Water and the Environment Challenge

A Call for Research and Teaching Proposals

High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) is pleased to announce a call for innovative research and teaching proposals on behalf of the Water and the Environment Challenge, a long-term research and teaching cooperative under the flagship Grand Challenges Program[i]. Our goal is to encourage research, teaching and mentorship that will advance solutions to issues of water and the environment, encourage faculty development, increase Princeton’s institutional capabilities, and enhance the undergraduate experience.

The Water and the Environment Challenge recognizes the critical role that water plays in virtually all aspects of the environmental sciences as well as the global importance of water as a resource. The program focuses on critical environmental issues associated with physical, chemical and biological aspects of both oceans and freshwater systems. Projects are encouraged in these broad areas with special emphasis given to research topics that have strong linkages with other important environmental topics including agriculture and vegetation, energy, climate change, and ecosystem function. Given the broad dimensions of water and its societal importance across all sectors, proposals that link to the social sciences and humanities will also be considered.

Priority in the selection process will be given to proposals that allow faculty and senior research staff to move into new areas of research and/or produce collaborations involving two or more faculty from different academic disciplines and with potential to attract larger extramural grants. Like other HMEI Grand Challenges programs, research projects associated with the Water and the Environment cooperative necessarily will include important education-related activities such as courses and/or immersion experiences for undergraduates, including multi-year sequences of assignments culminating in robust senior independent work and publishable research. Proposals will be evaluated on how well they address both the teaching and research goals of the Grand Challenges program.

Several awards will be made at levels up to $150,000 over two years.


Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should be submitted using the on-line application form, should be no more than four pages in length, and should include the following:

  • A project abstract or summary statement (not to exceed 200 words);
  • A description of the research element including how the proposed venture relates to the water and the environment theme and how advances realized by the research might enhance understanding and lead to possible solutions;
  • A narrative that describes the significance of the research in the context of competing research in relevant disciplines, research objectives, and milestones; and, where applicable, how the seed money will be leveraged to draw in larger sponsored research grants;
  • A description of teaching and mentoring elements that the faculty will create, such as specific internships and/or opportunities for independent study and courses that will be developed or significantly modified;
  • A project budget. Project budgets may include any reasonable research and teaching expense, such as materials and supplies; travel; and support of postdoctoral researchers, research assistants and visiting collaborators.
  • A list of current and pending support for all PIs and/or senior personnel that indicates how the proposed effort is distinct from earlier or ongoing funding to the investigators involved.

The deadline for written proposals is Wednesday, June 1, 2022.  A selection committee will review proposal submissions, and awards will be made by the end of June.

Additional details regarding the Grand Challenges Program and the Water and the Environment Challenge are provided on the Grand Challenges website.

Questions about the call for proposals should be directed to watergc@princeton.edu.


[i] The Grand Challenges Program was launched in 2007 to address complex global environmental challenges including scientific, technological, and policy dimensions. A critical component of Grand Challenges is the integration of research with innovative undergraduate mentorship and teaching. More than 130 members of the Princeton faculty from 29 academic departments have been supported by the Grand Challenges Program and 2100 undergraduates have been mentored on internships and independent work related to the focal themes.