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Eligibility and Selection Criteria

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TomKat Center Graduate Fellowships for Translational Research are designed to support applied research projects from advanced doctoral students that are consistent with the TomKat Center’s broad mandate. The intent of this program is to fund projects that will advance research from proof-of-concept to a stage where there is a clearer path to an impactful application.

Proposals should include the sustainability challenge your project addresses, your solution, your proposed research activities, the potential impact of your solution, a research timeline with target metrics for the project (e.g. performance, scale, material composition, efficiency, etc.) plus justification of why meeting these targets will enable an impactful solution to a real-world problem and an outline of what the future trajectory of this work might be beyond the term of the fellowship. 

Since early-stage research projects inevitably involve risk and uncertainty, the evaluation process will attempt to balance the risks and potential impacts of a successful project. This research funding is intended to encourage graduate students to delve more deeply into applied research with the potential to address sustainable energy and sustainable resource utilization challenges.

Advanced doctoral students from all departments and programs are welcome to apply. Because of the strong belief in the value of diversity (broadly defined) in the pursuit of its mission, the TomKat Center strongly encourages applications from women and under-represented groups, as well as from others whose backgrounds and experience would bring additional dimensions to their research and professional pursuits.

Project proposals with translational potential, from diverse domains and research areas, are preferred. Non-limiting examples include the scaling of a proof-of-concept experiment or device, a focused effort to improve the efficiency or other performance metric of a new technology or technology concept, a rigorous technoeconomic or lifecycle analysis of a prospective technology or sustainability program, or a study of individual or group behavior relating to energy production or consumption.

This competition will consider both new areas as well as previously supported research areas provided they meet the aforementioned criteria. View TomKat Center funded fellows and projects: grad fellowship awardees, postdoc fellowship awardees, seed grants, Solutions, and Innovation Transfer awardees.

The program is intended to support an application-focused research effort that goes beyond what is already supported by the funded projects in the applicant’s research group. In addition, in the interest of expanding Stanford’s sustainable energy research capabilities, new research areas will be viewed favorably. Research initiatives and groups for which the additional funding for the proposed research would be incremental to funding already available, or for which the research is too early-stage or whose impactful applications have not been identified, are unlikely to be selected. 

Additional Program Guidelines

  • A faculty member may not have more than one funded TomKat graduate fellow at a time.
  • A faculty member may not endorse or serve as a mentor/sponsor on more than one graduate fellowship application per cycle.
  • Funding is restricted to support of investigative activities that are focused on an area relevant to sustainability, and that are conducted under the guidance of one or more Stanford University faculty members.
  • With the goal of this funding being to advance research projects beyond the proof-of-concept stage toward impactful applications, TomKat Center Graduate Fellows will have the opportunity to apply for additional funding, up to $20,000, for items and activities in support of this goal.
  • If the graduate student currently has other fellowships or has applied to fellowships that may be awarded during the TomKat fellowship award period, full disclosure of the names, amounts, and dates of the other award(s) must be made in the application materials.
  • Re-applications from previous applicants are accepted.

Please do not propose projects that are duplicative of ongoing efforts sponsored by any external or other Stanford grant or fellowship programs without prior discussion with the center.

Proposal Review

The objective of the review process is to identify high-quality candidates and projects that are consistent with the goals of this program. The proposals will be screened for relevance and then reviewed by Stanford experts with knowledge related to the areas of research but who are not involved in the proposed projects. The opinions of additional experts outside of Stanford may be sought, with the requirement that the reviewer maintains the confidentiality of the proposed research.

Reviews are performed confidentially and in the exercise of academic judgment and discretion by Stanford experts, and other experts if needed, in adherence with general principles of conflict of interest (financial and otherwise) in effect at Stanford.

Full applications will be evaluated on these criteria:

  • The proposed research. Is it innovative and high quality with a reasonable execution plan and measurable deliverables?
  • Significance of and potential for demonstrable impact on sustainable energy or on the nexus of energy with food, water, the environment, or human health.
  • The future trajectory and translational potential of this work beyond the term of the fellowship. 
  • Applicant qualifications and letters of recommendation.

Because of the large number of proposals submitted, we regret that we are not able to provide feedback on applications.