Faculty & Research

PNNL-UW Distinguished Graduate Research Program

Ph.D. students in the PNNL-UW Distinguished Graduate Research Program work jointly with nationally recognized researchers at both PNNL and the UW.

UW College of Engineering is partnering with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to support innovative research from top doctoral students that tackles the nation’s greatest scientific challenges. In the Distinguished Graduate Research Program (DGRP), students first complete their graduate coursework at UW under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Then they transfer to PNNL to continue their Ph.D. research program in PNNL’s world-class research facilities. UW faculty and PNNL researchers serve on students’ graduate committees. Students selected for the DGRP receive a fellowship, including tuition and fee coverage, stipend, and benefits for up to four years.

Program structure and financial support

The DGRP is designed to provide funding support from UW and PNNL. The structure and funding model are described below:

  • For Years 1 and 2, approved applicants are appointed to an assistantship, traineeship, or fellowship funded by a UW department. This appointment will provide appointees with stipends and other benefits, such as coverage of tuition and mandatory fees. This period of support is intended to cover the time required to complete a majority of coursework and can be shortened to match the candidate's progress. 
  • For Years 3 and 4, PNNL will engage the approved applicants in research projects, and provide stipends and other benefits. The UW College of Engineering will cover tuition and mandatory fees for the selected applicants. 
  • UW and PNNL will determine the nature of funding support for any additional years that may be needed to complete their graduate degree. 

Candidate research projects and supervision

The DGRP is designed to provide a true collaborative research and training opportunity to candidates through UW and PNNL.

The candidates participating in the DGRP will be advised by individuals from both UW and PNNL. In addition, facilities at both organizations will be available to advance the students' research. 

The UW faculty advisor and PNNL scientist will be responsible for the joint supervision and advising of the candidate and serve on candidate's graduate degree committee. 


The PNNL-UW Distinguished Graduate Research Program welcomes applications from students that will be enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the UW College of Engineering in Autumn 2019.

  • New students entering a Ph.D. program in Autumn 2019 are eligible. 
  • Current UW master’s students are eligible to apply if they will enter a Ph.D. program in Autumn 2019. Successful master's applicants will be eligible to enter the DGRP at Year 3 (see Program Structure for a description of Year 3). 
  • International students are eligible to participate in the DGRP. Because the DGRP involves students and their faculty advisors working on government funded research requiring access to PNNL, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, the following guidance will apply. All prospective DGRP candidates and UW advisors who are foreign nationals should check on their eligibility with the DGRP POCs before starting on their applications. All selected DGRP candidates and UW faculty advisors who are foreign nationals will be reviewed for DOE access requirements before the student or faculty member is approved for access to PNNL. 

Number of selected candidates

UW will award up to 4 DGRP fellowships for the 2019-2020 academic year. 


The DGRP is jointly coordinated by the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs in the UW College of Engineering, and by the Director of Research Partnerships at PNNL. Candidates are jointly nominated to the DGRP by a UW COE faculty member and PNNL scientist. To be considered for the program, submit the following: 

  • Basic information (name, email address, and Ph.D. program in which the candidate is admitted)
  • A description of the proposed research
  • A Statement of Purpose for your Ph.D. program and career. The statement should address what the candidate hopes to gain from research efforts at PNNL and UW.
  • Letters of support from the sponsoring UW faculty and PNNL researcher
  • A CV

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of the research proposal
  • Connection of the proposed research to your broader goals as outlined in the statement of purpose
  • Level of support by the sponsoring researchers
  • Strength of the candidate's academic and professional record

Apply to the PNNL-UW DGRP

Application deadline: February 15, 2019
Notification date: March 15, 2019

Questions? Contact dgrp@uw.edu.