Proposal Improvement Program

BIOE offers a Proposal Improvement Program to support development and refinement of proposals for external grants and fellowships. The details of each resource are below. Each program component is available to BIOE tenure/tenure-track faculty, while some components are also available to BIOE trainees. For all resources, users agree to keep all materials confidential. Questions can be directed to

The BIOE proposal and fellowship library provides recent competitive proposal and fellowship applications submitted to federal and non-federal sources. These examples are valuable resources to assist faculty and trainees in preparing their own submissions. The library is hosted on BIOE's secure Box site for trainees and Google Drive for faculty and is updated at the beginning of each calendar year. Authorized trainees can login here to access the trainee library. All BIOE faculty automatically have access to the departmental Google drive. The BIOE updates the access list each semester.

BIOE provides funds for professional editors and graphic designers to support manuscripts and proposals. For more information contact Bill Churma (

Pilot grants provide support to grow the research of BIOE faculty members. Preference is given to applicants with limited external funding and applicants who recently submitted an external proposal that was competitively-scored but unfunded. For more information contact Bill Churma (

The peer review program provides a structured system for feedback on external grant proposals. Each year, a request for proposal reviewers will be sent to BIOE faculty to solicit volunteers to serve for a one-year term. Faculty interested in having a proposal peer-reviewed through this program must e-mail the following information to at least two weeks before the ORA proposal submission deadline:

  • Proposal title and link to RFA/program
  • Copy of proposal or proposal section (e.g., Specific Aims page) to be reviewed
  • ORA proposal submission deadline.

Within 48 hours of submission, the proposal will be assigned to a volunteer BIOE reviewer. Within one week of assignment, the reviewer will e-mail the proposal feedback directly to the proposal author, copying (CC) Faculty requesting peer review must commit to submitting the proposal, and completing a survey on the review program.

Volunteer reviewers who complete at least four proposal reviews during the one-year term will be eligible for an incentive on a case-by-case basis determined by the Chair of the department. In the future, an analogous program may be made available to trainees for review of fellowship/transition proposals.

BIOE has retained two experienced grant consultants who previously served as NIH Program Directors in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Faculty interested in working with the consultants should contact Bill Churman ( in the BIOE Administrative Office. Two ways to initiate interactions are:

  • Critique of a specific aims page: E-mail the draft aims page and the related FOA # to one of the consultants. The contacted consultant will respond with written comments and follow-up with a phone call.
  • Development of proposal idea/research alignment: E-mail one of the consultants a few bullets outlining the approach for one or several projects, and identify the intended FOA(s) or program(s) and NIH Institute(s). The consultant(s) will help identify the most viable submission and some potential organizational strategy for the suite of ideas. Further follow-up could be the development of a specific aims page(s) as above.

After either interaction mode (or other styles), the  consultants are also available to read the resulting full proposal and provide written critiques or suggestions. They are additionally available to review summary statements and discuss resubmission strategies.

Proposal Writing in Real-time will be held several times each year. These workshops are conducted 4-6 weeks prior to major, broad-interest external grant and fellowship deadlines, including: NIH R01s, NSF CAREER Awards, and NIH F31/32 Fellowships. In each case, BIOE faculty or trainees will receive an e-mail notice announcing the proposal type that a specific workshop will focus on, along with instructions for registration.

One week prior to the workshop, each registered participant will submit a draft of their grant/fellowship (a specific section or full proposals, depending on the workshop). Likewise, they will receive draft(s) of the same type from another workshop participant. By the day and time of the workshop, each participant will review the proposal(s) assigned to them, keeping in mind the specific review criteria of the program and proposal type.

During the workshop, participants will discuss feedback on their proposal, and on proposals they reviewed. This peer review will include discussion of reviews carried out prior to the workshop, and additional reviews carried out during the workshop (e.g., of specific aims pages). Time for brainstorming and writing will also be included in the workshop.

Additionally, past recipients of the target grant/fellowship will be in attendance to provide advice, brainstorming, and review of key proposal sections. Workshops on “Long term proposal planning” and for Trainees will also be offered as the program moves forward. Two different sample itineraries are provided below, but specific schedules and times will be adjusted depending on the workshop focus and number of participants. Two to three workshops are planned for Year 1.

Paired Discussion Proposal Review
During the paired review sessions below, faculty who read each other’s specific aims pages or full proposal will take turns discussing their feedback for each other.

9:00—9:30 a.m. Overview of proposal opportunity and tips by past recipients
9:30—9:50 a.m. Specific Aims Review, Pair #1
9:50—10:10 a.m. Specific Aims Review, Pair #2
10:10—10:50 a.m. Full Proposal Review, Pair #3
10:50—11:30 a.m. Brainstorming and writing
11:30 a.m.—12:15 p.m. Panel discussion by past recipients: Successful and unsuccessful strategies, review of example summary statements
12:15—1:00 p.m. Lunch and further group discussion


Round Table Proposal Review / Mock Review Panel


For this format, everyone will read the specific aims pages from all other participants in advance of the workshop. Each person will additionally be assigned to read one full proposal from another participant. During the round table discussion, each participant’s proposal will be collectively discussed for ~20 minutes by all members of the group. During this discussion, the person whose proposal is being discussed will turn his/her back to the group, remain silent, and take notes, while the others objectively discuss the proposal, based on their reading of specific aims of full proposal. The person who read the entire proposal may provide additional context/insight/feedback throughout the discussion of that proposal. During the last five minutes of each proposal’s discussion, the person who wrote it will turn around and be able to ask questions, gain additional feedback, and/or address some of the points raised.

9:00—9:30 a.m. Overview of proposal opportunity and tips by past recipients
9:30 a.m.—12:00 p.m. Round table discussion of proposals, ~20 minutes each (short break in the middle)
12:00—12:45 p.m. Lunch and further group discussion
12:45—1:30 p.m. Brainstorming and writing
1:30—2:30 p.m. Panel discussion by past recipients: Successful and not successful strategies, review of example summary statements


BIOE faculty meet in small groups on a weekly basis to review grant proposal drafts in a collegial and supportive setting. Feedback is provided in real-time within each group of up to 5 people. Each meeting lasts for one hour per week. For more information, please contact Professor Catherine K. Kuo (

The goal of the BIOE Writing Club is to foster a friendly and constructive environment to receive detailed feedback on drafts of science writing, including fellowship proposals, research papers, and abstracts. This club is oriented around PhD students and post-docs, and encourages participation regardless of English proficiency. The Writing Club is operated under the guidance of a BIOE faculty member, currently Dr. Katharina Maisel. Additional details are below:

When & Where: Meet every other week in a conference room in AJC hall for ~1.5 hours. 

Format: 1-2 people bring a piece of writing they are currently working on (paper/grant/conference/etc.). We will take ~30-45 minutes per person to read and provide feedback on clarity, paragraph structure, rationale, etc. A volunteer scribe will simultaneously edit so you can focus on listening to feedback. The ultimate goal is to give feedback on writing clarity, so there is no need to be an expert in the field—often non-experts in our field are reading our work and they need to understand our writing.

Who: This club is geared toward PhD/masters/post-docs. 

Why: Clear and effective written communication is essential to nearly all careers in science. Unfortunately, others often perceive your writing differently than you intend. Our goal for this Writing Club is to enable all members to think critically about their own writing and develop new strategies for clear, effective communication. We offer fruit/cookies/coffee/etc.

How long:  We ask for a 1-2 semester commitment.


Postdoctoral Training Program

BIOE is committed to holistic preparation of postdoctoral researchers through the Postdoctoral Training Program. The program consists of a suite of opportunities open to all BIOE postdocs, as well as initiatives tailored for specific career paths (e.g., academia, industry, government). The program is open to all postdocs within the group of a faculty member affiliated with the Fischell Department of Bioengineering.

Program components

BIOE has established the following initiatives:

BIOE will support current BIOE postdocs in establishing a postdoc-centric group and provide a modest budget to support its endeavors. The group must self-organize and seek out a formal faculty advisor. All endeavors are expected to be inclusive of FDB postdocs, and support a range of career paths, including academia, industry, and government. Some suggested activities may include:

  • Organizing a career panel each semester/summer on a topic chosen by FDB postdocs. Topics of interest may include the academic job search, transitioning to industry, networking for industry positions, international postdoc/visa issues, teaching techniques, planning a new course, managing lab finances and grant budgets, designing and growing lab culture, or other topics.
  • A collaborative event or panel with the FDB BGSS graduate student group (postdocs may also want to serve as panelists).
  • An annual Postdoc-Choice Seminar by an external speaker held as part of BIOE's weekly seminar series. This seminar will be planned and executed by the BIOE Postdoc Group.
  • Social events to grow and maintain a strong supportive environment for postdocs. These events may also include faculty as preferred by the BIOE Postdoc Group.

This award emphasizes outstanding research, but also considers important aspects of early career bioengineers such as mentoring, and service to the department or professional field. To be eligible for the  BIOE Postdoctoral Achievement Award, a postdoc must have been a member of BIOE for at least 12 months.

The candidate should submit an application package containing the following items as a single PDF file to

  • One-page statement by the applicant
  • Applicant’s CV
  • Recommendation letter from the applicant’s BIOE postdoctoral advisor
  • One first author paper (published or formally submitted) resulting from work completed by the applicant in BIOE.

The submission deadline each year is August 15th. Applications will be reviewed by the BIOE Research Affairs Committee and applicants will be notified within one month of the submission deadline. The recipient(s) will be recognized and receive a plaque at a department start-of-the year event.

BIOE postdocs committed to a career in academia may enroll in the BIOE Pathway-to-Faculty program. To apply, postdocs should send an email to with the applicant’s CV and a brief statement from the advisor confirming their support for the postdoc to participate in the program (1/2 page maximum).

Postdocs that complete the program will receive a $500 conference travel award to support their academic job search (e.g., to the BMES Meet the Faculty Candidates Poster Session, or a similar venue). Additionally, trainees will receive a teaching certificate upon completion of the Teaching practicum component, if part of their development plan.

Since the path for each trainee is unique, the specific training activities will be tailored to the individual’s goals and development needs. These activities commonly span research training, teaching experience, grant writing guidance, research management, mentoring junior engineers/scientists, and detailed planning/practice of activities to prepare for the academic job search.

For each trainee, the Pathway-to-Faculty program should address any of the following components, as appropriate for the trainee’s goals:

  • Career Development Committee: Each postdoc will establish a career development committee consisting of their BIOE advisor and at least two other faculty members (one should be from outside the Fischell Department of Bioengineering). The postdoc will also complete an approved individual development plan (IDP) and meet with each CDC member each year. The postdoc and advisor will both sign the IDP. Each year a copy of the signed IDP will be submitted to the BIOE Postdoctoral Training Program at
  • Fellowships and proposal submission: Each participant will create a fellowship/proposal/award plan that results in submission of at least two external opportunities per year. The participant should serve as the Fellow, PI, or Awardee on the submission. For each application, the participant will receive feedback and advice from the CDC and take advantage of other resources such as panels or activities organized by BIOE  or the BIOE Postdoc Group.
  • Responsible Conduct or Research (RCR) training: Participants will complete RCR training as prescribed by NIH guidelines. Participants can take the department RCR course (BIOE606) with permission of the course instructor; or attend other forms of RCR training which conform to NIH guidelines and are agreed upon through discussion between the trainee and the CDC.
  • Teaching practicum: Participants will work with their advisor or another member of the BIOE faculty to identify a set of 8-10 course contact hours (e.g., 6x75 min. lectures, 9x50 min. lectures) which they will prepare and deliver during a BIOE undergraduate or graduate course.
    The teaching practicum must be coordinated in advance and be approved by BIOE and the Research Affairs Committee. Participants are encouraged to work with their CDC to begin developing teaching tools and skills that are transferable to faculty interviews and future positions.

    Participants are highly encouraged to make use of UMD’s Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC), which offers many workshops each semester on topics such as course design, active learning techniques, teaching portfolios, collaborative learning, and diversity and inclusion. Participants will be peer-reviewed by a member of their CDC twice over the course of their teaching practicum. Evaluators will use the TLTC’s peer-review form and will meet with the participants before and after the peer-reviewed class meeting to discuss expectations and feedback. Participants are expected to incorporate feedback from the first peer-review into subsequent classes, including the one that will be used for the second peer-review. Participants are also encouraged to create surveys that will be completed by the students to evaluate whether the learning outcomes were accomplished through their approach to teaching. BIOE will issue a Teaching Certificate for participants that complete this component of the training program.
  • Statement of teaching philosophy: As a culmination of the teaching practicum, participants should reflect upon the teaching experiences to construct teaching philosophy statements. Participants  are encouraged to use information from the student feedback and peer-evaluation as a supporting evidence for their approach to teaching. The participants CDC should review this statement.
  • Feedback on faculty application packet: Participants will provide each component of their faculty application package (e.g., research statement, teaching statement, CV) to their CDC and complete at least one round of revision. This process is suggested to start no later than June of the year in which the participant will apply for faculty positions. Each member of the CDC will provide feedback to the participant on the documents within two weeks of receipt.
  • Mock interviews: The participant’s PI and CDC will work with the BIOE Postdocotoral Training Program to organize a mock interview for each participant during the fall or winter of the year they conduct their faculty search. The mock interview will include a research seminar, a chalk talk, at least two individual meetings with faculty, and a meeting with several current BIOE graduate students. Upon request, mock phone/skype interview will also be organized for participants. To coordinate the mock interview, the trainee should send an e-mail to at least one month prior to a scheduled faculty interview.


The Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) at the University of Maryland, College Park invites senior graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to apply for visiting scholar positions in our department. 

Visiting scholars will be integrated into one of our research laboratories, and the department will provide visiting scholars with access to our BioWorkshopTerrapinWorks, the Maryland Nanocenter, and other shared campus research resources. Visiting scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in BIOE and campus programs, including our weekly seminar series, graduate student or post-doc groups, and Pathway-to-Faculty program. Scholars may request up to $1,000 per month to defray travel costs and/or living expenses. Visiting scholar positions are for up to six months, with an option to renew the position for an additional six months. 

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. Visiting scholar applicants should have a background underrepresented in STEM; must be senior graduate students or postdoctoral fellows interested in a faculty position in bioengineering; and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

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