Skip to main content

For Faculty

The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) accepts research proposals from NC State University faculty, as well as faculty from other universities in the United States and worldwide. Funded projects fall into the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) 1-4 categories and are focused on fundamental research that is designed to benefit the nonwovens industry. Support for NWI's core research comes from NWI membership dues; augmented by the Institute's state-appropriated funding.

How to Get Involved

NWI selects proposals for funding each Fall, with between 10 to 15 new research projects started each year. Proposals must be submitted in accordance with the timeline and the processes outlined below.

Proposals are selected and reviewed every year during NWI’s Spring Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) meeting. Successful projects will start at the beginning of the Fall semester (approx. mid-August). The duration of each project is either two years for a Master’s student or three years for a Doctoral student.

NWI typically issues funding in the following research thrust areas:

  • Materials and Materials Characterization
    • what to use, and how to analyze
  • Polymer Processing and Extrusion
    • how to make
  • Engineered Structures
    • what to make
  • Micro and Macro Modeling
    • structure-property-process modeling, performance modeling, etc…
  • Sustainability
    • how to recycle, what to use as an alternative source 

Each thrust area is led by an industry focus group. The focus groups identify knowledge gaps and recommend relevant research topics. These serve as a “catalyst” for faculty to create research proposals that are relevant, basic, fundamental in nature aimed at identifying solutions that address the identified knowledge gaps.  Please review the NWI community research topics slide deck, which contains both a menu of topics by title, industry contacts for further discussion, as well as a full-page outline of each research topic organized in each of the five research thrust areas listed above.

While it is the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) responsibility to craft “basic research problems” and “demonstration examples,” experience shows the most successful proposals tend to focus on leveraging multiple discussions with experts to vet ideas and get more precise with the problem definition, with potential approaches and solutions, and with understanding demonstration opportunities. We encourage PIs to take advantage of discussions with industry volunteers and with NWI staff (contact Tom Daugherty at to learn of available industry contacts).

Return to Top

Proposal Timeline and Process

  • Topic Identification:  NWI members submit research topics via Research Focus Groups (October)
  • Pre-Proposal Submission: PIs to create and submit 2-page pre-proposals (early January)
    • PI’s can collaborate with NWI Members via Research Focus Groups
  • IAB Member Review:  IAB members to prepare feedback for PIs (mid-to-late January)
  • Full Proposal Submission:  Feedback will be shared with PIs with an invite to prepare a full proposal (April)
  • IAB Review of Proposals:  Members consider proposals from receipt until the May IAB meeting where they will vote on which proposals to fund.

Although a significant number of research projects are based at NC State University, NWI has funded research at the University of Loughborough, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, University of Tennessee, the University of Chicago at Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland and many others.

A team project approach and inter-university proposals are encouraged. Research proposals are ranked for funding by the Industrial Advisory Board; projects with top ranking are screened by the IAB Executive Committee and funded as the budget permits.

Up to 30% of the proposals are selected by the Strategic Scientific Advisory Board (SSAB) made up of industrial, academic, and government representatives.  They base their decision on how well the proposal is aligned to NWI’s research thrust areas.

The remaining 70% of proposals are selected based on membership votes. It is our experience that proposals aligned with they stated member companies’ needs and developed with representatives of one or more of those companies have a greater chance of obtaining member votes.

Return to Top

Proposal Structure and Budget

All proposals must adhere to the following guidelines; any proposal that does not follow the guidelines will not be put forward to the members for review.

A typical budget for an NWI research project is about $50,000 per year for two or three years. Please review the guidelines below and follow this template for preparing your proposal. Proposals from institutions other than NC State must waive the overhead (F&A ) for the project to be considered.

Format: All proposals must be submitted in PDF Format

These funds are provided for the support of a Master’s student (2 years) or a Ph.D. student (3 years). The work must lead to a thesis or dissertation on the topic proposed. NWI does not fund research associates and does not fund contract research.

The projects are reviewed twice per year by the NWI Industrial Advisory Board, and failure to make sufficient progress or failure to meet the deadlines for project report submission will result in the termination of the project.

Proposals should be submitted in PDF format to Subject line should read: NWI Research Proposal.

Return to Top

Documentation for Faculty and PIs

NWI’s Current Faculty and PIs:

Morton Barlaz

Distinguished University Professor, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Mehmet Dasdemir

Research Scientist, The Nonwovens Institute

Kirill Efimenko

Associate Research Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jan Genzer

S. Frank & Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor

Lilian Hsiao

Assistant Professor, College of Engineering

Saad Khan

INVISTA Professor & Director of Graduate Program, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Arun Kumar Kota

Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Benoit Maze

Assistant Director of Research, The Nonwovens Institute

Lokendra Pal

EJ Woody Rice Professor of Sustainable Materials and Engineering

Joel Pawlak

Associate Professor, Department of Forest Biomaterials

Kara Peters

Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Behnam Pourdeyhimi

Executive Director, The Nonwovens Institute

Hooman Tafreshi

Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Christina Tang

Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Life Sciences Engineering

Orlin Velev

S. Frank and Doris Culberson Distinguished Professor

Richard Venditti

Elis-Signe Olsson Professor of Pulp and Paper Science and Technology

Alexander L. Yarin

UIC Distinguished Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Hong Zhao

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Return to Top

If you have questions about NWI or our service offering, please contact us at