UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP)

Project Fellowships for Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

Deadline: October 12, 2016, 11:59 pm PDT


UPDATE: Information for 2017 is now available

The UC San Diego Strategic Planning process has identified four research themes to focus on as we build the student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university of the future. These themes are:

  • Understanding and Protecting the Planet 
  • Enriching Human Life and Society
  • Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity
  • Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society 

To support these research priorities and continue the university’s investment in access and affordability for all students interested in an exceptional educational experience, UC San Diego is launching a third year of the Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP).  This program will build the interdisciplinary expertise necessary to address society’s greatest challenges and forge new intellectual enterprises, which increasingly rely on the ability to work across diverse disciplines, either individually or as members of multidisciplinary teams. The University awarded approximately $2,900,000 in FISP Project Fellowships to 197 trainees in Academic Year 2015/2016.

To build this cross disciplinary effort, we will support multidisciplinary research project fellowships for up to 100 undergraduate, 80 Ph.D. students, and 20 postdoctoral scholars working with mentors across the campus.  While undergraduates will have new opportunities to work on multidisciplinary projects in a single laboratory or program, Ph.D. Students and Postdoctoral Scholars will have mentors in at least two different divisions (e.g., Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, Health Sciences and Arts and Humanities, Marine Sciences and Engineering). The fellowships will provide opportunities for the students/scholars to develop their ability to communicate and collaborate with those in very different disciplines. Priority will be given to projects that are aligned with the UCSD strategic research themes above and represent a new collaborative focus (multidisciplinary focus for undergraduates), employ novel and creative approaches, and foster commitments to diversity and access. Applications should be submitted by the Lead mentor and no more than one application should be submitted per trainee. Mentors should propose to advise no more than 2 trainees above the undergraduate level. No more than 4 trainees should be proposed at the undergraduate level, unless prior approval is obtained.


Requests for Project Fellowships from PI eligible mentors, for a set amount of $25,000 for each Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar and $3,000 for each Undergraduate will be considered.  Requests to support multiple students in a lab, program or center will be evaluated based on the mentor’s ability to expand the interdisciplinary project beyond the funding period. The budget period will be for up to 21 months, from 1/1/2017 to 9/30/2018.

Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars who received funding in AY2014-15 and/or AY2015-16, may re-apply for funding in AY2016-17. Preference will be given to new applicants, but a one-year renewal will be possible.  Undergraduate funding is for one-year only.  There is no indirect cost associated with this fellowship program. Project fellowship funds are intended to be maximally flexible and directly benefitting the trainees.  

Funds for postdocs and undergraduate students may be spent for salary or stipends to augment existing students/postdocs or to recruit new students/postdocs, or to pay for conference travel, training costs outside UCSD, research allowances, supplies and small equipment or use of facility needs.

Funds for graduate students will support full or partial fellowships for existing students or to recruit new students.  The funds may include stipend and/or registration fees or the funds may pay for conference travel, training costs outside UCSD, research allowances, supplies and small equipment or use of facility needs.  Supported graduate students must be enrolled full-time and be in good academic standing.  PIs should consult with their department/program’s Graduate Coordinator, or with the Financial Support Unit of the Graduate Division (Kathryn Murphy, kjmurphy@ucsd.edu) to discuss how support awarded from this program can be coordinated with any other support that a student is currently receiving.

Proposal Format and Criteria

Lead mentors should submit proposals beginning September 21, 2016 using the Proposal Template that is available here. Email proposals, as a single pdf file to fisp@ucsd.edu. Proposals will not be accepted after the deadline of 11:59 PM PDT, October 12, 2016.

Award Conditions

Each awardee agrees to:

  1. Supervise, mentor, provide guidance and direct the work of the Project Fellow. Mentors should be available to meet on a regular basis.
  2. Follow all required UCSD policies and protocols (e.g. IRB, IACUC, Research Integrity, etc.).
  3. Spend project funds in accordance with award guidelines.
  4. Ensure that Fellows present the research at the Frontiers of Innovation Symposium (October 18, 2016).

A one-page summary at the end of the funding year must be submitted when requested, to include a listing of any publications, presentations, press releases, and follow-on grants that may have resulted from the research.

Announcements regarding awards will be made in January 2017, with a January start date.

FAQ go here: http://blink.ucsd.edu/sponsor/ora/fisp.html

In addition to the FISP Fellowships, the University is also providing support for the primary research initiatives of the UC San Diego Strategic plan via the “Frontiers of Innovation: Support for Center Development” opportunity. Information on this can be found at: http://research.ucsd.edu/seedfunds.html         

For more information or questions, please contact fisp@ucsd.edu.