How It Works

Supported by a university-wide faculty expertise database, 3Cavaliers facilitates funding for faculty members from at least two disparate disciplines, located in different units or schools. The platform helps faculty members self-assemble and pursue new research projects that may not be ready for external funding or may not fit traditional funding models.

Developed by the Office of the Vice President for Research, 3Cavaliers unites three faculty members around a new research idea and provides seed funding of $60,000 or $15,000.

The first round (2018–2019) has closed.

A second round (2020-2021) has been postponed. Please check this site for information regarding future rounds.

The 3Cavaliers process

  1. Log in. Researchers log in using their UVA ID to build or edit their faculty profile, follow along with peer research, and create a project.
  2. Create or join a project. Researchers can start their own project and invite collaborators to participate, or search the site to find a project to join. If a researcher creates a new project, all four of the project fields (Summary, Description, Desired Outcomes, and Student Engagement) are required.
  3. Form a trio. Once three tokens have been committed to a project, a trio has been formed. A project owner must have two other tokens submitted to the project to proceed (for a total of three tokens). Token holders invite other faculty to participate in a project or ask to join a project that is being formed. A project owner must have two pending tokens to accept them (cannot accept one at a time). Researchers do not need to take further action until they are notified that the project is funded. 
  4. Funds awarded. Projects are checked to verify they meet requirements and funded in random order until all funds are allocated.
  5. Funds distributed. Project owners are notified of the award, and funds are set up for immediate use.
  6. Research conducted. Research is conducted over a period of one year, with a possible six-month extension.
  7. Attend symposium. The final project report is submitted and participation in the annual symposium is required.

Guidelines and eligibility by school

Read more about guidelines and eligibility by school.

Learn the lingo


A project is a new research idea shared by a faculty member on 3Cavaliers. Projects are eligible for funding once three tokens have been committed and a trio has formed.

There is no peer review requirement of projects. The mutual agreement of faculty members to join a project functions as the peer review step. 3Cavaliers administration will check to ensure that the requirements of the program are being met and that projects are weighted to account for portfolio diversity. Projects will not be reviewed for scientific merit prior to funding.

The administrative review for projects is as follows:

  1. The project must be new research. A project cannot be a continuation of a project a researcher has already started. A project cannot extend current projects or be used as a source of funding to continue a project that has been previously funded.
  2. An “interdisciplinary” team is one involving faculty members from two or more units and composed of faculty who are not currently funded or working together on the topic. Faculty are strongly encouraged to look beyond their school boundaries for research partners. The project must bring together three experts from diverse fields to address new research problems.


At least 50% of the trio’s funding must be used to support UVA undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdocs (someone in a “training role”).

The remaining 50% of the funds can be used for equipment, supplies, lab fees, subject incentives, staff support, and travel. Other items may be allowed by request. Faculty salaries are not allowable expenses.

Projects are awarded $60,000 (or $15,000 for a mini-trio) in seed funding. Working with their collaborators, the project owner determines how the funds are spent for the project. In other words, funding is not intended to be used for three separate $20,000 projects.


A token is a virtual voucher that can be exchanged for matching funds for a project. Each unit (school) provides faculty members with a set number of tokens, which authorizes faculty to participate in a project and commits a portion of matching funds to that project.

Each faculty member may use only one token. A token is equal to $5,000 or $20,000.

Tokens must be redeemed in groups of three to form a trio. Researchers cannot accept them one at a time.

If a researcher or unit does not have a token available, a token may be self-funded. Each token is supported one-third by a unit ($6,667) and two-thirds by the Office of the Vice President for Research ($13,333), for a total $20,000. If funding a mini-trio, the token would be funded one-third by a unit ($1,667) and two-thirds by the Office of the VPR office ($3,333), for a total $5,000.


A trio is an interdisciplinary group of three faculty members committed to a project. Each trio must contain tokens from at least two different units.

Faculty members can choose one of two funding levels for a trio. A trio is worth $60,000 (3 faculty members x $20,000), and a mini-trio is worth $15,000 (3 faculty members x $5,000).

A trio represents new research. At the time of submission, all three faculty members cannot be simultaneously on an existing sponsored research project. The funds cannot be used for extending existing externally funded projects or for projects with sufficient preliminary results that could be competitive for funding by external agencies (e.g., NIH, NSF).

A trio must support students or postdocs. At least 50% of the trio’s funding must be used to support UVA undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdocs. The remaining 50% of funds can be used for equipment, supplies, lab fees, subject incentives, staff support, publication costs, and travel. Faculty member salaries are not allowable expenses.

Funded trios have 12 months to spend the funds.


A unit typically represents a school or college at UVA. Read more about each schools’ guidelines.

Units determine how many tokens they want to invest in and which faculty categories are eligible to receive a token.


The symposium is an event for faculty members to present all funded 3Cavaliers projects.


  • A brief final report is required for each project.
  • At least one member of the trio must participate in the symposium.
  • All trios are expected to submit a minimum of one proposal to an external funding agency and/or demonstrate progress toward the gold standard of scholarly excellence in their field.