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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.

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, Policy, or Behavioral Sciences;

  • Faculty with doctorates in Interdisciplinary fields will be considered on a case by case basis. If you have a doctorate in a traditional STEM field, unfortunately, we cannot consider your application;

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

  • Have completed at least 1 year in a tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty appointment (i.e. at the Assistant Professor level) by the start of the award period (Aug./Sept. 2021);

  • Are “early career” per the following definition: completed no more than 1 year as a faculty with tenure (i.e. Associate Professor level) by the start of the award period (Aug./Sept. 2021);

  • 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. We prefer that graduate students are pursuing a doctoral degree and can participate for the entire 2 year fellowship. However, we acknowledge individual circumstances may not make this possible, and we can accommodate unique situations with advanced notice.

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 hold Adjunct Faculty or equivalent appointments are not eligible for the Innovators program.

2021-2022 Application Process

The 2021-2022 application period is now OPEN. For updates join our e-mail list. Sign up here:

Application Steps

Step 1: Fill out the following google form:

Step 2: Submit a Cover Sheet, a Letter of Intent (LOI), and Curriculum Vitae (CV) to Address your application package to the Program Coordinator, Cassie O’Lenick, with the subject line “Innovators Program - Letter of Intent”


  • Letters of Intent will be accepted on a rolling basis until Jan 5th 2020. We strongly recommend sending the LOI early. The earlier we receive the LOI the sooner we can make a determination on whether to invite an applicant to a full proposal.
  • Additional details will be provided about the deadline for full proposals and the requirements


  • 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



  • No more than 2 pages
  • 1 inch margin, size 11 font, single spaced


  • Project Title: Descriptive title of the proposed research
  • Research Proposal:  A description of an interdisciplinary research plan, showing clearly how it builds on the expertise of the applicant and leverages NCAR science. The research plan needs to articulate how it relates to the research theme “Actionable Earth System Science with and for Society” and NCAR’s Strategic Goals. (1 ½ pages). It is not necessary to identify NCAR scientists with whom the prospective applicant could collaborate. Inquiries about research interests and possible connections at NCAR should be sent to
  • Brief personal and diversity statement
    • Address why the Innovator Program appeals to you and how can it support your personal and professional growth. NCAR embraces an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace. Please address how you will contribute to a diverse, inclusive and equitable cohort. (½ page).