Seed Fund sees impressive return on investment
Duke University's Energy Research Seed Fund kick-starts new multidisciplinary research teams. This helps Duke researchers obtain important preliminary results they can use to secure external funding.
Thanks to generous support from the Office of the Provost, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), the fifth annual round of seed grant funding (application deadline was Feb. 2, 2018) featured three categories:
- Seed Grants, which will provide up to $45,000 for new research conducted by teams led by Duke faculty members, at least two of which represent different disciplines, schools, or departments. The performance period for Seed Grants is 12 months.
- Stage-Two Grants, which will provide up to $35,000 to carry projects currently supported by DUEI seed funding into their next research phase. Applications for Stage-Two grants should indicate successful completion of work conducted under the current grant and outline how additional funding will help make the team’s research more compelling to external funders.
- Proposal Development Grants, which will provide up to $25,000 for past seed fund recipients to develop proposals for external funding. Applicants for these grants should provide a one-page proposal indicating how the funds will be used (acceptable uses include travel to meet with potential sponsors, support for Ph.D. student assistants, etc.), and how those uses will improve the likelihood of external funding.
Seed Fund success stories
Assistant professor of biology Amy Schmid has been awarded a $750,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study metabolic pathways of microorganisms who live in some of the most extreme conditions on earth, research with bioenergy applications. This work was launched by a Seed Fund-supported project with Mike Lynch, assistant professor of chemistry and assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Learn more.
Duke researcher Avner Vengosh received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to evaluate potential human health impacts and sustainability of using produced water from oilfields to irrigate crops. A Seed Fund grant launched the project, funding study of the volume, source, management and treatment of oilfield wastewater. Vengosh is a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. Learn more.
Stefan Goetz and Angel Peterchev (School of Medicine) teamed up with Josiah Knight (Pratt School of Engineering) to develop a new approach to batteries for electric vehicles, adapting techniques designed for noninvasive brain stimulation. Now a $500,000 NSF grant will support their collaboration with an NCSU researcher to refine this Seed Fund-supported work. Angel Peterchev is an associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and neurosurgery. Stefan Goetz is an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and neurosurgery. Josiah Knight is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science
Duke researchers David Mitzi and Volker Blum received a $299,800 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to tackle performance issues in a promising class of thin-film solar energy materials. A Seed Fund grant kick-started the project. Mitzi is a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and a professor of chemistry. Blum is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and associate professor of chemistry.
Seed Fund awards to date
Research projects that explore advances in energy materials, novel perspectives on resilience and sustainability, energy storage solutions, and more will receive funding in 2018 from the Duke University Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund. The program will award eight grants to projects involving 21 faculty members from four Duke schools, investing a total of $336,956 in promising new energy research. The Energy Initiative—Duke's interdisciplinary hub for energy education, research, and engagement—expanded its program this year in response to faculty feedback, offering three distinct grant categories of research funding: Seed grants (up to $45,000), stage-two grants (up to $35,000), and proposal development grants (up to $25,000). In this—the fifth annual round of funding—the Energy Initiative awarded six seed fund grants and one grant in each of the two new categories. The Initiative also increased the maximum requested amount for seed fund grants by $5,000. The 2018 round of awards is co-funded by the Energy Initiative, the Office of the Provost, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, and the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD).
Research projects exploring new possibilities for energy storage, reliability, and sustainable development received funding in 2017 from the Duke University Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund. Seven projects involving 14 faculty members were selected to receive a total of $240,000 from the fund. The 2017 round of awards was co-funded by the Energy Initiative, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, the Information Initiative at Duke, and Bass Connections.
The Energy Research Seed Fund's third round of awards supported six research projects that examine energy materials, the water-energy-food nexus, and renewable energy policies. The 2016 awards were co-funded by the Energy Initiative, the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD).
Seven energy research projects involving 15 Duke University faculty members and featuring a sub-focus on the intersection of energy and global health will share in the 2015 round of awards. The 2015 Energy Research Seed Fund grants were co-funded by the Energy Initiative, the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), the Provost's Office and the Pratt School of Engineering.
The 2015 RFP had a special focus on energy research topics aligned with the goals of the Energy Initiative and DGHI. Examples include addressing the role of energy in human development and health, energy conservation and efficiency in health systems strengthening, health consequences of cookstoves, and harnessing energy in sanitation.
The fund's first round of awards supported six projects that touched on energy materials, solar energy, water and shale development, and industrial energy efficiency. Funding was provided by the Energy Initiative, the Pratt School of Engineering and the Information Initiative at Duke through an RFP process.
Learn more about the projects that earned funding in 2014:
- Awards announcement, April 2014
- Increasing efficiency, reducing pollution from hydrogen fuel
- Addressing global water availability for shale gas development
- Novel materials can reduce solar power costs
- Duke researchers pursue new ways to store solar power
- Duke team using novel materials to create hydrogen fuel
Have questions about the Energy Research Seed Fund?
Contact the Duke University Energy Initiative.