Prizes & Awards

Stanford R. Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship

Application Deadline: June 3rd, 2024

The Stanford R. Ovshinsky Fellowship consists of $15,000, given to the awardee's institution by the American Physical Society for the purpose of the recipient's energy sustainability research. Awardees will also receive an allowance for travel to a meeting at which the fellowship is awarded and a certificate is presented. The recipient may be invited to present a talk at an appropriate meeting during the year.

This fellowship is intended to recognize and offer seed funding for promising exploratory research aimed at energy sustainability, so that it may qualify for further support. Appropriate research topics might include the development of new materials, methodologies, or cost-effective energy conversion technologies and range from energy generation to energy storage. The proposed research (e.g., "proof of principle" experiments or calculations) should also have a viable potential for commercialization.

History of the Award

The Stanford R. Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship was established in 2013 by Stan's widow, Rosa Young Ovshinsky, and his children to recognize his inventive spirit in science and to honor his lifelong dedication and contributions to developing efficient energy conversion technologies to meet global energy needs. The fellowship is being created with the conviction that it is now more important than ever to develop efficient and low-cost energy conversion technologies (such as photovoltaic cells, hydrogen fuel cells, or rechargeable batteries) that do not rely on fossil fuels and so provide sustainable carbon-free energy to the growing world population.

Rules & Eligibility

The fellowship is awarded to a researcher who is no more than ten years beyond receiving his or her Ph.D. (such as a graduate student, postdoc, or junior faculty/researcher) or, if not having received a Ph.D., is no more than 40 years of age. Applications will be evaluated for the innovative and creative nature of the proposed ideas or the approach to sustainable energy and for the potential of actual commercialization. Preferably, the awardee should show entrepreneurial interest in the development of his or her research for the marketplace. Applications will remain active for three years, provided the candidate continues to meet the other requirements for eligibility.

Application Process

Applications for the Stanford R. Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship will be received and reviewed by a selection committee from the Topical Group on Energy Research and Application (GERA). As this fellowship has the potential to recognize researchers from a variety of fields, it will be widely promoted within a number of APS units where energy sustainability interests exist as well as in Society-wide communications.

The nomination package must include:

  1. Cover Letter
  2. An Abstract (up to 200 words)
  3. A discussion of the proposed project providing background on the applicant’s accomplishments to date and the proposed research (up to 2,500 words)
  4. A research budget for the spending of $15,000 and justification (up to 2 pages). Note that no overhead charged by the institution can be included in the budget.
  5. A biographical sketch (up to 2 pages)
  6. 2 letters of recommendation from faculty members or researchers familiar with the candidate’s background and proposed research
  7. A signed letter of commitment on official letterhead from an official authorized to commit the resources of the nominee’s sponsoring organization (e.g., department head, doctoral advisor, etc.) in support of the proposed project, ensuring that items such as equipment, lab space, facilities, and research time will be available.

To complete a nomination use the APS Honors Nomination Site. All files should be uploaded in PDF format. Letters may be signed electronically.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will funding begin? Can it start in January rather than September?
Funding may begin in January rather than September. We anticipate making payments in biannual installments.

Do you need a letter from the sponsoring institution, too?
Yes, we would like a letter from them as well, to be sure that everyone is supportive of your application and your work. Also, be sure to check if your institution requires you to submit any internal paperwork to allow the institution to accept the award if granted.

Who is the "official from the administration"?
The applicant will certainly need an affiliation with the institution during the period of the fellowship and it would be nice if this were an ongoing relationship. We want to be sure that the institution is willing to accept the award (payments will be made to the institution not the individual) and will not charge any overhead. The representative of the institution could be the chair or dean or provost or president, just so there is someone in the academic chain of command who supports the applicant.

I applied for the fellowship. When can I expect the outcome to be announced?
Decisions will be electronically communicated to applicants by September 1.

I did not receive the fellowship and would like to know why. Are comments on the applications available to applicants?
While we understand each applicant's desire to know how to improve her application, we must respect the time of the volunteers on our Selection Committee. The Stanford R. Ovshinsky Fellowship attracts many applicants each year and the selection process is time-consuming. At this moment, we do not request committee members to provide written assessments of each application.

Nominees for and holders of APS Honors (prizes, awards, and fellowship) and official leadership positions are expected to meet standards of professional conduct and integrity as described in the APS Ethics Guidelines. Violations of these standards may disqualify people from consideration or lead to revocation of honors or removal from office.

Previous Winners

2021 Recipient:

Jesús M. Velázquez
University of California, Davis
For transformative research accomplishments advancing the production of solar fuels, elucidating fundamental design principles underpinning negative emissions science, and for articulating a bold vision of a sustainable chemical industry using CO2 instead of fossil fuels as the primary feedstock.

2020 Recipient: Not Awarded

2019 Recipient: 
Vicky Doan-Nguyen,
The Ohio State University

2018: Vivian E. Ferry
University of Minnesota

2017: Luisa Whittaker-Brooks
University of Utah

2016: Marina S. Leite
University of Maryland, College Park

2015: Richard R. Lunt
Michigan State University

2014: Darin Bellisario
Massachusetts Institute of Technology