#BasicResearch Chatter — HBCU/MI Funding Opportunities and More …

On February 9th, we welcomed Ed Lee and United States Air Force Colonel Jason Mello to sit down with us and talk about AFOSR’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions program – most commonly referred to as HBCU/MI.

For those who are new to our blog or just joining us, AFOSR is the basic research arm of the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), supporting the United States Air Force and United States Space Force. Managing 1,200+ grants worldwide, AFOSR engages in diversity of thought with universities and AFRL labs, leading to breakthrough innovations: to learn more about our technology areas click HERE.

Moving right along now, let’s introduce you to our subject matter experts (SMEs), United States Air Force Col Jason Mello, AFOSR Chief, Science and Engineering Division, and Mr. Ed Lee, AFOSR Program Coordinator for the HBCU/MI #BasicResearch portfolio.

AFOSR solicits and funds research to solve the Air Force and Space Force’s biggest and sometimes unknown future challenges – it’s competitive! AFOSR’s HBCU/MI program seeks to enhance research and educational capabilities; encourage the participation of institutions in research, development, testing, and evaluation in the Agile Science of Test and Evaluation; increase the number of graduates; and encourage research and educational collaborations.

AFOSR is committed to supporting HBCU/MI. Between 2016-2020, AFOSR invested over $216M in HBCU/MI basic research grants to 279 researchers in 116 different science research areas.

We’re interested in hearing about HBCU research and how it might fit the needs of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force. The first step is to share your idea(s) with our POs – they may suggest submitting a whitepaper to get started! Engage with AFOSR POs to discuss your idea statement. Promising ideas may begin as an ongoing dialogue and lead to a full proposal submission.

Research proposals are reviewed by AFOSR POs as part of our core program. The process for applying for grants can be found HERE.

The focus of AFOSR is on research areas that offer significant and comprehensive benefits to our national warfighting and peacekeeping capabilities. Research areas and corresponding Program Officer(s), and their contact can be found on our website, AFOSR Research Areas.

Calling all HBCU STEM researchers — are you interested in funding for your innovative research idea(s)? Review the broad agency announcement (BAA) and reach out to the Program Officer in your area of interest. Typically each year the AFOSR HBCU/MI program grant opens for submission in August and closes in July.

To apply for an AFOSR basic research HBCU/MI grant, go to the BAA at grants.gov. Search for Opportunity Number: FA9550-19-S-0003 or Opportunity Title: Research Interests of the Air Force of Scientific Research.

HBCU/MI strategic partnerships are vital to Basic Research Success. It is the teaming of diverse areas of science that enables the next generation of technology advancements. AFRL actively works to support underrepresented minorities by recruiting across the country to include looking to hire the best and brightest students to work across our enterprise. AFRL/AFOSR seeks out researchers at major science and technology career fairs, including the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the BEYA STEM Awards. You may even see Ed Lee there!

We’re excited to announce our #AFOSR_HBCU program community group on LinkedIn. Connect and follow to learn about funding opportunities, celebrate HBCU/MI PIs and basic research breakthroughs. Also, follow YIP on Twitter @AFOSRYIP.

If you have questions about the AFOSR HBCU program, send your inquiry to HBCUMIus.af.mil.

Be sure to follow AFOSR #BasicResearch on social media to learn about funding opportunities, upcoming events, and research news.

What are the best ways to stay connected to AFOSR?



Stay Connected to AFRL:


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Thank you for joining us to learn more about AFOSR’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions (HBCU/MI) program! We hope we made doing business with us a little more transparent. Join us for our next AFOSR #BasicResearch Chatter in March!

#BasicResearch Chatter — An Opportunity to chat about the AFRL Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program (ESEP)

Last week we delved into the world of ESEP, AFRL’s Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program, for this month’s #BasicResearch Chatter. Jackie Sukup, Kristen Solada, and Phil Gibber joined us and filled the hour with tons of information about the program and it’s requirements.

We’ll start off by introducing our guests and then move onto the meat and potatoes of ESEP. First up is Jackie Sukup who is the Air Force ESEP Manager and is responsible for managing placement of both military and civilian personnel participating in the international science and engineering exchange program overseas as well as international participants in the United States.

Kristen Solada is the ESEP Manager for the International Armaments Cooperation Division (SAF/IAPC) within the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force, International Affairs (SAF/IA). She joined the SAF/IAPC team in October 2020.

Last, but certainly not least, is Phil Gibber who has led ESEP at AFOSR for 25 years. The wealth of knowledge that he brings is undeniable.

Now that we’ve introduced some of the people behind ESEP, let’s delve into the ins and outs of the program. ESEP is a Department of Defense effort to promote international cooperation in military research, development, and acquisition through the exchange of defense scientists and engineers.

“International cooperation is very important. We can accomplish [more] through increased collaboration.”

— Leon Plouviez

An example of ESEP promoting international cooperation can be found in this article from AFRL.

1963 saw the creation of ESEP and the first agreement was with Germany! ESEP provides on-site working assignments for U.S. military and civilian engineers and scientists in allied and friendly governments’ organizations and reciprocal assignment of foreign Ministry of Defense engineers and scientists in U.S. defense establishments. Some of the primary goals of ESEP are to broaden perspectives in research and development techniques and methods, form a cadre of internationally experienced professionals to enhance U.S. Air Force research and development programs, and cultivate future international cooperative endeavors.

ESEP offers a modern day adventure without the risks and perils associated with one like Shackleton’s arctic explorations. ESEP offers opportunities for career development, learning a language, and working with other world-class scientists on important projects. Language Training at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) is typically 6 months prior to and in addition to the 2-year ESEP tour. It’s highly recommended and you can learn more HERE.

The Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL) International Office is responsible for managing placement of ESEP exchanges within the U.S. Air Force for the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, providing policy guidance. The ESEP Call for Applications is sent once a year via an Air Force MyPers automatic message to all scientists and engineer civilians (GS-12 and above) and military (1st Lt-Major) personnel, respectively, and contains program information, requirements and application suspense information. Announcements are released at different times, through disparate routes. An example is civilian solicitation is released under Civilian Developmental Education (CDE) Call for Nominations. Applicant template and supporting documents are on MyPers and the Air Force International Affairs website.

Eligibility requirements for U.S. Department of Defense Civilians and Active Duty U.S. Military interested in applying for ESEP are listed below.

ESEP is one of the few opportunities for Department of Defense military and civilian members of the science and engineering community to go overseas and achieve a unique career broadening experience. Below is an illustration of the process.

International partners interested in applying for ESEP should reach out (and/or) coordinate with their international focal point. Every country has its own procedure for requesting placement.

For International applicants – 3 steps to participate in ESEP:

  1. Contact your international focal point
  2. Get approval from your organization
  3. Submit the proper paperwork

As an International Partner applicant, you’ll need to follow these requirements to apply for ESEP.

Here is a sample timeline of one ESEP participant’s experience and perspective with nomination, language training, change of station, and assignment.

ESEP participants have the opportunity to join a unique community of international engineers and scientists with access to insights from seasoned Air Force ESEP alumni. ESEP is a highly competitive program with only six candidates selected each year — it’s a chance to grow in your career and give back to the Air Force.

Captain Matthew Masters, assigned to the Institute of Flight Systems at the Universität der Bundeswehr München working on adaptive assistant systems in a helicopter simulator, says “I’m grateful for the ESEP program and the connections I’ve made with industry, academia, and to continuing work with AFRL as well.” Capt Masters encourages anyone who participates in ESEP to make sure they take advantage of the full 6 months at DLIFLC and definitely take in the sights at your location. Maybe even take up a new hobby – like hang gliding.

ESEP participant Jaime Bestard published a paper on his robotics and nanotechnology research, you can read it HERE.

“It was really truly a great assignment!”

Air Force ESEP participant, Jaime Bestard

Some advice from Bestard:

  1. Save roughly 3 months of your income before you start your tour.
  2. Know yourself, engage your colleagues and management in country, be a proactive and friendly face.
  3. Travel and explore your host country and beyond.

Email Jackie Sukup, Kristen Solada, and Phil Gibber to inquire about applying at ESEP.

A new pilot program this year is the Short Term Exchange Program (STEP). Assignments are for 179 days or less. Selections are decided on mutually beneficial technology areas, with assignments in Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. As more interest occurs countries will be added.

Our second new pilot program this year is the Innovative Teaming Exchange (ITEx) with an emphasis on team projects in the technology area of modeling simulation and analysis (MS&A). Currently it is only taking place in the United Kingdom.

To learn more about ESEP, watch Jackie Sukup’s presentation during the How to Engage with AFRL Research Ecosystem: International Edition webinar.

Have questions about ESEP? Reply to this post in the comments or check out our candidate FAQ’s.

What are the best ways to stay connected to AFOSR?



Stay Connected to AFRL:


AFRL Website


Thank you for joining us to learn more about ESEP! We hope we have made doing business with us a little more transparent. Join us for our next AFOSR #BasicResearch Chatter event highlighting our HBCU program.

#BasicResearch Chatter — Doing Business with our International Offices — Europe Edition

We’ve done it. We interviewed all of the international offices, and today’s post will be the last entry into this on-going series of “Doing Business with our International Offices.” Earlier this week, we sat with the folks in our London office otherwise known as the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development – or EOARD for short.

Colonel D. Brent Morris is the Director of AFOSR’s International Science Division and Commander of EOARD. Col. Morris directs offices in London, Santiago and Tokyo overseeing a research budget of $50+ million leading to execution of 400+ grants.

Not only is Col. Morris an influential U.S. Air Force leader, he is also a skilled beekeeper. Much like the mutualistic relationship between the bee & the flower, EOARD seeks partnerships with exquisite scientists to conduct basic research.

The AFOSR mission is to discover shape and champion basic science that profoundly impacts the future U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. Read the IO Annual Report to see our how our international sphere of influence supports the mission.

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#BasicResearch Chatter — Doing Business with our International Offices — Asia Edition

If you’ve been following our blog for the last few months, then you know that we’ve been highlighting our International Offices and this month’s highlight is our Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development – or AOARD for short.

On Monday night, Tuesday morning for our friends in Tokyo, we sat down and had an entertaining hour talking about how to do business with AOARD but before we get into that let’s talk about AFOSR’s International Offices and how they seek to build mutually beneficial relationships between scientists from around the world with scientists in the United States to accelerate science and technology achievement and leverage diversity of thought. You can learn more about AFOSR’s IO programs and tools: HERE.

With international offices in Arlington, Santiago, London, and Tokyo… the sun never sets on AFOSR. International Program Officers (IPOs) at these offices fund #BasicResearch grants at foreign institutions across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central and South America.

Established under AFOSR in 1992, AOARD promotes basic science and scientific interchanges of interest to the USAF and USSF through the combined efforts of multinational top researchers within the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific region has been rapidly rising in importance within the scientific community and publishes more scientific papers compared to other regions globally. Key technologies in this region include nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and cognitive sciences.

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#BasicResearch Chatter – Q&A with Dr. Shery Welsh

So our last blog post highlighted all of the tweets from our new director, Dr. Shery Welsh, but this time around we’re going to share the questions the were asked during the twitter hour and the answers that Dr. Welsh and our team came up with.

It was a very busy hour last month, because almost as soon as we went live the questions started coming in. We received a total of 19 questions over the hour we were live, and some of these questions required multiple tweets. Those 240 characters really get you sometimes. So without further ado, here are the questions and the answers.

I got my start at the Defense Support System. In 1991, that was the system that detected scud missiles during the first Gulf War. Dr. Welsh, what changes have you witnessed in remote and near sensing and what challenges do you see us tackling next?

From Dr. Yakes — The quality and quantity of EM sensors has been constantly improving, matched with a similar improvement in computational power. This has led to interesting new ideas and data fusion, visualization, and analysis.

We will continue to push these boundaries as well as further investigating hyperspectral and polarimetric imaging and new ideas in degraded or obscured environments. Grant opportunities at Grants.Gov

It has to be an exciting time to lead AFOSR with the challenge of laying the #basicresearch objectives of Space Force.

It is!!! I have worked closely with USSF and I am thrilled to be responsible for their basic research. Our mission domains are space, air, and cyber but we are focused on dedicating investments to make for robust space research to meet the needs of USSF and drive tech push as well.

Please share your thoughts on the AFOSR investments to address emerging scientific challenges. Specifically would there be an opportunity to plan MURIs and other focused initiatives to address these emerging challenges in specific areas.

We are constantly assessing our portfolios for realignment of investments needed to address challenges. We invest in MURIs and many other programs to meet those challenges. Collaborations and new partnerships across the globe are key.

Dr. Welsh, Roscomos announced today a new nanotechnology that self heals damage from micrometeorite collisions. How do we compete when our leadership demonstrates a lack of basic scientific understanding?

It’s incumbent upon us as scientists/engineers to educate our leadership and I can tell you it works! It shouldn’t stop us from competing. I have the authority to drive our portfolios to compete. It can be challenging at times but lean in and keep pushing forward!

How best to work with you to pursue R&D collaborations with industry?

AFRL has great resources for industry/small business: Partner with Us

Small and large businesses are also eligible grant applicants in our Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): Grants.gov

How would the focused future investments align with the Department of Defense modernization priorities? Thank you.

They always have and will continue to do so. Fortunately, I have many demand signals (tech pull), and AFOSR Program Officers are highly regarded and drive the technology push to highlight to USSF and USAF what they’ll need but may not realize.

What do you see in the future for AFR Basic Research? What are the broad aims and goals you want to meet in future funding applications?

I see MORE global partnerships. More workforce development to grow our talent pipeline to attract top talent My goal: remove every “science” roadblock to clear the path for our AFRL and USSF brethren as they mature and advance technologies for the Warfighter.

Good Morning, Dr. Welsh,

I’m curious if you could comment on the whether the AF2030 efforts are still guide future research vision, or if there is a pivot in technical focus with changing leadership?

Yes – AFRL and AFOSR are still working hard to accelerate the S&T 2030 strategy that focuses on game-changing ideas and transitions from basic research to the lab t the field: AFResearchLab.com

AFOSR in particular is expanding the Center of Excellence program which strives to enhance collaborations and generate excitement between AFRL and university researchers in fields important to the future success of the USAF and USSF.


Thanks for providing this opportunity! I’m familiar with NSF reviewing process. Is the reviewing process of AFOSR similar (e.g. through a panel consisting of experts)?

And two bonus questions:

2. Do you think we will ever see co-design between vehicle and munition addressed proactively as a basic research activity?

3. The abrupt change in SBIR/STTR handling, left a number of contractors in an odd middle ground. Can you help? 🙂

After receiving a proposal, AFOSR runs it through a vigorous peer review process looking for technical merit, Air Force relevance, and other criteria based on the requirements of the BAA. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Re: 3. with the strategic move to align AFWERX within the AFRL ecosystem, we hope to be able to streamline processes.

I’m excited to see what the Quantum U Tech Accelerator yields! Will there be other initiatives like that with AFOSR involvement?

YES! We are planning a Space Sciences Summit with USSF and AFRL for October 2020! We have many initiatives and events lined up so continue to follwo us and you’ll hear all about them!!

Welcome to your great leadership position. Is there any plans to expand the research support to HBCU/MI? ROLLTIDE.

ROLLTIDE my friend!! Yes. I have a passion for STEM and the HBCU/MI programs. We MUST continue to invest in these programs and I am. Diversity is key to innovation and we must increase our youth in STEM career fields. We are planning a virtual Roadshow for Fall for HBCU/MIs!

Air Force telephone number, looking for records?

The best place to start is the Air Force Public Affairs.

Be sure to join us next week on September 29, 2020 as we talk to AOARD! The time will be TBD, so be on the lookout on all of our social media channels for the announcement!