2024 Graduate Research Fellowship

Image
image of Sunset Cliffs with text "Graduate Research Fellowship- Call for Proposals 2024"
Funding Category
Grants and Funding
Application Deadline
Proposal Budget Help: sgbudget@ucsd.edu
Proposal Contact: sgproposal@ucsd.edu
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

IMPORTANT DATES

January 31, 2023, 2:00 - 3:00PM PT: Informational webinar and Q&A

March 1, 2023, 5:00PM PT: Pre-proposals due via eSeaGrant

June 21, 2023, 5:00PM PT: Full proposals due via eSeaGrant

Only applicants who submitted a pre-proposal are eligible to submit a full proposal.


Program Overview

California Sea Grant is pleased to announce the availability of Graduate Research Fellowships for the 2024 - 2026 academic years. Contingent upon available federal funding, the fellowships are available for one or two years for full-time Masters and Ph.D students at any California academic institution who are engaged in coastal and marine research relevant to California. Each fellowship provides an award of up to $45,000 per year to support student academic expenses and professional development opportunities during the fellowship period, focused on science communication, science-to-management processes, outreach, and other California and National Sea Grant mission priorities.

The start date for the fellowships is February 1, 2024. California Sea Grant expects to fund up to 9 fellowships from this call. For this solicitation, fellowship research projects are required to provide 25% in matching funds from non-federal sources. 

California Sea Grant is accepting pre-proposals until 5:00 PM PT on March 1, 2023. Full proposals will be due 5:00 PM PT on June 21, 2023. Both must be submitted via eSeaGrant. Only applicants who have submitted a pre-proposal may submit a full proposal. 

The purpose of the California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship is to support exceptional graduate students engaged in education and research that furthers the strategic goals of California Sea Grant. California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellows address issues relevant to California communities, and of importance to coastal and marine science – broadly defined (e.g., natural and social sciences, engineering and design, policy and legal analysis). By working with a research mentor and community mentor, the fellowship provides hands-on experience in translating research results to coastal and marine communities. 

This Request for Proposals (RFP) focuses on proposals that respond to and target objectives specific to Resilient Communities and Economies (RCE), and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture* (SFA). California Sea Grant’s 2024-2027 Strategic Plan contains complete information on goals and desired outcomes of California Sea Grant’s Strategic Focus Areas. An outline of RCE and SFA goals are provided below (see Priority Research Goals section). *Please note that we will only consider SFA projects related to fisheries for this funding opportunity; a concurrent funding opportunity is available for projects related to aquaculture (see Aquaculture 2024 Call for Proposals). 

California Sea Grant

California Sea Grant’s mission is to provide the information, tools, training and relationships needed to help California conserve and sustainably prosper from our coastal and marine environments. We accomplish this by collaborating with a range of local, state, regional, national, and international partners to further the generation and application of relevant scientific knowledge.

The National Sea Grant College Program is a partnership between the nation’s universities and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, and is authorized by the United States Congress. California Sea Grant is part of a national network of 34 university-based programs, the National Sea Grant Law Center and the National Sea Grant Library. The network, in cooperation with federal and state agencies, and/or marine industries, partners with over 300 universities and colleges.

Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel (RASGAP) 

This panel is codified in California state law with the purpose of advising and assisting California Sea Grant (as well as the USC Sea Grant program). Input from RASGAP is directed toward identifying and meeting priorities for funding according to the needs identified by state resource protection and management agencies. The RASGAP panel reviews research proposals and provides a resource protection- and management-relevant view of proposal value.


Award Information
Eligibility
Webinar
Timeline
Fellowship Overview
Priority Research Objectives
Submission
Proposal Components and Format
Review Process
Evaluation Criteria
Selection Criteria
Conditions of Award 
Contacts 

    Award Information

    The fellowship provides an award of up to $45,000 per year for both Masters and Ph.D. students. The start date for fellowships is February 1, 2024. California Sea Grant expects to fund up to 9 fellowships.

    The fellowship will provide up to two years of support, based on scope/type of projects and contingent upon the availability of funds, in the form of a grant/award that includes funds for a stipend and research-related expenses. One-year fellowship proposals as well as funding requests for less than $45,000/year are also encouraged. The fellow’s stipend and research related expenses will be administered by the university, college, or research institution with which the fellow and research mentor are affiliated.

    The amount requested for a graduate stipend must conform to your institution’s normal stipend for a half-time graduate student at their level of experience. Also, if applicable, indicate expected costs for expendable supplies, publication costs, and travel.

    For this solicitation, California Sea Grant requires a 25% funding match (i.e., proposal budgets must show $1 of match for every $4 of Sea Grant funding requested). Only non-federal funds may be committed as a matching contribution. Pursuant to federal regulation (15 C.F.R. § 917.11), indirect costs are not allowable for either the fellowship or for any costs associated with the fellowship including waived indirect costs as match.

    The portion of the award provided to each fellow for tuition (unless waived), health insurance, and other university fees will be determined by each university in accordance with its guidelines. The portion of the award for living expenses will be distributed as a monthly stipend by the fellow’s academic or research institution affiliated.

    Continued support after the first year will be contingent on satisfactory performance of the fellow and on the availability of funds.

    Eligibility

    Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time graduate or professional degree program at a California academic institution prior to the award of the fellowship, beginning no later than Fall 2024 (provisional acceptances are allowed, however, acceptances will need to be confirmed before any award can be made). Prospective Master's and pre-doctoral fellows must, at the time of applying, be in or have recently been admitted to a Master's or Ph.D. degree program at a California academic institution in natural resources or environmental sciences, environmental policy and management, engineering, social sciences, or coastal, aquatic or related sciences. Candidates must remain associated with an accredited California institution of higher learning for the duration of the award. Applicants must be eligible to receive federal funds; it is the responsibility of the applicant to check with their institution if they are eligible to receive federal funds and (if applicable) obtain the appropriate VISA to work at their institution during the fellowship period.

    To be eligible, the applicant must have a research mentor and a community mentor participate in the application. The research mentor (defined below) typically will be the student’s academic advisor. During the fellowship, the fellow, community mentor(s) (more than one is acceptable), and research mentor(s) will collaborate on the approved project, and together they will provide California Sea Grant with updates on progress and drafts of outreach materials, and manuscripts intended for publication.

    California Sea Grant is committed to increasing the diversity of the workforce we fund and of the communities we serve. We embrace individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, marital statuses, job classifications, veteran status types, as well as income and socioeconomic status types. California Sea Grant is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people with unique knowledge, backgrounds, life experiences, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking.

    Timeline

    • January 31, 2023, 2:00 - 3:00PM PT: - Informational webinar and Q&A
    • March 1, 2023, 5:00PM PT: Pre-proposals due via eSeaGrant
    • March - April, 2023: Technical panel and RASGAP reviews of pre-proposals
    • Early May, 2023: Feedback on pre-proposals sent back to applicants
    • June 21, 2023, 5:00PM PT: Full proposals due via eSeaGrant
    • June - August, 2023: Technical panel and RASGAP review of full proposals
    • September 2023: Applicants notified of recommendations to fund projects
    • On/after February 1, 2024: Projects expected to begin

    Webinar

    California Sea Grant will host an informational webinar to answer questions about the proposal process on January 31, 2023 from 2:00 - 3:00 PM PT.

    Register for webinar

    This presentation will be recorded and made available on the Sea Grant websites.

    *If this is your first time using Zoom, we encourage you to log in at least five minutes before the webinar starts, as you may need to download software.

    Fellowship Overview

    The purpose of the California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship is to support exceptional graduate students engaged in education and research that furthers the strategic goals of California Sea Grant. The fellowship provides hands-on experience in translating research results to coastal and marine communities. Selected fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in select professional development opportunities offered by California Sea Grant.

    California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellows address issues relevant to California communities, and of importance to coastal and marine science – broadly defined (e.g., natural and social sciences, engineering and design, policy and legal analysis). Successful Sea Grant projects involve both a substantial intellectual question and the promise of useful applications to a real-world problem. California Sea Grant encourages projects that are likely to yield measurable impacts to the local economy, community, and environment. In addition to their primary academic advisor (hereafter “research mentor”), fellows will identify and work with a professional end user, or “community mentor”. These interactions will help ensure that fellows’ research results are useful to and used by communities, and afford access to experienced professionals who can provide career advice. The process also will help fellows develop practical skills in science communication, collaboration, transferring science to management, and exposure to other critical professional skills.

    One of the principal goals of California Sea Grant is the application of project results for the benefit of coastal communities; yet, without adequate and early attention to the outreach component of funded projects, research results and outcomes may be of limited value, or completely unknown to communities. Thus we require a detailed strategy for outreach and engagement at the proposal stage to help identify project audiences, outcomes, and evaluation methods. This essential information ensures that results meet community needs and that communities receive pertinent information that might be applied in their operations. Fellows are highly encouraged to craft outreach and engagement plans focused on underserved and/or disadvantaged communities.

    Research Mentors

    Each applicant must have at least one research mentor. Research mentors are typically the academic advisor and must be scientists actively engaged in environmental science, social science, policy, or economics as the primary focus of their position, with a publication record in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Research mentors must be permitted by their institution to serve as principal investigators on grants. The research mentor must be from the academic institution at which the fellow is enrolled. Fellowship applicants must include a letter of commitment from the research mentor they plan to work with on the proposed effort.

    Community Mentors

    In addition to working with a research mentor(s), fellows are required to collaborate with at least one community mentor familiar with existing data and/or resource issues central to the proposed research. These interactions will help ensure that California Sea Grant funded research results are useful to and used by communities, and afford access to experienced professionals who can provide reiterating feedback to the project. The process also will help develop practical results for the project in science communication, collaboration, transferring science to management, and expand exposure to outside users.

    Community mentors should be individuals whose work requires the application of scientific information, particularly the information, data, and findings that will result from the fellow’s research project. Community mentors may be agency scientists (who are interested in analyzing, interpreting and/or expanding data not yet published in peer reviewed journals), restoration program managers, engineers or scientific/technical staff in environmental or other community organizations. In many cases, people involved in generating and/or providing existing data will be the most appropriate community mentors.

    Given the diversity of projects typically funded, California Sea Grant recognizes that the community mentor collaboration in the project may look different from one project to the next. Each should be tailored to the specific project proposed. Community mentors may include, but are not limited to: local, regional, state, and federal agencies; tribal governments; non-governmental organizations; marine and coastal industry representatives; community based organizations. Collaborations with community mentors that represent the interests of Indigenous, disadvantaged and underserved communities are highly encouraged.

    The type of outreach and the role of the mentor will be determined and defined by the student and their research and community mentors. The outreach activities should complement the proposed research and student’s interests. Fellows will work closely with community mentors, sharing ideas and progress throughout the project.

    Applicants must include a corresponding letter of commitment from that community mentor. The apparent or demonstrated depth of proposed collaboration with the community mentor(s) is an important factor in the selection process and applicants are encouraged to enlist the community mentor during the pre-proposal development stage.

    If you have questions regarding the fellows-mentor relationships or would like to discuss ideas for potential mentors, please contact sgproposal@ucsd.edu.

    The goals of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program are to:

    1. Engage highly qualified scientific talent to help advance the state of scientific knowledge;
    2. Provide support for the training and development of scientists able to work in multidisciplinary, field-oriented and/or modeling-based applied research intended to support resource management;
    3. Promote scientific partnerships across agencies, research institutions, and non-profit organizations; and
    4. Invest in people -- particularly the graduate and post-graduate fellows and alumni, who will become future coastal and marine science, policy and management leaders -- and provide them with the knowledge and expertise to thrive now and in the future.

    Priority Research Objectives 

    Applicants must propose to conduct research that addresses objectives of the RCE, and/or SFA* Focus Areas of the strategic plan. *Please note that we will only consider SFA projects related to fisheries for this funding opportunity; a concurrent funding opportunity is available for projects related to aquaculture (see Aquaculture 2024 Call for Proposals). Below is an outline of RCE and SFA goals from the 2024-2027 California Sea Grant strategic plan. Applicants are strongly encouraged to look at California Sea Grant’s full strategic plan and RASGAP research priorities, and then focus on the specific issue(s) and key topic(s) of interest to them. 

    The California Sea Grant College Program emphasizes innovative applied research on ocean and coastal resources and processes. Research with a strong theoretical basis that encompasses clear, testable hypotheses is desirable. In contrast, low priority is given to survey or inventory studies. Research that is based in or applicable to California coastal issues are of highest priority, but transferability to regional, national, and/or international contexts is welcomed. Potential applicants are encouraged to check the “Research Projects” section of our website for examples of projects currently funded.

    Resilient Communities and Economies (RCE)

    RCE Goal 1. California’s coastal communities are better prepared for extreme and chronic weather and coastal hazards, climate change, economic disruptions and other threats to community health and well-being with support from science partnerships and the (co-) production of knowledge.

    RCE Goal 2.  California’s coastal communities have the information, partnerships and tools needed to support planning, policy and actions for emerging marine and coastal industries and resource management that ensure an equitable and resilient path forward.  

    Sustainable Fisheries & Aquaculture (SFA)* 

    *Please note that we will only consider SFA projects related to fisheries for this funding opportunity; a concurrent funding opportunity is available for projects related to aquaculture (see Aquaculture 2024 Call for Proposals). 

    SFA Goal 1: California's fisheries, aquaculture, seafood systems and the environments that support them are environmentally, economically and socially more sustainable and resilient to future change through the facilitation of partnerships and the (co-) production of knowledge.

    SFA Goal 2: California’s fishing, aquaculture and seafood industries have evidence-based information, partnerships and tools needed to support decision-making and a sustainable path forward through community engagement, collaboration and education.

    Proposals should, as much as is feasible, aim to address California Sea Grant’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Accessibility (DEIJA) Strategic Cross-Cutting Focus Area Goal 2 and Goal 3 (below). 

    DEIJA Goal 2: Across our staff and network, California Sea Grant builds a program where a diversity of lived experiences are represented, particularly Indigenous, underserved and underrepresented identities in marine and coastal sciences, thereby facilitating a culture of belonging and equitable support.

    DEIJA Goal 3: California Sea Grant and its network co-produce knowledge, create access to scientific information and support research and scholarship priorities of value to a diversity of communities, focused on Indigenous, underserved and underrepresented peoples.

    RASGAP Agency Research Priorities 

    As identified above, the RASGAP panel reviews research proposals and provides a resource protection- and management-relevant view of proposal value. We have compiled research priorities from participating member agencies to provide prospective applicants management relevant research priorities to consider here.  

    Submission 

    Both pre-proposals and full proposals must be submitted via eSeaGrant.

    We use the eSeagrant online system for submission of proposals. If applicants have not registered in eSeaGrant, you will need to register via the online submission “portal”.

    Once you login, you can change your password if you would like. To change your password, click on your name in the upper-right corner of the screen, and select “My Profile”.

    To start a proposal, or revisit/edit an existing proposal, click on “RFP (Request for Proposals)” on the banner head. Then click on “Add Proposal” under “2024 Graduate Research Fellowship - pre-proposal”. Only applicants who have submitted a pre-proposal may submit a full proposal, and will receive an invitation to eSeaGrant for their full proposals. 

    In order to submit a proposal, you must work down the sequence of sections listed on the left side of the proposal window. eSeaGrant provides sections to input or upload all application components. Files to upload must be converted to PDFs before uploading to eSeaGrant. You may add collaborators (e.g., co-PIs, sponsored project office staff, etc.) as appropriate to assist in completing the proposal using the “Manage Collaborators” button in the upper right corner of your screen. Collaborators must also have accounts on eSeaGrant in order to be added to your proposal.

    We recommend that eSeaGrant users access the system, make an account, review submission requirements within it, and start to upload necessary documents well in advance of the submission deadline. This will give users the opportunity to obtain any necessary clarification or assistance before the deadline. The submission deadline will not be extended.

    Apply Now!

    Proposal Components and Format 

    Adherence to the format requirements is mandatory, and ensures fairness across all applicants. Proposals not meeting the format requirements may be rejected without review. Several proposal elements have specific page limits and excess pages will not be reviewed. Only the requested materials should be submitted; additional documents (e.g., appendices, letters of support, etc.) will not be reviewed. Listed below are the requirements for a complete pre-proposal and subsequent full proposal package.

    Please follow the following formatting guidelines in formatting your pre- and full proposal:

    • Type Fonts: 12 point Arial or Helvetica preferred
    • Margins: Side, top and bottom margins should be approximately 1 inch each
    • Line Spacing: The narrative of the proposal should be single-spaced

    Pre-proposal

    Pre-proposals are due in eSeaGrant by 5:00 PM PT, March 1, 2023, submitted through eSeaGrantLate pre-proposals will not be considered and any associated full proposals will not be accepted.

    Pre-proposals provide an overview of the applicant’s proposed project and are reviewed (see below). A complete pre-proposal must include the following:

    1. Name of applicant, affiliation, and contact information
    2. Project narrative - (maximum 3 pages including figures, tables, but not including references) – Comprising a brief project summary inclusive of:
      • project goals or objectives, 
      • background justifying the project, 
      • project methods
      • engagement strategies
      • potential outcomes, benefits, and broader impacts (i.e., how the proposed work will inform science, regulators, the general public, advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and/or work to achieve other beneficial, broader societally-relevant impacts) 
    3. Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) - CVs of applicant, research mentor(s), and community mentor(s) (if identified at the pre-proposal stage) (maximum of 2 pages per person)
    4. Name(s) and contact information of research mentor(s)
      • Each applicant must have at least one research mentor identified at the pre-proposal stage
    5. Name(s) and contact information of community mentor(s) if identified at the pre-proposal stage. If none have been identified at this stage, please indicate that and list any potential mentors you have been in contact with or will be in contact with.
    6. Permits - If federal or state permits are required, we ask that this be stated. Ensuring that all permits are properly obtained before research commences is the responsibility of the applicant.
    7. Potential Reviewers - Provide a list of at least five suggested (non-conflicted) reviewers that you believe are well qualified to review your proposal. 
    8. Demographic questionnaire (optional). This data assists California Sea Grant in its commitment to equal opportunities. Applicants are asked to voluntarily provide the following information. This questionnaire will be separated from the application and will not be used in any review decisions. This data will be used internally for statistical data gathering and reporting purposes in evaluating the extent California Sea Grant is achieving its equal opportunity goals. Please provide the requested information for all named collaborators on your proposal (i.e., submit one form per named collaborator).

    Pre-proposals will be reviewed by 1) an outside panel of technical experts and 2) by RASGAP for state management relevance. Technical panel and RASGAP input are considered together to determine which proposals will be encouraged for full proposal development.

    Prospective applicants who submit pre-proposals that address the evaluation criteria, research priorities, and most likely to contribute to California Sea Grant’s focus area objectives will be encouraged to submit full proposals. The criteria that are used to evaluate pre-proposals and full proposals can be found below.

    Emails to applicants will be sent out in early May 2023 to encourage or discourage a full proposal. 

    Full Proposal

    Full proposals are due in eSeaGrant by 5:00 PM PT, June 21, 2023, submitted through eSeaGrant

    Note: Only those who submitted a pre-proposal are eligible to submit a full proposal. Regardless of the encourage/discourage recommendation made by the program, all applicants who submitted a pre-proposal are eligible to submit a full proposal.

    A complete full proposal must include the following:

    1. Signed Institutional Cover Page - The cover page provides basic summary information regarding the project and identifies which goal(s) and objective(s) of the strategic plan the project addresses. A template can be found in the Excel workbook for applicants to enter this information, obtain signatures, and then upload it as a PDF. 
      • Please provide all requested information and obtain the required institutional signatures. If you are applying from an academic institution, send your original proposal to your campus research office for local campus approval. 
    2. California Sea Grant’s Focus Areas: The applicant must indicate which Focus Areas the proposed research is addressing. Applicants must propose to conduct research that addresses objectives of the RCE and/or SFA* Focus Areas of the strategic plan. *Please note that we will not be accepting projects related to aquaculture for this funding opportunity. Applicants are strongly encouraged to look at California Sea Grant’s full strategic plan and RASGAP research priorities, and then focus on the specific issue(s) and key topic(s) of interest to them. 
    3. Project Summary - The Project Summary is fillable online in eSeaGrant. Proposers will need to prepare separate sections, with 1000 character limits each, for objectives, methodology and rationale to complete the project summary form. The project summary presents a concise description of the proposed research in a form useful to a variety of readers not requiring detailed information. The project summary is the most widely consulted description of your project. 
    4. Project Narrative - The project narrative format and contents may vary; however, proposals should include the information listed below. The project narrative MUST not exceed 8 pages (INCLUDING: Introduction, Objectives, Approach, Outcomes and Deliverables, illustrations, charts, tables, and figures. NOT INCLUDING: References). Proposal pages exceeding this size limit will be removed from the proposal and not be reviewed. 
      • Introduction and Background – Provide the rationale for your project (a well-defined problem or important opportunity). Show a clear relationship between the problem statement and the project objectives. Merit, rationale, innovativeness and utilization for the research proposed are criteria by which proposals are evaluated. Thus, a clear, concise statement of the “real world” need for your research (rationale), a description of who might use the results and how they might use them (utilization) should be addressed. The project should be solution-based.
      • Objectives – Provide a list of clearly defined objectives. For each objective, provide a concise statement explaining how it is aligned with the goals and priorities of this funding opportunity.
      • Approach (Plan of Work) – Present the scientific/technical approach, experiments, procedures, timeline, etc. Identify and discuss any new approaches (innovativeness) to solving problems and exploiting opportunities in resource management or development, including public outreach. Please make clear what other sources of support (fiscal, personnel or logistical), if any, will be used to help support the work proposed. A project timeline in a chart or table format depicting deliverables and milestones is required (a template can be found in the Excel workbook).
      • Outcomes and Deliverables – Project outcomes should be clearly related to the project objectives and should be briefly described. Any planned interactions with relevant management personnel should be described. Within the design of the project, applicants should identify which community group(s) will benefit from the work performed. Each proposal should clearly describe how users of information will be engaged before work begins, during the project, and how results will be disseminated to the targeted communities.
      • References – List all included references alphabetically. The list of References does NOT count toward the 8-page limit of the narrative but must be included in the narrative pdf file. 
    5. Personal Career Statement - (no more than 2 pages) Personal statement from the fellowship candidate that describes how this project fits into the fellow’s career plans and summarizes experiences that specifically prepared the applicant for this project. Please address how this project will promote interactions with your research and community mentors that will benefit your professional development. One to two paragraphs of the statement should illustrate 1) the applicant's experience collaborating or engaging with people from diverse, including underserved, cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and 2) how the applicant would incorporate principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and/or accessibility into their fellowship.
    6. Outreach and Engagement Plan - (no more than 2 pages) The Outreach and Engagement Plan is a document that describes how the proposed project and project team will interact with the principal identified community mentor, as well as any other relevant community and management groups, throughout the project. Applicants are highly encouraged to craft Outreach and Engagement plans focused on underserved and/or disadvantaged communities. This plan should be developed in concert with the community mentor(s). 
      • The strategies for engagement should include:
        • Implication, practical application, and direct link of proposed research to managers, communities, and/or other users
        • Describe the planned outreach and engagement activities associated with the proposed project. Clearly described roles and responsibilities for performing engagement activities throughout the project.
        • How any project deliverables will be communicated, disseminated, integrated, and/or distributed to potential end users beyond the project team
        • General communication plan for project team throughout the project, such as how will the student and the mentor(s) interact to achieve these goals (e.g., frequency, timeline, means of communication, topics, etc.)?
        • Possible interaction and engagement with California Sea Grant as a part of the project
    7. CVs and Additional Personnel
      • CVs (maximum 2 pages for each person) of all key personnel (fellowship candidate, research mentor(s), and community mentor(s)) must be included in the submission. Each prospective fellow and member of the team should have a CV associated with it.
      • Listing “Additional Personnel” is optional and this section is to be used at your discretion. You might include all additional personnel who are NOT listed as investigators (e.g. Postdoc, key graduate student). These will not count toward the 8-page limit.
      • Note: If a CV that is longer than 2 pages is submitted, Sea Grant will provide reviewers only with the first 2 pages of CV for each team member.
    8. Letters of Support - The fellowship proposal requires that two letters of commitment (a,b) and two signed letters of academic recommendation (c) be secured and submitted as instructed here:
    • A. At minimum, one signed letter of commitment from prospective community mentor(s) (not to exceed 2 pages): A community mentor must be identified and contacted early in the project development phase. For multiple mentors at the same organization, they can all be listed on one letter.
    • B. At minimum, one signed letter of commitment from the research mentor indicating a willingness to be a mentor for the applicant, and expressing support of the proposed research project. (not to exceed 2 pages)
    • C. Two signed letters of academic recommendation - It is the responsibility of the prospective fellow to arrange to have two letters of recommendation sent directly to Sea Grant by the proposal deadline. Referees should be aware of the academic qualifications and performance of the candidate fellow. A letter of academic recommendation can come from a research mentor, however, the content must be different than the letter of support. Please identify the two referees that will be submitting a letter of academic recommendation in eSeaGrant. Letters should be addressed to Dr. Shauna Oh, Director, California Sea Grant.

    IMPORTANT: To maintain confidentiality, letters of recommendation must be submitted directly from the referee to California Sea Grant through eSeaGrant and must be submitted by the deadline to be considered.

    1. Copies of graduate and undergraduate transcripts - Transcripts are required and should be uploaded as PDFs into eSeaGrant. Unofficial transcripts are fine. Please remove or redact all personal identifying information before submitting. 
    2. Budgets and Budget Justification - California Sea Grant strongly encourages students to work with their research mentor and institution’s research administration or sponsored programs office to develop their budgets. In addition to the specific guidance below, general guidance on preparing budgets and budget justification can be found here.
      • Up to $45,000 per year for up to two years for Masters and Ph.D. students can be requested for reasonable and necessary research fellowship funds, including stipend, tuition, travel, and supplies. While the majority of the budget is likely to be stipend, tuition, or other enrollment fees, it is expected that the budget will include funds for discretionary travel for conferences, professional development, research-related events, equipment, and/or supplies. The applicant is encouraged to include in the budget, at a minimum, travel support for the fellow to attend one California Sea Grant meeting per year around California and attendance at one professional conference.
      • Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs, also known as indirect or overhead, are NOT allowable on Sea Grant fellowships per federal regulation (15 C.F.R. § 917.11). For this solicitation, fellowship research projects are required to provide 25% funding in non-federal match (i.e., budgets must show $1 of match for every $4 of Sea Grant funding requested). Only non-federal funds may be committed as match contributions. In-kind contributions, tuition, and non-federal salaries are all examples of match.
      • A budget workbook in Excel may help in planning your budget (available to download here). However, please remember that your budget submission and justification must be completed using the online budget forms in eSeaGrant. Do not submit the Excel file as your final budget.
      • For each year of the project, a budget justification is required. The budget justification must be a detailed description of each cost item in the budget. The budget justification should explain all budget items in sufficient detail to enable reviewers to evaluate the appropriateness of the research-related funds being requested. 
      • Pay careful attention to the annual budget limits noted above (see section titled Fellowship Program – Award).  Your budget submission and justification must be completed using the online form in eSeaGrant. Do not submit the Excel file as your final budget.
      • In the budget the fellow’s stipend should be listed under “Section G-Other costs” and not under salaries and wages. Also, as applicable, indicate expected costs for expendable supplies, publication costs, and travel (please clearly identify any travel proposed outside of California).
      • For any questions regarding your budget, please contact the Sea Grant Assistant Director, Rose Madson, sgbudget@ucsd.edu.
    3. Data Management Plan
      • All applications must include a Data Management Plan that is compliant with NOAA’s Public Access to Research Results Plan. The Data Management Plan should not exceed 2 pages. The Data Management Plan should include descriptions of the types of metadata and data expected to be created during the course of the project, plans for disseminating the metadata and data to the broader community, and plans for long-term archiving of the metadata and data.
      • If proposed activities will not generate any environmental data, please include the following statement at the end of your proposal: “Because this project will not generate environmental data, a Data Management Plan is not required.”
    4. Environmental Compliance Questionnaire
      • A separate NEPA Questionnaire must be completed for each relevant individual project in the application, following further details below. The Questionnaire can be found here: https://seagrant.noaa.gov/insideseagrant/Implementation. Applicants must ensure that the Questionnaire is completed in full and includes detailed information regarding project location, methodology, and permits. Copies of all permits required for project activities should be included with application materials. If a permit is pending or planned, please provide this information. Guidance on how to complete the Questionnaire and example Questionnaires for different types of projects can be found here: https://seagrant.noaa.gov/insideseagrant/Implementation.
      • The NEPA Questionnaire is required for ALL research projects even if the project is fully lab-based or relies on social science. The NEPA Questionnaire is also required for any project that meets the following criteria:
        • Environmental permits, authorizations or waivers
        • Biological take and/or release
        • Environmental sampling
        • Hazardous or toxic substances and waste
        • Permanent or temporary environmental effects
        • Endangered or threatened species and/or protected areas
        • Known or unknown risks to human health or the environment
        • Controversial environmental subject matter
    5. Current and Pending Support: Describe any current or pending sources of support for key personnel (graduate student, research mentor, community mentor) if applicable. 
    6. Potential Reviewers: Provide a list of at least 5 suggested (non-conflicted) reviewers that you believe are well qualified to review your proposal. You may also designate persons you would prefer not to review your proposal, indicating why.
    7. Demographic questionnaire (optional). This data assists California Sea Grant in its commitment to equal opportunities. Applicants are asked to voluntarily provide the following information. This questionnaire will be separated from the application and will not be used in any review decisions. This data will be used internally for statistical data gathering and reporting purposes in evaluating the extent California Sea Grant is achieving its equal opportunity goals. Please provide the requested information for all named collaborators on your proposal (i.e., submit one form per named collaborator).

    Review Process 

    California Sea Grant utilizes two panels for reviewing proposals. Pre-proposals and full proposals are reviewed by a technical panel of experts put together by California Sea Grant and chosen for their expertise relative to the topic of each proposal. In addition, RASGAP will also review all pre-proposals and provide input towards identifying research priorities based on state resource management needs. RASGAP will review full proposals deemed fundable by the technical panel. Technical panelists and RASGAP will use the same evaluation criteria. Review summaries from the technical panel and RASGAP evaluating pre-proposals and full proposals will be sent to applicants. Reviewers/panelists will all be external to California Sea Grant and all reviewers will be asked to complete a Conflict of Interest (COI) form prior to conducting their review.

    Evaluation Criteria 

    Pre-proposal Evaluation Criteria: 

    1. Alignment of Proposed Projects to the Research Priority Goals of the RFP (50%): The degree to which the proposed activity will contribute to reaching the objectives of California Sea Grant as described in the California Sea Grant 2024-2027 Strategic Plan for RCE and SFA (excluding aquaculture), and the degree to which the proposed activity addresses the needs of important state, regional or national constituencies.
    2. Technical/Scientific Merit (10%):The degree to which the activity will advance the state of the science or discipline through use of state-of-the-art methods.
    3. Overall Qualifications of the Applicant (10%): The degree to which the team of investigators and partners are qualified by education, training and/or experience to execute the proposed activity. The degree to which the project team demonstrates capabilities, abilities, and expertise to lead a successful project. The California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship is a merit-based fellowship. All applicants are current/provisional graduate students, but not all have had the same economic and social circumstances to help them get where they are. Reviewers will take into account the ‘distance traveled’ to reach their achievements. This includes valuing the endpoint of what an applicant has achieved as well as the personal leadership skills they demonstrated along their journey.
    4. Outreach and Engagement (20%): The degree to which users or potential users of the results of the proposed activity have been brought into the planning of the activity, will be brought into the execution of the activity or will be kept apprised of progress and results.
    5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (10%): The degree to which the proposed activity broadens the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., based on gender, race & ethnicity, disability, geographic, socio-economic class, etc) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and/or incorporates strategies to create/foster partnerships that center the needs and interests of Indigenous, underrepresented and underserved peoples.

    Full Proposal Evaluation Criteria:

    The following criteria will be used in evaluating each full proposal:

    1. Importance/Relevance and Applicability of Proposed Projects to the Program Goals (30%): The degree to which the proposed activity addresses an important issue, problem or opportunity in the health, development, use or management of marine or coastal resources and ecosystems. The degree to which the proposed activity will contribute to reaching the objectives of California Sea Grant as described in the California Sea Grant 2024-2027 Strategic Plan for RCE and SFA (excluding aquaculture), and the degree to which the proposed activity addresses the needs of important state, regional or national constituencies.
    2. Technical/Scientific Merit (30%): The degree to which the activity will advance the state of the science or discipline through use of state-of-the-art methods. 
    3. Overall Qualifications of the Applicant (5%): The degree to which the team of investigators and partners are qualified by education, training and/or experience to execute the proposed activity. The degree to which the project team demonstrates capabilities, abilities, and expertise to lead a successful project. The California Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship is a merit-based fellowship. All applicants are current/provisional graduate students, but not all have had the same economic and social circumstances to help them get where they are. Reviewers will take into account the ‘distance traveled’ to reach their achievements. This includes valuing the endpoint of what an applicant has achieved as well as the personal leadership skills they demonstrated along their journey.
    4. Project Costs (5%): The proposed costs are appropriate for the research and outreach activities.
    5. Outreach and Engagement (20%): The degree to which users or potential users of the results of the proposed activity have been brought into the planning of the activity, will be brought into the execution of the activity or will be kept apprised of progress and results. 
    6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (10%): The degree to which the proposed activity broadens the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., based on gender, race & ethnicity, disability, geographic, socio-economic class, etc.) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and/or incorporates strategies to create/foster partnerships that center the needs and interests of Indigenous, underrepresented and underserved peoples.

    Selection Criteria 

    Selection of proposals for funding shall occur in the rank order unless the proposal is justified to be selected out of rank order based on one or more of the following factors: 

    1. Availability of funding
    2. Balance/distribution of funds:
      • Geographically
      • By type of institution
      • By type of partners
      • By focus area 
      • By project types
    3. Targeting gaps in priority strategic plan goals and objectives
    4. Addressing the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Accessibility (DEIJA) goals of the California Sea Grant Strategic Plan, including fostering partnerships with Indigenous, underserved, and/or underrepresented peoples.
    5. Applicant’s prior award performance
    6. Adequacy of information necessary for NOAA staff to make a NEPA determination and draft necessary documentation before recommendations for funding are made to the Grants Officer.

    When all the input is received from the technical panel and RASGAP, the California Sea Grant Management Team and Director of California Sea Grant will make the final recommendations regarding approval of proposals for funding. The National Sea Grant Office will then review and approve those recommendations. 

    Recommended proposals are compiled by the California Sea Grant College Program into an institutional proposal containing: project and program summaries, budget pages, full proposal narratives, curricula vitae, and letters of support.

    The institutional proposal, called the California Sea Grant College Program Omnibus, is submitted to the National Sea Grant College Program for funding and implementation starting on or after February 1 of the following year (depending on when federal funds are ultimately received by California Sea Grant). 

    If you have any questions, or desire more information about this process, please do not hesitate to contact sgproposal@ucsd.edu

    Conditions of Award 

    Throughout the fellowship, fellows will be required to:

    • Submit Reports: Provide progress reports to California Sea Grant on an annual basis, including a final report and a copy of the thesis or dissertation, even if it is completed after the fellowship period. Progress Reports and Final Reports are extremely important for describing the impacts, accomplishments, products, and outreach that were accomplished during the life of a project.
    • Work with California Sea Grant’s Communication Team - Assist California Sea Grant efforts to publicize their research and fellowship activities.
    • Attend California Sea Grant Events:  Participate in meetings with California Sea Grant, including:
      • An orientation webinar at the beginning of the fellowship
      • Any in-person (or remote) professional development activities, anticipated to occur one to two times per year
    • Acknowledge Support - Acknowledge California Sea Grant support in all relevant presentations and publications. California Sea Grant-funded (or supported) projects require attribution and funding acknowledgement. This page offers Sea Grant logos and guidance for attributions and disclaimers regarding funding from Sea Grant.

    Contacts

    Budget Questions/Matching Funds Questions: sgbudget@ucsd.edu

    Rose Madson, Assistant Director

    Proposal Content & eSeaGrant Questions: sgproposal@ucsd.edu

    Lian Guo, Research Coordinator
    Shauna Oh, Director

    Application Resources