FY24 Student Research Initiative Concept Call



The SURP Concept Call is now closed.


  • SURP proposals must be submitted by a JPL PI
  • It is the responsibility of the JPL PI to establish and convey the strategic value of the proposed research to JPL


Dear SURP Partner,

The JPL Strategic University Research Partnerships (SURP) program has just released the FY 2024 Call for Student Research Initiative Concepts to the JPL community. As a member of the research community at one of our SURP partner institutions, we would like to make you aware of this proposal call so that you can reach out to potential collaborators at JPL. Proposals require a JPL PI, a university faculty collaborator, and significant student engagement. For your information, the proposal call is included below. We ask that you please distribute it freely to relevant colleagues at your institution. Feel free to contact the SURP office if you have any questions.

Best Regards,
Jordana Blacksberg, SURP Program Manager



All JPL Employees


The Office of Research and Development 


FY 2024 Call for Strategic University Research Partnerships (SURP) Program Student Research Initiative Concepts


Student Research Initiative Concept Deadline: Wednesday, December 7, 2022, by 4:00 pm PST


The JPL Strategic University Research Partnerships (SURP) Program is soliciting one-page Student Research Initiative Concepts for the FY 2024 funding cycle. This call is one of the avenues we use to strengthen the link between the Laboratory and its most strategically important academic partners. Your SURP concept must be in partnership with one of our 14 SURP universities, listed here:


Arizona State University

Texas A&M University

Carnegie Mellon University

University of Arizona

Cornell University

University of California, Los Angeles

Georgia Institute of Technology

University of Colorado, Boulder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

University of Michigan

Princeton University

University of Southern California

Stanford University

University of Texas, Austin


Responses to the call should:

  • Identify collaborative research ideas at the forefront of Earth and space science or associated technology development aligned with science and technology areas of strategic importance to JPL.
  • Emphasize the long-term value of the partnership with the collaborating university research group.
  • Describe how continuity of collaboration through significant student involvement would support building a strong and sustained partnership based on the faculty’s research interests and alignment with JPL strategic goals.


JPL and University (Faculty and Student) Participants

  • Each proposal must have a JPL PI and a university faculty Co-I from one of the 14 SURP universities. Additional JPL and university Co-Is can be included as well. Student participation from the SURP partner is a requirement, and proposals must include one or more students. If specific students have been identified you are encouraged to name them in your concept paper, though it is understood that this is not always possible at this conceptual stage.
  • The JPL PI in general must be a full-time employee. JPL contractors and post-docs cannot be PIs for these proposals; part-time JPL employees might be allowed to be PIs on a case-by-case basis (for example, temporary part-time following the birth of a child or caring for a family member). If you wish to discuss a specific case, please contact the SURP Program Manager.
  • The JPL PI is responsible for submitting the proposal and should act as the point of contact for communication with the SURP program.


Student Participation

  • The program emphasizes continuity of collaboration over time, most typically through support of a graduate student, in a topic aligned with the research interests of both the JPL PI and the university faculty. For example, the majority of the university funds can be used to support approximately half of a graduate student’s time for up to three years (a significant part of a thesis).
  • While focused research tasks for individual graduate students are the most prevalent, individual undergraduate or graduate/undergraduate student group research projects can also be supported.
  • JPL support for collaboration in university classes may be considered, however these types of projects are currently being migrated to the Center for Academic Partnership (CAP) program. You are encouraged to discuss a class-related proposed idea with the SURP Program Manager prior to proposing to determine the best course to pursue for your class project.


Budget and Schedule

  • Proposals to SURP can have up to a 3-year duration with a maximum amount of $60K/year split between JPL and the university. There is no requirement as to how the funds should be split between JPL and the university, but this split should be in line with the task plan, and should provide significant student support.
  • If awarded, year one would begin at the start of FY24 (October, 2023)


Second- and Third-Year Awards

  • PIs of selected FY23 proposals that are in their first or second year DO NOT submit concept papers in response to this call. They will be required to submit renewal proposals along with the full proposal call, due around the March time-frame.


Synergistic contributions from the university

  • We encourage proposers to seek out and highlight contributions from our partners that are synergistic with JPL’s financial investment. Example contributions may be reduced overhead, in-kind funding of students, or the provision of unique capabilities such as special laboratory facilities.


Exchange of Personnel

  • Proposals can be enhanced by exchange of personnel. While proposed research efforts can include activities to be performed at JPL or at the partnering university, we encourage concepts that employ the exchange of personnel, such as students working at JPL under the co-supervision of the JPL PI and university faculty, JPL investigators working at the strategic partner university, or faculty working at JPL (including sabbatical).


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility:

  • The SURP program is seeking proposals that strive for excellence in research, while contributing to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in our research endeavors. As such, we encourage proposals that contribute to JPL’s long-term strategic scientific and technical goals, while also aiming to further JPL’s values of openness, integrity, quality, innovation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. This may be accomplished by increasing participation of under-represented groups within JPL and through our external partners, including faculty and students, or through creating research programs that promote inclusive, accessible working environments.
  • Consistent with our commitment to equal opportunity, selections will be made without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Candidates do not need to belong to a particular group or demographic to be successful.


Submission and Review Process Overview:

  • SURP proposals must be submitted by the JPL PI.
  • To reduce the burden on both proposers and reviewers, a two-step evaluation process will be used to select projects for SURP support.
  • All NEW concepts require a response to this call. PIs with ongoing Student Research Initiatives need not submit a concept for their renewal proposal, and will automatically be asked to submit a full proposal.
  • Concepts submitted to this call will be reviewed and a sub-set of concept PIs will be selected to submit full proposals, with the call for full proposals anticipated in February 2023. Full proposals are typically due in the March time-frame. Only PIs of selected concepts may submit full proposals.
  • Full proposals are typically selected for funding around the June time-frame, with official notification given in September for a start in FY24.


Additional Program Constraints

  • SURP funds may not be used to:
    1. Substitute for or increase funding for any specific tasks that are funded by any other source.
    2. Fund projects that will require the addition of non-SURP funds to accomplish the technical goals of the SURP project.
    3. Fund general purpose capital expenditures with the exception of acquisition of general-purpose equipment that is clearly required for the SURP project and is not otherwise readily available from the Laboratory inventory. (Proposals must contain any capital equipment requests. Equipment not listed in the proposal will not be approved.)


If you have any questions about the SURP Program or this Call, please contact surp@jpl.nasa.gov or Jordana Blacksberg, (Jordana.blacksberg@jpl.nasa.gov, 626-390-9121).