Apply for $150,000 in UVM seed grants for urgent environmental research

Catalyst Awards return Fall 2018.

The Gund Institute’s flagship seed grant competition supports new interdisciplinary research on critical environmental challenges.

The five winners of our first UVM-wide competition were announced in January 2018. The Gund Institute provided nearly $250,000 in support for individual projects and events, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. 

2017 Highlights

• Proposals from 21 interdisciplinary teams
• Participants from 7 UVM colleges/schools and 26 departments
• 92 scholars involved (60 from UVM)
• Co-authors from 30+ external institutions, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
• More than $780,000 in proposed projects

Gund Catalyst Awards increase collaborative research at UVM, while advancing our overarching mission: To mobilize scholars and leaders to understand and solve the world’s critical environmental problems.

All UVM faculty are eligible to lead or co-lead a proposal, or to participate as a collaborator. Successful proposals will combine cutting-edge research and scholarship, real-world engagement and impact, and the promise to grow and attract greater support and recognition.

2017 Themes

In this first year of the Gund Institute, we invite proposals on any issue of sustainability and environment. Proposals must demonstrate clear links to one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which serve as an overall framework connecting Gund Institute activities with global issues and policy.

Funding Amounts

We will award up to $150,000 in total funds. Individual awards can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Awards will begin February 1, 2018 and end August 31, 2019 – a 19-month duration that includes three semesters and two full summers. No-cost extensions are not typically allowed. There is no overhead on these grants. All funded teams will also have access to assistance in developing follow-on proposals.


In this first year of the Gund Institute, any UVM faculty member active in research or scholarship is eligible to lead a proposal as PI, co-lead as Co-PI (max of 1 Co-PI), or participate as a Collaborator.

The PI and co-PI of each funded proposal become Gund Fellows if they are not already, agreeing to all associated benefits and responsibilities. If not already affiliated with the Institute, the PI and co-PI of each proposal become Gund Affiliates upon submission.

An individual can only serve as PI or co-PI on one Catalyst Award at a time.


Proposals must describe an interdisciplinary approach to an important issue in environment or sustainability that links clearly to the UN SDGs.

Proposals must involve two or more UVM faculty from two or more departments, and preferably two or more colleges or schools.

Proposals must include a clear description of how the proposed work will lead to broader, longer-term efforts, especially external funding proposals in appropriate fields. 

Awards can support:
• Travel and workshop costs for project participants
• Costs of research, including materials, equipment, data, and assistants
• Summer salaries or stipends for UVM faculty (up to 1 month per year) or students (up to 3 months per year)

Awards will not support:
• Academic year salaries or stipends for UVM faculty, postdocs, or students
• Salaries or stipends for faculty, postdocs, or students outside UVM

Criteria Review Process

Proposals are reviewed by a committee of UVM and external evaluators, chosen to represent relevant disciplines. Proposals are scored on 6 criteria: intellectual merit, interdisciplinary reach, strength of team, potential for impact, potential for growth, and feasibility (see scoring rubric (PDF)). Priority will be given to proposals that represent new collaborations among UVM scholars, involve graduate and undergraduate students, or include collaborators outside of UVM. Reviews and recommendations are forwarded to the Director of the Gund Institute for Environment, who makes final decisions.

How to Apply

Proposals must be submitted by October 15th, 2017 via the Catalyst Award web portal. Required files include:

  • Project proposal (see below)
  • 2-page CVs for PI, co-PI (if applicable) and each collaborator
  • Budget (use template on award portal)
  • Completed signature page (use template on award portal) indicating support from the Chair and Dean of PI and co-PI (if applicable)

Project proposal document should include the following sections (max 2500 words, excluding timeline and references):

A) Abstract (max 250 words)
B) Introduction and problem statement
C) Objectives
D) Approach and work plan
E) Expected outcomes (e.g., publications, proposals, public engagements, policy impacts)
F) Significance and novelty of scholarship
G) Significance to broader issues in sustainability, including SDGs
H) Plan for expanding the work, including follow-on proposals
I) Timeline of activities
J) References (max 20)

Responsibilities for Grantees

Awardees must acknowledge Gund Institute support in all resulting publications, presentations, or reports. At the end of the grant period, any unspent funds will be returned to the Gund Institute.

Within 2 months of the end of the grant period, PIs must provide a 2-page written report on project activities and measurable outcomes. Awardees agree to serve as reviewers in future competitions.


  • Next call for proposals: Fall 2018

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