I am a PhD student studying in the US and I am interested in finding research-grants relevant to the research area to which I have recently switched to, viz. computational geometry problems in robotics.

As of now, I don't want to apply for a grant, but I want to get an overview for what kinds of problems do public and private research grants get offered to researchers in my field.

While googling I stumbled upon grants.gov on which different government agencies post funding opportunities relevant to their interests, and that this database is searchable by keyword.

The NSF website is also very useful. However their grant solicitations like this one seem quite open-ended and are not more specific on what kinds of problems need to be solved, (but please correct me if I am wrong, I am still exploring this website! :-D )


Are there similar "messaging-boards" where private companies, interested in funding university research for a relevant problem post their funding opportunities? If not, how do you efficiently find such grants ?

I am interested in this because I feel private companies will be more specific on what kinds of problems they encounter and would like to be solved.

  • 1
    From the private gifts and grants I have read about, they seem to have started from a researcher presenting their work at a conference, someone from a company seeing it, and then they start a conversation. Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 2:21
  • If you want to get an overview for what kinds of problems do public and private research grants get offered to researchers in my field you should look at the summary descriptions of the funded proposals, not the solicitations.
    – ff524
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 6:02
  • 1. The overwhelming majority of research grant funding in the US comes from the government. 2. NSF and the like are vague on purpose; it's researchers' jobs to convince agencies of what they should be funding not the other way around. 3. Even private foundations tend to be vague so that researchers have many option. 4. Private companies that do non-charitable grant work for research purposes do not tend to put out open calls for grants; they typically steer funding towards people they know with projects that interest them, or they do the work in house (for competitive reasons).
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


In the US, students generally do not apply for grants (except for specific fellowships for graduate students - NSF, DoD, Hertz, and the like); it is the advisor's job to find funding for the student.

If you want to get a general sense of the funding picture in computational geometry, I suggest you look at recently funded proposals on nsf.gov (their abstracts should be publicly visible) and follow up directly (and with due preparation) with the principal investigator of the corresponding grant.

Your best bet is to attract the attention of a well-known researcher in the field, and, given the current academic pressures, they are very likely to have some funding for students.


I suggest that you avoid the message board approach to locating funding and learn about the major funders in your particular area of study. You can do this by looking at the CV's of leading researchers (in your area) and see where they have received their funding. Some areas are pretty clear -- for example, most of the allied health disciplines receive funding from the National Institutes of Health. Other areas might be supported by the National Science Foundation, whereas others might be funded by private foundation with very specific interests. So, learn the entities that are interested in your area of study, as they all do not post to the same message boards.

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