Cottrell Scholars

FRED Award

Cottrell, Fred* (FRED) Award

*Frontiers in Research Excellence and Discovery

FRED awards have a dual purpose; while they reward creative Cottrell Scholars with vibrant programs of research, they point to the future by providing funds to initiate high-risk/high-reward projects that will potentially transform a research area.  FRED recipients are highly creative Cottrell Scholars whose ideas and potential solutions address major current challenges in their areas of research expertise. By developing unique perspectives for solving key research challenges, FRED awardees create new approaches that accelerate basic science research for the benefit of society. Award size is $250,000. FRED awards are made by nomination.


Nominees must be tenured Cottrell Scholars who received their initial Cottrell Scholar Award (CSA) within the past five to ten years and hold faculty positions at a research university or primarily undergraduate institution in the United States. For the 2018 competition, eligibility will be limited to Cottrell Scholars who received their awards during the 2008-2013 time period. Eligibility is limited to one FRED nomination per Cottrell Scholar per year. Also, no nominations are accepted for Cottrell Scholars who have previously received a FRED award or have a pending or active SEED award.

Nomination Process and Deadline

The nomination process is initiated by an eligible Cottrell Scholar who wishes to compete for the FRED award, and become a nominee. In order to start the process, the perspective nominee will: (i) develop a five-page research plan (see below for more information); (ii) identify two scientific experts in the nominee’s field; (iii) share the research plan with the two experts, and ask them to become nominators for the FRED award. 

Two nomination letters must be provided for the FRED award.  Nomination letters must come from experts in the nominee’s scientific field who can attest to the nominee’s outstanding research program, creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. Also, nomination letters must address the innovative elements and the potentially transformative nature of the five-page research plan submitted by the nominee. Nominations from former mentors, current institutional colleagues or current collaborators will not be considered. Current collaborators are here defined as scientists with whom the nominee has co-authored publications in the last four years.

The nominee must provide (i) a two-page bio sketch listing the most significant publications, awards and honors, and (ii) the five-page research plan that initiated the nomination process. This plan will contain research activities to be conducted in a period of three years. There is no required form for the research plan. A sixth page may be used for references. Proposed projects may build upon on-going research in the principal investigator’s laboratory, but new innovative, untested directions must be clearly delineated. Successful research plans must convince the FRED selection committee that the nominee is a highly creative researcher and that the proposed project is poised to have a transformative impact in the specific research field and lead to top-level publications in scientific journals of high impact.

Complete nomination packages consisting of the nominee’s materials (two-page bio sketch and research plan) and two nomination letters are due by close of business on March 1, 2018. FRED awards will be announced not later than August 2018.

Submission Process

  • Nominee’s required materials (bio sketch and research plan) should be combined in a single pdf file and uploaded into our electronic system following completion of the FRED eligibility quiz. If eligible, applicants gain access to a webpage containing instructions for electronic submission.

  • Nomination letters must be sent electronically as pdf files to RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco at

Selection Process

A selection committee composed of scientific advisors and members of the RCSA scientific staff reviews nominations and makes recommendations to the RCSA President.  Final selection is approved by members of the RCSA Board of Directors.

2017 FRED Award

Sara Skrabalak, chemistry, Indiana University

2016 FRED Award

Carlos Meriles, physics, CCNY