Cottrell Scholars

SEED Award

SEED (Singular Exceptional Endeavors of Discovery) Awards   

The SEED award supports the very first instances of exceptionally creative new research or educational activities with potential high impact. SEED awards offer the opportunity to start new promising activities and test new out-of-the-box ideas. Risky, interdisciplinary and exploratory projects are strongly encouraged. No preliminary data are required. Award size is $50,000 for research projects or $25,000 for educational activities. Proposals contain a single three-page plan describing either novel research or educational activities (not both).


Applicants must be at least six years beyond the year of their Cottrell Scholar award. For the 2018 competition, eligibility is limited to Cottrell Scholars from Chemistry Departments who received their award in 2011 or earlier. No Physics and Astronomy proposals will be accepted in 2018. Please note that SEED accepts Chemistry proposals in even-numbered years and Physics and Astronomy proposals in odd-numbered years. Proposals with multiple principal investigators are accepted provided all PIs are eligible Cottrell Scholars and the total requested amount is $50,000 (research) and $25,000 (education). If you are planning to submit collaborative proposals, please contact Silvia Ronco,, for submission details.

Eligibility is limited to one SEED application per Cottrell Scholar per year. Also, no submissions are accepted from Cottrell Scholars with active SEED or active/pending FRED awards.


SEED proposals contain a three-page research or educational plan to be conducted over a period of two years. Successful proposals must convince external reviewers and the Science Advisory Committee that the applicant is an accomplished researcher/educator and that the proposed project is both innovative and of potential high impact.

A sample proposal form can be viewed below.

2018 SEED Sample Application Form [598KB PDF]

Application Process and Deadline

Potential SEED applicants begin the submission process by completing the online eligibility quiz. If eligible, applicants gain access to a web page containing the SEED proposal application form and instructions for electronic submission. Submissions must conform to guidelines and directions, and be endorsed by the applicant’s home institution. SEED proposals are due March 1, 2018 and awards will be announced not later than August 2018.

Evaluation and Award Approval

Applications that conform to guidelines are sent out for external review to experts in the specific research or educational field. Innovation and high risk/high reward are key criteria for selection of SEED awards. Award recommendations are made by the Science Advisory Committee and approved by the RCSA Board of Directors.

2017 SEED Awards

Rainer Grobe and Charles Su, physics, Illinois State University

  A Non-Perturbative Approach to Identify Electron-Positron Pairs in Relativistic Interaction Zones

Carsten A. Ullrich, physics, University of Missouri

  Femtomagnetism with Time-Dependent Density-Functional Theory: Exchange-Correlation Torques and Exact  Benchmarks

Neepa T. Maitra. physics. CUNY - Hunter College

  Building a New Paradigm for Coupled Electron-­Ion Dynamics via the Exact-Factorization Approach

Keivan G. Stassun, astronomy, Vanderbilt University

  Decoding Autistic Abilities in Visual Sense-Making to Enable Big Data Discovery in Astronomy

Duncan R Lorimer, astronomy, West Virginia University

  Simultaneous Radio and X-ray Observations of Fast Radio Bursts

In This Section