Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Grant Categories


WARF’s board of trustees approves an annual grant to the university to support the following fiscal year (July through June). They guide the mission and objectives of grants; approve the budget for grant making; review recommendations by the grant committee; and maintain open communications with campus leaders. On campus, distribution of WARF’s annual grant is primarily administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR). Every year, OVCR reports the impact of grants on campus to ensure the overall funding direction remains consistent with WARF’s mission.

Key Funding Areas

Recruitment and Retention
These funds are meant to entice new faculty or retain existing faculty. This could be through salary packages, equipment purchases or funding flexible research.

Requests for these funds come in from all schools and colleges at UW-Madison; then packages are negotiated by the four divisional faculty associate vice chancellors.

Graduate Fellowships
These awards support graduate student education, mostly in tuition and living expense stipends. To ensure competitive distribution among physical and biological sciences, humanities, social sciences and other areas, such as underrepresented minority graduate students, disbursement decisions come from as many as 13 different faculty committees.

Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowships
When these graduate fellowships began in 1998, part of the WARF grant was used as matching funds for the UW Foundation to seek donors for additional fellowships. WARF’s original commitment was made to get the program started, and it has continued as earnings of the UW Foundation are credited to the donor accounts.

Matching Grants
There are more than 2,000 active awards on campus using some type of matching funds according to OVCR. Extramural funding matches are often mandatory for research grant opportunities, and WARF funds are leveraged for securing additional support for the university. Matching opportunities have included the Major Research Instrumentation program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education & Research Traineeship program, NSF fellowships, trainee programs of the National Institutes of Health and Title VI awards.

Leadership, Personnel, Policy and Implementation Support
These awards fund compensation, benefits and general expenses of the OVCR administration team that manages research programming.

Biochemistry Innovation
This award helps fund important research in the biochemistry laboratory of Hector DeLuca, WARF’s most prolific inventor.

Wisconsin Crop Improvement
The Wisconsin Crop Improvement grant is awarded under an understanding among WARF, UW-Madison, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association to provide research awards to faculty engaged in the development and production of high quality seeds and plants, including research on new varieties.

Fall Research Committee Competition
Faculty and staff are invited to submit research proposals to the annual fall research competition. This grant supports new areas of research; provides leverage for extramural proposals; assists junior faculty; or supports multidisciplinary research.

Research Forward
Building on the success of the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative, OVCR has launched the next generation of research funding, Research Forward, to continue supporting highly innovative and groundbreaking research at UW-Madison.

Faculty Fellowships
This program provides flexible research awards:

Endowment for Excellence
The Endowment for Excellence program, also known as the Madison Initiative or Cluster Hiring Initiative, was launched to recruit related interdisciplinary clusters of faculty. These funds are earmarked for faculty compensation and involve a commitment by WARF, UW Foundation and the state of Wisconsin.

WARF helped establish WiCell in 1998 to develop stem cell technology. Today, WARF continues to partner with WiCell Research Institute which operates as a nonprofit organization that creates, distributes, tests and banks human pluripotent stem cell lines. Funds from WARF advance WiCell’s efforts to support basic stem cell research on the UW-Madison campus.

WiSys Technology Foundation works with UW System schools to facilitate scientific research, protect and generate patentable discoveries and foster career development and scholarship. WARF provides funds to cover UW-Madison’s assessment by UW System to support WiSys.