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Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy Announces Research Funding and Faculty Affiliates Program

Julianne Beck | July 6, 2023
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Northwestern University’s Paula M. Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy advances transformational research to facilitate global solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges. Formerly named the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), it was renamed in June 2023 after a $25 million grant from the donor-advised Howard and Paula Trienens Fund.

Research Funding

The Trienens Institute now invites applications for research seed grants from tenure track and research faculty who are Faculty Affiliates of the institute. Applications will be accepted semiannually with deadlines on September 1 and March 1 beginning this fall. The total amount of funds available for seed grants in FY24 (September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024) is $725,000 and seed grants will be limited to a maximum of $85K each. Funding decisions will be made for approximately one month after the aforementioned deadlines.

The program will facilitate new directions of faculty research by providing resources to develop, test, and refine new hypotheses. It will also help generate initial data and partnerships to support follow-on funding from federal agencies and other sponsors. 

The institute invites proposals addressing a broad array of topics pertinent to sustainability and energy. The most competitive applicants will be positioned to drive advancements for the institute’s two thematic thrusts—Climate and Energy Transition and Resilient Communities. Multi-disciplinary and cross-school proposals are encouraged.

Proposed seed research must address one or more of the institute’s primary research priorities:

  • Climate and Decarbonization
  • Ecosystems and Resilience
  • Energy and Infrastructure
  • Markets and Public Policy
  • Society and Global Change
  • Sustainable Materials

Award decisions will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary faculty review committee. The Trienens Institute is part of Northwestern University’s world-class research enterprise through the Office for Research.

Research seed grant applications will be restricted to Faculty Affiliates of the Trienens Institute (see below). 

Click here to apply for the September 1 seed funding deadline. Questions may be directed to 

Faculty Affiliates

The Institute also invites applications for participation in a formal Faculty Affiliates program. Trienens Institute Faculty Affiliates represent collective expertise across the University, bringing an interdisciplinary perspective to inherently complex local and global sustainability and energy challenges. 

Affiliates will retain appointments in home departments. In addition, they will identify with the broader Northwestern sustainability and energy community that is facilitated by the Trienens Institute. Membership is open to all Northwestern faculty members whose teaching and/or research activities intersect with the core research priorities of the Institute.

To read about additional benefits of becoming an affiliate, or to apply, please visit the Faculty Affiliate webpage

Questions may be directed to