Catalyst Program

The Nicholas Institute’s mission is to help decision makers create timely, effective, and economically practical solutions to the world’s critical environmental challenges. The Nicholas Institute engages local, state and federal governments, international agencies, NGO’s, companies, and communities through convening, providing legal, economic, and policy analysis, and supporting the process of taking policy concepts and turning them into practice. The vision for the Catalyst Program is to build on this mission by increasing engagement with Duke University faculty to incubate and advance new partnerships, enhance policy-relevant knowledge, and create innovative policy solutions based on new creative synergies. The program will invest in policy-relevant proposals that catalyze Nicholas Institute and faculty collaborations in new or emergent areas of shared interest.

Eligible Participants
Each proposal must be co-chaired by at least one person from the Nicholas Institute’s senior staff (see below list) and a Duke faculty member from any discipline.

Sarah Adair
Senior Policy Associate
Climate and Energy Program

Lauren Patterson
Policy Associate
Water Policy Program

Martin Doyle
Director, Water Policy Program
Water Policy Program

Amy Pickle
Director, State Policy Program
State Policy Program

Etan Gumerman
Senior Policy Associate
Environmental Economics Program

Billy Pizer
Faculty Fellow

Tim Profeta
Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Kay Jowers
Senior Policy Associate
State Policy Program

Steve Roady
Faculty Fellow

Brian Murray
Director, Environmental Economics Program
Environmental Economics Program

Martin Ross
Senior Research Economist
Environmental Economics Program

Lydia Olander
Director, Ecosystem Services Program
Ecosystem Services Program

John Virdin
Director, Ocean and Coastal Policy Program
Ocean and Coastal Policy Program


Awards of up to $20,000 will be provided to each successful proposal for use during the 2018 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018. On the basis of project performance and interest, projects may be considered for renewal for additional funding. Award funding can be used for basic and applied research, workshops, and events, including the cost of food, meeting venues, travel, external speakers, and post-doctoral and research assistant support.

Project Requirements
Projects must connect Nicholas Institute senior staff with Duke faculty in order to develop new or emergent ideas related to environmental policy challenges at the federal, state, and local level, and they must build on the core competencies of both co-chairs. Projects can be new initiatives or expansions of existing partnerships. They can include broad, multi-part projects, of which this funding is a piece, as well as smaller, intensive scoping or pilot projects. Additional considerations for project eligibility include (1) the project’s alignment with the Nicholas Institute’s mission, (2) the project team’s ability to leverage additional resources and secure future funding, and (3) potential for long-term impact.

Review and Selection
Proposals are due no later than 5 p.m., April 7, 2017, to and will be reviewed by members of the Nicholas Institute’s Strategic Advisory Committee. Final award decisions will be made no later than April 30, 2017.

Please limit your proposal to a four-page electronic PDF inclusive of the following information:

  • Project Title and One-Sentence Summary
  • Project Co-Chairs and Senior Personnel
  • Proposed Budget: Provide an overall budget for your project, including a description of requested support and its anticipated uses. Identify other sources of funding, including funding already obtained or requested. List any funding opportunities that you intend to pursue.
  • Proposal Narrative (maximum 2 pages): Provide an overview of your project that articulates (1) the question or problem that the project proposes to explore; (2) the project goals; (3) proposed activities or work plan, including timeframes; and (4) anticipated outcome or impact.
  • Evaluation Plan: Describe the metrics that will be used to effectively demonstrate and quantify the project’s outcomes or impact.
  • Sustainability Plan: If you can anticipate how this project will continue after the Catalyst Program support concludes, provide a future funding plan.
  • Engagement Plan: If you anticipate your project will include public outreach or engagement with decision makers, describe the relevant plans and timelines.