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Gulf Research Program  >   Grants  >   Healthy Ecosystems Grants 4  >  
Healthy Ecosystems Grants 4 - Request for Applications: Application Submission and Review

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Applications for this funding opportunity have two stages with different required components: 1) a letter of intent and 2) a full proposal. Project directors are advised to review the application preparation and submission instructions carefully and submit any questions to gulfgrants@nas.edu well in advance of the submission deadlines. Although the Gulf Research Program strives to respond to applicants' questions within two business days, the response time depends on the volume of questions received and the complexity of the question asked. The Gulf Research Program does not guarantee that applicants' questions will be answered before submission deadlines. Applicants are advised to submit applications well in advance of the submission deadlines as a precaution against unanticipated delays. Please plan ahead.

Please be advised that the Gulf Research Program expects applicants to have reviewed the Grant Agreement (see "Grant Terms and Conditions" on the "Grant Awards" page) prior to submitting an application to ensure that the applicant is aware of the applicable terms under which the grant is offered. It is the policy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to entertain potential modifications to the Grant Agreement only under the most exceptional circumstances. Rather, successful applicants are strongly encouraged to sign the Grant Agreement as presented.


Letter of Intent

A letter of intent (LOI) is required for this funding opportunity and must be submitted via the online application system. LOIs submitted by other means (including mail, fax, or e-mail) will not be considered. LOI application materials submitted in any language other than English will not be considered. The LOI is not binding and is used by program staff to gauge the size and range of the competition so that staff can better manage the selection of reviewers. In addition, the information contained in a LOI is used to help avoid potential conflicts of interest in the review process. All complete LOIs will be reviewed internally by Gulf Research Program and other National Academies staff to evaluate overall clarity of the idea and relevance to the RFA using the Letter of Intent Review Rubric.

The LOI must include the following elements:
  1. Required Information:
    1. Applicant
    2. Project director
    3. Authorized organizational representative (AOR)
    4. Grant/contract administrator (if different from AOR)
  2. Optional Information: Information provided in this section will not be used in or influence any portion of the application review process:
    1. Suggestions for reviewers: The suggestions may be considered for the peer review of full proposals, but the selection of reviewers is the responsibility of the Gulf Research Program.
    2. How did you hear about this funding opportunity?
    3. Demographic information
  1. Project Personnel:
    1. Project director
    2. Key personnel
    3. Involvement of project director or key personnel in other applications
  2. Project Details:
    1. Project title (up to 15 words)
    2. Project key words (up to 5 words)
    3. Overview of proposed project (up to 1,250 words)
    4. Research involving human subjects (if applicable)
The project director will be notified of the Gulf Research Program’s decision to either encourage or discourage submission of a full proposal by June 21, 2019. The Gulf Research Program's decision is advisory only, which means that submitters of both favorably and unfavorably reviewed LOIs are eligible to submit full proposals. The intent of encourage/discourage decisions is to improve the overall quality of the full proposal and encourage re-thinking, particularly if a LOI is not responsive to the RFA topic.


Full Proposal

Full proposals must be submitted via the online application system, and they cannot be submitted if the applicant did not submit an LOI. Proposals submitted by other means (including mail, fax, or e-mail) will not be considered. Full proposal application materials submitted in any language other than English will not be considered. The online form for submission of a full proposal will be available on May 23, 2019, to applicants who have submitted an LOI. Conformance of proposals to instructions provided is required and will be strictly enforced. The Gulf Research Program may reject, without review, proposals that are not consistent with the instructions.

The information provided in the LOI is non-binding. At the full proposal stage, you have the opportunity to change or update project information based on feedback received from the LOI review or changes in the project plan since the LOI was submitted. You may not change the applicant (i.e., applying organization).

The full proposal must include the following elements:
  1. Project Personnel:
    1. Project director
    2. Key personnel
    3. Involvement of project director or key personnel in other applications
  2. Project Details:
    1. Project title (up to 15 words)
    2. Project key words (up to 5 words)
    3. Project summary (up to 300 words)
    4. Project description (up to 5,000 words)
    5. References cited
    6. Data management plan (up to 1,500 words) [Please see the Gulf Research Program's Data Management Policy]
    7. Facilities, equipment, and other resources (up to 500 words)
    8. Research involving human subjects (if applicable)
  3. Project Budget
    1. Total budget requested
    2. Budget justification (up to 2,000 words). View a sample budget justification.
    3. Sub-award to FFRDC(s) or UARC(s) (if applicable)
  • Attachments:
  1. Required Attachments:
    NOTE: The Gulf Research Program may reject, without review, any applications with required attachments that are missing requested information or that are otherwise not consistent with the instructions outlined.
    1. Budget Form: Complete this form to provide information on the proposed budget. Budget requests should be developed commensurate with the support needed to achieve the project goals. Please note that cost-sharing is prohibited.
    2. Resume(s): A resume is required for the project director and every individual identified as key personnel. Resumes may not exceed two pages per person. See resume specifications for additional guidance. Please combine all resumes into a single PDF document before uploading as an attachment. The PDF must not include resumes of any individual who has not been named as a project director or key personnel in the “Project Personnel” section. It is the responsibility of the project director to ensure that the key personnel listed in the “Project Personnel” section are correct and match the resumes submitted.
    3. Collaborators and Other Affiliations Form: The purpose of this form is to help us eliminate potential conflicts of interest during our reviewer recruitment. Complete this form to provide information on the following for the project director and all key personnel named in the “Project Personnel” section:
      • All persons (including their current organizational affiliations) who are currently or who have been collaborators (i.e. an individual with whom you work closely to co-design or conduct a project) or co-authors with the individual on a project, book, article, report, abstract, or paper during the 48 months preceding the submission of the application.
      • The individual’s own graduate and postdoctoral advisor(s) and their current organizational affiliations.
      • All persons (including their current organizational affiliations) with whom the individual has had an association as a graduate or postdoctoral advisor.
      If an individual does not have any collaborators or other affiliations pertaining to the above situations, that must be indicated within the section of the form for that individual. It is the responsibility of the project director to ensure that the key personnel listed in the "Project Personnel" section are correct and match those listed in the Collaborators and Other Affiliations Form.
    4. Current and Pending Support Form: Complete this form to provide information on support from projects or activities currently underway and pending support for future projects or activities of the project director and all key personnel named in the “Project Personnel” section. All current or pending support from whatever source (e.g., federal, state, local or foreign government agencies, public or private foundations, industrial or other commercial organizations) must be listed for every member of the project team. The project proposed in this application and all other projects or activities requiring a portion of time of the project director or key personnel must be included, even if an individual receives no salary support from the projects or activities. If an individual does not have any other current or pending support or is unable to document that information for whatever reason, that must be indicated within the section of the form for that individual. The total award amount for the entire award period covered (including indirect costs) must be shown as well as the number of person-months per year to be devoted to the project, regardless of source of support. It is the responsibility of the project director to ensure that the key personnel listed in the “Project Personnel” section are correct and match those listed in the Current and Pending Support Form.
    5. Timeline: A timeline is required that portrays key project activities or events—including tasks, milestones, outputs, or deliverables—using a Gantt chart. During the application review process, the timeline will be used by reviewers to assess project feasibility. Should a project be funded, the timeline should allow project directors to track their progress and help Gulf Research Program staff monitor whether a project is on schedule. Project activities or events in the timeline should serve as unambiguous indicators and measures of progress. Projects should have a sufficient number of key activities or events to ensure that a timeline is adequately portrayed and overall progress can be reasonably tracked over distinct time periods. Gantt charts should be limited to one-page (8.5" x 11") and uploaded as a PDF.

  2. Optional Attachments:
    NOTE: The Gulf Research Program may reject inclusion of any optional attachments in the review process if the attachments are not consistent with the instructions outlined.
    1. Equations and visual elements: The text box for the “Project Description” does not support equations or visual elements (e.g., figures, tables, images, maps). Applicants may upload a single PDF document with 1) a one-page list of equations and 2) up to five visual elements, each on one page, to support the information included in the project description. Visual elements must be labeled sequentially (e.g., Figure 1, Table 1). The total number of pages of visual elements in the PDF may not exceed five pages. Only equations and visual elements can be included in this attachment and only information that is directly relevant to the equations or visual elements included (e.g., figure legends) is acceptable. Attempts to use this attachment to provide any information beyond this stated purpose may result in removal of the attachment from the review process.
    2. Letters of commitment: Applicants may upload a PDF with letters of commitment from collaborators or organizations/individuals anticipated to inform or participate in the project in a substantial way. Each letter of commitment should be brief and no longer than one page. Letters of commitment must not include itemized budgets or other information that is required in other sections of the application. Please combine all letters of commitment into a single PDF before uploading as an attachment.
Research Involving Human Subjects

All projects involving human subjects must be submitted to an institutional review board (IRB) for review and either receive IRB approval or be granted exemption from human subjects regulations before an award can be made. Applicants should file their application with their local IRB at the same time the application is submitted to the Gulf Research Program so that any approval procedure determined as necessary will not delay the award process. An application may be submitted to the Gulf Research Program prior to receiving IRB approval or being granted exemption; however, if the application is selected for funding, the award will be made conditional upon IRB granting approval or exemption from human subjects regulations within 60 days of the notice of conditional award. If a proposed project involving human subjects is granted exemption from human subjects regulations [see 45 CFR §46.104], the applicant must provide documentation that an IRB (or the appropriate authority other than the project director or key personnel) has declared the project exempt from the human subjects regulations. Documentation should include the specific category justifying the exemption. Organizations without internal access to an IRB must seek approval or exemption from an independent review board or other appropriate authority.


Full Proposal Peer Review Process

All complete full proposals will be sent to external reviewers for panel review. The external review panel will evaluate the proposals based on the Full Proposal Merit Review Criteria, discuss the merit and all received comments for each proposal, then rank the proposals. The Gulf Research Program will make reasonable efforts to develop a review panel in which external reviewers will not be affiliated with any institution that submitted proposals. Any external reviewer with any conflict(s) of interest will be recused from reviewing or participating in any discussion of any proposal(s) with which s/he has a conflict of interest. Program staff will examine the full proposals and prepare a grant-funding plan taking into consideration the review panel’s ranking of the proposals, summaries from the panel discussion, and the program’s funding availability, current portfolio, objectives, and goals. A subset of current and former Gulf Research Program Advisory Board members oversee the grant-funding plan and recommend a list of projects for funding. Current and former Advisory Board members are recused from individual proposals involving a conflict of interest, such as having an affiliation with an institution that submitted a proposal. The final decision for funding will be made by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

All review processes will be governed by the Gulf Research Program's Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policies.


Full Proposal Merit Review Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of three broad review criteria. The bullets under each criterion are meant to guide proposers in writing their proposals and guide peer reviewers on what to consider when judging a proposal; the bullets are illustrative and not intended to be all encompassing. Reviewers may raise additional issues that are not covered by the bullets under each criterion.

Relevance and Impact (40%)
  • Does the proposed project seek to advance understanding of a specific aspect(s) of ecosystem function and/or dynamics of the U.S. Gulf Coast?
  • Is the project focus articulated in relation to how it is impacted by human activities and/or affects human activities?
  • Will the project contribute to significantly advancing understanding of the U.S. Gulf Coast as a coupled natural-human system?
  • Are specific end users (e.g., specific decision-makers or resource managers) of the proposed project outputs clearly identified?
  • Does the proposed project plan include activities that ensure that user needs will be addressed?
  • Is there a clear description of a pathway(s) for translation, application, and/or implementation of research findings into further action and/or decision-making that extends beyond journal publication?
  • Will the project outputs, including knowledge and/or tools, significantly contribute to advancing decision-making now or in the future?
Technical and Scientific Merit (40%)
  • Is there evidence that the proposed project team understands the current state of knowledge of the issue(s) to be addressed?
  • Is the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses scientifically and/or technically valid and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
  • Is the plan for project implementation clear, appropriate, and feasible as evidenced by the project description and associated timeline?
  • Does the proposal include a data management plan that is appropriate for the scope of work?
  • Is the budget commensurate with the proposed work?
Project Personnel and Resources (20%)
  • Relative to the stage of career, how well qualified are the project director and other project personnel (if applicable) to conduct the proposed activities?
  • Are the disciplines and perspectives represented by the key personnel and their institutions appropriate for the scope of the project?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate that the project personnel would have access to the resources needed to conduct the proposed project (for example, institutional support, personnel, field sites, external data, equipment, and/or other physical resources)?

Data Management Policy

The Gulf Research Program's Data Management Policy applies to this RFA. To facilitate sharing of data and information products, all full proposals submitted to the Gulf Research Program must include a data management plan. Information products may include documents (i.e. reports, workshop summaries, etc.), multi-media curricula for education and training (i.e. video and/or online tutorials, manuals and handbooks, etc.), and other media and communication platforms. Even in the unlikely case in which no data or any other information products will be produced, a plan must be submitted that states "No data or information products are expected to be produced from this project." Please see the Gulf Research Program's Data Management Policy and Data Management web page for information on what must be included in the data management plan submitted as part of this application.