Petroleum Research Fund - Doctoral New Investigator Grants

American Chemical Society

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Grant amount: US $110,000

Next deadline: Oct 18, 2019 2:00pm PDT

Later deadlines: Mar 15, 2020 2:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Faculty

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: United States

Degree requirements: Applicants must be within a few years of receiving their PhD

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About this funder:



Program Goals

The goals of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund are:

  • To support fundamental research in the petroleum field, and
  • To develop the next generation of engineers and scientists through support of advanced scientific education.

The Doctoral New Investigator grants program aims to promote the careers of young faculty by supporting research of high scientific caliber, and to enhance the career opportunities of their undergraduate/ graduate students, and postdoctoral associates through the research experience.

Doctoral New Investigator Grants

Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) grants provide start-up funding for scientists and engineers in the United States who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment at the level of Assistant Professor or the equivalent. Applicants may have limited or no preliminary results for a research project they wish to pursue, with the intention of using the preliminary results obtained to seek continuation funding from other agencies. The DNI grants are to be used to illustrate proof of principle or concept, to test a hypothesis, or to demonstrate feasibility of an approach.

The DNI grants program is seeking investigator-initiated, original research across the spectrum of our mission. Original research is defined as being different from that performed previously by the PI as part of their graduate or postdoctoral studies. Excluded from consideration are proposals in which the ideas being presented are a mere extension of research from the PI’s graduate or postdoctoral experience. Research projects must be unique. Although a PI may send the same proposal to more than one agency, PRF will not support a project having overlap, or partial overlap, with research funded by another agency.

Award INformation

This award is for $110,000 over two years.

Estimated number of awards: ~ 75 each year

Nature and Scope of the Research

ACS PRF Research Grants are made to non-profit institutions for regularly appointed scientists whose research may be sponsored in accordance with the PRF Transfer Agreement:

The recipient (ACS) shall use all funds exclusively for advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the ‘petroleum field,’ which may include any field of pure science which in the judgment of (ACS) may afford a basis for subsequent research directly connected with the petroleum field.

Note that fundamental research is required as opposed to applied research or methods development. When submitting an application, you will be asked to select a scientific discipline that PRF supports.

The DNI Grant Program is designed as a source of funds for young investigators who are developing their own independent research projects. The new investigator must demonstrate that the project is an original research direction and is independent of their graduate or post-graduate studies. Proposals deemed not “original research” will be denied without external review, or may be rejected by the PRF Advisory Board.

All proposals will undergo a compliance check for the following required elements:

  • Completeness and correctness of the application;
  • Fundamental nature of the research topic;
  • Relevance to petroleum or fossil fuels; and
  • Extent to which the proposed research differs from prior graduate and postdoctoral research.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • PIs should be regularly-appointed faculty members at U.S. academic institutions who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor or the equivalent are eligible to apply.
  • In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria:
    • The non-profit institution submitting the DNI proposal must certify that the individual listed as a principal investigator on the cover page qualifies as a principal investigator under the institution’s policies.
    • In view of the long-standing policy of The ACS Petroleum Research Fund to give priority to support of students (undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral), each principal investigator must be eligible to serve as the formal, official supervisor of graduate students in graduate degree programs.
    • The terms of appointment of the principal investigator must promise reasonable continuity of service.
      • The appointment should continue at least through the period of funding requested in the proposal.


  • New investigators may submit only one research proposal for consideration per meeting and may not hold more than one active PRF research grant at a time.
  • New investigators may have only three (3) DNI grant applicationsconsidered and/or one (1) DNI grant funded in their career. Thereafter, the new investigator may apply to the New Directions (ND) Grant Program.
  • A principal investigator with an active PRF research grant, including a grant on time extension, may not submit an application for a new grant.
  • ACS PRF does not consider proposals in the areas of:
    • Biomedical, pharmaceutical or drug-delivery studies, including synthesis of compounds for biological evaluation
    • Pollution or environmental remediation studies, anthropogenic effects of petroleum; environmental engineering
    • Groundwater hydrology
    • Paleoclimatology studies
    • Micro- and nanofluidics
    • Sensors
    • Nanotubes and graphene
    • Nanoscience not directly related to petroleum-derived materials
    • Semiconductors and superconductors
    • Quantum dots
    • Low temperature phenomena
    • Subatomic physics
    • All forms of solar energy
    • Photovoltaics; batteries
    • Wind energy and wind farms
    • Hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen storage, hydrogen generation from nonpetroleum sources
    • CO2 capture
    • Social, economics, or history research.
  • Research on biosystems is excluded, including whole-cell, organelle, tissue, organ, or whole organism studies; metabolic pathway research; biopolymers including blends and block; biofuels, biomass, and biosensors.