Funding for the U-M Energy Community

The Energy Institute serves as the "front door" for the University's energy initiatives and partnerships, and new projects are always in development. For general information about partnering with UMEI, contact Programs and Development Manager Susan Fancy

Dow Doctoral Sustainability Fellows Program

The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program is an outstanding opportunity for your doctoral students, and the program is now accepting applications for its Doctoral Fellowships, which offer up to $50,000 in funding support and inclusion in a vibrant "Community of Scholars."

This program is open to exceptional Ph.D. students conducting interdisciplinary research related to sustainability. A key part of this two-year doctoral fellowship program is that it is multidisciplinary in nature, so we encourage doctoral students from all schools, colleges, and units at the university to apply. It is anticipated that 9 doctoral students who have completed at least one full year of their doctoral program prior to January 2017 (and who will not finish their program before April 2019) will be selected.

NOTE: Students can only be nominated by their dissertation advisor, and each faculty member can nominate only one student per year. Students who have secured nomination support from their dissertation advisor must submit an "Intent to Apply" by December 22, 2016. This submission will trigger requests for faculty advisors to submit nomination and recommendation letters. Complete student applications and faculty nominations/recommendation letters are due January 19, 2017.

If you have a student who would be interested in applying for this prestigious program, then please review the full Request for Proposals (RFP). If you have any questions or comments, contact the Program Chair Andrew Hoffman at (734) 763-9455 or

Request for Proposals

U-M Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project (PBREDP) Initiative

Applications are now being accepted for the U-M Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project (PBREDP) initiative.

This is a university-wide competition based program for renewable energy demonstration projects that cut across disciplines, and involve students at all academic levels. The PBREDP competition seeks project proposals for small demonstration scale renewable energy projects that can provide interactive learning and research opportunities.

PBREDP will provide an opportunity for the campus community to become involved in University GHG reduction efforts by making funds available to design and implement renewable energy projects. The total budget for this initiative is set at $250,000. This funding can be awarded to several small scale projects, or one larger project. Project approval and funding will occur through a competitive process where proposals will be evaluated by a review committee.

Applications can be submitted through a web based form accessed through the Planet Blue website (

Applications are being accepted through December 13, 2016.

Please send Questions or comments about the initiative to:

Ken Keeler
Sr. OCS Rep

Funding Opportunities from the Graham Sustainability Institute

The Graham Sustainability Institute's new Emerging Opportunities Program supports collaborative sustainability research and assessment activities that span multiple disciplines and sectors and connect science to real-world decisions and actions. 

Through this message we are inviting faculty to consider applying for 2 new funding opportunities: 

Catalyst Grants
Offered twice a year, these 8 month grants of up to $10,000 each are intended to support a wide range of collaborative activities such as convening workshops and conferences, project planning, and white paper development. Up to 4 grants annually, 2 grants per funding cycle. 

Letters of Intent due October 10, 2016
Proposals due November 14, 2016

Transformation Grants
These grants are for collaborative, interdisciplinary research and assessment initiatives that span 1-3 years at a funding level of up to $150,000 per year. Up to one new grant per year.

Letters of Intent due December 19, 2016
Proposals due February 13, 2017

Information Sessions
Register to attend an upcoming information session.

CENTRAL CAMPUS: Wednesday, September 21, 3-4PM, Graham North Conference Room 
NORTH CAMPUS: Friday, September 23, 1-2PM Conference Room 4, Duderstadt Center

Sign Up
Receive Emerging Opportunities updates, and see application Catalyst and Transformation Grants details at

Contact John Callewaert at / 734-615-3752.

About the U-M Graham Sustainability Institute
The Graham Sustainability Institute engages, empowers, and supports faculty and students from all U-M units and integrates this talent with external stakeholders, fostering sustainability solutions at all scales. We believe that diversity is key to individual empowerment, and the advancement of sustainability knowledge, learning and leadership. Individuals, corporations, foundations, government agencies, and the University of Michigan support the Institute.

Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (PISET)

This program seeds new interdisciplinary research programs in sustainable energy science, technology, and policy with funding for a University of Michigan Sustainable Energy Research Fellow. Successful proposals will combine innovative research plans with concrete timelines for establishing independent funding. PISET proposal solicitations are distributed periodically; watch our news page for current solicitations. The current program flyer is viewable here

Criteria are as follows:

Program Structure 

Applications are welcomed for new grants from teams of two or more University of Michigan PIs in sustainable energy technologies. Interdisciplinary post-doctoral fellow must be necessary to pursue the new research direction. A joint mentorship plan must be provided with the proposal. Teams may include private partners, but funds will be dispersed only to Michigan faculty. Funds must be used to appoint Energy Institute Research Fellows. The Energy Institute will advertise the position through appropriate vehicles, and postdoctoral candidates will be vetted by the PIs and the Energy Institute. The PIs of approved projects will submit candidate’s resumes to the Review Board. Selected candidates will be invited to Michigan for an interview including a seminar presentation of dissertation research. Consensus of the PIs and Review Board will trigger an offer to the candidate. 

Cost Structure 

The Energy Institute will provide $40K towards each fellow appointment. The PIs will equally supplement this funding to provide a salary of at least $40K and corresponding benefits package. Instrumentation and infrastructure must be substantially in place for the project as these costs are not allowable under the project although this is a valid cost sharing mechanism for new proposals. PI contributions must come from discretionary funds or other suitable sources. 

Proposal Evaluation Criteria: 

-Scientific or engineering excellence, relevance to energy sustainability and anticipated impact 
-Infrastructure and research support available from PIs 
-Description of a new research direction distinct from ongoing research programs 
-Potential for external funding based on results to be developed with Energy Institute funds 
-Interdisciplinary nature of the team and appropriateness of the funding mechanism (resumes of potential postdoctoral candidates may be included in the submission). Projects must be identified with respect to their relationship to current Energy Institute themes and primary projects: 
-Carbon-free electric power generation 
-Energy storage and efficiency 
-Transportation systems and fuels 
-Energy policy, economics and societal impact  
Seed projects outside the existing Energy Institute initiatives will be considered. The decision to add a new seed area to the Energy Institute initiative will be an explicit part of the review in this case. Energy Institute will conduct reviews of proposals in consultation with ad hoc reviewers as needed from within the U-M. 

For more information contact Bart Bartlett

Pilot Program: Industry Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (Industry PISET)

​The Energy Institute seeks industrial partners to pilot collaborative energy research with the goal of seeding a sustained research relationship with UMEI.


Challenges in the energy sphere require broad expertise and sustained research efforts that often cross disciplinary boundaries. The University of Michigan is a source of expertise that can benefit industry. However there are often barriers within a company to starting large scale projects with academic partners until the worth of the partnership can be established. UMEI will help to reduce the risk of entering new research agreements with the University of Michigan by providing an initial round of funding to seed longer term mutually beneficial relationships.

Project Framework

An ideal pilot project would satisfy the following criteria:

-Scientific or engineering excellence
-Relevance to energy sustainability and anticipated impact of a new research partnership
-Topics must fall under the umbrella of the UMEI mission of charting paths to a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy future.
-Potential for continued sponsor funding based on results to be developed with pilot project.

Shared Investment

The PISET program will match the direct costs of a sponsored research project up to $50K, with the sponsor covering $50k direct and $28k indirect costs. These funds would be used to support a post doctoral researcher are not intended for equipment purchase or student support. Follow on research can be established under several methods including an awarded project, or a Master Research Agreement (MRA) which applies to research agreements of at least $250,000 annually and spanning a minimum of three years. With the consent of the faculty principal investigator, an MRA will provide the sponsor the option to obtain an upfront negotiated license for intellectual property developed under the research contract.

A Successful Partnership

A successful PISET project will prove viability to grow an ongoing collaborative research topic between one or more UMEI faculty affiliates and an industrial partner that is mutually beneficial to both partners.  Not only can the University help industry meet its fundamental research needs, but working with industry partners on the challenges they face richly informs UMEI research and educational activities.