The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded $14m in grants to 26 candidates under the 2020 Young Investigator Program (YIP).

The recipients will share and utilise the funding to carry out scientific research to benefit the naval forces and US Marine Corps.

Established in 1985, the ONR YIP is an early-career programme that seeks to identify and support academic scientists and engineers, and fund their defence-related research to address evolving combat challenges.

The 26 candidates were selected from more than 275 applicants, who all obtained a PhD in the last seven years and are currently working as a faculty in colleges or universities.

Chief of naval research rear admiral David Hahn said: “It’s no secret that our nation is in the midst of a great power competition.

“To maintain a military edge over our adversaries, it’s critical that we attract the best and brightest scientists and engineers from across academia to address naval warfighting challenges.

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“The Young Investigator Program does just that, and I’m honoured to announce the recipients for 2020.”

Overall, the awardees come from 19 different academic institutions.

They are engaged in various naval-related researches from the fields of wireless communications, energetics, power and energy, machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensors and weather forecasting, among others.

Typically, the YIP grant ranges between $510,000 and $750,000 over a three-year period.

The funding can be used as a scholarship, stipend or to purchase laboratory equipment and other expenses related to the planned research.

Last year, ONR announced that it is supporting the development of a new type of ‘omniphobic’ ship coating that can repel water, oil and alcohol and help to drive operational efficiency.