FY 2022 SMART Scholar SEED Grant Program Awardees

U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) program recently announced awards to 21 SMART PhD scholars as part of its competitive SMART Scholar SEED Grant program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The SMART Scholar SEED Grant Program awards research grants worth up to $100,000 per year for a maximum of three years to promising SMART scholars as they transition from the pursuit of their PhDs to become active Department of Defense (DoD) professionals. The grants help scholars establish foundational research/engineering projects in their areas of expertise.

A highly competitive scholarship-for-service program, SMART is one of the largest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-focused education and workforce initiatives under DoD STEM, the Department’s comprehensive K–20 STEM education and talent development effort. SMART is empowered to make full-tuition awards during any phase of a scholar’s education in a regionally accredited U.S. university or college. The program sponsors undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral studies in 21 academic disciplines critical to national security and DoD’s future. Upon graduation, students move directly into employment at DoD facilities. Awards can be made during any phase of a scholar’s education and vary in length from a minimum of one to a maximum of five years. The service commitment is one year of DoD employment for each academic year of SMART funding. Since its inception in 2006, the program has awarded over 3,700 scholarships.

The SMART Scholar SEED Grant program aims to develop a cadre of future DoD subject matter experts who will conduct high-impact research at SMART sponsoring facilities. It provides opportunities for scholars who have pursued PhDs through the SMART program to deepen their expertise in targeted, strategically important STEM areas, allowing them to lead their own research efforts while receiving valuable mentoring within their sponsoring facilities.

The SMART Scholar SEED Grant program’s FY 2022 proposals were reviewed by a panel of science and technology experts from across the DoD Components, who evaluated them according to scientific and technical merit, relevance to the DoD mission, developmental potential, and justification of budget. The funding opportunity announcement received 39 eligible proposals, with 21 grant awardees named from across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other DoD Components. The FY 2022 “garden” of SEED grant awardees joins 20 investigators selected in FY 2021, the inaugural year of the SEED Grant program.

The mentoring of SEED Grant awardees by established members of the DOD science and technology workforce is a key component of the SEED Grant initiative. This year, to illustrate SMART’s commitment to mentoring, SEED applicants were able to request an additional $25,000 to support mentoring activities. Not only does this assist the mentor in their technical support of the SEED investigator, but it also encourages mentor-mentee activities like jointly attending conferences or program reviews that help the SEED investigator grow their network and improve their understanding of the DoD science and technology enterprise.

“I am impressed with the caliber of proposals that the program received, and I am especially proud of our outstanding awardees,” said Ms. Heidi Shyu the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “The 21 awards this year really highlight the type of mission-driven work DoD employees perform. They showcase the unique research that helps the DoD accomplish its overall mission to defend the Nation and promote the safety and success of its military personnel.”

To learn more about the SMART Scholarship-for-Service program and the participating DoD sponsoring facilities, visit www.smartscholarship.org. Information on the SMART Scholar SEED Grant program can be found at https://www.smartscholarship.org/smart?id=seed_grant.

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