Petroleum Research Fund - Undergraduate Research Grants

American Chemical Society

Grant amount: US $70,000

Anticipated deadline: Oct 19, 2019

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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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 Undergraduate Research (UR) grants program supports the research programs of established scientists and engineers at non-doctoral departments and provides financial support for students at those institutions to become involved in advanced research activities, in preparation for continued study in graduate school or employment. UR grants are used to illustrate proof of principle, i.e., feasibility, and accordingly, are to be viewed as seed money for generating preliminary results that can be used to apply for continuation funding from other agencies. Applicants may have limited or no preliminary results for a research project they wish to pursue. 

This grant is for $70,000 over three years.

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.

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


  • PI must be in a department without a doctoral program
  • The students receiving stipends for the work to be done are undergraduates
    • M.S.-level students can also be supported only if one or more undergraduates are also supported from this grant
  • The research being proposed need not be high risk but it should be of publishable quality.
  • The research opportunities afforded must be of the highest caliber, and provide a compelling educational experience for the student.
  • To be an eligible PI:
    • The applicant must be a member of the faculty of a college or university within the United States
    • Be within the first three years of their first academic appointment as a regular faculty member
    • Have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. (however, an application may be submitted before the degree has been awarded)
    • Be appointed at the rank of Assistant Professor or the equivalent.
  • The following criteria MUST be met:
    • The non-profit institution submitting the Type UR proposal must certify that each 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 goal of The ACS Petroleum Research Fund to give priority to support of students, the principal investigator must be eligible to serve as the formal, official supervisor of undergraduate students.
    • The terms of appointment of each principal investigator must promise reasonable continuity of service. The appointment should continue at least through the period of funding requested in the UR proposal.

Generally the above criteria are automatically met by tenure-track principal investigators. If you are not tenure-track, attach a brief statement to your application describing your appointment and include a Department Chair’s letter affirming that you meet all three of the above criteria.

Read more about Eligibility,Terms, and Conditions for UR grants.

One co-principal investigator (co-PI) is permitted on a UR grant proposal. The co-PI must meet the same eligibility criteria as the lead PI, and provide the same information requested of the lead PI in the application.  The lead PI (who should be denoted as such) and his/her institution (designated as the grantee institution) would subcontract the co-PI through the co-PI’s institution.  Any number of collaborators may participate on the project. However, no funds from the UR grant may be used to support the collaborators or their respective students.


The PRF Advisory Board makes relative rankings of proposals and recommendations for funding on the basis of the following criteria (in order of importance):

  • Overall quality, significance, and scientific merit of the proposed research, including the extent to which it will increase basic knowledge and/or stimulate additional research.
  • Extent to which advanced scientific education will be enhanced through the involvement of students in the research.
  • Newness of the proposed research for the lead principal investigator.
  • Impact of PRF funding the research, including the effect on the principal investigator’s overall research program.
  • Qualifications or potential of the principal investigator and adequacy of the facilities to conduct the research.


  • A principal investigator (lead PI or co-PI) may have only one research proposal active or under consideration per meeting.
  • Principal investigators (lead PI or co-PI) may not hold more than one active PRF research grant at a time.
  • Principal investigators (lead PI or co-PI) with an active PRF research grant, including a grant on time extension, may not submit an application for a new grant.
  • Principal investigators (lead PI or co-PI) may have only one UR grant application considered in a 12-month period. Thus, a principal investigator (lead PI or co-PI) who has an UR proposal denied may not submit another UR proposal until the Advisory Board meeting one year later. 
  • 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.