The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - Oregon State University Distinguished Graduate Research Program (PNNL-OSU DGRP) is a four-year opportunity designed to provide collaborative research and training to OSU graduate students. Students selected to participate in the program will benefit from having the expertise of graduate committee members from both organizations and access to the world-class research infrastructure at OSU and PNNL.

Opportunities exist in a wide range of research areas including, but not limited to:

  • Biofuels and bio-products
  • Chemistry
  • Computational
  • Environmental and human health
  • Environmental, water and soil science and engineering
  • Electric power and smart grid
  • Materials
  • Medical/biological sciences
  • Political science
  • Psychology

Award Details

Students participating in this four-year program will be advised and funded from both OSU and PNNL. A prerequisite for applying is written confirmation from the OSU major professor and the specific PNNL scientist that both are  committed to the collaboration for the duration of the program. The OSU faculty member and PNNL scientist will be responsible for the joint supervision and advising of the DGRP awardee, and will serve on the candidate’s committee. All PNNL scientists supervising and advising DGRP students will have a courtesy appointment at OSU. The OSU faculty member and PNNL scientist commit to initiating and maintaining quarterly communication during all four years of the program to discuss the student’s progress, transition to PNNL, and other relevant research and support issues.

For years 1 and 2 of the DGRP, the student will be appointed to an assistantship determined, administered, and funded by OSU through departmental or faculty grants. The assistantship will provide tuition (a minimum of 12 credits in fall, winter, spring quarters plus 3 credits for summer terms), stipend, health insurance benefits, and additional support to cover mandatory OSU fees. During this two-year period of OSU support, the student is expected to complete all or the majority of the coursework toward their doctorate.

For years 3 and 4, PNNL and OSU will fund the student on two consecutive 12-month fellowships. The PNNL scientist will provide funds for the fellowship stipend, health insurance, and mandatory fees. OSU, through the Graduate School, will provide tuition waivers in conjunction with the fellowship during these two years. In years 3 and 4, the student will be located primarily at PNNL to gain hands-on research experience with PNNL scientists.

As a student’s ability to relocate fully to the PNNL site may vary, PNNL and Graduate School staff will consider flexibility to this requirement if compelling circumstances exist and if the research project permits. Similarly, requests for deviations from the standard 4-year DGRP award will be considered on a case-by-case basis if circumstances warrant.


The DGRP is open to full-time first- and second-year doctoral students at OSU who are enrolled in STEM and related science and engineering graduate programs.

At the time of applying, all DGRP applicants must have an OSU major professor and named PNNL scientist who have both committed to the collaboration for the duration of the program.

Since the DGRP involves candidates and their advisors working on government-funded research requiring access to PNNL, a Department of Energy (DOE)-owned facility, all prospective DGRP awardees and their OSU advisors who are foreign nationals should confirm their eligibility before starting on their applications. All selected DGRP students and their OSU advisors who are foreign nationals will be reviewed for DOE access requirements before the student or faculty member is approved to access information generated at PNNL. Continued participation in the program will be contingent upon meeting the access requirements in effect.

Evaluation Criteria

OSU intends to select up to five new DGRP students annually. Participants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Quality and strengths of nominee’s previous academic and research experience as well as their scholarly potential for the future.
  • Nominee’s demonstrated ability to work maturely and independently in a national laboratory or related setting.
  • Quality of the proposed research, its relevance to the existing and emerging areas of collaboration between OSU and PNNL, and evidence that the OSU major professor and named PNNL scientist are committed to collaboration for the duration of the program.

Nomination Period

The nomination period begins on Nov. 15, 2023. Completed nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m., Feb. 19, 2024 for full consideration with May 15, 2024 as the final deadline.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations may be submitted by the nominee's major professor, graduate program director, department chair/head, and/or other appropriate college leadership. Students may not apply directly for this award. Each unit (as defined by university major code) may nominate no more than TWO nominees (total) per award cycle.

Nominators will provide appropriate names and contact information for those at OSU and PNNL in the official nomination form (see link below). To complete and submit the online nomination form, nominators will be required to prepare/upload the materials listed below as one PDF document using the following file name convention:
"Nominee's Last Name_Department_PNNL.pdf”.

  1. A joint nominating letter (approximately 2 pages) from the major professor and the graduate program director/department chair/head describing:
    1. The nominee’s previous academic and research experience, their scholarly potential, and their ability to grow and succeed in graduate studies.

      This can be demonstrated by a combination of possible indicators including, but not limited to, prior coursework and degrees; honors, awards, scholarships, or other academic distinctions; scholarly activity at previous institution(s) or employment; scholarly engagement in volunteer or service activities, membership in professional organizations; the nominee’s specific skills and aptitudes that support scholarly activity; and other characteristics that would support academic success such as motivation, persistence, self-direction, planning, organization, and initiative
    2. The nominee’s previous experiences and background and the value those add to the academic/research context.

      This can be demonstrated by a combination of indicators including, but not limited to, previous institution(s) attended; progression of academic performance over time and contextual factors; previous participation in educational or scholarly programs; previous work experiences; extracurricular involvement including the diversity of activities, duration and type of involvement, and growth in leadership; quality and impact of leadership role(s); community service or volunteerism; experiences with overcoming educational or economic obstacles; experience living or working in diverse environments; a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; cross-cultural experiences and opportunities for meaningful engagement with those different from self.
    3. How the unit will financially support the student beyond the OSU-PNNL DGRP funding, if needed.
  2. A statement from the nominee (approximately 2 pages) that speaks to the following areas (nominees may use the indicators listed above, and/or include others):
    1. Their academic merit, intellectual vitality and curiosity, previous experiences, and the value those add to the academic/research context.
    2. Their ability to work maturely and independently in a national laboratory or related setting.
    3. How this award will support them in their graduate studies.
  3. The nominee’s résumé or curriculum vitae.
  4. A statement authored and signed by the major professor, PNNL scientist, and nominee that:
    1. Describes the proposed collaborative research along with its relevance and alignment with existing or emergent research priorities.
    2. Confirms that the major professor and PNNL scientist have been involved in and have worked collaboratively on the development of the proposal.
    3. Confirms that the major professor and PNNL scientist are committed to the joint and sustained effort for the duration of the student’s involvement in the DGRP.

Nomination Form

Submit a nomination

For questions, email Maureen Childers at [email protected].