dos and Don’ts

Vinod K Lohani, Program Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation

Come learn from Vinod K Lohani at the NSF about the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program which seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. Dr. Lohani’s talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

Designing and Writing a Successful NSF Broader Impacts

Heidi Smith Parker, Grant Strategist, Dornsife
Dieuwertje Kast, Director of STEM Education Programs, Joint Educational Project, Dornsife
Katie Mills, Co-Director, K-12 STEM Center, Viterbi

A great NSF Broader Impacts statement won’t strengthen a proposal with poor science, but a poor one can sink a proposal with good science. Heidi Smith Parker, Dieuwertje Kast and Katie Mills will teach you how to develop your statement with examples of creative strategies, a brainstorming session to help you develop your ideas, and an overview of resources at USC.

Let’s Get (ex)CITED! Increase Your Research Impact with Open Access Publishing

Alyssa Resnick, Associate Dean, Technical Services and Collection Development, USC Libraries
Ariana Varela, Information Literacy Instruction Librarian, USC Libraries
Melanee Vicedo, Associate Dean, Teaching, Learning & Research Engagement , USC Libraries

All researchers want to have their work seen and make an impact. Open access (OA) publishing can increase the exposure and impact of a researcher’s work by making their articles and findings more accessible to a wider audience. This workshop will cover the basics of OA, the different models used by publishers, and transformative agreements reached by the USC Libraries and several scholarly publishers. Transformative agreements make newly published articles by USC authors in participating publishers freely available to readers under an open access model. Participants will come away with information about OA journals in their subject areas for their use and to share with their Schools and departments. They will also be able to understand OA mandates from funders, evaluate OA journals, and discuss how OA addresses disparities in scholarly publishing.

Systematic Reviews and USC Libraries Support

Jade Winn, Systematic Review Librarian, USC Libraries Library of International & Public Affairs
Jennifer Dinalo, Clinical Information Services Librarian, USC Libraries Norris Medical Library

This workshop will give a brief overview of systematic reviews and USC Libraries support. We will begin with the development of the methodology in the health sciences and the adaptation of systematic reviews for use in STEM and the behavioral sciences fields. We will continue with how to determine if it is the best method for your needs; and we will end with information on resources available to you and the new systematic review services at UPC campus.

Developing Successful Proposals for Large Scale Funding Opportunities

James Murday, Director Of Physical Sciences, Office of Research Advancement

Federal Funding Agencies are increasing the number of opportunities that require convergence and teaming, examples are NSF’s STC, ERC, MRSEC, Midscale Infrastructure, and RIA, DOE’s EFRC, and DOD’s MURI. The objectives of this workshop are to inform investigators on strategies toward winning proposals for such opportunities. It will entail an overview, followed by discussion by selected USC faculty who have been successful in such competitions.

Proposal Review Service​

The Center for Excellence in Research also offers a peer-to-peer proposal review service for applications to external funding agencies. Email your near-final proposal draft to, along with the link to the specific program announcement to which you are applying. Reviewers may be USC or non-USC faculty.

Investigators should contact our office roughly four weeks in advance of the proposal due date to allow for sufficient time to review and provide applicants with feedback.