MPC Population Scholars Program

The Minnesota Population Center (MPC) is excited to announce the MPC Population Scholars Program, an intensive grant proposal writing program that will run from January 2024 through Fall 2024 NIH and NSF submission deadlines. This annual program trains a cohort of five scholars--both from the University of Minnesota and from the broader population studies research community--in grant proposal writing and introduces them to the grants process. Participants will have opportunities to network with MPC leadership and their fellow scholars. 

The overarching goal of the MPC Population Scholars Program is to develop and foster a vibrant nationwide community of diverse scholars doing critical population health research. 

Meet our Scholars

About the Program

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We are accepting applications from both MPC affiliates at the University of Minnesota and the broader population health research community to enter into our annual cohort of MPC Population Scholars. Priority will be given to new (i.e., never been a PI or MPI on an NIH R01) and early stage (i.e., less than ten years since terminal degree) investigators and scholars from NIH identified underrepresented backgrounds. Applicants must be in a faculty or PI-eligible research scientist position actively engaged in population dynamics research. We cannot accept postdocs into this program unless they will have a faculty or research scientist appointment by fall semester 2023. Further priority will be given to 

  • scholars at institutions without NICHD- or NIA-funded population centers (for non-UMN applicants);
  • scholars who have submitted an NIH proposal that was unfunded that they wish to further develop and resubmit;
  • scholars who are in their third or later year of their faculty or research scientist position (but who still have ESI status)

Applicants must be eligible for Principal Investigator status at their home institution. Finally, the proposal topic area should be relevant to the mission of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Population Dynamics Branch and also fit within one of the MPC Primary Research Areas.

Structure and Content

The Population Scholars Program will kick off with a series of bi-weekly Zoom two-hour sessions. The first hour will be “Grants 101” workshops covering the grants process and proposal writing tips and tricks. These seminars will be led by Drs. Gina Rumore and Claire Kamp Dush. Over the course of the program, scholars will learn what NIH and NSF grant applications look like; how grants are reviewed, revised, and resubmitted; and that rejection happens and how to survive and thrive despite it. Scholars will have access to proposal writing resources as well as example proposals. 

The second hour of the biweekly Zoom sessions will be focused on writing. Scholars will engage in a virtual “Writing Hunker,” holding each other accountable to make the time for proposal writing. We will also host a hybrid Proposal Writing Hunker on non-session Fridays. Co-Directors Rumore and Kamp Dush will be available to scholars during this time. 

We will convene a Proposal Writing Retreat on-site and in person at the MPC in Minneapolis. This is tentatively planned for the week of May 13; we will decide on a final date with selected Pop Scholars. At the retreat, time will be dedicated for the scholars to write and work with the Co-Directors, other scholars, and MPC leadership to hone their proposals and budgets. There will also be networking opportunities and introductions to data products and services at the MPC. The MPC will cover all travel expenses to Minneapolis. 

Following the retreat, each full grant will be reviewed by the Co-Directors and other scholars. Further, external grant reviewers who are content experts, identified by the Population Scholars,  will review the grants, paid for by MPC. Finally, after the proposals have been informally peer reviewed, the Co-Directors will meet with participants to discuss and interpret reviews, strategize with scholars about next steps, and provide encouragement and support, in order to submit the grant formally to NIH.

At PAA 2024, and annually thereafter, MPC will host a lunch for the Population Scholars with Drs. Gina Rumore and Claire Kamp Dush and MPC leadership. 

Workshop Leaders

Dr. Claire Kamp Dush is Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and Co-Director of the MPC Development Core. She is PI on an NIH grant portfolio of over $7 million, which includes the National Couples’ Health and Time Study (NCHAT) and the Work and Family Life Study (WAFLS). Dr. Kamp Dush has over 15 years of proposal writing experience, is a standing member of the Social Sciences and Population Studies (SSPB) NIH Center for Scientific Review Study Section, and is a passionate mentor of junior population health scholars.

Dr. Gina Rumore is the Research Development Director at the University of Minnesota Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation and Co-Director of the MPC Development Core. For the past eleven years Dr. Rumore has mentored junior scholars in research and proposal development, having supported the submission of hundreds of NIH and NSF proposals. Dr. Rumore currently supports a grant portfolio of 20 R01s and an annual sponsored budget of over $16 million.

Application Process

The due date for UMN applicants has passed. For applicants outside of the University of Minnesota, the deadline has been extended to Monday, December 4th. Please mail the following, in PDF format, to with the subject line “Pop Scholars Application [Applicant Last Name]: 

  1. A one-page personal statement addressing (a) the applicant’s background, experience, and eligibility for the program; (b) the relevance of the applicant’s research to the NICHD Population Dynamics Branch mission and the MPC Primary Research Areas; and (c) how the program will benefit the applicant; 
  2. A current CV; 
  3. A one-page Specific Aims for the planned proposal–if the planned project is a resubmission, please also include a one-pager describing the plans for resubmission; 
  4. Confirmation that the applicant can meet the Population Scholars Program time commitment (a minimum of two hours per week of engaged learning and writing time plus time required to draft and revise the proposal for submission);
  5. A letter of support from a department chair or supervisor that acknowledges the program’s time commitment (we will be willing to discuss this with applicants if this letter is a barrier; see here for an example letter and advice on talking to your chair/supervisor).