Exploration Grants Program Details


The goal of this program is to support graduate and undergraduate student education at the University of Washington by providing scholars the freedom to explore novel, high-risk/high-reward research topics while seeding new collaborations in research and education that raise the profile of CEI in ways that significantly increase the prospects for future extramural support.

Scope & Eligibility

Proposals are invited from teams of PIs to support ambitious, forward-looking research and educational plans with the specific goal of seeding a future collaborative extramural grant applications (ERC, STC, MRSEC, MURI, NRT, NSF CBET, etc.) that have a strong component in the core CEI research areas of solar energy, energy storage, and grid systems integration/smartgrid science and technology. Single PI grants will not be considered without prior consultation and approval. Previously successful proposals have fallen largely into two categories: (i) teams of multiple senior PIs who are leveraging this grant to build a team to apply to a specific collaborative federal call; (ii) small teams of junior faculty who use the funds to branch into new collaborative research areas of relevance to CEI which they otherwise would not have the opportunity to pursue.

Financial Support

Budgets should be appropriate to the scope of the project, but would typically be expected to fall in the $20,000-$100,000 range, though proposals requesting the maximum are less likely to succeed. Summer salary and teaching buyout time are permitted if justified by commitments of the PI above and beyond the routine direction of novel research (and approved by the home department in the case of teaching buyout), but will not be routinely supported. Graduate student funding comes with state tuition waivers included, so any request for postdoctoral or staff funding should be accompanied by strong justification.

Proposal Submission

PIs should complete the online application and upload a single PDF proposal that includes the following:

(i) cover page

(ii) project description (max one page)

(iii) budget justification

(iv) current and pending support for the PIs

(v) CVs of the PIs

» See application for detailed proposal requirements.


Proposals will be considered on an ongoing basis, but those received by September 1, 2016 will receive priority consideration.

Evaluation & Decision

Decisions will be made on an ongoing basis. Evaluation criteria will emphasize: (i) likelihood the results will lead to new extramural funding at UW, (ii) relevance to the CEI mission areas.