Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 7/19/2023

ONR -- Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship (VBFF) Program

The VBFF program is sponsored by the Basic Research Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD (R&E)). VBFF supports innovative basic research within academia, as well as opportunities intended to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers for the defense workforce.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) manages the VBFF program for USD (R&E). To accomplish this task, ONR is soliciting proposals for the VBFF program through this FOA. This FOA seeks distinguished researchers for the purpose of conducting innovative basic research in areas of interest to the DoD and fostering long-term relationships between the VBFF Fellows and the DoD.

VBFF is oriented towards bold and ambitious “blue sky” research that may lead to extraordinary outcomes such as revolutionizing entire disciplines, creating entirely new fields, or disrupting accepted theories and perspectives.

The objectives of the program are to: • Support unclassified basic scientific and engineering research that could be the foundation for future revolutionary new capabilities for DoD. • Educate and train student and post-doctoral researchers for the defense workforce. • Foster long-term relationships between university researchers and the DoD. • Familiarize university researchers and their students with DoD’s current and projected future challenges. • Increase the number of talented technical experts that DoD can call upon.

This FOA is for single investigator grant proposals for basic research. All awardees will receive a research grant and the title of VBFF Fellow. VBFF Fellows and their students are provided with opportunities that are designed to enhance their understanding of DoD’s critical research needs and interact with DoD senior Science and Technology (S&T) program leaders. Fellows and their students are expected to participate in VBFF activities scheduled throughout the year, as much as possible. These activities may include an orientation meeting, site visits to DoD labs, technical workshops, and an annual meeting to report the progress of VBFF–sponsored research. VBFF Fellows may also be encouraged to serve as members of DoD advisory boards, panels, or groups.


  • White Papers: Sep. 29, 2023
  • Invited Full Proposal: Feb. 9, 2024
Areas of Interest

This FOA is for single investigator grant proposals for basic research in one or more of the following technical subject categories of interest to the DoD.

  • Applied Mathematics and Computational Science
  • Networks and Artificial Intelligence
  • Neuroscience and Fundamentals of Cognition and Intelligence
  • Fundamentals of Bioengineering
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Electronics, Photonics and Quantum Materials
  • Material Science
  • Soft Materials and Multiscale Structures
  • Other Fields of Research
Eligibility Requirements

Only accredited U.S. institutions of higher education (universities) with doctoral degree-granting programs are eligible to apply. DoD institutions are not eligible to apply.

Faculty with tenure at the time of proposal submission, with a record of substantial scientific contributions and the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to conduct the proposed research as the principal investigator (PI), are invited to submit an application. The PI must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Under some conditions, applicants can have a dual-appointment with other domestic or foreign Universities, as well as non-eligible institutions such as a FFRDC. The applicants are encouraged to consult with the VBFF Program Director if unsure of their eligibility. In such cases, the time dedicated to the effort by the PI, and the associated salary, must be fully accounted for by the employing and eligible University, and reflected in the submitted management and budget plans. Applicants will be required to guarantee their eligibility at the time of proposal submission.

Number of Applications: The PI may submit only one (1) application in response to this FOA. There is no limit to the number of applications that an institution may submit.

Amount Description

Anticipated Range of Individual Award Amounts: $3 million