Institute Offers Seed Funding for Interdisciplinary Research Teams

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is announcing a call for proposals to support interdisciplinary research projects on topics related to sustainability, energy, and environment to promote new research collaborations or enhance existing collaborations among faculty and research scientists across campus that will improve their potential for attracting external support. The goal of this funding is to enable the development of exploratory research ideas that involve multiple disciplines and departments in any of the five thematic areas of interest to iSEE; collect preliminary data or other information to develop a research project; and prepare and submit research proposals for external funding.

The proposal must involve at least two applicants from different disciplines and different departments and is limited to a maximum of $30,000 for a year. A funding request for a second year will be considered contingent on demonstrated outcomes during the first year and strong justification. The key factors that will be considered in the selection process will include:

  • Quality, innovativeness, and substantive interdisciplinarity of the proposed research;
  • Need for collaboration and how well the team is suited to tackle the problem at hand;
  • Probable impact the proposed work would have on the field;
  • Potential for developing a larger externally funded research program;
  • Productivity of the applicants and quality of their scholarship;
  • Specificity of identified sources for external funding that the applicants will seek; and
  • The fit to at least one of iSEE’s five research themes.

Successful applicants will be expected to submit one or more proposals through iSEE to a competitive external source for funding over the course of the following year and to work with iSEE to communicate the findings of their research, publications, and other outcomes through the Institute website on an ongoing basis. Support will be provided in the form of a research assistantship for graduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, postdoc time, data purchase, and travel. iSEE will provide administrative support for development of large proposals; all indirect cost recovery from external funding will be returned to the home department of the PI.


Guidelines for preparing the proposal

Proposals are invited from tenured/tenure track faculty and research scientists. Postdocs are not eligible to apply. The proposal should include a front page with project title, co-investigator information (names, affiliations, and email addresses), and a 150-word abstract. Additionally, the narrative of the proposal should be a maximum of three single-spaced pages (minimum 11 pt. font; 1-inch margins) not including references, figures and tables. The narrative should describe the problem, potential impact, approach, and most importantly specific plans for seeking external funding, including names of agencies and relevant programs likely to issue calls for proposals in 2020. Any previous efforts for seeking external funding for this research should be described.

Using the templates provided, a two-page CV that includes five most relevant recent publications and five other publications — and all internal and external current and pending research funding — should be included. An itemized budget should be submitted using the spreadsheet provided.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 5 p.m. Nov. 20, 2020, by email to Amy Rosenbery (, with “iSEE Research Proposal” in the subject line. Applicants will be informed about decisions by Dec. 21, 2020, with a start date for funding of Jan. 1, 2021.

Questions about this RFP may be addressed to Jenny Kokini, iSEE Managing Director, at


NOTE: Campus as a Living Lab Proposals Also Solicited

iSEE also is continuing to seed-fund up to $30,000 for proposals to its Campus as a Living Laboratory program, linking faculty-level researchers to sites or initiatives on campus that are relevant to objectives in the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP).

CALL researchers are also expected to leverage the seed money into a major external funding proposal through iSEE.

Read more about the CALL program and find proposal guidelines and templates here >>>