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Office of the Vice President for Research

Opportunities for Faculty

Breakthrough Faculty Awards

The Breakthrough "family" of awards are presented each year by the Office of the Vice President for Research to recognize outstanding researchers and scholars at the University of South Carolina. The Breakthrough Stars and Leadership in Research awards programs honor our outstanding faculty research leaders.

Breakthrough Awards have been paused for 2023-2024

The Breakthrough award process is temporarily on hold. The Office of the Vice President for Research is reexamining the program structure during this cycle.


The Office of the Vice President for Research's Breakthrough faculty awards honor outstanding faculty researchers at different stages of their careers. Each of these awards is bestowed by a committee of senior faculty and administrators who consider all qualified nominations and make the final selection based on the award criteria. Below are details about each award's criteria and nomination guidelines.

The Breakthrough Stars Award recognizes relatively early-career assistant and associate professors who demonstrate considerable contributions to their field in terms of research and scholarly activity while at USC. This recognition can contribute to recipients' career advancement and retention, and helps the university attract the best and brightest young faculty to join USC.

The Breakthrough Leadership in Research Award celebrates senior faculty who take a multifaceted approach to inspiring excellence in research through mentoring under-represented minorities, collaborating with colleagues across disciplines, reaching out to the community and engaging in other unique activities. The overall objective of this award is to promote leadership qualities in support of research by not only recognizing the awardee, but also by developing a culture of future leaders in research who value and engage in a wide range of activities to benefit USC and the community.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.