Call for Proposals 2019

Funding Category
Grants and Funding
Application Deadline
Proposal Budget Help:
Proposal Contact:
Special Focus Awards

The California Sea Grant College Program is now soliciting full proposals for projects to begin on/after February 1, 2019. New faculty* from universities throughout California are invited to apply.

California Sea Grant continues to focus on the following integrated themes (or Strategic Focus Areas):



CA Sea Grant is managing its core research proposals and awards under an “alternating year plan.”

(1) For proposals submitted in even-numbered years (e.g. in effect this year, for 2019 funding consideration), we solicit requests for comparatively small, targeted 1-year awards. These smaller awards will be issued as Special Focus Awards.

(2) For proposals submitted in odd-numbered years (e.g. last year’s call), we solicit proposals for “Standard Core Awards” of 2-years duration and at levels of funding up to a maximum of $125,000/year, plus (optionally) one graduate trainee.


This year we are soliciting applications for Special Focus Awards of 1-year duration, with a maximum budget of $70,000 (to include indirect costs, if any). Proposals must and can only be submitted by, and support the research of, a new faculty member employed at a California-based university to address any area of interest to California Sea Grant.

We anticipate issuing four New Faculty Awards for FY2019, contingent upon receipt of anticipated funds from NOAA. Because of this limited call, we are expecting fewer applications than normal. Thus, we are by-passing the normal pre-proposal process and are asking applicants to submit full proposals to us in response to this call.

Because we wish to encourage younger scientists working in California, a proposal submitted by a new faculty member* (defined below) can propose to conduct research falling under any area of relevance to California Sea Grant. We therefore encourage proposals that would carry out research to address any of our primary goals under one of our three Strategic Focus Areas:

  • HCE Goal 1:  Support research and provide information to understand the dynamics and functioning of coastal and marine ecosystems.  Prioritize obtaining information valuable to the conservation, restoration and management of these ecosystems to ensure their long-term health and productivity.
  • HCE Goal 2: Understand sources and sinks of, and help reduce, water and sediment contamination, and their impacts, on the coastal and marine environment.
  • HCE Goal 3: Support research to understand the impacts of climate change on coastal and marine species and environments
  • HCE Goal 4: Support research to understand and forecast harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their impacts on coastal ecosystems and coastal communities.
  • HCE Goal 5:  Document the introduction and spread of invasive, non-native plants and animals in estuarine and coastal marine environments, their impacts on local ecosystems, and help manage established invading populations.
  • SFA Goal 1:  Provide information to promote the sustainable use of living coastal and marine resources and associated communities.
  • SFA Goal 2:  Provide science-based information to support and grow a sustainable California aquaculture industry to help meet the growing demand for seafood, and minimize negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of aquaculture.
  • SFA Goal 3:  Obtain and provide science-based information on probable anthropogenic impacts, including climate change, on key commercial and recreational fish and shellfish populations, and associated human communities.
  • RCCE Goal 1:  Support communities and stakeholders to sustainably use, and policy makers to effectively manage, coastal and marine resources.
  • RCCE Goal 2:  Work with communities to improve coastal environmental quality and the quality of human life on coasts.
  • RCCE Goal 3:  Assist communities in reducing vulnerability to coastal hazards.
  • RCCE Goal 4: Work with communities and partners to plan for and adapt to the effects of climate change, including changes in the frequency and intensity of storms and waves, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Applicants are encouraged to look at the California Sea Grant Strategic Plan and National Sea Grant Strategic Plan for more information on research priorities, and then focus on the specific issue(s) of interest to them.


For purposes of this call for proposals, a scientist qualifies as a new faculty member if both of the following criteria are met:

  • The faculty member currently holds his/her first faculty position (ever), and the university at which the faculty member is employed is based in California, AND
  • The position started no earlier than January 1, 2016 (to be certified by a letter from the faculty member’s dean or department chair)

To be eligible as new faculty a candidate must hold an academic position at his/her university. Either “hard money” faculty (i.e. holding state-supported, Assistant Professor-level positions, or equivalent) or “soft money” faculty (i.e. holding Assistant Researcher, or Research Assistant Professor-level positions, or equivalent) are eligible to apply. Post-docs or staff (vs. academic) employees with PI status are not eligible to apply. Persons who have transitioned to state-supported faculty positions after holding research faculty positions similarly are not eligible to apply unless the research faculty position began later than January 1, 2016.

If you have questions about your eligibility for these awards, please contact the California Sea Grant Director (Jim Eckman, 858-534-4440,

New faculty proposers are encouraged to describe how stakeholders or interested groups will learn about and benefit from research outcomes through outreach, communications, or education activities.

A potential applicant is welcome to contact California Sea Grant personnel to receive more specific feedback concerning particular research issues.


  • April 10, 2018 (5:00 pm Pacific time) – Proposals due
  • April-July 2018 – Review of Proposals
  • mid-August 2018 (approximate) – Proposal applicants notified of recommendations
  • On/after February 1, 2019 – Projects begin

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 has national or international application, or that addresses important regional issues, problems, and opportunities is appropriate. Potential applicants are encouraged to check the “Research Projects” section of our website for examples of projects currently funded.

The duration of a Special Focus Award project request is one year. Project extramural budgets may not exceed $70,000.

Full proposals are distributed to several external merit reviewers who are chosen for their expertise relative to the topic of each proposal. Proposals are then reviewed by California Sea Grant technical staff and the California Sea Grant Committee (outside panelists selected for disciplinary expertise). Criteria for review include: (1) rationale; (2) scientific merit and impact or outreach quality; (3) innovativeness; (4) programmatic justification; (5) practical impact and user relationships; and (6) relationship to Sea Grant priorities (see below for more explanation). Each proposal is considered on its own merits without regard to campus or institutional affiliation. In addition, the Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel (RASGAP, a panel comprised largely of technical experts employed by state resources agencies) also will review proposals. Input from RASGAP is directed toward identifying research priorities based on state need.

When all the input is received from the external merit reviewers, the California Sea Grant Committee, and RASGAP, the California Sea Grant Management Team and Director of California Sea Grant make the final recommendations regarding approval of proposals for funding. The National Sea Grant Office then reviews and approves 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).

The California Sea Grant College Program (CASG) will use the following criteria in evaluating projects.  Not all are given equal weight.

  • Project Rationale
    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.
  • Scientific Merit
    The degree to which the activity will advance the state of the science or discipline through use of state-of-the-art methods.
  • Innovativeness
    The degree to which new approaches to solving problems and exploiting opportunities in resource management or development will be employed; alternatively, the degree to which the activity will focus on important or potentially important ecosystem problems, resources and issues.
  • Programmatic Justification and Relationship to Sea Grant Priorities
    The degree to which the proposed activity will contribute to reaching the objectives of the CASG as described in the California Sea Grant 2018-2021 Strategic Plan, and the degree to which the proposed activity addresses the needs of important state, regional or national constituencies.
  • User Relationships & Outreach
    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. If applicable, provide evidence of integration with the California Sea Grant Extension Program.
  • Qualifications and Past Record of Investigators
    The degree to which investigators are qualified by education, training and/or experience to execute the proposed activity. Evidence of any record of achievement with previous funding.
  • Matching Funds
    A unique aspect of the Sea Grant Program is the matching funds requirement. According to the 1976 founding legislation, a project leader is required to match each $2 received in NOAA/Sea Grant funds with $1 from nonfederal sources.

    Examples of allowable items for matching Sea Grant federal funds include existing salaries and benefits of investigators and others paid from non-federal sources, costs of using expendable supplies and equipment already in inventory, costs of boat time supplied by non-federal sources, industry participation, and donated supplies, service, space, or equipment. You may also contact the Sea Grant Business Officer, Rose Madson (, with questions about various sources and types of match. However, your institution remains the final approver for all match included in the proposal.


Listed below are the instructions for preparing and submitting a Sea Grant proposal. Individual proposals, which include narratives, project summaries, budget pages, budget justification, 2-page curricula vitae, optional letters of support, data management plan and an environmental compliance form, will be compiled to form the omnibus proposal submitted to the National Sea Grant Program. To facilitate completion of the omnibus proposal, we require that your proposal be prepared according to the following specifications:

  1. Type Fonts: 11 point Arial or Helvetica preferred.
  2. Margins: Side, top and bottom margins should be approximately 1 inch each.
  3. Line Spacing: The narrative of the proposal should be single-spaced. Please do not use 1½ line spacing.
  4. Format Style:
  •  Project Title: centered
  •  Narrative Headings: left justified, bold
  •  Page numbers: recommended 

5. Graphics: Any tables, figures and illustrations must be submitted in final form and appended to or embedded within the narrative. Graphics and tables count toward the 12-page limit of the proposal narrative. The list of references do not count toward the 12-page limit.

Electronic Submission

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 “2019 Special Focus Awards – Full Proposal”.

In order to submit a proposal, you must work down the sequence of sections (“Start Here” through “Submission Preview”) listed on the left side of the proposal window. eSeaGrant provides sections to upload signed (endorsed) title pages, CVs, project narratives, a data management plan, environmental compliance (short) form, current and pending support, matching funds form, and optional support letters. Some of these pages may require additional calculations and pop-up pages, so please allow your browser to display pop-up windows and enable Javascript. Files to upload must be converted to PDFs before uploading to eSeaGrant (except the matching funds spreadsheet). Multiple documents must be consolidated into one PDF for each section (except for CVs).

We recommend that eSeaGrant users access the system, 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.

Listed below are the requirements for a complete proposal package. Please use this as an inventory checklist to aid you in preparing the full proposal.

Title Page
A signed title page (blank copy downloadable in Excel format here) must be included with the proposal. Please provide all requested information and obtain the required signatures. If you are applying from an academic institution, send your original proposal to your campus research office for local campus approval. The completed and signed title page must be converted to a PDF and uploaded.

Project Summary
The Project Summary is fillable online in eSeaGrant.  Proposers will need to prepare separate sections 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. Instructions are available in eSeaGrant that should help applicants to accurately complete the form. Please follow them carefully - the project summary is the most widely consulted description of your project. 

Project Narrative
The Project Narrative format and contents may vary, however proposals should include the information listed below. The project narrative MUST NOT exceed 12 pages (including the introduction, objectives, approach, illustrations, charts, tables, and figures). Proposals exceeding this size limit will 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) and a description of who might use the results and how they might use them (utilization) should be addressed.
  • Objectives – In number or “bullet” format, list the Objectives or Goals of the research program.
  • Approach (Plan of Work) – Present the scientific/technical approach, experiments, procedures, 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. 
  • 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.
  • References – List all included references alphabetically. (The list of References does NOT count toward the 12-page limit of the Narrative, but must be included in the narrative pdf file.)
  • Certification of Faculty Position – appended to the project narrative MUST be a letter from the new faculty member’s department chair or dean certifying that the applicant (PI) is in his/her first ever faculty position and that it started on or after January 1, 2016. This letter does not count toward the 12-page limit

Data Management/Sharing Plan

Because funds for our Core research program are provided by NOAA, all new Sea Grant awards that generate environmental data (see below) will have to conform to NOAA’s Data Sharing Directive, available at  This directive says, in part:

NOAA Programs shall strive to ensure that environmental data produced as a result of NOAA-funded Grants, Cooperative Agreements, or Contracts are made publicly accessible, in a timely fashion (typically within 2 years), free of charge or at no more than the cost of reproduction.

Environmental Data are defined by NOAA … as recorded and derived observations and measurements of the physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical properties and conditions of the oceans, atmosphere, space environment, sun, and solid earth, as well as correlative data such as socio-economic data, related documentation, and metadata. Digital audio or video recordings of environmental phenomena (such as animal sounds or undersea video) are included in this definition. Numerical model outputs are included in this definition, particularly if they are used to support the conclusion of a peer-reviewed publication. Data collected in a laboratory or other controlled environment, such as measurements of animals and chemical processes, are included in this definition.

If your proposed project will generate environmental data your proposal must address the following to be eligible for support (text supplied by NOAA)

  1. Environmental data and information collected or created under NOAA grants or cooperative agreements must be made discoverable by and accessible to the general public, in a timely fashion (typically within two years), free of charge or at no more than the cost of reproduction, unless an exemption is granted by the NOAA Program. Data should be available in at least one machine-readable format, preferably a widely-used or open-standard format, and should also be accompanied by machine-readable documentation (metadata), preferably based on widely-used or international standards.
  2. Proposals submitted in response to this Announcement must include a Data Management Plan of up to two pages describing how these requirements will be satisfied. The Data Management Plan should be aligned with the Data Management Guidance provided by NOAA in the Announcement. The contents of the Data Management Plan (or absence thereof), and past performance regarding such plans, will be considered as part of proposal review. A typical plan should include descriptions of the types of environmental data and information expected to be created during the course of the project; the tentative date by which data will be shared; the standards to be used for data/metadata format and content; methods for providing data access; approximate total volume of data to be collected; and prior experience in making such data accessible. The costs of data preparation, accessibility, or archiving may be included in the proposal budget unless otherwise stated in the Guidance. Accepted submission of data to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) is one way to satisfy data sharing requirements; however, NCEI is not obligated to accept all submissions and may charge a fee, particularly for large or unusual datasets.
  3. NOAA may, at its own discretion, make publicly visible the Data Management Plan from funded proposals, or use information from the Data Management Plan to produce a formal metadata record and include that metadata in a Catalog to indicate the pending availability of new data.
  4. Proposal submitters are hereby advised that the final pre-publication manuscripts of scholarly articles produced entirely or primarily with NOAA funding will be required to be submitted to NOAA Institutional Repository after acceptance, and no later than upon publication. Such manuscripts shall be made publicly available by NOAA one year after publication by the journal.

It is the investigator’s responsibility to conform to this Directive and no award can be issued absent an acceptable Data Management Plan. The Data Management Plan can be uploaded as a separate PDF in eSeaGrant or, at the PI’s discretion, can be appended to the project narrative as a separate statement after the References. In the latter case, it will not count toward the 12-page narrative limit. If the proposed research will not generate environmental data then a Data Management Plan is not required, but this will need to be stated in eSeaGrant.

Environmental Compliance Questionnaire

An Abbreviated Environmental Questionnaire is required with each application. Applicants can download a fillable questionnaire form here. Only one questionnaire is to be submitted per project/proposal, even if there are to be sub-awards issued to multiple institutions. For questions not applicable to the proposed research, please note N/A on the form. Leave blank the question about Grant/Project Number. This is an “abbreviated” form, so question numbers are not continuous.

Budgets and Budget Justification

The maximum budget is $70,000 per year, to include indirect costs. In considering budgets, please note that any graduate trainee stipends or tuition support are NOT subject to indirect costs, whereas other project costs (e.g. travel, supplies) typically are subject to indirect costs. The amount requested for a trainee stipend must conform to your institution’s normal stipend for a half-time graduate student at his/her level of experience; however, in any case no more than $30,000 in stipend can be requested.

Budget worksheets will need to be created in eSeaGrant. Be prepared to enter any salaries, wages, and fringe benefits for all personnel associated with the project. Also, if applicable, indicate expected costs for expendable supplies, publication costs, and travel. Matching funds will also be itemized on this budget worksheet. Matching funds must total at least 50% of TOTAL funds requested, including the amount requested for a graduate trainee.

All budget sections will require justification. Review the online help section to see what is expected as justification for each section.

A budget workbook in Excel may help in planning your budget. However, please remember that your budget submission and justification must be completed using the online form in eSeaGrant. Do not submit the Excel file as your final budget.


CVs (maximum 2 pages for each person) of all key personnel (PIs, co-PIs, Associate PIs) must be included in the submission. Please upload a 2-page CV through the investigator’s form.

Note: Several reviewers have complained about PIs and co-PIs providing excessively long CVs, and we are sympathetic to their complaints. If you have uploaded a longer CV, please replace it with one of no more than 2 pages length. Sea Grant will provide reviewers only with the first 2 pages of CV for each PI and co-PI.

Current and Pending Support
Using the section online in eSeaGrant, please list other current and pending projects associated with investigators.

Proposed Sources of Matching Funds
Please list the proposed source(s) of Institutional and Other Non-Federal matching funds associated with your proposal on the form provided here. The completed Matching Funds form must be converted to a pdf and uploaded into eSeagrant.

Support Letters

Support letters are optional. However, if they are to be included in the application, please consolidate all letters into one PDF for uploading to eSeaGrant.

Application Resources