Astrobiology Research Experiences for Faculty from Minority Serving Institutions

The Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) Program was initiated in 2002 to provide opportunities for faculty from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to collaborate with NASA Astrobiology Program researchers.

The goals of the MIRS Program are to strengthen the infrastructure of astrobiology research at MSIs, increase diversity at all levels of Astrobiology Program activities, and ensure that the next generation of astrobiologists reflects the ethnic and racial diversity of the US and international scientific communities. The MIRS program provides funding for a sabbatical stipend, housing and travel, as well as follow-up opportunities for faculty from MSIs. The research support provided through the MIRS program leads to continuing collaborations and increased visibility for researchers at MSIs in the field of astrobiology.

Components of the MIRS program


  • Stipends, travel allowance, and follow-up support for faculty from Minority Serving Institutions.
  • Year round opportunities for research and collaboration with astrobiologists in the US.
  • Up to 10 weeks of support with a stipend of $1,000 per week (usually during Summer).
  • Up to $5,000 for housing and travel.
  • An award of $10,000 following the sabbatical intended to continue the research and/or develop astrobiology laboratories or curriculum at the MSIs.

Eligibility Criteria


  • A faculty member at a US college or university designated by the US Department of Education as a Minority Serving Institution.
  • Prepared to conduct scientific research in astrobiology.
  • A US Citizen or Permanent US Resident.

Application Process


  • A 5 page research proposal, written by the applicant, that outlines a collaboration with a NASA Astrobiology Program researcher and provides details of the research to be conducted based on the goals of the Astrobiology Program.
  • A description of the applicant’s interests and qualifications relevant to the field of astrobiology documenting:
    • The applicant’s prior research experience.
    • The expected benefit of participation to the applicant, the applicant’s home university and students, the Astrobiology Program researcher, and the MIRS program.
    • Plans for future funding to sustain a research or teaching program related to astrobiology after the sabbatical ends.
  • A letter of commitment from a host NASA Astrobiology Program researcher.
  • A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s home institution.
  • Application form available online (new form will be available on 2016).

Contact Information


Melissa Kirven-Brooks, Ph.D.
Phone: (650) 604-0498


Application Deadline: March 15, 2016