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Eligibility Criteria

Who may submit applications to the Innovators Program

Early career faculty at a U.S. university who:

  • Hold a doctoral degree in the Social Sciences. Faculty with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) expertise relevant to the research theme and outside of NCAR’s core disciplines are also encouraged to apply.

  • Are employed at a U.S. University in a tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title) at the time of the proposal submission;

  • Are pre-tenure (i.e. still within their university’s probationary period) at the time of the proposal submission and anticipate being untenured for the duration of the fellowship;

  • Are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. permanent resident by the time of application. If you are a visa holder, please contact us.

  • Can nominate a graduate student (must be from your university and you must be their primary faculty advisor) who participates in the Innovators Program for the duration of the fellowship period. Prospective faculty applicants do not need to identify a graduate student to apply to the Innovators Program. While it would be preferred that the same graduate student participate for the entire 2 year fellowship, we acknowledge that graduate students, particularly those pursuing a Master’s degree, may not be able to make a 2 year commitment. Under these circumstances, different graduate students may be nominated in year one and year two of the fellowship.

Tenure-track equivalency - For a position to be considered a tenure-track-equivalent position, it must meet all of the following requirements: (1) the employee has a continuing appointment at a US university that is expected to last the two years of the Innovator Program appointment; (2) the faculty appointment has substantial research and educational responsibilities; (3) the employee is the primary faculty advisor for the graduate student they nominate (see above); and (4) the proposed project relates to the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as to the mission of the applicant’s department or university.

Not eligible

Faculty members who are Associate Professors or in equivalent appointments, with or without tenure, are not eligible for the Innovators program. Faculty members who hold Adjunct Faculty or equivalent appointments are not eligible for the Innovators program.

Application Process

Steps to apply for the Innovators Program:

  1. Please fill out this google form with your contact and personal information

  2. Complete the following required application sections itemized below

  3. Address your application package to the Program Coordinator, Cassie O’Lenick, and email it to with the subject line “Innovators Program Application Package”

  4. Application period is now closed


Application Sections

  1. Cover sheet

  2. Personal and diversity statement

  3. Project description

  4. Applicant’s CV

  5. Graduate student’s CV if the student has been selected

  6. Departmental letter of support

Please combine these sections into one document file (PDF document files preferred, Suggested file name: “YourLastName_Innovators_MainApplication.pdf”.

Sections 1-3 should have the following format: 1” margins, size 11 font, single space.

Page limitations detailed for each section are recommendations. We will not exclude applications that exceed suggested page limitations.

1. Cover Sheet

  • Project Title: Descriptive title of the proposed research

  • Principal Investigator’s Information:

    • Full name, Job title, Academic Department and/or Program, University of employment, University address

  • Graduate Student’s Information:

    • If known, please include the full name of the graduate student who will be working on the faculty fellow’s proposed research, their program of graduate study (e.g. Master of Science, Environmental Science), and the number of years in their program at the time of submission.

2. Personal and Diversity Statement

  • No more than 1 page

  • Please address the following questions: Why does the Innovators Program appeal to you and how can it support your personal and professional growth. How will you contribute to diversity and inclusion by participating?

3. Project Description

  • No more than 3 pages (including references)

  • The Project Description should contain a well-argued and detailed proposal for research that will, over a 2-year period, build a firm foundation for research and future collaboration in the context of the 2019-2020 Research Theme, Coastal Regions and Human Settlements.

  • If faculty have selected a graduate student at the time of this application, they may use the Project Description to write a few sentences providing some early ideas for professional development for their graduate student. Professional development plans will be created in collaboration with NCAR once faculty are selected.
  • There are no strict formatting requirements for the Project Description section. However, at a minimum it should include the following elements:

    • Research Plan: A description of an interdisciplinary research plan that leverages NCAR’s expertise and advances the applicant’s career goals, research, and job responsibilities at their home institution. The research plan should detail the specific objectives of the proposed research, any preliminary supporting data (if appropriate), the necessary methods and procedures to address the specific objectives, and anticipated outcomes. The research plan should also identify ways in which the proposed research will complement and advance ongoing research initiatives in relation to the research theme, Coastal Regions and Human Settlements, and identify NCAR programs and/or scientists with whom the prospective faculty would like to collaborate.

    • References: A list of the references cited in the Research Plan

The Innovators Program supports a convergence research paradigm (as defined by the National Science Foundation [NSF]) with the specific goal of transforming our understanding of the interactions among natural, human-built, and social systems. Successful applicants will propose creative, effective research plans that adopt a convergence research approach and leverage expertise at NCAR. Proposals that engage under-represented groups and build on broadening participation efforts of the NSF are encouraged. Additionally, the proposed activities during the fellowship period should help applicants develop in their careers as both outstanding researchers and educators.

4. Faculty applicant's Curriculum Vitae (CV)

5. Graduate student's CV

  • If the graduate student has been selected, please include their CV.

6. Departmental letter of support

  • To demonstrate Institutional and Departmental support of the prospective fellow’s application to the Early Career Faculty Innovator Program, the application package must include one letter from the applicant’s department head (or equivalent organizational official). In cases of joint appointments, the letter should be signed by both department heads.

  • The departmental letter should be no more than 1 page and include the department head's name and title below the signature. The letter should contain the following elements:

    • A statement to the effect that the applicant is early career faculty and eligible for the Innovators Program. For non-tenure-track faculty, the departmental letter must affirm that the investigator's appointment is at an early career level equivalent to pre-tenure status, pursuant to the eligibility criteria specified above. Further, for non-tenure-track faculty, the departmental letter must demonstrate how the faculty member satisfies all the requirements of tenure-track equivalency as defined in the eligibility criteria specified above.

    • An indication that the applicant’s proposed research is supported by and advances the educational and research goals of their academic department and university, and that the department is committed to the support and professional development of the applicant.

  • If the departmental letter cannot be combined with the other application sections, it can be sent as a separate attachment in the same email as the other applications sections. Suggested file name: “YourLastName_Innovators_Dept.Letter.ext”.

Please note that letters of recommendation for the PI or other letters of support for the project are not permitted.