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Apply for Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)

BioBrillouin Society

What is a Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)?

STSMs are Inter-laboratory Exchange visits aimed at strengthening the existing COST Action by allowing scientists to go to an institution or laboratory in another COST country to foster collaboration, to learn a new technique or to take measurements using instruments and/or methods not available in their own institution/laboratory. They are particularly but not only intended for Early Career Researchers (defined as having obtained their PhD no more than 8 years prior to the starting date of the STSM).

Criteria for eligibility…

STSM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow, or employed by, or affiliated to, an institution, organisation or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions / organisation or legal entity where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home institutions. The Host institution is the institution / organisation that will host the successful applicant.

Where can I go?

If the Applicant is based in a COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member country they may perform an STSM in:

If the Applicant is based in an Approved NNC Institution they may perform an STSM in:

  • a Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member

If the Applicant is affiliated with an Approved European RTD Organisation they may perform an STSM in:

  • a Participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member

For how long and when?

STSMs must respect the following criteria:

  • They must have a minimum duration of 5 calendar days.

  • They must have a maximum duration of 90 calendar days.

  • STSM need to be carried out in their entirety within one grant period.

Early Career Researchers may also request longer STSMs. For these “extended” STSM’s the following criteria apply:

  • The mission must have a minimum duration of 91 calendar days.

  • The mission must have a maximum duration of 180 calendar days.

  • The STSM needs to be carried out in its entirety within one grant period.

The earliest starting date is one month from submission of the application (although under special circumstances it may be possible to start earlier if approved by the STSM coordinator).

Organization and payment…

The COST Association and the Grant Holder of the Action cannot to be considered as being an STSM grantee’s employer. STSM grantees must make their own arrangements for all provisions related to
personal security, health, taxation, social security and pension matters.

An STSM Grant is a fixed financial contribution which takes into consideration the budget request of the applicant and the outcome of the evaluation of the STSM application. STSM Grants do not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertaking a given mission. A STSM Grant is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation and meal expenses of the Grantee. Up to a maximum of EUR 160 per day can be granted.

The STSM Grantee has 30 calendar days from the end date of the mission to submit a scientific report to the STSM Coordinator and to a senior researcher affiliated with the Host institution.
Payment of the Grant is subject to a scientific report being approved on behalf of the Action by the STSM coordinator and by a senior researcher affiliated with the host institution.

Specific provisions have been introduced to enable researchers from Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs) participating in the COST Action to request the pre-payment of 50% of their STSM Grant when they complete the first day of their STSM. In such cases, the Host must confirm by email to the Grant Holder that the STSM applicant has officially started the mission on day 1. Only then the Grant Holder can arrange for the payment of 50% of the STSM grant. The remaining 50% of the Grant is payable once the administrative requirements have been satisfied after the STSM as described above.

How is it decided who is granted STSM funding?

STSM’s will be selected based on an independent assessment by a panel of 4 reviewers chaired by the STSM Coordinator, and also include the Host Scientist. Relevant Work Group leaders may also be consulted if needed in the decision making. Applications will be evaluated in each case based on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance to the BioBrillouin Action Goals (1-5) [minimum 2.5 on average to be eligible]

2. Relevance to advancing the current state of the field / would the visit be useful to the applicant / is the planned project realistic (1-5)  [minimum 2.5 on average to be eligible]

  1. Is the Applicant or Host based in an Inclusiveness Target Country (ITC)? (1 or 0)

  2. Does the application promote gender equality? (1 or 0)

  3. Is the Applicant an Early Career Researcher? (ECR) (1 or 0)

The number of points out of which each category will be evaluated are indicated in parenthesis (with 5 being the best). For binary questions either 1 or 0 will be assigned. A single score for each application will be taken as the average of the total points awarded by each of the persons reviewing the application. In the event of a conflict of interests, such as if the applicant or host is affiliated with one of the reviewers, the reviewer will be excluded from the reviewing processes for the application. Applications with less than on average 2.5 for either of the first two evaluation criteria will not be further considered. Starting with those with the highest points, the STSM grants will be distributed until the available budget is consumed.

For applications with an equal number of average points that fall on the threshold of being supported, a decision will be made to promote the representation of all work groups and goals of the Action as equally as possible. If still no conclusive decision can be reached the Vice Chair and Chair will be consulted to make a decision based on promoting the overall goals of the Action.

In the event that the available budget is not sufficient to allow for the funding of the next highest ranking application, the STSM coordinator maintains the right to approve immediately subsequent ranking application(s) which can be accommodated by the available budget.

How should I get started?

If you are a student or postdoc: talk to your advisor or supervisor about this possibility and how such a visit to another laboratory would be beneficial to your project or a project you would like to pursue. You or your supervisor should then ideally establish contact with the lab you would like to visit and determine how feasible the intended work in that lab would be (both in terms of science and availability of host). The most successful exchanges are usually those where there is strong mutual interest in the project which requires the expertise of both parties. Try and make as detailed as possible of a project plan for your stay as possible, cross checking with your potential host on the availability of equipment or any other resources you may need, and whether the goals seem realistic also in their opinion.

Once you have a clear picture, write up a page or two to submit as a “project proposal”. Mention time lines, your motivation, what you intend to learn, and expected outcome, as you see relevant. Key assessment criteria will be how your work can advance the field and prove beneficial to the goals of the BioBrillouin Action (which are described in the Memorandum of Understanding which can be found here: [MoU as PDF] ). Do not worry if your project does not cleanly fall into one of the action goals – but be sure to present a strong argument on why it is relevant. There will probably be more STSM applications than can be granted, so make sure your goals are expressed in a way that make it clear exactly why they are important.

Estimate your travel budget as realistically as possible (check travel websites for flights at that time of year, inquire about accommodation prices, etc.). Though we grant a “stipend” (based on the expected expenses of your visit) which you can spend however you please, we will not grant STSMs to projects for which the estimated expenses are deemed unrealistic (and we will generally not ask for a revised estimate).

When will I know if I get it?

Application will be assessed by the Review Committee on a monthly basis, following which applicants will be informed on the success of their applications.

You will thus know whether your STSM has been granted latest one month following submission.

Review Committee:

  • Thorsten Hamann (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO) [STSM-coordinator]

  • Thomas Dehoux (Institut Lumiere Matiere, FR)

  • Stephan Malin (Karolinska Institute, SE)