SPIA’s faculty members are internationally known for innovative and influential scholarship that informs policy makers and citizens about the dynamic world of politics and public affairs. Much of this incredible research done at SPIA would not be possible without the support of external funding. Our success in garnering grants is a direct result of the quality of our faculty and their determined efforts to seek funding for projects that improve health, safety and security, the economy and quality of life. External funding also plays a critical role in funding graduate assistantships that attract students to UGA and keep our state and nation at the forefront of today’s knowledge economy.


The Grants Coordinator serves to help faculty, staff and graduate students achieve research and programmatic goals by:

  • Providing assistance in the identification of funding opportunities
  • Offering a tailored, searchable database of requests for proposals (RFPs) and other funding announcements in areas of interest to SPIA faculty members
  • Preparation and submission of proposals (review & summarize funder guidelines, drafting of letters of inquiry, proposal structuring, editing)
  • Provision of grant writing reference materials
  • Arrangement of interdisciplinary planning meetings for large proposals
  • Facilitating contact and coordination with the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), the University of Georgia Research Foundation, and other universities for multi-institutional proposals
Recent SPIA Awards

Comprehensive Border Security Academy funded by the Department of State–Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of Export Control Cooperation (ISN/ECC). Justin Conrad, P.I.  $971,831

This grant funds training to “strengthen the ability of border security officials to coordinate, cooperate, and investigate illicitly trafficked material, including WMD-related items, conventional arms, and explosives,” The Center for International Trade and Security, with assistance from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), is presenting (2) two-week iterations of the Comprehensive Border Security Academy for participants from the North Africa region (especially Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) in 2022 and 2023. Participants will be selected from agencies responsible for the implementation of national border policies and regulations. The participants will be a mix of front-line border personnel and mid- to executive-level officials. Training is occurring in Athens and Richland, Washington, home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The Center of Excellence for Forestry, Biodiversity, and Conversation Leadership and Green Enterprise Development in Liberia funded by USAID, October 2022-2027, Matthew Auer, P.I.  $5 million

Liberia is one of the few remaining rain forest nations in the world. Its 40% portion of the Upper Guinean rainforest is a vital natural resource essential to maintaining West Africa’s biological heritage, meeting global carbon emissions reduction targets, and reducing the extent and effects of climate change. However, Liberia’s workforce in forestry, biodiversity, and conservation (FBC) is under-developed and the higher education resources to educate, train, and professionalize such a workforce are likewise under-developed. This project aims to assist Liberian institutions of higher education to develop capacity to create and sustain a pipeline of young Liberian professionals who possess the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of sustainable forestry. The effort brings together experts from the University of Liberia, Forestry Training Institute in Liberia, Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University, Wellesley College, University of Georgia, and University Consortium for Liberia to establish a Center of Excellence for Forestry, Biodiversity, and Conservation Leadership and Green Enterprise Development.

Reducing Trafficking Through Financial Capability in SSA—Laura Zimmermann is participating as an investigator on this project led by David Okech (SPIA Affiliated Faculty) funded by the State Department with a budget of $2 million for the most recent installment (10/1/22-3/31/24) and a total budget of $10.4 million over 5 years.

Financial exclusion from mainstream products that help individuals build sustainable financial security is highly prevalent in  sub-Saharan Africa,  exacerbating individuals’ vulnerability to poverty, and fueling cross-border labor trafficking. As of 2020, the Republic of South Africa (RSA) had the highest number of immigrants among all African countries, many of whom were labor immigrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. These three are also among the poorest countries in the Southern African Development Community region. Youth in the sending countries are especially at-risk of exploitative labor migration due to high unemployment and vulnerability to poverty. Opportunities available for unskilled or semi-skilled labor in construction, mining, and services are major drivers for migration into RSA from SADC. Worse still, COVID-19 and the resulting global economic challenges have exacerbated the exploitation and mistreatment of labor migrants into RSA. The goal of this project is to reduce cross-border labor trafficking by first better understanding the labor migrant hotspots and then implementing a two-part innovation that advances financial literacy and inclusion.

Examining the Determinants of Rural/Urban Volunteering funded by the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps), Rebecca Nesbit, P.I. Budget of $191,670 with a project period of October 2022-September 2025

Dr. Nesbit’s previous project with AmeriCorps showed that the likelihood of volunteering has declined in rural and urban place, and it is more pronounced in rural areas. Through this project, Dr. Nesbit will explore how a community’s civic infrastructure influences volunteering and other forms of civic engagement, and whether there are differences in the relationship between community civic infrastructure and individual volunteering (civic engagement) across rural and urban places.

The Jack Miller Center awarded funds to Professor Keith Dougherty for the American Founding Group, which he founded. This group sponsors the annual Constitution Day lecture, a reading group which features discussions focused on history, politics, philosophy, law, and economics as it pertains to the American Founding, and also sponsors other guest speakers.

The Stanton Foundation awarded a $96,000 grant in June 2020 to CITS Director Justin Conrad, Professor Ryan Powers, Assistant Professor Molly Berkemeier and Professor Jeff Berejikian for their proposal entitled “Nonproliferation Strategy to Practice: Assessing the State of Global Trade Control Implementation.” This project addresses the need to comprehensively assess the current state of export controls at the global and national levels by assessing  the front-line professionals working in this field. You can read more here.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and the Georgia Voter Verification Study, sponsored by the Center for Election Innovation Research, are supporting the Survey Research Center, headed by Trey Hood, Professor of Political Science, including the “Fall 2020 Survey of Georgia Voters” survey.

The National Institutes of Health awarded $3.5 million dollars in July 2020 for a second year of project funding to David Bradford, George D. Busbee Chair in Public Policy, Amanda Abraham, Associate Professor in Public Administration and Policy, and Grace Bagwell Adams, Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health, to study whether the use of legalized medical cannabis can act as a substitute for, or reduce the use of, traditional pain treatments. You can read more here.

The Carnegie Foundation is funding the work of Ryan Powers, Professor in International Affairs, entitled “Strengthening the Links Between Scholars and Practitioners of International Relations—Teaching, Research, and International Policy Project” with colleagues at the University of William and Mary. This project is exploring the views of International Relations scholars on foreign policy issues and ultimately disseminating these ideas to policy practitioners.