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The Early Career Faculty Innovator Program is inviting a second cohort  of early career faculty in the social and behavioral sciences to co-develop interdisciplinary and actionable 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 between NCAR scientists and early career faculty. The Innovators Program aims to fund six faculty and one graduate student of each faculty participant for two years, starting in summer 2021. Research themes that align with NSF and NCAR strategic priorities are selected for each two-year cohort.

2021-2022 Research Theme: Actionable Earth System Science

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.

The application period for the 2021-2022 cohort will open Nov. 2020. Official dates to be announced.

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If you have specific questions, please contact us at

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Innovators Program strives to have a diverse representation of universities and encourages applications from early career faculty who are members of a group that are historically under-represented in social sciences and STEM, including faculty who are Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino, female, and those with disabilities, Veterans and LGBTQA. NCAR is committed to broadening participation in the geosciences and specifically invites scholars from Minority Serving Institutions and those from groups who traditionally have been underrepresented in the sciences to apply.


Faculty participants will receive $200,000 per year to fund the proposed interdisciplinary project. Through that funding or other university resources, faculty must fund:

  • Year-round salary and benefits for one graduate student per faculty
  • Tuition for graduate student
  • Summer research sabbatical at NCAR for each faculty and their graduate student (includes travel and housing costs) for a minimum of two months each
  • Research funds for costs associated with the project such as surveys, computing, etc.
  • Any remaining funding can be used for faculty summer salary

Additional NCAR funding includes:

  • Conference travel to one STEM national meeting, i.e. AGU, AMS, etc.
  • 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 Science committee comprised of representatives from NCAR. The Science 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.

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

  • 2019-2020 Research Theme: Coastal Regions and Human Settlements
  • 9 early career faculty were selected to the 2019-2020 Innovator Cohort. Faculty have expertise in a broad range of disciplines from anthropology and geography to environmental design and civil engineering.