CoLab Program

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About CoLabs

UVA's Environmental Institute (EI) supports collaborative research and training at the intersection of environmental change and human well-being. This seed funding facilitates the interdisciplinary connections needed to form sustainable research and multi-sector collaborations that serve the public good.

The CoLab program catalyzes novel interdisciplinary pan-University collaborations focused on climate change research with high potential for societal impact.

Submission Deadlines 

  • Midnight May 17, 2024 (funding to begin July 1)
  • Midnight October 18, 2024 (funding to begin Jan 1)

Funding Available

  • Up to $100,000 over two years

The Institute expects to fund two CoLab projects each calendar year.

Criteria for funding: Research projects are evaluated based on their intellectual merit, potential to solve critical problems, particularly those related to climate change, the integration of the disciplinary strengths of the team, potential connections to outside partners (e.g., communities, NGOs, government agencies, industries), and the potential to secure additional funding. They should encourage collaboration of faculty across Grounds.

Specifically, proposed projects should:

  • Involve faculty at UVA from at least two separate disciplines.
  • Describe the contributions of the disciplines into an integrated research plan, and how the collaborative team effort will enable novel research.
  • Describe the role of students and/or post-doctoral fellows in the research.
  • Articulate a pathway for connecting findings of the proposed research to an actionable solution. This could involve partnerships with external stakeholders (e.g., government agencies, non-profit organizations, industry, community organizations and more) that lead to policy interventions, management applications, market incentives, technological innovations, or individual behavior changes.
  • Describe the potential for attracting external funding to expand and continue the project beyond the initial seed funding period, listing specific sources of funding for which the project would be competitive. This could include federal agencies, state funding sources, industry, foundations or private philanthropy.

Eligibility and Selection Process

All full-time, PI-eligible faculty can apply. To be considered for a CoLab award, proposals must include an interdisciplinary approach. Proposals will be reviewed by a select committee of prior awardees and EI Leadership approximately two weeks from the submission deadline.

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Has potential for societal impact;
  • Has likelihood that the proposed activity will lead to external funding;
  • Includes a clear plan to build interdisciplinary collaborations and, where appropriate, collaborations with external stakeholders.

The selection process is highly competitive so please note that only complete applications will be considered.


Successful CoLabs will be expected to:

  • Author high-impact publications, patentable technology, open-source data sets and models, and high-level job placement of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Submit brief annual progress reports (mid-term and final), describing project activities and outcomes under the direction of EI staff.
  • Provide material that can be used for communicating outcomes to broad audiences, for example, through a newsletter, website, white papers or policy briefs.
  • Translate findings to policy and practice with external stakeholders such as agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations
  • Submit proposal(s) to external funding agencies for continued support.
  • Foster an enhanced sense of community among faculty and staff across UVa broadly related to sustainability research through activities such as research-focused events and mentorship of junior and/or DEI team members. Funded recipients from the first round of awards will be invited to help mentor recipients in the second round.

Instructions for Submitting an Application

Proposals are limited to 3 pages (excluding references and CVs) and should include the following:

  • Title and Abstract (no more than ½ page)
  • Research area of focus and relevance to Institute’s mission and/or priority area
  • Project team, including brief qualifications of CoLab leader and key faculty collaborators, and how the qualifications put the team in a strong position to make progress on its stated goals. Note any expected student involvement.
  • Project description, including research merit, research plan, and anticipated timeline.
  • Specific opportunities for external funding, and how the investment of seed money will increase competitiveness of the team.
  • Budget and brief justification. Funds can support expenses for equipment, materials and computer time, meetings, graduate or undergraduate student stipends, travel for stakeholder collaborations, and up to 1 month of salary per year for 9- or 12-month Teaching Faculty and 2 months per year for Research Faculty.
  • 2-page CVs for PIs and co-PIs

Please submit proposals as a single PDF document. To apply, fill out the form below, and upload your proposal.

Proposers are encouraged to indicate in the project description the extent to which, if any, generative AI technology was used and how it was used to develop their proposal. Additional guidance on the use and attribution of Generative AI at UVA can be found online.


Please contact Jonah Fogel (, Program Manager, with questions.


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