The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development of bold, new, potentially transformative, and scalable models for STEM graduate training that ensure that graduate students develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The NRT program initially has one priority research theme – Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE); in addition, proposals are encouraged on any other crosscutting, interdisciplinary theme. In either case, proposals should identify the alignment of project research themes with national research priorities and the need for innovative approaches to train graduate students in those areas.

The NRT program is distinguished from the previous NSF training programs through an emphasis on training for multiple career pathways, rotating priority research themes, inclusion of both master’s and doctoral students, a broader definition of trainees, and greater budgetary and programmatic flexibility. In addition, NRT is designed to promote the development and broad-scale adoption of highly effective STEM graduate education models that are suitable for the 21st century STEM enterprise. Goals of the NRT program are to:

  • Catalyze and advance cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in high priority areas,
  • Prepare STEM graduate students more effectively for successful careers within or outside academe, and
  • Develop models and knowledge that will promote transformative improvements in graduate education.

NSF expects that proposals submitted in response to this solicitation will describe how the benefits of the program will be extended broadly across the proposing institution(s), how the institution(s) will sustain effective elements and the associated infrastructure upon funding cessation, and how successful models will be shared with other STEM graduate programs and institutions nationally.

NSF expects to fund 8-10 awards at up to $3M each, over a 5-year period.


Each institution may submit up to two proposals. If an institution submits only one proposal, it can be in either DESE or another theme. If an institution submits two proposals, at least one must be in DESE. In any case, the traineeship theme(s) should be interdisciplinary.

Application Instructions

UCI may submit no more than 2 proposals, therefore interested applicants are asked to submit a preliminary application to my office by April 28, 2014 (electronic submission to is preferred), with the following information:

  • Brief proposal (up to three pages),
  • Preliminary budget,
  • CV or bio-sketch (no more than two pages) of the primary researchers,
  • Support letter from the Dean (or the equivalent in units without a Dean).

If necessary, an ad hoc committee will convene to review the preliminary applications and make recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for Research on which two should go forward from UCI.  The selected PI will be notified in time to meet the NSF’s LOI deadline of May 20, 2014 (full proposals are due June 24, 2014).

For the complete NSF guidelines, including detailed information about the NRT program, please refer to  Questions about our internal campus review process may be directed to Greg Ruth at or x4-0372.

John C. Hemminger
Vice Chancellor for Research