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Eligibility Questions

1. Is there a specific number of years after a terminal degree that would exclude a prospective applicant

  • No.

2. Are international faculty with visas eligible to apply?

  • It depends. Your university would make the final decision about whether you are able to accept funding through the subaward, at the amount we are offering.
  • Before an applicant is invited to write a full proposal, the prospective applicant’s sponsoring university must provide with a signed document saying the visa holder can accept funding through a subaward and are allowed to participate in the Innovators Program under the terms of their visa. Your sponsoring University would also need to state that they understand and approve of how the funding will be spent, based on a budget you prepare for the invited proposal. Please see the funding section on our main webpage for some guidelines on how the Innovator Program expects funds to be spent.

3. Are non-tenure track or research faculty eligible to apply?

  • It depends. Please see our eligibility criteria for tenure-track equivalency and contact us at with any remaining questions or concerns.
  • NOTE: Non-tenure-track faculty must submit a departmental letter that affirms that the investigator's appointment is at an early-career level equivalent, pursuant to the additional eligibility criteria. 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.

4. Are international graduate students on a Student Visa eligible to participate?

  • Yes

5. Do graduate students have to be at the same university as the faculty applicant?

  • Yes

6. Do faculty have to be the primary advisor to the graduate student they nominate for the Innovators Program?

Letter of Intent (LOI) Questions

1. For the Letter of Intent, does the 2 page limit include a reference page?

  • No. However, a reference page is necessary if the faculty cite literature in their Letter of Intent (LOI). Reference sections do not have page limits. 

2. Can we include supplemental figures with the Letter of Intent?

  • Yes, you may add 1-2 figures in a supplemental page after the Reference Section (if you have one). The Supplemental Figure page does not count towards page limits.

3. Do prospective applicants need to establish a connection with an NCAR scientist or lab to write the Letter of Intent and apply?

  • No, it is not required to communicate with NCAR scientists or develop a collaboration with NCAR at the application / Letter of Intent (LOI) stage.
  • Once we receive your LOI, Innovator Program scientists will contact NCAR labs and NCAR researchers that we feel have overlapping, complementary interests. 

4. Will there be opportunity for feedback and modifications if invited to submit a full proposal? What if you identify a better NCAR fit for collaboration with the proposed project than we do? 

  • Yes. Feedback and modifications should be expected, as well as input from NCAR. After reviewing your LOI, it is possible that we will identify a different or additional collaborator. We will put you in contact with those researchers.

5. If my research interests are not very close to any areas of research conducted at UCAR, do I have a lower chance to be awarded?

  • If your research focus and expertise is not a good fit for what NCAR is looking for in the next few years, you do have a lower chance of getting invited to a full proposal. However, it may not be easy to tell what planned projects are on the horizon at NCAR, so please submit an LOI and Innovator Program scientists will find out if NCAR labs and/or personnel have complementary interests, ongoing projects, or a research area they want to pursue that aligns with your ideas and background. 

6. If our proposed topic for the LOI spans 2 of the areas of interest listed, is it allowed to propose engaging with multiple research areas? 

  • Yes. Please share your research ideas in the LOI even if they are across two seemingly different research areas.

7. Is it expected that partnerships between faculty and NCAR scientists will develop over the course of the project? 

  • Yes. Some NCAR partners will be identified at the full proposal stage, but we expect collaborations to develop or mature during the award period and beyond. 

8. Will the Innovator Program support a research project with its geographic focus outside the United States?

  • Yes, we are accepting applications/proposals with a geographical focus outside of the US as long as the methods, outcomes or lessons learned are transferable to US areas as well. Be sure to describe how they will transfer in your Project Description.
  • Projects that focus narrowly on a very specific location outside of the US (e.g. a city or local region) are unlikely to be competitive.

9. What are the requirements for the full proposal?

  • We will be updating the website with invited proposal instructions after the deadline for LOIs.

Funding and NCAR visit Questions

1. How is funding distributed to faculty?

  • Through a subaward to your university. NCAR will provide each faculty member with $200,000 per year for two years.

2. Do subawards include indirect costs/overhead?

  • University indirect costs/overhead will be taken out of the $200,000 subaward. Thus, each year, faculty can expect to receive $200,000 minus their University’s cost for overhead/indirects. 

3. Are faculty and graduate students required to live in Boulder?

  • Innovator Program activities will be largely virtual during Summer 2021. Thus, Innovator Program Participants are not expected to travel to Boulder, CO during Summer 2021. 
  • We anticipate in-person Summer Programs during Summer 2022 and Summer 2023.
  • In years 1 and 2 of the program, faculty and graduate students have the option of spending up to twelve (12) weeks in Boulder.  The Innovator Program requires faculty to spend at least 8 weeks in Boulder to foster collaborations with NCAR scientists and other cohort members. At least three (3) of those weeks must be spent in Boulder during the summer (2022-2023). All cohort members are expected to be at NCAR at the same time. The exact time-frame will be determined by January 2022, and in consultation with the selected faculty. The remaining five (5) to nine (9) weeks can be spread out throughout the summer and academic year. The Innovator Program will host several activities (virtual or in person) during the summer months. Some of these events will require attendance by all cohort members. For example, attendance will be required at the PI workshop that occurs in Summer 2023 (date TBD). For extended stays, we encourage faculty and graduate students to bring their families to Boulder, if possible.
  • Prior commitments to summer conferences or summer field work will not exclude faculty from consideration..

4. What is the typical cost (per month) to rent a home in Boulder

  • $3,000-$4000 / month for a family home
  • ~$2,000 - $2,500 / month for a small apartment that would be appropriate for a graduate student

5. Do faculty need to use Innovator sub-award funds to cover student housing when visiting NCAR?

  • It is expected that the faculty will provide funding to cover the cost of living for themselves and their students during extended visits to NCAR.
  • $2,500 / month should cover living and housing expenses in Boulder for most graduate students

Program Questions

1. What do you mean by “faculty awardees will connect with NCAR researchers and co-develop interdisciplinary and actionable research projects.

  • The expectation is that faculty awardees will find NCAR collaborators for mutually beneficial projects that all parties are interested in pursuing. Projects do not have to start as soon as the award period begins. There will be time to get to know NCAR and your potential collaborators, and there is flexibility in this grant for your research ideas to be modified from what is proposed in the LOI or the invited proposal stage.