Penn State’s Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) has five strategic research themes of focus (listed alphabetically):

  1. Climate and Ecosystem Change
  2. Future Energy Supply
  3. Health and the Environment
  4. Smart Energy Systems
  5. Water and Biogeochemical Cycles

This year our seed grant program will support each of these themes as we do each year. In addition, this year we are interested in supporting three crosscutting topics: Food-Energy-Water Systems, High-Performance Building Systems, and Energy and Environmental Resilience. Each of these crosscutting topics is briefly described below

IEE established a Seed Grant Program since 2013 to foster basic and applied research focused on these strategic research themes. Over the previous rounds, IEE has awarded over $2 million to 96 interdisciplinary projects with investigators from fifteen Penn State colleges and campuses. For 2018–19, at least $500,000 of funding is available.

DEADLINE: 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.  Submit through InfoReady at:

Preferred activities for funding under the Seed Grant Program

  • Development of new interdisciplinary research teams to position them for substantial external funding success;
  • Novel research in theme areas, especially high-risk proof of concept projects; and
  • Collaboration between junior and senior faculty to promote research development, mentorship.

Please note that Health and the Environment proposals should respond to this RFP. THERE WILL NOT be a separate Health and the Environment RFP call this year. We will be accepting proposals for all five of the IEE research themes and this year’s three strategic priorities through this call.  

Crosscutting Topics

In addition, to increase the impact of the Seed Grant program and align with expanding federal and foundation opportunities we will be giving consideration to proposals addressing the following three strategic topics:

  1. Food-Energy-Water Systems. This topic is emphasized in the Penn State University Strategic Plan’s Stewarding our Planet’s Resources thematic priority: “with a projected global human population of 8 billion by 2040, food and water consumption is expected to increase by 50 percent, and energy requirements by even more. Urgent research, development, and implementation needs exist regarding water, energy and food, and there are even more pressing challenges in effectively, ethically, economically, and sustainably managing the interactions among them...”  Additional details are at:
  2. High-Performance Building Systems. Penn State has been endorsed by the United National Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to lead the Buildings Global Buildings Network, an international research and education effort to dramatically reduce building energy use while increasing occupant health and quality of life.  An “Ultra” High-Performance building system is a building or community of buildings capable of achieving net zero carbon-based energy utilization while delivering measurable indoor environment parameters, leading to quantifiable increased occupant performance and reduced health risks.  The required building system paradigm shift can be achieved by an integrated systems design, delivery and operation of buildings that includes explicit enabling of proactive occupant interaction.  Realizing such a building system paradigm shift requires the convergent research of several very different disciplines including but not limited to architectural engineering, architecture, information technologies, materials science, distributed energy technologies, human behavior and health sciences, investment and finance models, regulatory and policy issues.  A document describing this research agenda is available online for Penn State accounts at:

  3. Energy and Environmental Resilience. Flood, drought, blackouts, gridlock...many human and natural systems are under increasing stress from climate, population and development, and the many dimensions of consumption. It is imperative that we understand the impacts of these stresses, the ability of systems to withstand, recover or adapt, the dynamics of tipping points, and the design principles required for establishing more robust and resilient systems. These impacts, responses and design principles can apply to ecosystems, agriculture and forests; to water, energy and transportation infrastructure; and to communities and regions. This strategic priority encourages proposals that will advance the scholarship of resilience focused on energy and/or environmental applications.

Funding Available

At least $500,000 of funding is available through this seed grant solicitation for 2018–2019. To encourage establishment of new collaborations and enhancement of networks, larger grants will require innovative partnerships of investigators from multiple colleges and/or campus locations. Funds up to $5,000 can be awarded for a single investigator project; up to $10,000 for two or more faculty from the same college (University Park) or Commonwealth Campus; and up to $50,000 for multi-college (across University Park) and multi campus (between campuses) collaborative grants.

Download the Request for Pre-Proposals with complete instructions:


A recording of the October 10, 2018 webinar is available @


Read the Application site quick start and apply:

Click here to download a FAQ list:

Please direct any questions regarding the proposal process to