Duncan Research Fund

The Acheson J. Duncan Fund for the Advancement of Research in Statistics requests proposals for small grants to support research projects in statistics, including probability and stochastic processes. The Fund was created in 1997 by an endowment established by the late Hopkins Professor Emeritus Acheson Duncan, a pioneer in research and application of quality control and industrial statistics.

Proposals may be submitted only by members of the statistics faculty in the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics. Only students, faculty, and alumni throughout Hopkins are eligible for funding with the sponsorship of such a statistics faculty member.

Items funded might include, but are not limited to, travel to research conferences and workshops, computer equipment and software, matching funds for grant proposals, short-term visits of collaborators to Hopkins, interdepartmental seminars, partial support for research assistants, and seed money for new research. Most grants from the Fund are smaller than $5000.

Proposals should be brief, preferably no more than two single-sided pages, and provide itemized expense estimates. Proposals may be submitted at any time. Proposals must be submitted to Ms. Sandy Kirt, by email (a Word or PDF file attached) to kirt@jhu.edu or by hardcopy to her at the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics, 100 Whitehead Hall.


Only statistics faculty members in the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics may submit proposals to the Duncan Fund. The faculty members who are currently eligible are Avanti Athreya, James Fill, Donald Geman, Vince Lyzinski, Daniel Naiman, Carey Priebe, Fred Torcaso, John Wierman, and Laurent Younes. Other Hopkins faculty, students, and alumni must arrange for one of these faculty members to submit a proposal on their behalf.

An Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department graduate student, especially one whose advisor is not a statistics faculty member, may apply directly to the Duncan Fund with the understanding that the Duncan Committee Chair, John Wierman, will review it, perhaps request revisions, and then serve as faculty sponsor.

A proposal should be a clear concise description and justification of the project, travel, equipment, etc. to be funded. Most proposals are less than one page in length.

The proposal must include an itemized list of estimated expenses. For travel, provide separate estimates for hotel, meals, conference registration, airfare, local transportation, rental car, parking, etc. It is advisable to overestimate expenses slightly to make sure that the grant will cover the total cost of the project. Alternatively, a small amount may be listed under “Miscellaneous” to make sure that the grant will cover the total cost of the project.

If the proposal is for travel to a conference or workshop, the proposal should include the URL for the conference website, for use by the committee in verifying details of the proposal.

A proposal must be submitted to Sandy Kirt, either by email to kirt@jhu.edu or by hardcopy to her mailbox in Whitehead Hall 100. Do not submit proposals or send copies of a proposal to Duncan Committee members or anyone else who is not to be funded by the proposal. If submitted by email, the proposal should consist of a single document, either in the body of an email with no attachments, or as an attached Word or pdf file. Otherwise, the processing of the proposal may be delayed.

Every student that is funded by the Duncan Fund to travel to a conference is required to present a student seminar before the conference. The proposal for such travel must be submitted at least 6 weeks before the start of the travel, to allow time for the scheduling and presentation of the seminar.

Proposals submitted to Sandy Kirt are first reviewed for appropriateness and completeness by the Committee Chair.

An inappropriate or incomplete proposal will be returned to the proposer, with a message indicating the problems with the proposal.

With the approval of the Committee Chair, a proposal is distributed to the full Duncan Committee. Committee members are given two weeks to review, comment, and vote on the proposal.

When the Committee arrives at a decision, the proposer will be notified by Sandy Kirt.

When the university is in session, proposers can expect a decision approximately three weeks after submitting a proposal. During the January intersession or summer break, the review and decision process may take longer than three weeks.

The Duncan Fund is administered by a permanent committee of four faculty members. Three members must be statistics faculty in the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics. The fourth member must be from outside the Department, and is chosen by the three Department members to serve a renewable two-year term. If the chair of the Department is not a Committee member, he or she is a non-voting member of the Committee.

The membership of the Duncan Committee is:
John Wierman, Committee Chair
James Fill
Daniel Naiman
Tak Igusa (Professor of Civil Engineering)


A student’s maximum summer salary rate is tied to the student’s status in the academic program, as indicated below. Summer funding is limited to half-time pay (that is, 20 hours per week, as during the academic year).

Any student receiving summer funding from the Duncan Fund is required to register for summer research (to prevent the Duncan Fund, and the student, from paying FICA taxes).

Duncan Funds may not be paid to a student for any period in which the student is funded by another source.

The summer pay rate will be limited to a maximum percentage of the standard academic year TA salary rate by academic program status as follows:

Undergraduate student 60%
Masters student (including combined Bachelor’s-Master’s) 80%
Doctoral student who has not passed the Intro Exam 90%
Doctoral student who has passed the Intro Exam 100%
Doctoral student who has completed the IE and Master’s degree 105%
Doctoral student who has passed the Candidacy Exam 110%
Doctoral student who has passed the GBO Exam 115%


Note that these pay rates are maximums, and that the committee may fund lower rates for certain types of work, as it deems appropriate.

A student receiving summer funding from the Duncan Fund is required to present a student seminar in the following Fall semester.

All charges to a Duncan Fund grant must be submitted to Sandy Kirt for processing. Do not make any purchases or request reimbursement through any other department or center at the university. Receipts or other documentation must be provided, and the number of the Duncan Fund grant to be charged must be specified.

Charges to Duncan Fund grants must be in compliance with all university policies and guidelines. Please review the guidelines before making any expenditures that will be claimed for reimbursement from a Duncan grant. The university travel reimbursement policies are available at https://apps.finance.jhu.edu/policyapp/displayGuidePDF.do?guideId=TRV.

The following policies apply to Duncan Fund grants (some of these are university policies which are listed here for extra emphasis):

  • Receipts are required for all individual travel expense items over $25.
  • Per diem claims, or standard amounts for meals, are not accepted for travel expenses on Duncan Fund grants. Only actual expenses may be reimbursed.
  • First-class or business-class fares may not be charged to Duncan grants.
  • If your spouse is accompanying you while traveling, special care must be taken to avoid charging any additional expenses for the spouse to the Duncan grant. Such expenses are non-reimbursable personal expenses.
  • If international traveling involves a change of several time zones, your hotel expenses for at most two nights before and one night after the conference can be charged to a Duncan Fund grant.
  • Professional society memberships may not be charged to Duncan grants.
  • Conference registration fees will be reimbursed at the member registration rate.
  • No travel insurance or rental car insurance of any form may be charged to Duncan grants.
  • The conference hotel rate is the maximum hotel rate that can be charged to a Duncan grant for attending a conference.
  • Any substantial change from the grant proposal, such as a shorter stay at a conference, must be approved by the Duncan Committee Chair, and may result in a reduction of the grant amount.

If not all funds are expended from a Duncan Fund grant before its expiration date, an extension may be requested. Please send a message to Sandy Kirt providing the reason that the extension is needed and the anticipated use of the remaining funds in the grant.

If the bulk of your Duncan Fund grant has been spent for the proposed purpose, a relatively small amount of remaining funds may be spent on appropriate research-related items that were not explicitly mentioned in the proposal. For example, if funds remain in a travel grant after the trip has been completed, the remainder may be applied to another research trip or may be used to purchase research books.

However, Duncan Committee approval is required for a grantee to use an entire grant or a substantial portion (more than 20%) of a grant for a different purpose than was originally proposed.


Acknowledgment of Support

Support from the Duncan Fund must be acknowledged in any talk or article produced with support from a Duncan Fund grant.


Final Report

A brief final report, listing the major activity and results under the grant, listing any lectures presented, papers submitted, and grant proposals submitted, is due within one month of the expiration date for the grant.

A faculty member may not submit a proposal to the Duncan Fund if he or she has not submitted a final report on a Duncan grant that has expired.

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