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Request for Proposals

2020 Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Program Graduate Grants Request for Proposals (RFP)

The Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Program (CAP LTER) Graduate Grants help support graduate student research in urban ecology and urban systems conducted within the CAP LTER study area. These projects do not necessarily have to be part of current CAP LTER research activities, but priority will be given to work that: a) compliments and potentially enhances ongoing CAP LTER research; b) uses CAP LTER’s long-term datasets; and/or c) links CAP research with research being conducted by the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) or the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) projects. Priority areas (a) and (b) are intended to promote research that especially focuses on the long-term part of LTER while (c) taking advantage of areas of joint interest among the UREx SRN, DCDC, and CAP LTER.

Spring 2019 awardees are not eligible for this competition as individual applicants but can apply as a collaborative applicant. Previous Grad Grant awardees must have datasets from past awards submitted to Stevan Earl in order to be eligible for the 2020 grad grant.

Allowable Expenses

The awards, which will be up to $4,000 for individual research proposals or up to $6,000 to support multi-student collaborative research projects, may be used for any category of expenditure, e.g., subsistence for self or wages for an undergraduate research assistant, materials/supplies, lab analysis, and local travel for fieldwork. Funds cannot be budgeted for expenses related to coursework at ASU (tuition, course textbooks, etc.), and graduate RA funds are also not supported under this program. Students interested in funding for conference travel should request this separately by email to CAP LTER Program Manager Mark Watkins.

Funds for subsistence will be awarded as a stipend with awardees responsible for taxes. All other awards will be managed through CAP LTER, and awardees will work with Mark Watkins to spend the awarded funds as per their budget. Awarded monies must be fully spent within one year of the award. If the proposal budget includes funds to pay other personnel, you must adhere to ASU Human Resource hiring regulations and must have a faculty member who will approve hours electronically every pay period as required by ASU Human Resources.

Other Grant Conditions

Students must agree to submit all project data along with appropriate documentation to the CAP LTER Information Manager Stevan Earl upon completion of the project for publication in the CAP LTER data catalog. These data will be subject to the access protections as stipulated in the CAP LTER data policy. Previous awardees must document that they have complied with these requirements. For information about available long-term datasets, please consult the long-term monitoring and experiments page on the CAP LTER website, or contact Stevan Earl, Sally Wittlinger (CAP LTER Site Manager), or Dan Childers as some long-term data are not yet in the catalog.

To Apply

Applicants must submit their proposals electronically to Mark Watkins ( by 5:00 PM MST on Friday, March 6, 2020. Questions regarding any of the information in this RFP can also be addressed to Mark.

Students must provide their advisor with a copy of their proposal. Shortly after March 6, advisors will be sent a short email questionnaire asking: 1) the relation of the proposed work to applicant’s thesis or dissertation; 2) the student’s likelihood of success with the proposed research; 3) the relationship of the proposed research to CAP LTER’s research agenda and; 4) whether the student has other funding to support the work.

Application Instructions

The text should be in 12-point font, single spaced, with 1” margins and should not exceed page limits stipulated below (not including budget or literature cited). The proposal should contain the following components:

  1. The 2020 Grad Grant Cover Sheet, which includes:
    • A descriptive title for the proposed research project.
    • Your name and department affiliation, along with those of your collaborators (if applicable).
    • Your advisor(s) name(s), along with those of your collaborators (if applicable).
    • An abstract (250 word maximum) of the proposed research that succinctly states the central research question, methods to be used, and significance of the proposed research.
  2. A full project description (under the heading, Proposed Research), should be no more than 3 pages including tables and figures and cover the following:
    • Results of Prior Support: Statement of whether or not the applicant has had prior CAP support. If so, then the applicant should discuss the products from prior support.
    • Introduction: This section should briefly review the current literature on the proposed topic, to provide theoretical context for (and importance of) the research question, and present the research question and/or research objectives/hypotheses. If the project will use CAP LTER long-term data or has a link to UReX SRN or DCDC research, indicate this here.
    • Methods: A description of the research design, including the methods to be used (or appropriate citations).
    • Expected Results: A discussion of expected results and/or predictions from the proposed work.
    • Significance: A description of the significance of the proposed work to theory in the field of interest, to CAP LTER research, and/or to urban ecology.
    • Needs: Proposed use of CAP LTER resources (can be listed in tabular form— including field sites, datasets, instrumentation, imagery, or other facilities).
    • Commitment: Statement of intention to provide data and data documentation (subject to the access restrictions outlined in the CAP LTER data policy) to the CAP LTER Information Manager and evidence that data from previous awards has been submitted to CAP LTER.
  3. Literature Cited (no page limit).
  4. Budget and Justification: Include categories of expenditures and a narrative justification of all requested expenditures (1 page maximum). Budgets should include the following categories of expenditures: Personnel (includes subsistence stipends and wages for assistants), Materials and Supplies, Local Travel, Publication Costs, Laboratory Fees, and Other (please provide details). TThe budget should just be presented as a table with one line devoted to each budget item. The budget justification or budget narrative should give details about the amount in each line item. Please include a justification for summer stipend support – why such support is necessary for the completion of the proposed research (here is an example).

Proposal Review

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel consisting of previous grad grant awardees and CAP LTER postdocs. The panel will make funding recommendations to the CAP LTER Executive Committee who will then advise the Director on which proposals are meritorious. An award decision will be made and communicated by mid-April 2020. All students will receive written reviews from the panelists and the panel summary at that time. Reviews will be based on the following criteria (in order of importance):

  1. Intellectual merit: overall quality of the science proposed, and feasibility of the research.
  2. Contribution of the project to the overall goals of the CAP LTER program and its relationship to ongoing CAP research through the citation of CAP LTER publications and datasets.
  3. Results from prior support where applicable (including compliance with LTER data policy).
  4. Use of existing long-term data, or connections to UReX SRN or DCDC research.
  5. Demonstrated need and the reasonableness of the budget.