Featured Funding Opportunities: Early/Young Investigator Funding Programs

Kristi Fitzpatrick
Kristi Fitzpatrick
Director, Grant Support Office

Many sponsors, federal and private, are committed to supporting the next generation of scientists, scholars, and artists, and have developed programs to benefit investigators early in their career. The programs and eligibility guidelines vary, but generally these programs are designed to benefit individuals who have received their PhD within the last 10 years, are at the assistant professor level, and/or have not been the lead Principal Investigator on one of the sponsor’s awards previously. Faculty members who fall into one or more of these categories may be eligible to apply for these programs and several examples are included below. If you do not see a relevant program here, please reach out to your department’s pre-award contact to inquire about funding programs pertinent to your work.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER)

The CAREER program supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. The minimum award is $400,000 total for the five-year duration, except for the Directorate for Biological Sciences, the Directorate for Engineering, or the Office of Polar Programs, with a minimum total of $500,000 for the five-year duration.

Please note that CLAS and the OVPR Research Development Office will be offering the CAREER Club program again in Spring 2022. The program includes workshops, informational sessions, external and internal review opportunities, and other resources designed to assist investigators in preparing high-quality proposals.

National Institutes for Health (NIH) Early Stage Investigator Policies

NIH recognizes the need to promote the growth, stability, and diversity of the biomedical research workforce and developed Early Stage Investigator (ESI) policies to support the long-term growth and stability of the biomedical research enterprise. Applications from researchers with ESI status that receive meritorious scores are prioritized for funding.  In addition to ESI status, NIH offers several New and Early Research Career Development Fellowships.

Department of Defense (DOD)

The Department of Defense offers a number of funding opportunities for Early Career Faculty with the long-term goal of developing the next generation of academic scientist, engineers, and mathematicians in research areas that align with the agency’s mission and priorities.  Programs include:  

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award; Army Research Office (ARO) Young Investigator Award; Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program; and the Air Force Young Investigator Research Program.

Department of Energy  Early Career Research Program

This program supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the following program areas: Advanced Scientific Computing Research; Biological and Environmental Research; Basic Energy Sciences; Fusion Energy Sciences; High Energy Physics; and Nuclear Physics.

American Council of Learned Societies ACLS Fellowship Program

ACLS invites research proposals from untenured scholars, who have earned their PhD within eight years of the application deadline, and scholars without faculty appointments or off the tenure track. ACLS invites applications from scholars pursuing research on topics grounded in any time period, world region, or humanistic methodology. ACLS aims to select fellows who are broadly representative of the variety of humanistic scholarship across all fields of study.