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OLD Environmental Engineering

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See PD 20-1440 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


The Environmental Engineering program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster together with 1) the Biological and Environmental Interactions of Nanoscale Materials program and 2) the Environmental Sustainability program.

Environmental engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies chemical, biological, and physical scientific principles to protect human and ecological health.

The goal of the Environmental Engineering program is to support potentially transformative fundamental research that applies scientific and engineering principles to 1) prevent or minimize solid, liquid, and gaseous discharges of pollution to soil, water, and air; 2) mitigate the ecological and human-health impacts of such releases by smart/adaptive/reactive amendments or manipulation of the environment, and 3) remediate polluted environments through engineered chemical, biological, and/or geo-physical processes.

Integral to achieving these goals is a fundamental understanding of the transport and biogeochemical reactivity of pollutants in the environment. Therefore, research on environmental micro/biology, environmental chemistry, and environmental geophysics may be relevant providing there is a clear connection to the application of environmental engineering to protect human and ecological health.

Major areas of interest include (but are not limited to):  

  • Enhancing the availability of high-quality water supplies: Investigation of innovative biogeochemical processes that remove, biologically or chemically transform, and/or prevent the release of contaminants in surface and groundwater; innovative processes for recovery of water, nutrients, and other resources from wastewater, saline water, or brines; innovative approaches to smart and adaptive management of surface water, groundwater, and urban watersheds and storm water to maintain/improve quality and prevent downstream impacts from nutrients and other water constituents. 
  • Environmental chemistry, fate, and transport of nutrients and contaminants of emerging concern in air, water, soils, and sediments: Investigation of transport and biogeochemical reactivity in the environment; environmental forensics to identify sources and reaction pathways; field- and laboratory-scale experimental research that bridges gaps between data and predictions from molecular, continuum, and field-scale modeling.
  • Environmental engineering of the built environment: Research to understand the biogeochemical reactivity of the built environment with the goal of enhancing and improving human and ecological health; research that will lead to new technologies to improve outdoor and indoor air quality; research to understand how drinking water and wastewater chemical characteristics and microbial community structure impact or are affected by water quality and human health; research that will lead to new technologies for waste separation and recovery to close the resource loop.

Please note: Proposals with a scientific focus on chemical or physical separation processes (for example, materials or processes for reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, and hypo-filtration) should be submitted to Process Separations, CBET 1417. Proposals concerning the interactions of nanomaterials, nanoparticles, or nanosystems should be submitted to Biological and Environmental Interactions of Nanoscale Materials, CBET 1179. Proposals focused on in vitro molecular-level environmental chemistry research should be submitted to Environmental Chemical Sciences, CHE-ECS 6882. Proposals focusing on industrial ecology, green engineering, and ecological/earth systems engineering should be submitted to Environmental Sustainability, CBET 7643. Proposals whose main research focus is on materials development, sensors, or environmental monitoring that do not seek to understand biogeochemical reactivity mechanisms or treatment efficiency are not encouraged and may be returned without review.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The maximum annual award size is $110,000 per year for single investigator proposals and $140,000 per year for multi-investigator collaborative proposals. Principal Investigators requesting a higher amount without first consulting with the Program Director prior to proposal submission may have the proposal returned without review.


Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field. Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and/or industry of success in the research. The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged. Award duration is five years. The submission deadline for Engineering CAREER proposals is in July every year. Please see the CAREER URL here for more information. 

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements: PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the Program Director before submission of the proposal.

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate. Please note that proposals of these types must be discussed with the program director before submission. Further details are available in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) download found hereGrant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged. Please note that GOALI proposals must be submitted during the annual unsolicited proposal window for each program. More information on GOALI can be found here.

COMPLIANCE: Proposals which are not compliant with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.

Program contacts

Karl J. Rockne
krockne@nsf.gov (703) 292-5356
Brandi L. Schottel
bschotte@nsf.gov (703) 292-4798 ENG/OAD

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