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 invests 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 closed for 2017. View the list of 2017 awardees.