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The Early Career Faculty Innovator Program is a new funding opportunity for early career faculty to co-develop interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with scientists and engineers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. A primary goal of the Innovator Program is to address complex research problems by building partnerships with early career faculty that have complementary expertise to NCAR's core programs. The Innovators Program aims to fund nine faculty and one graduate student of each faculty participant for two years, starting in summer 2019. Research themes that align with NSF and NCAR strategic priorities are selected for each two-year cohort.

2019-2020 Research Theme: Coastal Regions and Human Settlements

Prospective applicants to the Innovators Program are invited to propose an interdisciplinary research project that can leverage expertise at NCAR and occur over a 2-year period. NCAR is committed to broadening participation in the geosciences and specifically invites scholars from Minority Serving Institutions to apply. The 2019-2020 application period is now closed. Before the start of the program, faculty are expected to nominate a graduate student who will be part of this project.


Each year, funding includes:

  • A three months summer honorarium for faculty (the monthly honorarium will be equal to the monthly income you receive from your university)
  • Year-round funding for one graduate student per faculty
  • Summer research sabbatical at NCAR for each faculty and their graduate student (includes travel and housing costs)
  • Limited research funds for costs such as surveys, computing, etc.
  • Conference travel to one national meeting
  • Annual PI workshop to discuss science, career development, and program aspects with faculty, graduate students, NCAR scientists and other collaborators.

Program structure

The program will be overseen by a steering committee comprised of representatives from NCAR and universities. The steering committee, together with NCAR leadership will guide the selection of a Research Theme, invite proposals, and support the selection of early career faculty. During the two-year research period, NCAR scientists and engineers, faculty and their graduate students can form interdisciplinary research teams. Faculty-led proposals are envisioned as a result of the collaborations and research established within the program. At the end of their appointment, by mutual agreement, the early career faculty could be appointed as an NCAR affiliate scientist to continue the scientific relationship, and develop joint research proposals for extramural funding.


The Innovators Program will have a formally structured mentoring program for the participating
early career faculty and the graduate students, led by the program coordinator. Mentoring

  • Science and career mentoring by NCAR scientists and staff as well as career development
  • Seminars provided by NCAR’s Advanced Study Program (ASP) and Early Career Scientist Assembly
  • Mentoring sessions at the annual Innovators Program workshop, and year round mentoring support through ASP.

Program objectives

  • Address complex research problems by partnering with faculty in STEM and social science fields that complement NCAR’s core programs
  • In collaboration with NCAR scientists, co-develop interdisciplinary research projects and future funding proposals for sustained partnerships
  • Rejuvenate NCAR’s scientific and engineering workforce and enhance strategic, interdisciplinary connections with university scientists
  • Accelerate innovation and discovery in Earth system science and improve the creation and delivery of scientific information that is responsive to societal needs

The 2019-2020 Innovator Program Cohort

  • 9 early career faculty have been selected to the 2019-2020 Innovator Cohort to conduct research at NCAR. Faculty have expertise in a broad range of disciplines from anthropology and geography to environmental design and civil engineering. Each faculty member will bring a graduate student to assist with research and help address such issues as the potential impacts of changing coastlines on minority populations and the elderly, improving forecasts of coastal flooding, better management of marine resources, and more effective communication of hurricane forecasts.