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CEI Graduate Fellowship

Program Details

The CEI Graduate Fellowship Program funds exceptional researchers from departments across the University of Washington, including chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical & computer engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science & engineering, and physics, to apply their talents to clean energy research projects, participate in outreach activities, attend conferences, and develop professional skills.

Objective and Focus

To encourage excellence in research and education by supporting highly talented, motivated, and engaged graduate students to work on CEI-related topics. Cross-departmental student-advisor pairings and co-advising are allowed and encouraged, but not required.

While the project must be directed at one of the three core CEI research areas (solar energy, energy storage, energy systems), the emphasis for the selection process for this fellowship is not the project, but the demonstrated merit of the student.


To be eligible for fellowships during the 2020-2021 academic year, students must have begun their graduate study between June 1, 2018 and September 31, 2021, and should not be planning to graduate before June of 2022. Students who have received CEI recruiting fellowships in the past may apply; however, previous CEI Graduate Fellows are not eligible.

Financial Support

RA salary provided for two quarters during the period from September 15, 2020 through June 15, 2021 at departmental salary rate. No materials and supplies or equipment will be provided.  Fellows may hold the honorific title of CEI Fellow at the same time as an NSF, DoD, NDSEG or other external fellowship, but may not accept CEI Fellowship funding in an amount that would increase their pay beyond their standard departmental RA rate.

Award Criteria

As a condition of the award, all award recipients will participate in the CEI fellows onboarding and public communications workshops to be held in Fall 2020 and register for the 1-unit CEI seminar during fall, winter and spring quarters 2020-2021. Fellows are also expected to work with the CEI education director in support of broader CEI education activities, and will prepare a product of lasting value (instructional video, demonstration, lesson, or lab signage) that supports the CEI educational mission by June 15, 2021. A completed product and documentation of at least two outreach visits  are required to receive credit for the spring seminar series. All presentations and publications produced with support from a fellowship should include the acknowledgement, “This material is based in part upon work supported by the State of Washington through the University of Washington Clean Energy Institute,” and use the CEI logo appropriately.


Requirements & Deadline

Students should apply directly. The application should consist of: (i) a 150 (max) word statement of the student’s anticipated research during the award period, (ii) a 50 word (max) statement regarding the student’s graduation timeline and career goals; (iii) a CV (not to exceed two pages) listing undergraduate GPA, UW graduate GPA, publications, presentations, awards, and participation in education and broader community activities; (iv) two letters of reference, at least one of which is from a UW faculty member.

Applications for the 2020-21 school year are now closed.


No more than 3 students may apply from a single research group. In the event that more than one student from a single research group applies, the advisor must rank order nominees from their group in terms of combined overall potential for excellence in research and service.

Evaluation & Announcement Date

Evaluation criteria will include, but are not limited to: (i) demonstrated potential for research excellence, (ii) relevance of the proposed research project to the CEI mission areas, (iii) evidence that the fellow is (or will become) an active participant and leader in the broader CEI community.
Final decisions will be announced by June 1.


CEI Fellows Onboarding Day

Each year, we provide a full day special CEI orientation and communications training workshop.

Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Graduate Fellows have the opportunity to meet an impressive set of invited speakers each quarter. Fellows should enroll in MolE 599 to get credit for this series. If you would like to have lunch with a visiting speaker, or have a suggestion for a future speaker, please email Include the speaker name, area of interest, and reason for inviting if you are recommending a speaker.

Field Trips

Periodically, we will arrange energy-related tours of area businesses and installations for our students. We have visited Itek Solar, Microsoft Smart Building Operations Center, and PNNL labs. Contact education director Shaun Taylor if you have an idea for a field trip.

Interdisciplinary Learning Resources

Fellows use resources such as the Energy Basics Canvas Course and the Clean Energy Wiki to broaden their understanding and talk across disciplines.

Professional Development

CEI is committed to providing the highest level of academic and professional preparation for its members. Fellows have opportunities to participate in training programs in professional ethics, designing broader impacts programs, communicating science to the public, and graphics and video production that will prepare them for a productive career. Opportunities will be offered throughout the year; contact education director Shaun Taylor with ideas or inquiries.

Outreach Activities

Lead K-12 students in hands-on activities and present at community events such as Paws On Science, Engineering Discovery Days, and many other events as a Clean Energy Ambassador.

CleanTech Alliance Breakfast Series

CEI provides one free breakfast ticket per month to Graduate Fellows (see current schedule). Contact communications director Suzanne Offen if you are interested in attending with CEI’s ticket. We recommend business attire and using public transportation if possible; parking can be expensive.

E8 Meetings

CEI is proud to partner with local clean energy investment group E8. At E8 Meetings, network with the business community and see a live pitch for a new project each month. See current schedule and contact Suzanne Offen if you are interested in attending.

Products of Lasting Value

CEI Graduate Fellows work with Education Director Shaun Taylor to produce an educational “product of lasting value” (PLV). This provides the fellows with experience in broader impact programs and products, and adds to our library of materials that CEI can share with the scientific community and the broader public. The audience for a PLV could include fellow grad students, undergraduate students, and event all the way down to elementary school students. Graduate Fellows spend about 10 hours on a PLV.

Example Products of Lasting Value
  • Videos: Videos provide a valuable resource for public awareness, internal training, and orientation. Producing one will give you some awareness of the process of video production, and gives you a semi-polished personal video for your portfolio. We imagine at least 3 types of videos which entail differing degrees of effort. See the CEI or CMDITR Youtube channels for examples, and please contact Shaun Taylor before you begin production.
    • Technical Briefing: This is targeted at graduate-level research in your topic. The information shared should be cleared by your supervisor for public viewing. The presentation should provide a brief context, explain the structure of research, tools used (terms defined) and type of data collected, (preliminary results) and next steps. Produce a PowerPoint deck and text for each slide, record and synch audio with each slide, and create a video about 5-10 minutes long.
    • Research Equipment or Technique Training: This focuses on training someone to do a particular procedure that you are familiar with. This video is primarily shot live as you walk through a step by step instruction on how to do the procedure or run the equipment. We will edit close-up shots into the narrative and can edit the audio. This generally requires little preparation, as it is something you do in your lab all the time. Have an outline of the shots that are needed and prepare in advance any samples that need be shown illustrating each step in the process. It’s not necessary to conduct a long process in real time. Edited videos may end up being 5- 20 minutes. We have a track record of creating highly viewed Youtube videos (tens of thousands or more) of this form.
    • Public Awareness: Targeted at the general non-technical public and designed to provide context and background for topics dear to the institute such as the role of solar in future energy mix, need and possibilities for various scales of storage, grid, distribution and integration issues, energy economy. Think of this as a mini-documentary using a voiceover script, with slides. Do the research and write a script, create the Powerpoint slides, and locate video or images to accompany the narration. We use the built in Powerpoint audio synching capability to produce a 2-5 minute video.
  • Poster/Signage: A visual aid for one of our facilities in MolES, NanoES, Chemistry, and MSE. Create a sign by your instrument or outside your lab that include the name of the equipment or research area, a high-quality photo, and a description of what it does, how it works and why it is valuable, or a description of the kind of research you do in the lab in lay terms.
  • Demo/artifact: A physical example of the work you produce that could be used as part of our permanent displays or “grab-and-go” outreach kits. Examples include the earth abundant materials collection, a graphene demo, battery dissections, fluorescent quantum dots, printed solar cells, or colorful samples of printed films or inks. You could also build a simulation spreadsheet, model, or application that gives high school or undergraduate students a feel for the system you are working with, including the ability to change variables. Interactive example
  • Lesson plan: A formal K-12 classroom activity teaching some relevant STEM. Examples include building and testing a battery, measuring peak power point from solar cell, cyclic voltammetry, modeling energy with spreadsheets.  The activity should follow the CEI Lesson Template and include: summary and significance, Next Generation Science Standards, time, materials, directions, assessment, and extensions. The lesson plan should provide the teacher with everything they need to go out and find the materials and implement the lesson.  CEI distributes lesson plans as downloads from the website, and can build a “grab and go” kit that has all the materials and the lesson plan so Clean Energy Ambassadors can conduct the activity in local K-12 classrooms.
  • Wiki Article: A well-researched article on your area of expertise, to be published the Clean Energy Wiki, CEI website, and/or Energy Primer Canvas Course.
  • White Paper: A significant, well-researched policy briefing paper that is targeted and distributed to an identified audience.  Possibly working with the GPSS initiative.
  • E-learning Module: CEI has developed an Energy Primer Canvas course for undergraduates and interdisciplinary grad students to learn some basic science in CEI’s major research areas of solar energy, energy storage, and energy systems. The course has a series of text wiki pages, photos, diagram, videos like those currently in the “Science of Clean Energy” section of the website or a PowerPoint / slidenotes (with graphics clearance) for a tutorial
  • Environmental Innovation Challenge/Business Plan: Participate in the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) sponsored by the Burke Center, or build your own business plan for a product you envision.
  • Sustained Mentoring: Build a relationship with a school with repeated visits and coaching on class project. We have established a laboratory school with Hazel Wolf Middle School. Mentoring undergrads through UW programs such as LSAMP also qualifies.
  • Signature Event: Plan and execute a special event that could be repeated every year. Examples are “Introduce a Girl to Photonics Fair”, or “Strengthening STEM Through Diversity” Conference.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I apply if I have already received a CEI Graduate Fellowship or CEI Education & Training Fellowship in the past?

Previous CEI Fellows are not eligible to apply again for the Graduate Fellowship, though they are always welcome to participate in any of CEI’s activities, outreach efforts, or events. We hope that all Fellows will continue to be involved throughout their time at the UW.However, previous CEI Education & Training Fellows are eligible to apply for the Graduate Fellowship.

Will my advisor be contacted during the application process?

Yes, your advisor will be contacted as a referee. If you do not want your advisor contacted, please contact us at

Do I have to send my referees a reminder through the online application system?

No. If you leave your referees’ email address fields blank in the online application, the system will not send a reminder to your referees.  You are responsible for asking them to send their reference letters through our online form.

May I have my referees send my reference letters before I submit my application?

Yes, please ask referees to submit their reference letters, in PDF format, to our online form. Please ask they include your last name and their own last last in the name of the file. Submit a reference letter here.

May I apply for/accept the fellowship if I have other internal/external fellowships or special funding?

You are welcome to apply for a fellowship no matter what your current funding source is.However, you may not accept CEI funding and continue receiving other internal/external stipends or salary payments (e.g., NSF Graduate Research Fellowship). CEI awardees must defer or decline other salaries and stipends for the period of the award OR decline the funding associated with the fellowship (fellowships cannot be deferred).  Awardees who decline CEI funding may still accept the title of Graduate Fellow and will receive all the associated benefits and honors of the fellowship.

Past and Present Graduate Fellows