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FY20 Student Research Initiative Concept Call (External)

Dear SURP Partner,

The JPL Strategic University Research Partnership (SURP) program has just released the FY 2020 Call for Student Research Initiative Concept Papers to the JPL community. As a member of the research community at one of our SURP partner institutions, we would like to make you aware of this proposal call so that you can reach out to potential collaborators at JPL. In particular, we would like to call your attention to recent changes to our funding program, aimed at establishing continuity through significant student involvement. Proposals require a JPL PI, a university faculty collaborator, and significant student engagement. For your information, the proposal call is included below. We ask that you please distribute it freely to relevant colleagues at your institution. Feel free to contact the SURP office if you have any questions.

Best Regards,
Jordana Blacksberg, Acting SURP Program Manager

TO:All JPL Employees
FROM:The Office of the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist
SUBJECT: FY 2020 Call for Strategic University Research Partnership (SURP) Program Student Research Initiative Research Concept Papers

Student Research Initiative Concept Paper
Deadline: Wednesday, December 5, 2018, by 4:00 pm PST

The JPL Strategic University Research Partnership (SURP) Program is soliciting one-page concept papers for the FY 2020 funding cycle. This call is one of the avenues we use to strengthen the link between the Laboratory and its most strategically important academic partners:

Arizona State University
Carnegie Mellon University
Cornell University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Princeton University
Stanford University
Texas A&M University *New Partner*
University of Arizona
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Michigan
University of Southern California
University of Texas, Austin

Responses to the call should identify collaborative research ideas in the forefront of Earth and space science or associated technology development aligned with science and technology areas of strategic importance to JPL. Proposals must emphasize the long-term value of the partnership with the collaborating university research group.

*** Changes to the SURP Call for FY2020 ****
New this year, only Student Research Initiatives are solicited. These proposals are for up to three years and emphasize continuity over time on a given research topic through participation of a graduate student. The proposal funding cap was recently increased with the aim of generating research concepts that support half of a graduate student’s time per year over an extended period (up to three years), and are aligned with both the JPL PI and the university faculty’s research interests. The one-year-only Research Initiatives that were offered in the past are no longer being solicited, and such concepts may be submitted with an external partner to the R&TD program.

Student Research Initiative Overview Student Research Initiatives should be for collaborative basic and applied research. Concept papers should describe how continuity through significant student involvement would support building a strong and sustained partnership based on the faculty’s research interests and alignment with JPL strategic goals. Proposals can be for up to 3 years (renewable each year), with a cap of $60k/year, to be shared between JPL and the university partner. Proposals must have a JPL PI, a university faculty collaborator, and one or more students. Proposals can be for focused research tasks for individual graduate students (most prevalent), undergraduate and/or graduate student group research projects, or they can support JPL collaboration in university classes (these are typically single year proposals). A Note on class projects: While there are no restrictions on funding levels, provided that they stay within the cap, in the past undergraduate class projects have been funded at the $25k - $35k level, and such projects are still encouraged.

Additional Elements: Concepts containing additional enhancing elements are strongly encouraged. For instance, we encourage proposers to seek out and highlight contributions from our partners that are synergistic with JPL’s investment. Example contributions may be reduced overhead, in-kind funding of students or faculty, or the provision of unique capabilities such as special laboratory facilities. Another way that proposals can be enhanced is by exchange of personnel. While proposed research efforts can include activities to be performed at JPL or at the partnering university, concepts that employ the exchange of personnel, such as students working at JPL under the co-supervision of the JPL PI and university faculty, JPL investigators working at the strategic partner university, or faculty working at JPL (including sabbatical), are encouraged. A third enhancing element is diversity. The SURP program seeks to be a positive force in creating a more diverse population at JPL. An effective way of doing this is through participation of students from under-represented groups in SURP Initiatives. Proposers are encouraged to make note of any enhancing elements in their concept papers.

Submission Process: SURP proposals must be submitted by the JPL PI. The submission process has two steps – a concept paper submission followed by a full proposal submission for approved concepts. All NEW concepts require a one-page concept paper in response to this call. PIs with ongoing Student Research Initiatives need not submit a concept paper for their renewal proposal, and will be automatically asked to submit a full proposal. Principal Investigators must be full-time JPL employees and may submit more than one concept paper, however a Student Research Initiative cannot be used to supplement any other funding source.

If you have any questions about the SURP Program or this Call, please contact or Jordana Blacksberg, (, 626-390-9121).