MIT Student Support

Open RFPs


The J-WAFS Research Affiliate program is an opportunity for corporate, government, or non-profit partners to directly support and engage with the MIT research community to pursue research to answer specific water and food sector challenges that are identified by the collaborating partner. Projects funded through this program are considered sponsored research, and varies depending upon J-WAFS’ arrangement with a particular research affiliate.

Students have in the past benefitted from this research arrangement, gaining access to executives and leaders in the water and food sectors, networking with professionals outside of academia, and even securing jobs upon graduation.

Engagement between Research Affiliate partners and MIT researchers is coordinated through J-WAFS.

Eligibility: MIT principal investigators from all departments, labs, and centers of MIT are eligible to participate in this sponsored research funding opportunity. The principal investigator submitting the proposal may be an MIT professor or a member of the research staff with principal investigator privileges (generally senior or principal research scientist, or senior or principal engineer.)

This funding opportunity does not use an open RFP process. J-WAFS’ leadership will personally reach out to pre-identified MIT PIs to create proposals.

Currently Closed

J-WAFS offers travel grants for MIT graduate students to attend select international water conferences. This year, the grant is available to applicants interested in attending Stockholm World Water Week (August 25-30, 2019) in particular. Nearly 400 organizations from 130 countries meet at this event, organized to discuss global water issues. The 2019 theme is “Water for society – Including all.” The selected students will benefit from opportunities to interact with leaders from Xylem, Inc., a World Water Week sponsor and J-WAFS Research Affiliate. In addition to attending Water Week, selected students will be able to participate in Xylem-sponsored side events.

Eligibility: Students eligible to apply for the travel grants must currently be full-time MIT graduate students whose research, academics, and other activities demonstrate a commitment to addressing water quality, water supply, or related public or private sector challenges around water use, sustainability, and access, as well as an interest in pursuing a career in the water sector. Students selected for support will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements, and if they don’t hold a US passport, they are responsible for determining requirements and applying in a timely manner for any needed visas.

Funded students will be expected to maintain a daily journal at the conference, in which they record and reflect on their experiences there, including sessions attended, people they meet or engage with, interactions with Xylem, what they are learning, and how the conference influences their thinking about their research or career aspirations. Upon return J-WAFS’ communications team will request a summary of the student’s experience as well as photos to be used in J-WAFS’s newsletter, communications with the funder, and other materials. The funded students will also be asked to acknowledge their appreciation to Xylem for the gift that is supporting this funding opportunity and any additional opportunities provided during the conference.

Download the RFP

The J-WAFS Grant for Water and Food Projects in India is a funding opportunity for current members of the MIT community—including students—interested in addressing a water or food challenge in India. Up to $30,000 will be awarded in 2020. The grants are intended to further work being pursued by individuals as part of their MIT research, innovation & entrepreneurship initiatives, coursework, or related activities, or support a relevant new activity.

The grant is for development projects or projects benefiting low-income populations. Examples of relevant challenges may include but are not limited to:

  • Economically appropriate water purification technologies, esp. for rural areas
  • Water distribution and management strategies, esp. for rural areas
  • Other water quality issues, e.g. sanitation, monitoring, etc.
  • Food safety issues
  • Food preservation and waste reduction
  • Water for agriculture, especially smallholder farms
  • Agricultural innovations and improvements

Eligibility: Faculty members, full-time research staff, currently matriculated MIT graduate and undergraduate students, or small teams with at least 50% MIT participation and an eligible individual in the leadership role will be considered for funding.

Download the RFP

October 16th, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of World Food Day, an international day launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations aimed at raising awareness about food and food systems challenges such as hunger and poverty. Over 150 countries observe World Food Day, with ministries, universities, research agencies, and organizations launching awareness-raising initiatives to grow the international conversation around world hunger and food security challenges. This year, the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT is joining this effort with a video competition and online festival to showcase the many exciting ways MIT students and post-docs are applying the Institute’s expertise and research capabilities to the world’s food and agriculture challenges.

J-WAFS is issuing this call for video submissions following the theme MIT Research for a Food Secure Future. We invite MIT students (undergraduates, graduates, and recent alumni) and current postdocs to submit short video portraits of their agriculture and/or food systems-related research projects and the challenges they are seeking to address. By launching this video competition and festival in the lead up to World Food Day, we aim to collect and showcase portraits of MIT research and innovation to build awareness about both the challenges facing the world’s food systems and how MIT’s community of young researchers is driving us toward solutions.

We invite all current MIT students, post-docs, and recent alumni to submit a 2 to 2.5-minute video describing their research related to agriculture and food systems, to compete for up to $3000 in prize money and the opportunity to be featured in J-WAFS’ social media and other outreach. J-WAFS will showcase up to ten top videos as the focal point of a World Food Day social media-based video festival, and in our communications materials for the remainder of the year. We will feature the grand-prize-winning video on the J-WAFS’s homepage. The grand prize winner will also receive $1500, with $1000 awarded to second place. Additional $200 awards will be made for specific “Judges’ Favorite” categories such as research originality, creative communication of research, and potential for impact. Any video submissions meeting the competition standards may be made available on the J-WAFS website.


  • All MIT students currently enrolled in degree-granting programs are eligible. (This does not include certificate-only programs.)
  • All current MIT postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral fellows are eligible. Recent MIT alumni with degrees dated 2020 are eligible.
  • Research teams may submit a video entry when 50% or more of the team is eligible and 50% or more of the research is being conducted at MIT. (See further requirements information below.)

Call for Submissions and other important links

The J-WAFS Grant for Transforming Animal Agriculture Systems is a funding opportunity for current members of the MIT community—including students—interested in addressing problems associated with industrial animal food production (IFAP). The production of food from animals, including meat, milk, and eggs, has largely been industrialized in developed countries, providing a substantial portion of the typical diet in those countries with minimal human labor, but imposing significant environmental and other impacts that are often poorly monitored and regulated, and largely unaccounted for in economic terms. Developing countries still largely rely on smaller farms, but IFAP is expanding as these countries seek to intensify their food production systems, while meat consumption in these countries rises as per capita income increases. This grant is available to members of the MIT community interested in transforming animal agriculture systems to reduce negative impacts through innovative solutions.

Up to $50,000 is available. The grants are intended to further work being pursued by individuals as part of their MIT research, innovation & entrepreneurship, coursework, or related activities. Applicants may request up to $20,000 in funding. J-WAFS will award two to three grants based on the winning proposal(s).

Examples of relevant challenges could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reducing the environmental footprint of animal agriculture
  • Addressing the social and economic impacts of animal agriculture
  • Improving animal and human health

More examples are included in the RFP.

Eligibility: Faculty members, full-time research staff, currently matriculated MIT graduate and undergraduate students, or small teams with at least 50% MIT participation and an eligible individual in the leadership role will be considered for funding. Grants can be used over the course of one year to support travel, technology pilots, scale-up studies, community outreach and education, etc. Local partners are encouraged but the grant funding should support MIT activities. Funds may not be used for MIT equipment purchases.

Download the RFP

The J-WAFS Solutions program aims to help MIT researchers commercialize breakthrough technologies and inventions by transforming promising ideas at MIT into innovative products and cutting-edge spinout companies. ($150,000 per year, one year.)

J-WAFS Solutions has the mission of moving water and food technologies from labs t MIT into the commercial world, where they will improve the productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of the world's water and food systems. The J-WAFS Solutions program is part of a research partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization led by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. The program is administered by J-WAFS in partnership with the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.

Eligibility:  Applicants must have current principal investigator status at MIT.  To be eligible for the 2021 J-WAFS Solutions grant cycle, projects should be aligned with the J-WAFS mission and/or adjacent themes in energy, AI, plant health (food crops) and animal health (livestock). Research should be aimed at conceptualizing and developing products and services that will have a significant impact on water, food, or energy sustainability and security, with related economic and societal benefits. Special consideration will be given to projects that also incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Project examples are:

  • AI / machine learning (ML) in agritech
  • Energy-efficient irrigation
  • Battery/energy storage for solar-powered desalination
  • AI / ML detection of food- and water-borne pathogens
  • AI / ML discovery of veterinary medicines (particularly where relevant to securing food systems)

Projects on topics other than those listed that align with the J-WAFS mission and are aimed at solving other water and food systems challenges are also welcome.

Concepts proposed for J-WAFS Solutions grants should already have completed basic research. Applicants should be interested in commercializing the technology and the technology should be 1-3 years from commercialization.

View the RFP

March 22nd is World Water Day, an international day launched by the United Nations to advocate for sustainable water use and equitable water access and inspire people to take action for clean water. J-WAFS is joining this effort through a student video competition and online festival to showcase the exciting water sector research and innovation that is going on around our campus. 

MIT Research for a Water Secure Future invites MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni to submit short video portraits of their water sector research projects and the challenges they are seeking to address. The video competition and accompanying festival aim to build awareness about both the challenges facing the world’s water systems and how MIT’s research community is driving us towards solutions.

Applicants should prepare a 2 to 2.5-minute video describing a water sector research project that you are pursing at MIT. The research must be your own. It could be a broad summary or a single concept, however it should teach audiences about a significant water challenge and what is being done to address it.

Submissions are due by Friday March 19, 2021 at noon EST. The virtual festival will be held on March 22nd in honor of World Water Day.

The grand prize winner will receive $1500, with $1000 being awarded to second place. Additional $200 awards will be made for specific “Judges’ Favorite” categories.

Important links


In 2017, J-WAFS inaugurated two J-WAFS graduate student fellowships: the Rasikbhai L. Meswani Fellowship for Water Solutions and the J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellowship Program. For each fellowship, selected doctoral students will receive one semester of funding.

The Rasikbhai L. Meswani Fellowship for Water Solutions is a doctoral fellowship for students pursuing research related to water and water supply at MIT. Up to two outstanding students will be selected annually to receive fellowship support; the Fellowship currently covers one academic semester. This fellowship was made possible by Elina and Nikhil Meswani and family. Through it we seek to support outstanding MIT students who are pursuing solutions to the pressing global water supply challenges of our time.

The J-WAFS Research Affiliate Program offers companies the opportunity to partner with MIT around food and water research. The program is central to J-WAFS' efforts to engage across sector and disciplinary boundaries in solving real-world problems. A portion of each Research Affiliate’s fees support the J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellowship Program. One MIT doctoral student pursuing work in water and water supply will be supported for one semester.

Eligibility: Application to the Meswani Fellowship and the J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellowship is by faculty nomination; nominating faculty and students interested in the fellowship should read the RFP for instructions and nominating requirements.

Students eligible to be nominated for a Meswani Fellowship or a J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellowship must be in their second or third year of PhD studies and must have passed their qualifying exams by the nomination deadline. Nominees should be engaged in research focused on alleviating the problems of water supply or other solutions-based research and innovation related to the water sector. They should also have a clear research question and plan that they are actively pursuing. J-WAFS seeks students with outstanding academic credentials for these fellowships; candidates should be able to demonstrate a GPA of 4.5 or higher. Eligible students must be in residence at MIT during the fellowship award period.

Download the RFP