Fund Consciousness Science!

Aligning Consciousness Research with US Funding Mechanisms

A project generously supported by the Templeton World Charity Foundation

Leadership: Megan Peters & Brian Odegaard



The Fund Consciousness Science! project aims to align US-based consciousness science with mainstream funding mechanisms by identifying and nurturing overlap in goals between government-based funding sources (e.g. NIH, NSF) and consciousness researchers in the United States.

The current state of funding for consciousness research in the United States is challenging (Michel et al. 2019), with mainstream government-based funding mechanisms, such as the NIH R01 mechanism or similar, often seeming to be misaligned with stated goals of consciousness researchers. To remedy this, we are running a pilot project to align US-based consciousness science with mainstream funding mechanisms, such that consciousness science in the United States can compete for funding and thus scientific progress at rates on par with other regions such as the E.U.

The project includes:

  1. a two-day workshop on March 24-26, 2022 (Washington, DC) bringing together Early Career Researchers in consciousness science with senior researchers and program officers, plus

  2. subawards of about $30,000 USD intended to provide pilot data for an NIH R01 proposal or similar

Below we outline the project’s structure.


The following proposals were selected for funding by the Expert Panel and Grant Review panel:

  1. Marina Weiler & Jean-Paul G. Noel: Bodily-Self Consciousness and Out-Of-Body Experiences

  2. Shao-Min Hung: Optimizing unconscious signals through attentional control

  3. Jorge Morales, Emily Ward, & Michael Young: The Eye as a Window to the Conscious Mind: Measuring Perceptual Awareness with Pupillometry

  4. Alfredo Spagna: Tracking the mind’s eye: using a new mental imagery battery to characterize eye movements in five mental imagery domains

  5. Nick Byrd & Kalina Michalska: Conscious Reflection Under Stress: Mitigating distress’s impact on decisions with a new platform for facilitating conscious deliberation (and discussion) at scale

  6. Amir Tal & Laura Ewell: Behavioral effects and neural mechanisms of unconscious cued reactivation: a cross-species study

  7. Lua Koenig: How do endogenous brain processes influence perceptual awareness?

  8. Andrew Dykstra: Circuit dynamics of conscious perception in human auditory cortex

A list of all attendees can be found on our People page.

Who participated in the project?

  • Attendees: 20 early stage researchers (postdocs and junior faculty) conducting research on consciousness.

  • Expert Panel: Senior & accomplished scientists in consciousness research or related fields who have successfully competed for NIH or similar funds, including...

    1. Biyu He (New York University)

    2. Janet Metcalfe (Columbia University)

    3. Joe LeDoux (New York University)

    4. Mike Landy (New York University)

    5. Jacqueline Gottlieb (Columbia University)

    6. Barbara Dosher (University of California Irvine)

    7. Caroline Robertson (Dartmouth College)

  • Program Officers: Program officers who head programs or study sections that may review consciousness-related research proposals, including...

    1. Hal Greenwald (Air Force Office of Scientific Research - Cognitive Computational Neuroscience program)

    2. Jim Gnadt (National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

    3. Jonathan Fritz (National Science Foundation - Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences)

    4. Natalie Steinhauser (Office of Naval Research - Cognitive Neuroscience of Perception and Attention)

Project Stages

Stage 1: Application and selection process (June 2021 - October 2021)

  • Early Career applicants apply to take part in the workshop. CLICK HERE FOR APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS.

    • Applications have closed. Due date was Nov 8, 2021.

    • Notice of acceptance to workshop: mid-December 2021.

    • Eligibility: click here

  • The Expert Panel is also convened.

  • 20 Applicants are selected by the Expert Panelists to attend the workshop based on criteria including quality of CV and proposal/application quality and potential for funding in the opinions of the Panel members.

  • Simultaneously, Program Officers are invited to participate in the workshop.

Stage 2: Workshop (March 24-26, 2022)

  • An in-person workshop is held in Washington, DC.

  • Attendees, Expert Panel members, and Program Officers convene for 2 days.

Stage 3: Grant-writing and subawards (April - June 2022)

  • Attendees write up a grant proposal in the format of an NIH R21, based on discussions throughout the workshop, and submit to the Expert Panel.

    • An additional supplemental document is also requested stating how pilot funding would be used to acquire pilot data necessary for an eventual R01 proposal (or similar to NSF).

  • Five projects are selected by the Expert Panel to receive subawards of ~$30,000 each (~$150,000 total) to conduct the pilot studies described in the R21-formatted proposal.

Stage 4: Pilot studies and R01 proposal submission (July 2022 - June 2023)

  • Subaward recipients conduct the pilot studies and produce a report.

  • Subaward recipients are also requested to share any R01 proposals, scores, summary statements, etc. as they are comfortable with the Workshop PIs to facilitate future workshop development.

  • Workshop PIs assess success rate and difference-making of the workshop, including working with meta-science scholars to assist with evaluating the workshop outcomes with regards to success rates with mainstream funding mechanisms.