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Early Career Research Opportunities

Department of Agriculture



Program Synopsis

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)National Institute of Food and Agriculture

varies by program area

The Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants component includes funding for new investigators. A new investigator is defined as an individual who is beginning their career, does not have an extensive scientific publication record, and has less than five years postgraduate career-track experience. The new investigator may not have received competitively awarded Federal research funds as Project Director with the exception of pre- or postdoctoral grants or AFRI Seed Grants.


Department of Defense



Program Synopsis

ONR Young Investigator ProgramOffice of Naval Research


ONR’s YIP seeks to identify and support academic scientists and engineers who are in their first or second full-time tenure-track or tenure-track-equivalent academic appointment and who show exceptional promise for doing creative research. Typical awards are $510,000 over a 36-month period of performance. Additional funding may be requested up to $250,000 to cover equipment costs, testing, ship time, etc.

AFOSR Young Investigator ProgramAir Force Office of Scientific Research


The Air Force YIP supports scientists and engineers who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees within the last seven years and show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering; enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators; and increase opportunities for the young investigator to recognize the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering. Most YIP awards are funded up to $150,000 per year for three years. Exceptional proposals will be considered individually for higher funding levels and longer duration.

Young Faculty AwardDARPA


The objective is to identify and engage rising stars in junior research positions, emphasizing those without prior DARPA funding, and expose them to DoD needs and DARPA’s program development process.

Broad Agency Announcement - Young Investigator ProgramArmy Research Office


The ARO Young Investigator Program is included in the ARO Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Fundamental Research. The objective of the YIP is to attract outstanding young university faculty members to pursue fundamental research in areas relevant to the Army, to support their research in these areas, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. This program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. Nationals, and Permanent Resident Aliens holding tenure-track positions at U.S. universities and colleges, who have held their graduate degrees (Ph.D. or equivalent) for fewer than five years at the time of application. YIP awards are up to $120,000 per year for three years.


Department of Energy



Program Synopsis

Early Career Research ProgramOffice of Science

for required preapplication, April for application

This program supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the following program areas: Advanced Scientific Computing Research; Biological and Environmental Research; Basic Energy Sciences, Fusion Energy Sciences; High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics. No more than ten years can have passed between the year the Principal Investigator’s Ph.D. was awarded and the year the application was issued.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration



Program Synopsis

New (Early Career) Investigator Program in Earth Science (ROSES program element)

varies; applications are solicited every two years

The NIP in Earth Science is designed to support outstanding scientific research and career development of scientists and engineers at the early stage of their professional careers. The program aims to encourage innovative research initiatives and cultivate scientific leadership in Earth system science. A NIP proposal PI must be a U.S. citizen or have lawful status of permanent residency, and be a recent Ph.D. recipient, defined as having graduated on or after January 1 of the year that is no more than five years before the issuance date of the ROSES NRA.


National Science Foundation



Program Synopsis

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) ProgramNSF Find Funding


CAREER supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. The minimum award is $400,000 total for the five-year duration, except for the Directorate for Biological Sciences, the Directorate for Engineering, or the Office of Polar Programs, with a minimum total of $500,000 for the five-year duration.

Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Research Initiation Initiative (CRII)


It is expected that funds will be used to support untenured faculty or research scientists (or equivalent) in their first three years in a primary academic position after the PhD, but not more than a total of five years after completion of their PhD. One may not yet have received any other grants or contracts in the Principal Investigator role from any department, agency, or institution of the federal government, including from the CAREER program or any other program, post-PhD, with certain exceptions.

Education and Human Resources Core Research: Building Capacity in STEM Education (ECR: BCSER) 


ECR:BCSER supports activities that enable early- and mid-career researchers to acquire the requisite expertise and skills to conduct rigorous fundamental research in STEM education. This opportunity is open specifically through the Education and Human Resources directorate. 


Engineering Research Initiation (ERI)


The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering (ENG) seeks to build engineering research capacity across the nation by investing in new academic investigators who have yet to receive research funding from Federal Agencies.  The Engineering Research Initiation (ERI) program aims to support new investigators as they initiate their research programs and advance in their careers as researchers, educators, and innovators.  This funding opportunity also aims to broaden the base of investigators involved in engineering research and therefore is limited to investigators that are not affiliated with “very high research activity” R1 institutions (according to the Carnegie Classification

Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP)


The PGRP supports genome-scale research that addresses challenging questions of biological, societal and economic importance. PGRP encourages the development of innovative tools, technologies and resources that empower a broad plant research community to answer scientific questions on a genome-wide scale. Emphasis is placed on the scale and depth of the question being addressed and the creativity of the approach.  Data produced by plant genomics should be usable, accessible, integrated across scales and of high impact across biology. Training, broadening participation, and career development are essential to scientific progress and should be integrated in all PGRP-funded projects.


Nonfederal Agencies



Program Synopsis

New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

February for limited submission application (approximate)

FFAR supports faculty in within the first three years of their careers whose research has the potential to address major challenges facing food and agriculture.

Young Investigators’ Research GrantsHuman Frontier Science Program

March for letter of intent

Grants are awarded to teams of researchers from different countries, all of whom are within the first five years after obtaining an independent laboratory. Emphasis is placed on novel collaborations that bring together scientists preferably from different disciplines to focus on problems in the life sciences.

Cottrell ScholarsResearch Corporation for Science Advancement

May for preproposal

Eligible applicants are tenure-track faculty members who hold an appointment in a chemistry, physics or astronomy department. Eligibility is limited to faculty at the end of third year of first faculty appointment.

Sloan Research FellowshipsAlfred P. Sloan Foundation


Fellowships support fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars. Candidates must hold a Ph.D. (or equivalent) in chemistry, computational or evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, ocean sciences, physics, or a related field.