Cost Action 18110 – Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation

Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)

Coordinator of STSM

Prof Muge Akkar Ercan

Selected STSMs for the first year:

  • Juan Valle Robles (ES): at the ISMed-CNR, Naples (IT) 10-23/11/2019
  • Luisa Errichiello (IT): at the RRA-ZK, Pivka-Postojna (SI) 16-29/11/2019
  • Daniela De Gregorio (IT): at the METU, Ankara (TR) 02-15/12/2019
  • Paolo Calandruccio (IT): at the UMU, Murcia (ES) 13-27/01/2020

What are STSMs?

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) are exchange visits, which aim to support researchers’ individual mobility, strengthening existing networks and fostering collaboration. STSMs are intended especially, but not solely, for young researchers. In the case of COST CA18110 ‘Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation’, the STSMs specifically contribute to the following objectives, as defined in the MoU:

  • Mapping different UBH re-use and broader heritage-led regeneration case studies in different countries, and improving the overall comprehension of success factors in terms of business and management, financing mechanisms, stakeholders’ involvement, governance mechanisms, procurement, technical needs, and environmental, social and economic impacts,
  • Opening the network to partnerships with local management frameworks for each UBH case, as well as interacting with different local stakeholders, both public and private, to reach consensus on which values should be protected and carried on to future generations and determine the attributes that carry these values,
  • Pioneering socially and environmentally innovative solutions, by stimulating, developing and supporting processes of local community co-evolution and co-creation, which allows communities to explore alternative social trajectories in an adaptive, forward-looking manner, such as the Strategic Transition Management (STM).

Every year, four STSMs will be performed in four different pre-selected localities and host institutions, enabling those partaking in the missions to gain access to specific data, instruments and methods not available in their own institutions, learn about UBH success factors of specific cultural contexts, practice community empowerment tools, and establish new partnerships.

Who can apply?

STSMs are open for PhDs, Post Docs, and advanced career researchers employed at institutions in countries participating to CA18110 ‘Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation’, or at approved institutions. STSMs must be performed between COST countries – researchers cannot apply for an STSM within their own country.

Priority will be given to Early Career Investigators (ECI) (maximum 8 years since obtaining their PhD at the time of application) and PhD students working on socio-technical aspects of the conservation and valorisation of the Underground Built Heritage, sustainability transition, and community participation tools. 

Particular consideration will also be given to candidates moving from/to COST Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs), which include Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the former Yugoslav Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Serbia and Turkey.

International COST participants may host STSM researchers from European COST countries but may not apply for STSMs themselves.

Awards throughout the annual grant period (for the first year: 15th September 2019 – 30th December 2019) will be made to support scientific excellence, and to support a variety of researchers in terms of gender, career stage, affiliation, and nationality.

What can you apply for?

You can apply for a STMS of the duration between 14 and 30 days. The STSM will be a fixed grant to cover part of the travel expenses and living allowance. The cost of research materials is not eligible for consideration as part of the grant. The four hosting Institutions for the first year are as follow:

  1. Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean (ISMed – CNR), Naples, IT
  2. University of Murcia, Murcia, ES
  3. Middle East Technical University, Ankara, TR
  4.  RRA Zeleni kras, Pivka, SI

Please note that the awarded grant will be paid only after the STSM has been completed – therefore the applicant must have approval and prior financial support e.g., from their own institution.

The following funding conditions apply and must be respected:

  • up to a max of EUR2500 in total can be afforded to each successful STSM applicant;
  • up to a max of EUR140 per day can be afforded for accommodation & meal expenses;
  • For ECIs partaking in STSMs with a duration of between 14 & 30 days, the limit is still EUR2500; STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the dates specified in this call.

STSM awards may be combined with other funding sources, but these must be acknowledged in the application.

In your application, you will have to describe the goal of the proposed STSM, how it will contribute to the scientific remit of the COST Action ‘Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation’, the planned expenses and the outputs planned as result of the STSM. For ECIs, two support letters by advanced career researchers are required.

For detailed rules regarding eligibility and financial support, please see the relevant sections of the COST Vademecum (

When can you apply?

Calls for STSM applications will be issued one time during each grant year. Please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on our social media channels to be kept up-to-date.

How can you apply?

This is a step-by-step guide to applying for an STSM and the criteria by which STSM applications will be assessed. More in-depth information can be found at the COST Vademecum. Please contact Dr. Müge Akkar Ercan (STSM coordinator) if you have any queries.

The application process is as follows:

  1. Applicants must carefully read the funding rules detailed in Section 7 of the COST H2020 Vademecum, Section 8 ( )
  2. Applicants must submit an application using e-COST If you do not already have an e-COST account you will first need to ‘create an account’ – which will include providing the details of the bank account where the grant will be lodged if your STSM application is approved and the STSM successfully completed.
  3. Applicants must obtain a letter of invitation from the Host Institution confirming that they can undertake the STSM on the given dates should their application be approved.
  4. Applicants must complete, submit and download their STSM application online at:
  5. Applicants must send their application form and the relevant supporting documents for evaluation, to Dr. Müge Akkar Ercan (
  6. Deadline for application of 2019: 30th September 2019.

The list of supporting documents to be submitted for the evaluation are as follows:

  • Letter of invitation to the applicant from a senior Researcher at the Host institution.
  • The submitted STSM application form (downloadable when the online application is submitted – see 4 above).
  • A letter including an overview of the proposed activities that will be performed, a workplan for the visit, a description of the proposed contributions to the scientific objectives of the ‘Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation’ Action, an outline of the host’s scientific expertise/resources in support of the STSM. The letter should be maximum 8 pages, the font should correspond to Times New Roman size 12 pt with single line spacing and standard margins of 2 cm.
  • A letter of support from the Applicant’s Home Institution.
  • A Full CV (including a list of academic publications).
  • STSM panel organises assessment of the STSM proposal: STSM selection team assesses the proposal (see ‘STSM Selection Criteria’) – may seek expert but impartial advice to inform their decision. If approved, the STSM coordinator sends application and approval to Grant Holder & Action Chair for final check.
  • The Grant Holder sends the applicant a grant letter to sign and return. The STSM should not be started until this letter has been signed and returned.
  • After the STSM, the investigator submits a scientific report to the STSM Host and STSM coordinator within 30 days of completing the STSM. This must include: the purpose of the mission; description of work carried out; description of main results/outputs; plan of future collaborations with Host (if applicable); planned publications resulting from STSM (if applicable); confirmation of successful STSM by Host.
  • STSM Coordinator and Action Chair approve the final report. The Grant Holder executes payment to STSM Applicant.

Criteria for awarding a STSM

 STSM funding will be awarded according to the COST key principles of excellence, inclusivity and balance. Criteria for evaluation will be as follows:

  • The relevance and application of the research to the field of the Action – a detailed work plan will help determine if the scientific aims of the work will be relevant and applicable to the Action’s aims (1-5 points).
  • The quality and clarity of the proposed research – The STSM application should be of high quality, arguing clearly and cogently the importance and timeliness of the research (1-5 points).
  • The choice of Host institution – the applicant must give specific scientific reasons for visiting their chosen Host institution. We will also be tracking the geographical distribution of the Host institutions to ensure there is an evenly-spread network for knowledge transfer. Involvement of ITC countries will be a plus (1-5 points).
  • The home institution of the researcher – We will take into account the number of applications from each institution to ensure a fair spread of researches across the network. Involvement of ITC countries will be a plus (1-5 points)
  • The profile of the researcher – We will take into account the researcher’s potential of successfully completing the STSM on the basis of their previous work and achievements commensurate to their career stage. In line with COST policy, we will preferentially award STSMs to early career investigators (PhD + <8 years). This should not discourage more experienced researchers from applying (1-5 points).
  • For ECIs, the support provided by senior colleagues
  • The publication/output potential of the research carried out – Based on the STSM work plan and detailed publication/output plan (1-5 points).

The STSM Selection Panel

Three members of the STSM Selection Panel will assess each application:

Chair: Müge Akkar Ercan (METU, TR)
Two members among:

  • WG1: Beata Joanna Gawryszewska (PL)
  • WG2: Roberto Pierdicca (IT)
  • WG3: Sanja Kovačič (RS)
  • WG4: Juan Valle Robles (ES)
  • WG5: Ivor Jankovič (HR)

The website of ‘Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation

How to apply (online)

If the applicant’s e-COST profile is incomplete, they will first have to fill in the missing information (affiliation, education details, CV).

Any already submitted applications are available for consultation in the applicant’s e-COST profile. To submit a new application, the applicant clicks on ‘Create a new STSM Request’.

The application page contains the following sections:

  • Applicant details
  • STSM details (the application must start and end during the same Grant Period (GP). If a GP is not active, the applicant will not be able to submit an application.
  • Bank details
  • Host details (must be located in a different country than the country of the applicant)
  • Financial support
  • Supporting documents (2nd page of the application also reachable by clicking on button in the upper left corner)

If the applicant is affiliated with an institute from an Inclusiveness Target Country, (s)he can apply for a pre-payment of 50% of the Grant. The applicant must keep in mind that the transfer of the 50% of the Grant can only take place after the mission has started and as such, requesting a pre-payment is more effective for STSMs longer than 1 month.

Alternatively, the STSM Coordinator can check the status of applications via an STSM e-COST dashboard. The STSM Coordinator will be able to approve/reject only those applications whose status is ‘Submitted’.

As soon as the application is submitted, the STSM coordinator is notified. The applicant also receives a copy of the notification.

For all other applications, the STSM coordinator will be able to see at which stage in the process they are.