ASCEND Funding Program

The School of Engineering launched a new program in 2022 to support mid-career faculty.  This new program is a replacement of the former RISe program.

Mid-career faculty are the cornerstone of the KU School of Engineering and form a bridge between generations of faculty by mentoring early-stage faculty and assuming leadership positions.  Such faculty are key players in the SoE during a time of continuous adaptation and change.  The overarching goal of the ASCEND program is to assist mid-career faculty in their development of innovative research programs in their pursuit of external funding and help them ascend to the next level in their academic careers. 

  • Proposals should be of high risk/high reward to advance emerging areas of research or enhance existing strength areas that are aligned with an external funding agency’s interest.
  • Proposals must develop research initiatives that lead to the pursuit of external funding.
  • Proposals are expected to target a specific external application with a specific program and planned submission date.
  • Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research across multiple departments and schools is encouraged.

The solicitation opened on November 1, 2023, and is now closed.  KU School of Engineering faculty will receive an e-mail with the solicitation.

RISe Accordion

Eligible: All KU School of Engineering faculty are eligible to submit one proposal as the principle investigator (PI). There is no limit on the number of proposals in which a faculty member may participate as an investigator and/or collaborator.

New Faculty: Individuals can apply only after completing their 48 months as a tenure-track faculty on the Lawrence campus from the date of hire.

  • To apply for ASCEND funding, a faculty member should schedule a meeting with the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, Suzanne Shontz, and propose their research idea to her.  This should include a summary of the project, the research strategy, an external spending plan (i.e., the external funding agency and solicitation identified, planned submission date, and amount of funding to be requested), and potential research outcomes. Preliminary data (optional) may also be included in the presentation. Reach out to Nikki Hammond ( to schedule a meeting with Suzanne. 
  • In addition, the faculty member must prepare a budget, including which item(s) they are requesting from the School of Engineering to assist in their preparation of external proposal.  The total amount of funding to be requested should be in the range of $5K to $15K.    
  • The faculty member should submit their project summary (max:  1 page) and budget (max:  1 page) during their meeting with Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs.  They may also submit their presentation slides (if relevant). 
  • The Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs will provide mentoring on the proposal preparation process.  This may include suggestions as to how SoE funding could assist in the faculty member’s research efforts.
  • The meeting with the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs must take place by November 30.
  • November 30  – Deadline for proposal meeting with Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs
  • December 15 – Funding decisions announced
  • January 16 – Effective date of research awards
  • Awards will be effective January 16, 2024.
  • Awards will be released in two segments. The second segment will be released after the submission of the mid-progress report, which is due June 30, 2024. In case of no progress, second segment funding may not be released. 
  • A final report will be due March 1, 2025, including the external proposal. The School of Engineering will cover the expenses to send the proposal for external review prior to submission.

Finance details will be announced to ASCEND Winners in January 2024