Unsolicited Research Program

The Unsolicited Research Program (URP) is designed to fund innovative research projects that can significantly advance scientific knowledge and result in practical water quality solutions. The program routinely receives 10% of WRF’s allocated research budget each year.

The 2022 WRF Unsolicited Research Program Call for Pre-proposals opens on January 12, 2022. Pre-proposals are due by 3:00 pm MT on March 31, 2022.


Projects are selected using a two-step process consisting of the submission and review of pre- and final proposals.

The total budget available for all projects funded under the Unsolicited Research Program in 2022 is $984,390. Funding ranges from $25,000–$175,000 for individual projects.

Program Details

Proposals may:

  • Complement the Research Priority Program
  • Address issues of regional and national significance
  • Involve the piloting of novel technologies
  • Address research on drinking water, wastewater, recycled water, and stormwater.

Selection Criteria

Pre-Proposals will be selected based on:

  • Technical and Scientific Merit
  • Project Originality
  • Technical Approach
  • Significance and Value of Research
  • Project Schedule and Qualifications of Key Personnel/Organizational Capacity

Note that the selection criteria for the full proposals may be different and will be provided to all shortlisted pre-proposers at the time of pre-proposal selection notification.

Submissions & Inquiries

To be invited to submit a full proposal, you must comply with the Unsolicited pre-proposal instructions.

Pre-proposals are due by 3:00 pm MT on March 31, 2022.

Go to the “Unsolicited Research Program” section and download the pre-proposal instructions and forms.  A coversheet is required.  The Unsolicited Research Program Pre-Proposal Instructions detail the deadline for your proposal, how to submit it, and other requirements.

Finalist Invitation

The pre-proposals will be evaluated and finalists selected to submit full proposals by June 13, 2022.

Proposal Guidelines

Visit the foundation's Proposal Guidelines page to access supporting documentation for the Unsolicited Research Program.

Program Highlights

  • 2020

    Funding Available


    Proposals Received


    Top Proposal Topics

    PFAS, Drinking Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment, Water Quality, Harmful Algal Blooms, Advanced Water Treatment, Nutrients

    Projects Awarded

    • Rapid Detection and Quantitation of Active Microorganisms (5100)
    • Real Time Carbon Management of Water Resource Recovery Facilities using In-Situ Bio-electrochemical Sensors (5101)
    • Application of Novel Method to Estimate Total PFAS Content in Water (5102)
    • Microwave Regeneration of PFAS-Exhausted Granular Activated Carbons (5103)
    • Use of DNA Nanostructures as Viral Surrogates in Potable Reuse Applications (5104)
  • 2018


    Funding Available


    Proposals Received


    Top Proposal Topics

    Water Treatment Processes (Treatment Intensification), Microbes & Pathogens, Constituents of Emerging Concern, Reuse, Stormwater

    Projects Awarded

    Partial Denitrification/Anammox as Alternative Pathway to achieve Mainstream Short-Cut Nitrogen Removal (5027)

    Fate of Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARGs) and Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens in Full-Scale Activated Sludge Processes and the Optimization of Activated Sludge Processes for Reduction of ARGs (5028)

    Environmental Persistence and Disinfection of Lassa Virus and MER-CoV to protect Worker and Public Safety (5029)

Questions about the Unsolicited Research Program

Please contact our Program Director, Lola Olabode, MPH, BCES, with questions about the Unsolicited Research Program. She can be reach by phone at 571.384.2109.

Questions about the Proposal Submittal Process

Please contact our Senior Administrative Assistant, Caroline Bruck, with questions about proposal submittal using JotForm.  She can be reached by phone at 303.347.6118.