Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

UCF’s Faculty Cluster Initiative, first introduced in 2014, is designed to foster the development of strong, transdisciplinary academic teams focused on solving tomorrow’s most challenging societal problems. Transdisciplinary research combines and builds from discipline-specific theories, concepts, and methods for a comprehensive understanding of the problem being examined and generates readily translatable solutions to the problem. The strength of this initiative comes from faculty depth, the ability to translate depth across disciplines and the collaboration among deans, directors, chairs and faculty members in every college across campus.

Six faculty clusters were selected in this program’s inaugural year, including cyber security, renewable energy, coastal systems, genomics and bioinformatics, prosthetics, and energy conversion and propulsion.

An additional three clusters were selected for the 2017-18 academic year. Seeking to continue strengthening our faculty and advancing unique areas of excellence, Faculty Cluster Initiative 2.0 focuses on disabled and aging populations and technology, violence against women and learning sciences.

Resources and materials used to help select clusters:

Faculty interested in participating in the development of the cluster initiative should review the Request for Proposals for Faculty Cluster Initiative for further details.

These clusters should be:

  • Innovative, timely, and potentially relevant at local, national, and international scales;
  • Supplement existing academic programs; and
  • Build upon institutional strengths to develop a critical mass of skills that will make us uniquely strong.

See 10 Steps to Developing a Successful Faculty Cluster Pre-Proposal.

Faculty involved in this year’s process are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions for future years to Dr. Debra R. Reinhart or to


UCF Clusters and Collaboration Across Disciplines (PDF of PowerPoint Presentation)

Faculty Cluster Initiative Full Proposal Workshop – April 22 (PDF of PowerPoint Presentation)

Biographical Sketch Form for Full Proposals (Downloadable Word Document)

Faculty Cluster Initiative Rubric for Pre-Proposals

FCI Evaluation Panel Members


Q: Are clusters only for STEM-related disciplines?

A: As noted in the RFP, we encourage cluster proposals from all areas. Cluster proposals within and across any college that contribute to advancing the exploration and understanding of the human condition are encouraged. Clusters proposing innovative research intersecting areas of the arts and humanities with technology are welcome.

Q: Is it possible for a cluster faculty member to hold joint appointments in different departments and/or colleges?

A: As this is an interdisciplinary initiative, we envision the possibility of numerous joint appointment requests from candidates at both the department/school/institute and/or college level. We support joint appointments and will help facilitate these requests. But it is still expected that cluster hires will have a tenure-earning home department (potentially 51% home department and 49% joint department).

Q: What is meant by "interdisciplinary and transformative" research?

A: Following research and policy on interdisciplinarity, the clusters should effectively integrate across disciplines and not just incorporate disciplinary contributions additively. This could include combining concepts and/or methods from multiple fields in new and innovative ways. It could include raising new fundamental questions or important new directions for research at the interface of disciplines. In all cases, clusters should require a comprehensive and integrative approach for addressing significant societal problems. Clusters are expected to be transformative in what they accomplish. This can include scholarship that leads to insights that enable new techniques or methodologies or that redefines the boundaries among disciplines.

Q: Who will evaluate the cluster proposals?

A: The Provost will convene an initial evaluation panel comprised of 13-15 members, plus the Co-Chairs of the initiative (Manoj Chopra and Christopher L. Parkinson). The Provost has requested each Dean submit three nominees - two internal and one external to UCF - to potentially be appointed to this panel. From the Deans' pool of nominees and from other suggested members, the Provost will select the committee. This evaluation panel will evaluate the “idea” of the proposal based on the strength of the concept. It will then provide a list of top proposals to the collaborative readiness evaluation panel. The collaborative readiness panel will evaluate the proposals from this list based on the readiness of the departments and colleges to support interdisciplinary research and the potential for success of the new hires through this initiative.

See additional FAQs about the Faculty Cluster Initiative (revised January 29, 2015).

Questions regarding proposals should be directed to Dr. Debra R. Reinhart at