Oak Ridge Associated Universities Funding

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

History and Purpose

In 1946, ORAU began as an outgrowth of the Manhattan Project. Over the years, through its university consortium, it has provided countless opportunities for the nation’s leading scientists. Since those early years both the mission and reach of ORAU have grown significantly. What began with fourteen universities in the southeast has grown to over 100 top research institutions located all over the U. S. plus one international university.

ORAU provides innovative, scientific, and technical solutions to its customers, which include the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 20 state and federal agencies and especially Oak Ridge National Laboratory, by advancing national priorities in science, health, educations, and national security. We do this by integrating unique laboratory capabilities, specialized teams of experts, and the research prowess of our consortium members. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which supports government agencies who value an integrated solution incorporating state of the art science and technology in an era of consolidated government contracts requiring research informed delivery of critical services.

In addition to support for government agencies, ORAU provides many opportunities for teachers and students through a variety of fellowships, grants, scholarships, workshops, and joint-faculty appointments. Many of these programs are especially designed for underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in science and engineering fields. Participation and financial support for science education programs now exceeds 8,000 participants and $196 million. The ORAU University Partnerships Office supports new faculty just beginning their careers through the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, individual faculty collaboration with other scientists at member universities and ORNL, and member schools with larger collaborative efforts.

All correspondence with ORAU is managed through one point-of-contact, the member institution’s ORAU Councilor. For USU faculty and students, initial contact should begin with Jeri Hansen (jerilyn.hansen@usu.edu or (435) 797-3437).

Recurring ORAU funding opportunities are described below.


Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award provides seed money for research by junior faculty and is intended to enrich their research and professional growth and result in new funding opportunities.

The award amount provided by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is $5,000, with matching of at least $5,000 provided by the faculty member’s institution. The award is for one year (June 1 – May 31). The research project must be in one of the following six disciplines:

  • Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics/Computer Science
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy, Management, or Education
  • Health Disparities/Equity*

*New Research Category: As a result of ORAU’s partnership with The MITRE Corporation, a new research discipline has been added to the list for you to select from: Health Disparities/Equity. MITRE is interested in promoting multi-disciplinary research that focuses on understanding and addressing health disparities and promoting health equity. The following examples are representative of potential research topics:

  • How can emerging medical technology innovations in areas like digital health, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics drive to create more equitable health outcomes? What potential pitfalls exist in these technologies to exacerbate inequities?
  • How does climate change affect health outcomes of different populations and what measures can be taken to address inequitable outcomes found in underserved populations?

Full-time assistant professors at ORAU member institutions are eligible to apply if they are within two years of their initial tenure track appointment at the time of application.

A member institution can nominate only two faculty members per year. Nominees are selected via USU’s internal limited submission process each fall.

For more information about this program and how to apply, contact Jeri Hansen at jerilyn.hansen@usu.edu or (435) 797-3437.


Events Sponsorship Program

The Events Sponsorship program provides funding up to $4,000 to support an in-person or virtual event that involves participants from more than one ORAU member institution, including students. Event applications should focus on workshops/conferences that highlight USU's strategic STEM research and education growth areas, and where collaborations with other member universities would add value. ORAU is specifically interested in events that can bring more thought leadership in building a national strategy for STEM education and workforce development. Member universities are encouraged to collaborate around this topic in anticipation of federal funding initiatives.

Events Sponsorship Grant program applications are due beginning September 1 for events occurring before September 30 the following year. The Events Sponsorship Grant application window will remain open throughout ORAU's fiscal year depending on available funds. All events must be completed by September 30.

An ORAU representative must be invited to the event and will attend when possible.

A member institution is limited to one event sponsorship request per ORAU fiscal year (October 1 – September 30). Applicants must coordinate with the Office of Research to determine eligibility to apply.

For more information about this program and how to apply, contact Jeri Hansen at jerilyn.hansen@usu.edu or (435) 797-3437.


ORAU-Directed Research and Development (ODRD) Grants

The ORAU-Directed Research and Development (ODRD) Program provides a path for funding innovative research-based approaches/solutions that fall within the intersection of core capabilities of ORAU and member universities’ research interests. Successful ODRD-funded projects result in proposals that can generate new sponsored research jointly performed by ORAU and partner universities. ODRD funding, distributed through a competitive process, serves as seed money for exploratory research and collaboration opportunities among ORAU subject matter experts and university partners. This seed money and exploratory research provides greater potential for significant funding from external sources.

Led by ORAU subject matter experts, ODRD projects will strengthen and expand the scientific and technical capabilities of ORAU programs and enhance ORAU’s ability to address current and future customer needs. By leveraging the talents and strengths of member universities, ODRD supports university-engaged, applied research while increasing the potential for significant external research funding.

What kinds of projects will be considered?

The ODRD Program is comprised of core and cross-cutting initiatives focused on developing or advancing strategic capabilities at ORAU. ODRD resources will be invested in strongly-focused portfolios of fewer, larger scale projects for greater impact. Researchers are encouraged to formulate innovative concepts that offer the potential to achieve breakthrough advances to support ORAU’s priority focus areas. Check the ODRD web page for current priority focus areas.

The ODRD Program invests in research projects that will:

  • advance the study of hypotheses, concepts, or innovative approaches to scientific or technical problems,
  • produce research and analyses directed towards “proof of principle” or early determination of the utility of new ideas and concepts, and
  • enhance ORAU and member university research capabilities.

Projects should be achievable in one year, and up to $150,000 is shared between ORAU and the university partner.

How can I collaborate with ORAU on an ODRD project?

ORAU has subject matter experts (SMEs) with unique experience and education specific to a particular research topic. ORAU SMEs serve as the project lead and are responsible for submitting proposal applications through an internal ODRD application process. The SMEs represent ORAU’s thought leaders and are the best resource to determine the value of a collaborative ODRD project.

University faculty interested in collaborating on the next round of ODRD projects will have an opportunity to submit a brief interest statement, to be shared with our ORAU SMEs. Check the ODRD web page for information on the next round of proposals. You may also refer to ORAU’s SMEs listed around our website, and contact them directly.