OPPORTUNITIES

The Illinois Water Scholars maintain an email listserv for sharing opportunities for research funding, industry partnerships, student funding, and education and outreach activities. If you are a faculty-level researcher who would like to be counted among the Illinois Water Scholars and receive those updates, please email us at sustainability@illinois.edu with the subject line, “Add a Water Scholar.”

Grant and Other Opportunities for Illinois Scholars ...

Current and recent calls for proposals from major funding agencies, as well as speaking opportunities and other announcements for Illinois faculty-level scholars.

January 2022: NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)

A message from iSEE Acting Associate Director for Research Jeremy Guest:

Please find a request for proposals (RFP) from NSF below. If researchers are interested and pursuing this opportunity and iSEE can support this endeavor (including helping bring an interdisciplinary team together, business office support, etc.), please let me know at jsguest@illinois.edu.
 
Agency/Foundation: National Science Foundation
RFP/FOA topic: Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) - Use Inspired Climate Change and Clean Energy Research Challenges
Letter of Intent Deadline (estimated*): Feb. 8, 2022
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): March 25, 2022
Funding (total): $1,500,000
Duration: 3 years
Funding Opportunity Details from Lewis-Burke: This PIRE call focuses on Use Inspired Climate Change and Clean Energy Research Challenges. PIRE is NSF’s signature international research and education program that includes all NSF directorates and supports international collaboration to advance cutting-edge research. PIRE teams will involve international partnerships, including interdisciplinary researchers and stakeholders outside of academia, and should demonstrate potential for rapid growth through adding new partners to become prominent international centers of excellence.

 
As aligned with Biden Administration and broader NSF research priorities, this PIRE competition focuses on climate change and clean energy. The program page states that PIRE projects should, “utilize multi-stakeholder and international partnerships that are essential to address these challenges of critical societal importance at a regional or global scale.” 

 
*Deadlines are included in this summary to help folks get a sense for the timeline for the call for proposals. If you are interested in submitting to this call for proposals, please review the RFP/FOA (linked above) for yourself to identify deadlines, submittal requirements, etc. 
 
Best of luck!
October 2021: DOE Atmospheric System Research

 

A message from iSEE Acting Associate Director for Research Jeremy Guest:

Below is a funding opportunity from the U.S Department of Energy.
 
RFP/FOA topic: Atmospheric System Research (ASR) FOA DE-FOA-0002579
Pre-Application Deadline (estimated*): Nov. 3, 2021
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Jan. 11, 2022
Funding (total): $200,000 to $900,000 
Duration: 3 years
Funding Opportunity Details from Lewis-Burke: Research will mainly focus on interactions between clouds, aerosols, and precipitation processes and interactions. Specifically, the funding call is looking for proposals that address:
  • aerosol-cloud interactions that affect the Earth’s energy balance and water cycle;
  • aerosol processes affecting cloud lifecycle, properties, and/or processes;
  • convective cloud processes, including the occurrence, frequency, lifecycle, precipitation, and microphysical and macrophysical properties of convective clouds; and
  • high-latitude atmospheric processes.
Unlike last year, there will be no studies of the warm boundary layer, or the later of atmosphere closest to ground-level. Grant applications should include observational, data analysis, and/or modeling studies that use data from DOE-sponsored observations, including those collected at DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility. Lewis-Burke anticipates a proposal success rate on the order of 36%.
 
*Deadlines are included in this summary to help folks get a sense for the timeline for the call for proposals. If you are interested in submitting to this call for proposals, please review the RFP/FOA for yourself to identify deadlines, submittal requirements, etc. 
 
If researchers are interested in pursuing upcoming opportunities and iSEE can support this endeavor (including helping bring an interdisciplinary team together, business office support, etc.), please let me know at jsguest@illinois.edu.

 

October 2021: DOE Multiple FOAs

A message from iSEE Acting Associate Director for Research Jeremy Guest:

Below are multiple funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) from the U.S. Department of Energy along with other helpful links.
 
RFP/FOA topic: Office of Science Open Call DE-FOA-0002562
Pre-Application: Optional but encouraged. We recommend reaching out to relevant program managers to explore whether topics are of interest to them.
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Any time before Sept. 30, 2022
Funding (total): $200,000 to $5,000,000
Duration: 6 months to 5 years
Funding Opportunity Topic Areas: All Office of Science programs participate and list areas of interest including: Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Isotope R&D and Production and Accelerator R&D and Production

 

RFP/FOA topic: University-Based Cybersecurity Centers DE-FOA-0002503
Concept Paper Deadline (estimated*): Oct. 13, 2021
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Dec. 8, 2021
Funding (total): $2,500,000
Duration: 2 years
Funding Opportunity Topic Areas: The centers will address research and development challenges related to cybersecurity and critical energy infrastructure, and will take into consideration the distinctive characteristics of each region’s electricity system, network infrastructure, and workforce expertise.

 

RFP/FOA topic: Technology Innovation to Increase Hydropower Flexibility DE-FOA-0002417 
Informational Webinar: Oct.13, 2021
Concept Paper Deadline (estimated*): Nov. 2, 2021
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Jan. 21, 2022
Funding (total): $1,000,000-4,000,000
Duration: 1.5-3 years
Funding Opportunity Topic Areas: The focus is on developing and testing next-generation technologies to improve the flexible capabilities of the U.S. hydropower fleet. This includes technologies that can increase the flexibility of hydropower units by expanding operating range, faster ramping and start-stops, and improved frequency and voltage control. Also of interest are innovations to reduce the negative impacts, such as accelerated machine wear-and-tear, associated with operating the unit more flexibly.
 
RFP/FOA topic: National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Enabling Coexistence Options for Wind Energy and Wildlife-Bat Behavior Research and Technology Advancement DRFX-2021-10708
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Dec. 8, 2021
Funding (total): $450,000-700,000
Duration: 1.5-2 years
Funding Opportunity Topic Areas: DOE’s Wind Technologies Office is seeking research proposals that examine how bats behave near wind turbines and how they respond to tools intended to keep bats away from turbines.

 

RFP/FOA topic: Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize 
Full Proposal Deadline (estimated*): Feb. 25, 2022
Funding (total): ~$250,000
Duration: Not readily apparent.
Funding Opportunity Topic Areas: DOE plans to award cash prizes to groups and organizations, including university-based programs, that support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underserved in climate and energy technology funding.


Additional Opportunities:

- Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration (RECS) Program: https://recs-ccus.org/ 
- Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program: https://science.osti.gov/wdts/scgsr
- Innovation in Buildings Graduate Research Fellowship (IBUILD): https://ibuildfellowship.org/
 
*Deadlines are included in this summary to help folks get a sense for the timeline for the call for proposals. If you are interested in submitting to this call for proposals, please review the RFP/FOA for yourself to identify deadlines, submittal requirements, etc. 
 
If researchers are interested in pursuing upcoming opportunities and iSEE can support this endeavor (including helping bring an interdisciplinary team together, business office support, etc.), please let me know at jsguest@illinois.edu.
September 2021: DOE BES Funding Updates

A message from iSEE Acting Associate Director for Research Jeremy Guest:

Below you will find significant updates on anticipated funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Science (BES) program in FY 2022. This summary, provided by Lewis-Burke, highlights MANY opportunities that are relevant to our campus. It is from earlier this month and Congress continues to work to finalize the budget, but here are some expected highlights for the DOE BES program:
  • $100M for Energy Frontier Research Centers;
  • $17M for fundamental science to advance transformative manufacturing;
  • $15M for microelectronics;
  • Up to $30M for additional targeted funding opportunities related to clean energy technologies;
  • Fall 2021 Early Career Research Program;
  • Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program; and
  • $30M for Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW).
Please also note this includes updates for formatting documents for DOE proposal submittals:
  • a new collaborator template; and
  • new templates for Biosketches and Current & Pending (C&P).
 
If researchers are interested and pursuing any of these opportunities and iSEE can support this endeavor (including helping bring an interdisciplinary team together, business office support, etc.), please let me know as soon as possible.
 
Exciting times! Best of luck!

Please see below an update and advance intelligence on recent activities, emerging priorities, and future opportunities within the Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Science (BES) program.  BES primarily funds materials and chemical sciences, but also geosciences and biosciences.  BES also builds and operates the government’s largest collection of world-class scientific user facilities.  This analysis is based on information from the virtual BES Advisory Committee (BESAC) meeting held on Aug. 24, 2021, discussions with program managers, budget data from the fiscal year (FY) 2022 President’s budget request and the House and Senate FY 2022 Energy and Water bills, and the release of new advisory committee and workshop reports.

Funding Issues

The FY 2022 President’s budget request proposed $2.3 billion for BES, an increase of $55 million or 2.4 percent above the FY 2021 enacted level.  While Congress has not yet passed FY 2022 appropriations bills, the House and Senate did advance the FY 2022 Energy and Water bills which fund the Department of Energy Office of Science and BES.  Both the House and Senate bills would provide the requested increases and allow BES to advance its highest priorities. The table below provides a comparison to the various budget proposals for BES.           

 

FY 2021 Enacted

FY 2022 Senate

FY 2022 House

 

Senate vs FY 2021 Enacted

Senate vs FY 2022 Request

Senate vs House

Basic Energy Sciences

2,245,000

2,323,000

2,293,000

 

78,000

(3.5%)

23,000

(1.0%)

30,000

(1.3%)

Based on guidance from the Biden Administration, the highest priority in FY 2022 is growing core research programs as opposed to facility construction.  DOE and Congress would grow core research by $79 million or 12 percent above the FY 2021 enacted level, for a total of $736 million.  The majority of new investments would support clean energy research, transformative manufacturing, and microelectronics.  In addition to core research, DOE and Congress would fund Energy Frontier Research Centers at $130 million, an increase of $15 million above the FY 2021 enacted level.  This would allow DOE to award up to 40 new or renewed centers through the FY 2022 competition.  DOE and Congress would also fully fund the Computational Materials and Chemicals Sciences Centers, the Energy Storage and Solar Fuels Energy Innovation Hubs, the five National Quantum Information Science Research Centers, and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).  BES also plans to provide an additional $8 million for a total of $13 million for accelerator research and development to support next-generation technologies for user facilities and continue to attract and train the workforce needed to design and operate these facilities.  BES will also provide $5 million toward a new Office of Science cross-cutting initiative called RENEW (Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce).  The purpose of this initiative is to provide undergraduate and graduate training opportunities for students and academic institutions not currently well represented in the U.S. S&T ecosystem, such as Minority Serving Institutions, to expand the pipeline for the Office of Science research and facilities workforce needs.  The Office of Science has scheduled various listening sessions to engage directly with underrepresented organizations for feedback and recommendations on how to improve future engagement. 

In FY 2020, based on the latest available information, BES grew its share of research funding from 36 percent in FY 2019 to 39 percent in FY 2020 to try to meet the Office of Science-wide goal of dedicating close to 40 percent of total program funding to research.  Of the research funding, 45 percent was awarded to research universities.  See the graphic below for more information on the FY 2020 distribution of funding.  Funding for research is expected to grow and exceed 40 percent in FY 2021 and FY 2022 and funding distribution to research universities is also expected to grow.

Source: DOE Office of Science

FY 2022 Funding Opportunities

In FY 2022, DOE plans to release several major funding opportunity announcements:

  • $100 million for Energy Frontier Research Centers: DOE plans to release a funding solicitation in Fall 2021 to fund up to 40 new or renewed centers.  A Continuing Resolution that would fund DOE and other government agencies at FY 2021 funding levels would not impact the release of the solicitation since this is not a new program.  EFRCs are one of DOE’s leading center-level competitions and well-suited for research universities.  EFRCs are typically funded from $2 million to $4 million each per year over four years and there are no cost share requirements.  Started in 2009, the EFRC program focuses on energy-relevant, basic research with a scope and complexity beyond what is possible in standard single-investigator or small-group awards.  These multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional centers accelerate scientific discovery and tackle transformative energy grand challenges in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, and biosciences.  DOE is still finalizing final topic areas, but they are likely to include:
    • Clean energy technologies, such as
      • hydrogen production, storage, and use consistent with research priorities from the August Roundtable on Foundational Science for Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen Technologies, which will be released soon and includes
        • the discovery and control of materials and chemical processes to revolutionize electrolysis systems,
        • manipulating hydrogen interactions to harness the full potential of hydrogen as an energy carrier,
        • better understanding the structure, evolution, and chemistry of complex interfaces for energy and atom efficiency, and
        • understanding and limit degradation processes to enhance the durability of hydrogen systems.
      • improved conversion of solar energy, and
    • microelectronics consistent with the priority research directions in the Basic Research Needs for Microelectronics,
    • chemical upcycling of polymers consistent with the priority research directions in the Roundtable on Chemical Upcycling of Polymers, and
    • cryogenic electron microscopy for the physical sciences consistent with priority research directions in the Roundtable on Research Opportunity for Cryogenic Electron Microscopy in the Physical Sciences, which DOE expects to release soon. Preliminary information can be found in the most recent briefing on the topic.
  • $17 million for fundamental science to advance transformative manufacturing:  The focus would be on transformative technologies for manufacturing that improve energy efficiency and sustainability.  This includes integration of autonomous sensing and control and the design of circular processes that minimize waste and reduce the use of critical materials.  Based on recommendations from the Basic Research Needs Workshop Report for Transformative Manufacturing, specific research areas include:
    • achieving precise, scalable synthesis and processing of atomic-scale building blocks for components and systems,
    • integrating multiscale models and tools to enable adaptive control of manufacturing processes,
    • unraveling the fundamentals of manufacturing processes through innovations in operando characterization,
    • direct atom and energy flow to realize sustainable manufacturing, and
    • co-design of materials, processes, and products to revolutionize manufacturing.
  • $15 million for microelectronics:  This funding solicitation would be issued jointly with other Office of Science program offices to expand multi-disciplinary microelectronics research to accelerate the advancement of microelectronic technologies in a co-design innovation ecosystem in which materials, chemistries, devices, systems, architectures, algorithms, and software are developed in a closely integrated fashion.  BES’ priorities include materials, chemistry, and fundamental device science for microelectronics.  DOE national labs are likely to be the leads on these efforts but with research university partners.  This would build on the FY 2021 funding solicitation on microelectronics co-design research and recent awards.
  • Up to $30 million for additional targeted funding opportunities to advance priority research direction for clean energy technologies beyond EFRCs.

 

BES will also participate in a number of FY 2022 cross-cutting funding calls, including:

  • Fall 2021 Early Career Research Program:  The purpose of the program is to support the development of outstanding scientists early in their careers and to stimulate research careers in the areas supported by the Office of Science.  Topics in all BES core research areas are included each year.  Eligible applicants include untenured university professors on tenure track and DOE lab scientists, both within 10 years of a PhD.  Typical funding for an early career university scientists is typically $150,000 a year for 5 years.
  • Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program:  The second 2021 solicitation is currently open and applications are due November 10.  The purpose of the program is to provide supplemental awards to qualified graduate students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) to spend three to 12 months conducting part of their doctoral thesis/dissertation research at a host DOE national laboratory/facility in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist.  The award includes a monthly stipend of up to $3,000 per month for general living expenses and up to $2,000 for reimbursement of inbound/outbound traveling expenses to/from the host DOE laboratory/facility.  BES priority research topics for this round include Advanced Manufacturing; Clean Energy and Decarbonization; Data Science; Electrochemistry; Gas Phase Chemical Physics; Geosciences; Microelectronics; Quantum Information Science; Radiation Effects and Radioactive f-elements; Accelerator and Detector R&D; Electron and Scanning Probe Microscopy Instruments R&D; Neutron and X-ray Facilities Instruments R&D; and Convergence (Accelerators; Data Science; Microelectronics).
  • Fall 2021 $25 million for the FY 2022 EPSCoR funding opportunity announcement: The focus in FY 2022 will be on building partnerships between EPSCoR institutions and DOE national labs.  The most recent example of this type of funding opportunity is available here.
  • Spring 2022 $30 million for Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) funding announcement: The goal of this new initiative is to advance a diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) research community to advance Office of Science missions.  This is a cross-cutting initiative with all Office of Science programs participating.  The first step is outreach to students and educators from underrepresented and underserved groups and offering additional pathways to help them advance along the STEM workforce development pipeline.  DOE is organizing listening sessions to understand the barriers that prevent underrepresented and underserved groups from participating in Office of Science workforce development programs.  The funding opportunities will then likely include undergraduate and graduate training opportunities, including traineeships, as well as DOE national laboratory-based research or technical training experiences to help prepare future scientists, technicians, and professional to support DOE mission needs.  More information is available here on the Office of Science DEI initiatives.

 

New Requirements for FY 2022 Funding Proposals

Starting with FY 2022 funding opportunity announcements, the DOE Office of Science will require two major changes to proposal submissions to increase transparency, avoid conflicts of interest in the review process, standardize information, and address research security issues:

  • New collaborator template: A lead applicant must submit an excel file that lists all individual collaborators that are senior or key personnel on a proposal.  The information will be used to manage reviewer section.
  • New biosketches and current and pending financial support disclosures: For calls after January 2022, the Office of Science, working with SciENcv, will release a template for biosketches and current and pending financial and other support disclosures.  DOE plans to link SciENcv to ORCID accounts to access existing data.

 

International Benchmarking Study

BESAC completed an international benchmarking study requested by the formed Office of Science Director Chris Fall entitled “Can the U.S. Compete in Basic Energy Sciences? Critical Research Frontiers and Strategies.” The focus of the assessment was to identify key areas of BES-relevant research and facility capabilities in which the U.S. is most threatened, recommend new ways to leverage scarce resources or weigh different trade-offs, and propose new incentives to retain and attract scientific talent. 

Major conclusions of the BESAC study include:

  • The U.S. is losing the global competition for talent.
  • U.S. facilities are excellent but European facilities provide better support for science programs and long-term facility planning for future generations of scientists.
  • Stronger investments in infrastructure are needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness.
  • Larger financial support levels for early career investigators, and follow-on financial support for outstanding people to transition to mid-career, are needed.
  • Enhanced international cooperation would enhance U.S. competitiveness.
  • Better coordination between basic research, use-inspired research, applied research and industrial research would invigorate the U.S. innovative ecosystem.

BESAC also identified priority research areas BES should continue to lead and invest in and would have significant impacts on future U.S. innovation and technology development:

Source: DOE Office of Science

The report concluded with six major recommendations that are likely to influence future BES budget requests:

  • Stronger investments in advanced research infrastructure, including laboratory-based and large-scale instrumentation.
  • Balancing the need to develop world-leading facilities and the need for access to and technical support of existing facilities to increase research impact and help retain talented scientists.
  • New mechanisms for significant financial support of scientific investigators at all career stages to create a more sustainable career path that builds on current investments in the development of the scientific work force to enhance U.S. competitiveness for talent.
  • Additional investment in computational and data analysis methods, computer hardware and architecture
  • Enhanced international cooperation in selected areas has the potential to enhance U.S. competitiveness.
  • Better interaction across the continuum of basic research, use-inspired research, applied research and industrial research to accelerate translation of fundamental research to impactful technologies that benefit society.

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