2022 RFP: iSEE 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. The iSEE seed funds are available to promote research collaborations among faculty and scientists across campus that will improve their potential for attracting external support.

NOTE: 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 >>>

The goal of the funding is to enable interdisciplinary research teams that touch on any of the thematic areas of interest to iSEE to collect preliminary data or other information and to develop a strong proposal that can be submitted for external funding through the Institute in 2023-24.

The proposal must involve applicants from at least two different disciplines and two different departments and is limited to a maximum of $30,000 for a year. 

The key factors that will be considered in the selection process include:

  • Scholarly merit, innovation, and substantive interdisciplinarity of the proposed research;
  • Need for collaboration and how well the team is suited to tackle the problem at hand;
  • Potential impact of the proposed research initiative on the field;
  • Potential to develop a large-scale (>$1M), externally funded research program;
  • Productivity of the applicants and quality of their scholarship;
  • Comprehensive plan to pursue external funding with identified opportunities which the applicants will pursue; and
  • The fit to iSEE’s research themes and interest in a longer-term engagement with iSEE to develop research programs in this area.

Successful applicants will be expected to submit external funding proposals related to this seed funding through iSEE in 2022-23. iSEE will provide personnel support for proposal development and post-award management for projects that receive external grants to a competitive external funding source over the course of the following year. Recipients will also 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/or travel.

iSEE will provide administrative support for development of large proposals. Successful external funding proposals submitted through iSEE will not affect indirect cost recovery 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, principal and 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 the team is trying to solve, the potential impact of solving it, the proposed approach for the seed-funded project, and most importantly specific plans for seeking external funding, including names of agencies and relevant programs likely to issue calls for proposals in 2022. Any previous efforts for seeking external funding for this research should be described.

Additional required documents include (i) a three-page CV that includes five most relevant recent publications and five other publications; (ii) a summary of all internal and external current and pending research funding for the principal investigator (PI) and co-investigators; and (iii) an itemized budget. NSF- or NIH-style documents can be used for the CV and current and pending funding.

CV Template

Current and Pending Funding Template

Budget Template

The deadline for proposal submissions is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, by email to Amy Rosenbery (husted@illinois.edu), with “iSEE Research Proposal” in the subject line. Applicants will be informed about final funding decisions by mid-December, with a start date for funding of Jan. 1, 2023.

Questions about this RFP may be addressed to Elizabeth Murphy, iSEE Managing Director, at eamurphy@illinois.edu.


Recent example of iSEE Seed Funding Success

  • A $1 million, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to bolster an iSEE 2020 seed-funded project to turn waste ash into energy. The Rapid AI-based Dissection of Ashes using Raman and XRF Spectroscopy (RADAR-X) Project, led by Civil & Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Nishant Garg, will develop rapid, real-time analysis of the ashes — then explore numerous composition-dependent end uses.