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About the Research Seed Grant program

The Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) provides research seed grant funding for graduate students conducting original data-oriented research on the Boston area, at the intersection of scholarship and policy. Applications can be submitted by students at any local university. Special consideration is given to projects that examine or address questions with regional significance to greater Boston, beyond any one municipal border, such as inequality and social mobility, though we accept applications on other themes as well.

Regardless of topical theme, the program supports two types of projects:

  • Pioneering work that translates a novel digital data set available from a public or private source into a research-ready form that can provide insights on human behavior and society.
  • Projects that seek to develop, implement, or evaluate new programs that incorporate research insights into policy or practice.

For all funded projects, new data sets and associated documentation will be published through BARI’s Boston Data Portal when the project is completed. Examples of past projects can be found here.

Applicants may request up to $5,000, which can be used for any project-related expenses, including materials, software, participant recruitment, or student stipend. Applicants will be required to demonstrate a commitment by their home institution to provide support for their project, in any appropriate form: faculty time, promotion, convening, matching funds, etc. Applicants will be required to submit a letter from a sponsor at their home institution detailing this support.

BARI has a strong commitment to diversity–we encourage applications from persons with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Applying for the Research Seed Grants

Apply today for a 2020-2021 Research Seed Grant!

Deadline: Monday, July 27th, 2020

Applications will be accepted at and should include:

  • Cover letter;
  • Summary of the proposed project, including its potential scholarly and practical impacts, and the data and/or partners it centers on;
  • Proposed budget;
  • Letter of support from home institution;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Contact information for faculty mentor who will oversee project;
  • If necessary, Letter of Commitment from partner providing data or collaborating on project.

The BARI Research Seed Grant program is made possible in part by support from Boston Indicators at The Boston Foundation, the Barr Foundation, and the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation.

The following projects received funding from BARI’s Research Seed Grant program for the 2019-2020 Academic Year:

Climate’s Silent Killer? East Boston Community Extreme Heat Mapping Pilot Project
Sajani Kandel and Debra Butler, UMass Boston

The research applies transdisciplinary approach to bridge science, policy and people using technology as the currency of capacity building in for resiliency planning. The researchers will partner with six different neighborhood associations already engaged in climate change planning in East Boston, leveraging community activism through interactions encouraging citizens to reflect, identify, map and analyze “high temperature spot” data in neighborhoods. The goal of the research is to identify extremely high temperature locations in neighborhoods using low cost community mapping tools. This research contributes to both technology-mediated citizen involvement and urban planning participation methods to advance inclusive collaborations that understand the layered challenges of “lived experiences” as a foundational element of effective climate change policy and management.

The Effect of Late Night Transportation on Crime in Boston
Petra Niedermayerova, Boston University

This study will evaluate the impact of late-night public transportation on the absolute level of crime as well as its spatial distribution in Boston. First, it will focus on the introduction of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Late Night Service (LNS), which extended the operation of the subway system on weekend nights. It will examine the MBTA’s ridership patterns, which will reveal any direct and behavioral effects of the LNS program. It will proceed by quantifying the impact on total late-night crime as well as its variation based on distance from MBTA stops and neighborhood characteristics. Second, this research will consider whether terminating MBTA Late Night Service effected crime, when a convenient substitute transportation, in the form of a door-to-door ride sharing service, was available.

Understanding Spatial Access to Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
Michael Williams, Northeastern University

Research has shown that one of the main contributors to the continuation of this crisis is due to a lack of access to effective treatment for opioid use disorder, especially for vulnerable or disenfranchised populations. This project will examine how access to medication assisted treatment is spatially distributed across the Greater Boston Area, a cost effective and efficacious treatment for opioid use disorder. This will include measures of travel time as well as attributes of the facilities such as patient capacity and insurance types accepted. This work focuses on a Boston specific crisis regarding spatially distributed inequality regarding access to effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Additionally, it will illuminate a critical gap in the literature as well as provide actionable insight to policy makers and government officials by leveraging a novel dataset created from both publicly available and private sources.