The Energy Initiative Invites Proposals for 2018 Seed Fund Grants

Energy Research Seed Fund

Deadline: February 2, 2018

Since 2014, the Duke University Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund has supported new interdisciplinary, collaborative research. This funding has helped Duke researchers obtain important preliminary results they have used to push the boundaries of knowledge, test concepts, and secure external funding.

Thanks to generous support from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), we are pleased to announce the expansion of this popular and successful program, and to invite proposals to any of the following three grant categories:

  • Seed Grants, which will provide up to $45,000 for new research conducted by teams led by Duke faculty members, at least two of which represent different disciplines, schools, or departments. The performance period for Seed Grants is 12 months.
  • Stage-Two Grants, which will provide up to $35,000 to carry projects currently supported by Energy Initiative seed funding into their next research phase. Applications for Stage-Two grants should indicate successful completion of work conducted under the current grant and outline how additional funding will help make the team’s research more compelling to external funders.
  • Proposal Development Grants, which will provide up to $25,000 for past seed fund recipients to develop proposals for external funding. Applicants for these grants should provide a one-page proposal indicating how the funds will be used (acceptable uses include travel to meet with potential sponsors, support for Ph.D. student assistants, etc.), and how those uses will improve the likelihood of external funding.

This year’s Seed Fund places special emphasis on research topics such as energy data analytics, including the integration of big data applications, machine learning techniques, or the broader intersection of energy and advanced computation; energy materials, energy access and inequality, grid reliability and modernization, energy decision-making and behavior, energy efficiency, advanced alternative fuels and renewables, and the nexus of food, energy, and water. Research oriented toward solutions, rather than solely problem identification, is especially encouraged. Proposals will be reviewed based on the quality of proposed research and potential to leverage seed grants to secure external funding.

Proposals are due Friday, February 2, 2018, 11:59 p.m. 

Eligible Applicants

The principal investigator must be a regular rank faculty member at Duke University.


The budget for an Energy Research Seed Fund research team (working group) can include supplies, salary support for research assistants, graduate students, technicians, and other justifiable research expenses. Faculty salary, tuition remission, and indirect costs are not allowable expenses. Travel expenses are allowable only if essential to conducting the proposed research activities and cannot include travel to scientific conferences. All proposal budgets must be submitted using this template or they will not be considered.

Application Content (Seed Grants and Stage-Two Grants)

Cover Page

Must include the following information:

  • Proposal title
  • Name, title, departmental affiliation, address, e-mail address, and telephone number of all proposed investigators
  • Designation of a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigators

250 words maximum

Research plan

Maximum of three pages. Should be single spaced in 12-point font with 1” margins on all sides. Must include the following information:

  • Statement of research objectives and their significance
  • Work already completed related to the proposal, and any relevant preliminary results
  • Description of the research team (working group) and research setting
  • Proposed methods and plans for data analysis
  • Potential for future grant support and specific plans to achieve external funding goals
Appendix materials

Maximum of one page each. Should be single-spaced in 12-point font, with 1” margins on all sides. Must include the following information:

  • Research schedule and milestones
  • Collaborative nature of the project
  • Relevance to mission of the Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Budget and justification (1 page maximum) (Use this template for budget.)
  • Curriculum vitae OR NSF/NIH biosketch including current grant support limited to 4 pages for each investigator

Application Content (Proposal Development Grants)

A one-page proposal describing the project and indicating how the funds will be used and how those uses will increase the likelihood of external funding

Submission Format and Deadline

Please combine all required elements into a single PDF document and submit via email by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 2, 2018 to: Xiaochen Sun, Duke University Energy Initiative via email at:

Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc review committee consisting of faculty with a broad range of expertise in energy-related fields. The reviewing committee’s goal is to identify the proposals that best meet the objectives of the Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund: interdisciplinary collaborative research projects that will make long‐term, significant, and original contributions to addressing the major energy challenges identified above. The review process will consider: 1) the significance and potential impact of the research program; 2) the degree of innovation; 3) the scope of the interdisciplinary collaboration and relevance for the goals of the proposed research; 4) feasibility of the research project; and 5) likelihood of development into a project that would attract external support. Final selections will be made by the Energy Initiative Director in consultation with the faculty review committee and other stakeholders.

Awards will be announced in March 2018.

Reporting Requirements

Recipients will be expected to report on the project’s status and any related outputs (journal articles, conference presentations, external grants, etc.) at the end of the performance period.


Please direct questions to Xiaochen Sun (Research Analyst, Duke University Energy Initiative) via email:

Download this information as a PDF.

Learn more about the Seed Fund and its impact.