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Chancellor’s Research Excellence Scholarships (formerly FISP)

Scholarships for Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

Note: The CRES program is not available this year

For undergraduate support, please visit the Triton Research and Experiential Learning Scholars Program (TRELS). For current graduate opportunities, please visit the Graduate Division.

About the scholarships

The UC San Diego Strategic Planning process has identified four research themes to focus on as we build the  student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university of the future. These themes are:

  • Understanding and Protecting the Planet 
  • Enriching Human Life and Society
  • Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity
  • Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society 

To support these research priorities and continue the university’s investment in access and affordability for all students interested in an exceptional educational experience, in 2015 UC San Diego launched a pilot program known as the Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP). After three years of the successful pilot, the now-permanent funding opportunity will be known as the Chancellor’s Research Innovation Scholarships (CRES). Like FISP, this program will build the interdisciplinary expertise necessary to address society’s greatest challenges and forge new intellectual enterprises, which increasingly rely on the ability to work across diverse disciplines, either individually or as members of multidisciplinary teams.

To build this cross disciplinary effort, CRES will support multidisciplinary research project scholarships for up to 100 undergraduates, 50 Ph.D. graduate students, and 20 postdoctoral scholars working with mentors across the campus.  While undergraduates will have new opportunities to work on multidisciplinary projects in a single laboratory or program, Ph.D. Students and Postdoctoral Scholars will have mentors in at least two different divisions (e.g., Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, Health Sciences and Arts and Humanities, Marine Sciences and Engineering). The scholarships will provide opportunities for the students/scholars to develop their ability to communicate and collaborate with those in very different disciplines. Priority will be given to projects that are aligned with the UC San Diego strategic research themes above and represent a new collaborative focus (multidisciplinary focus for undergraduates), employ novel and creative approaches, and foster commitments to diversity and access. Applications should be submitted by the Lead mentor and no more than one application should be submitted per trainee. 


Requests for Project Scholarships from PI eligible mentors, for a set amount of $25,000 for each Ph.D. Student and Postdoctoral Scholar and $3,000 for each Undergraduate will be considered.  Requests to support multiple students in a lab, program or center will be evaluated based on the mentor’s ability to expand the interdisciplinary project beyond the funding period. The budget period will be for up to 21 months, from 1/1/2018 to 9/30/2019.

Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars who previously received FISP funding may re-apply for CRES funding in 2017-18. Preference will be given to new applicants. Undergraduates who previously received FISP funding are not eligible for CRES funding. There is no indirect cost associated with this scholarship program. Project scholarship funds are intended to be maximally flexible and directly benefiting the trainees .  

Funds for postdocs and undergraduate students may be spent for salary or stipends to augment existing students/postdocs or to recruit new students/postdocs, or to pay for conference travel, training costs outside UC San Diego, research allowances, supplies and small equipment or use of facilities.

Funds for graduate students will support full or partial scholarships for existing students or to recruit new students.  The funds may include stipend and/or registration fees or the funds may pay for conference travel, training costs outside UC San Diego, research allowances, supplies and small equipment or use of facility needs.  Supported graduate students must be enrolled full-time and be in good academic standing.  PIs should consult with their department/program’s Graduate Coordinator, or with the Financial Support Unit of the Graduate Division (Kathryn Murphy,  kjmurphy@ucsd.edu) to discuss how support awarded from this program can be coordinated with any other support that a student is currently receiving.

Proposal format and criteria

Lead mentors should submit proposals. A link to the application will be available on this page beginning September 21, 2017.

Proposals will not be accepted after the deadline of 11:59 p.m. PDT, October 12, 2017.

New for 2017: Lead mentors may only apply for one Graduate Students or one Postdoc.

Award conditions

Each awardee agrees to:

  1. Supervise, mentor, provide guidance and direct the work of the Project Trainees. Mentors should be available to meet on a regular basis.
  2. Follow all required UC San Diego policies and protocols (e.g. IRB, IACUC, Research Integrity, etc.).
  3. Spend project funds in accordance with award guidelines.
  4. Ensure that Trainee presents the research at the CRES Symposium.
  5. Submit a final report at the end of the award period that includes a list of publications, presentations, press releases, and follow-on grants that have resulted from the research (Lead mentors who fail to submit a final report may be disqualified for further CRES funding.)

Additional information

Announcements regarding awards will be made in January 2018, with a January start date.

See the CRES FAQ