Cottrell Scholars

SEED Award

SEED (Singular Exceptional Endeavors of Discovery) Awards   

The SEED award supports the very first instances of exceptionally creative new research or educational activities with potential high impact. SEED awards offer the opportunity to start new promising activities and test new out-of-the-box ideas. Risky, interdisciplinary and exploratory projects are strongly encouraged. No preliminary data are required. Award size is $50,000 for research projects or $25,000 for educational activities. Proposals contain a single three-page plan describing either novel research or educational activities (not both).


Applicants must be at least six years beyond the year of their Cottrell Scholar award. For the 2017 competition, eligibility is limited to Cottrell Scholars from Physics and Astronomy Departments who received their award in 2010 or earlier. No Chemistry proposals will be accepted in 2017. Please note that SEED accepts Chemistry proposals in even-numbered years and Physics and Astronomy proposals in odd-numbered years. Proposals with multiple principal investigators are accepted provided all PIs are eligible Cottrell Scholars and the total requested amount is $50,000 (research) and $25,000 (education). If you are planning to submit collaborative proposals, please contact Silvia Ronco,, for submission details.

Eligibility is limited to one SEED application per Cottrell Scholar per year. Also, no submissions are accepted from Cottrell Scholars with active SEED or active/pending FRED awards.


SEED proposals contain a three-page research or educational plan to be conducted over a period of two years. Successful proposals must convince external reviewers and the Science Advisory Committee that the applicant is an accomplished researcher/educator and that the proposed project is both innovative and of potential high impact.

A sample proposal form can be viewed below.

CS SEED 2017 Sample Proposal Form

Application Process and Deadline

Potential SEED applicants begin the submission process by completing the online eligibility quiz. If eligible, applicants gain access to a web page containing the SEED proposal application form and instructions for electronic submission. Submissions must conform to guidelines and directions, and be endorsed by the applicant’s home institution. SEED proposals are due March 1, 2017 and awards will be announced not later than November 2017.

Evaluation and Award Approval

Applications that conform to guidelines are sent out for external review to experts in the specific research or educational field. Innovation and high risk/high reward are key criteria for selection of SEED awards. Award recommendations are made by the Science Advisory Committee and approved by the RCSA Board of Directors.

2016 SEED Awards

Stacey F. Bent, chemical engineering, Stanford University

  Developing Tunable, Hybrid MoS2-Based Catalysts

Bert D. Chandler, chemistry, Trinity University

  Metalloenzyme-Inspired Heterogeneous C-H Activation Catalysts

Martin Gruebele, chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  Revealing Whole-Cell Diffusion and Reaction Using Fluorescence Correlation Anti Correlation Microscopy

Teri W. Odom, chemistry, Northwestern University

  How Viral Shape Can Inspire the Design of Optical Nanoprobes for Investigating Nanoparticle-Cell Interactions

Charles Sykes, chemistry, Tufts University

  Harnessing Low Energy Electrons for Localized DNA Damage Based Cancer Therapy

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