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This blog will feature funding opportunities that may be of interest to the ASPB community. Posts are tagged by agency and subject, where applicable.


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Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases “SEES: Interactions of Food Systems with Water and Energy Systems” Dear Colleague Letter

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Friday, February 06, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on February 2 soliciting proposals for workshops or supplements to existing active NSF grants focusing on the interactions of systems involving food, energy, and water (FEW).  This initiative stems from NSF’s Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) umbrella.  Through this DCL, NSF intends to build upon the SEES Water Sustainability and Climate program to also include energy and food systems. 

NSF seeks to engage many disciplines across the scientific community, and has therefore broadly defined FEW systems to incorporate “physical processes (such as new technologies for more efficient resource utilization), natural processes (such as biogeochemical and hydrologic cycles), biological processes (such as agroecosystem structure and productivity), social/behavioral processes (such as decision making and governance), and cyber elements.”  Further displaying this interdisciplinary commitment, all seven of NSF’s Directorates, as well as the Office of International and Integrative Activities (OIIA), are participating in these initial FEW activities. 

Workshop Proposals

To encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary consideration of the FEW system, NSF is soliciting workshop proposals involving partnerships among natural science, physical science, social science, computing, and engineering researchers.  Workshops should “culminate in deliverable white papers that define scientific, engineering, and data challenges in understanding the FEW system.”  Eligible participants for workshops include academic researchers; scientists; educators; representatives from industry, state and local governments; and representatives from federal agencies.  Workshop proposal budgets must be less than $100,000.

Submission Instructions: Before submitting a proposal, the PI must contact the appropriate Directorate’s point of contact (listed in the DCL) to ensure the proposed workshop fits NSF’s intended goals.  If approved, PIs will submit through the normal NSF submission process to the relevant Program Director. 

Due Date: Workshop Proposals must be submitted by March 30.  Activities and deliverables for proposed workshops should fall within the September through December 2015 timeframe.


Researchers with an active NSF grant may apply for supplemental funding to “enhance existing projects by incorporating or exploring the concepts described in this DCL.”  Supplemental funding may also be used to “broaden the interdisciplinary dimensions” of a project or to bolster interactions across “disciplinary, organization, geographic, and international boundaries.”

Submission Instructions: Before applying for supplemental funding, the PI must obtain prior permission from the relevant program officer. 

Due Date: Proposals for supplementary funding are due March 30. 

Note that in addition to Workshops and Supplemental proposals, the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) will also accept Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals. 

This DCL is the first opportunity announced by NSF within the food-energy-water space.  Several Directorates across the Foundation have expressed interest in creating a program or initiative within this research topic over the past year.  President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request, which was released on February 2, proposed funding for a new NSF-wide interdisciplinary initiative titled “Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems”  or INFEWS.  The budget request also notes that INFEWS will be a priority research theme for the FY 2016 NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) competition and that additional dear colleague letters will be issued in priority topic areas to emphasize the food-energy-water-theme in other NSF-wide programs. 


Sources and Additional Information:

·      The Dear Colleague Letter is available at


Tags:  energy  food  funding  NSF  water 

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Federal Programs and Fellowships that Provide Support for Plant Science Graduate Students

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Wednesday, November 19, 2014



This report was prepared by Lewis Burke Associates, a government relations firm contracted by ASPB, and contains a list of federal government research scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs that provide support for graduate students. The federal government programs listed below are organized by the agency that runs the program. Within each agency, the programs are organized by the applying entity, e.g. whether the award is given to the institution or to individuals. For each opportunity, there is provided a program summary, eligibility requirements, size of the program, approximate size and type of award, citizenship requirements, annual due dates, and other special factors. The program websites are provided as a source for more detailed information.

For the fiscal year (FY) 2014 and FY 2015 budget requests, the Obama Administration has proposed consolidating many of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs run by the federal government, including many graduate education programs. In FY 2014, Congress protected some of the programs proposed for consolidation while allowing others to terminate as proposed by the administration. For FY 2015, program status is unclear for several programs as congressional appropriations have not yet been finalized. This document notes the status of any programs that were terminated in FY 2014 or are at risk for termination in FY 2015.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds basic research in all areas of science and engineering. This includes research on social, behavioral, and economic sciences as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) primary mission is to regulate and implement public policy for the nation’s food, agriculture, and natural resources. However, there are offices within USDA which support extramural research opportunities. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is the primary extramural research and grant making agency of the USDA. Through the grants offered by NIFA, the USDA is able to conduct research critical to farmers, consumers, and communities. (In 2008, NIFA was created as a replacement for the organization formerly known as the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.) This year’s bipartisan five-year Farm Bill established a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) with $200 million in mandatory spending with the purpose of fostering public-private partnerships to identify and prioritize research needs of the agricultural sector. It is not yet clear whether FFAR will create new graduate fellowship programs.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) funds research that is relevant to its mission of advancing the national, economic, and energy security of the U.S. DOE supports research in a broad range of basic and applied sciences. It is the principal federal funding agency of research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences. It also manages fundamental research programs in basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences, and computational science and is the federal government's largest single provider of funds for materials and chemical sciences. Other research areas include climate change, geophysics, genomics, life sciences, nanotechnology, fossil energy, and nuclear medicine.

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DOD) funds research that is relevant to its mission, predominately drawing from engineering, computer/information science, and physical sciences. However, DOD also provides some limited research and education opportunities in foreign languages, social sciences, and medical and life sciences.

Department of Education

The Department of Education offers a number of discretionary grants in the areas of the enhancement of education policy, educational environments, and educator capabilities. Most of the graduate fellowship support programs are run by the Office of Post-Secondary Education, which is responsible for developing and implementing post-secondary education policy while simultaneously increasing quality and access.

National Institutes of Health

The primary function of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to support biomedical and health-related research. Included in this mission is research on the behavioral and social impacts of individuals and society as related to public health. Please refer to each program’s corresponding link to see which of NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs), as well as which agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are collaborating on each program and to determine the areas of graduate study that are relevant.

Department of State

The Department of State supports a limited number of international social science and exchange programs each year. Many of these grants focus on international public policy, governance, and/or human rights. A limited number of these programs are open to or targeted at graduate students. Further, recent budget constraints have driven a consolidation of programs and left the Fulbright Program as the primary option for graduate students seeking fellowship funding through the Department.

Environmental Protection Agency

Science guides the regulatory decision-making of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Utilizing intramural EPA laboratories as well as the extramural research community, the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) conducts research on topics such as air and water quality, ecosystem assessment and restoration, climate change, impacts to human health, and pollution prevention. ORD is the research arm of EPA. EPA has limited extramural opportunities for university researchers given that EPA, like a number of other agencies, utilizes its own labs and federal experts.

U.S. Agency for International Development

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the primary U.S. agency responsible for engaging the developing world. USAID partners with the higher education community in support of solutions to key global development challenges. Priority areas during the Obama Administration include global health (including child and maternal health), combating and adapting to climate change, and promoting global food security. Under Administrator Rajiv Shah, USAID has enhanced its focused on research and innovation, including through new programs to connect with students at U.S. universities.


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Funding Opportunity: ARPA-E Announces New Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) Program – Concept Papers due November 17, 2014; Teaming Partner List Open

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Friday, October 10, 2014


The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced a new program and funding opportunity entitled Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA). The goal of the TERRA program is to develop transformational methods to accelerate crop development for the production of renewable fuels from biomass sources.  ARPA-E intends to provide up to $30 million for the program.  The agency encourages “outstanding” scientists and engineers to form new project teams for the TERRA program

ARPA-E recognizes the significant advances that have been made in developing the technologies needed to extract data from crops used to produce biofuels, but it notes the lack of tools to help process the data to predict crop performance in actual production.  The agency seeks proposals to develop the tools needed to “enable an increase in the rate and extent of genetic improvement in the yield of bioenergy crops grown in the field.”[1]

The emphasis of the TERRA program is on plant phenotyping.  The agency notes that researchers can currently access significant data from certain crops in genetics, physiology, and environment.  The current need is to accelerate the phenotyping of plants to improve crop output.  The program should “increase the precision, accuracy and throughput of energy crop breeding, to enable (a) new predictive algorithms for plant growth, (b) more detailed measurements for plant physiology, and (c) more sophisticated bioinformatics pipelines for gene discovery and trait association.”[2]   This information will assist breeders in making crop selections with a goal of increasing the pipeline of sources to manufacture advanced biofuels.  ARPA-E indicates that while other crops will be considered, the program intends to focus on energy sorghum as a model system because of its properties.[3]  The program also seeks to identify genes that can improve carbon capture efficiency in new biofuels crops.

There are five main categories for proposed projects:

1)      Complete Integrated Phenotyping Systems Solutions

2)      High Throughput Automated Hardware and Sensing Technologies

3)      Computational Solutions for Selection and Prediction

4)      Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics

5)      Programmatic Reference Data Generation and Hosting

For details on each of these categories, please see the full FOA.[4]

A June 2014 workshop hosted by ARPA-E on “Plant Phenotyping” emphasized the need to develop ways to transform the bioenergy market, including new bioenergy crops with improved yield and less energy use in production.  Topics included crop physiology, breeding, and genomic and bioinformatic technologies.  Robotic platforms for remote data sensing technologies and data collection and the tools needed to manage the data were also discussed.[5]  The results of the workshop helped inform the current funding opportunity announcement (FOA).  The proceedings of the workshop can be found at

Deadlines for Questions: ARPA-E has set November 3, 2014 as the first deadline for questions about the TERRA FOA.  Questions can be submitted to  A second deadline for questions has yet to be determined.

Concept Papers Due Date:  Concept papers are due November 10, 2014.

Full Proposal Due Date:  The date for the submission of full proposals is yet to be determined.

Total Funding and Award Size:  ARPA-E has announced approximately $30 million for the TERRA awards (subject to appropriation) with 5 to 10 awards anticipated.  Individual awards can range from $250,000 to $10 million.  The proposed program duration cannot exceed 48 months.

Eligibility and Limitations:  Individuals (U.S. citizens or permanent residents); educational institutions; nonprofits organizations; for-profit organizations; foreign organizations; and consortia of domestic and foreign entities are eligible to apply.   Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are eligible to apply as lead for a project team or as a team member, but not as a standalone entity.  For complete eligibility requirements, including for DOE national laboratories and state and local governments, please see the full FOA.

Cost-sharing:  Cost-sharing of 20 percent is generally required, but is reduced to 5 percent for educational institutions and consortia of education institutions, domestic non-profit organizations, and FFRDCs.  ARPA-E “strongly encourages” large businesses to provide more than the 20 percent cost share.

Teaming Partner List:  The agency encourages scientists and engineers to form new project teams to apply for the TERRA program.  The technical areas of interest include: “plant physiology, breeding, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, computational biology, data analytics, robotics, machine learning, and sensing technologies.”[6]   To register for the Teaming Partner List, please see

Sources and Additional Information:

·A link to the full FOA can be found at

·To register for the Teaming Partner List, please see

·The results of an agency workshop on Plant Phenotyping can be found at

[1] Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Funding Opportunity Announcement, DE-FOA-0001211, Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA), page 15.

[2] Ibid, page 9.

[3] Ibid, page 9.

[4] Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Funding Opportunity Announcement, DE-FOA-0001211, Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA), pages 17-29.

[5] ARPA-E Plant Phenotyping Workshop, June 18-19, 2014,

[6] ARPA-E Newsletter, October, 1, 2014.


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Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Solicitation for Science and Technology Centers (STC) Competition

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Friday, August 15, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released the highly anticipated solicitation for the next round of Science and Technology Centers (STC).  STCs support complex research and education projects that require large-scale and long-term awards.  While this STC competition is open to any area of research NSF supports, the solicitation states that, “Themes consistent with NSF priorities, including such areas as cognitive science and neuroscience, clean energy, and food security, as well as other national priorities are encouraged.”  While the STC program is NSF-wide, oversight for each STC is the responsibility of the appropriate research directorate in coordination with NSF’s Office of International and Integrative Activities.  

As in past STC competitions, education activities will be an important component with proposed Centers encouraged to focus efforts on specific programs that are appropriately integrated into the research activities of the Center.  STCs are further encouraged, but not required, to form collaborations with institutions that serve underrepresented students interested in STEM. 

In addition to education and diversity, “PIs are encouraged to exploit aspects of cyberinfrastructure such as high performance computing, data analysis and visualization, and virtual organizations for distributed communities in order to support the science and engineering goals of the Center, and to enable and enhance collaborations and resource sharing among the partner institutions.”  Centers are also expected to facilitate knowledge transfer; examples include: technology transfer with the intention of supporting innovation, providing key information to public policy makers, or dissemination of knowledge from one field of science to another. 

For more background on the STC program and an analysis of existing Centers, please see Lewis-Burke’s April 2014 analysis of the program following this summary.

Total Funding, Award Size, and Budget Information:  Pending funding availability, NSF intends to award $16 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 for up to four new STCs and $20 million per year for the remaining four years, with the possibility of a five-year renewal.  Proposed STC budgets may range up to $4 million in the first year and $5 million per year thereafter—preliminary and invited full proposals beyond this range will not be reviewed.  The inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited; however, proposals will in part be judged on having appropriate institutional commitments to carry out the proposed research. 

Eligibility:  Preliminary and invited full proposals may be submitted by U.S. academic institutions with doctoral degree-granting research and education programs in any area of research supported by NSF.  The Center proposal must be led by a faculty member at the lead institution.  

Institution and PI Limitations:  An institution may submit up to three preliminary proposals as the lead institution; however, NSF will not support more than one Center from any lead institution in this competition.  There is no limit on the number of proposals in which an organization participates as a partner.  

A PI or co-PI on one proposal in this competition may not be a participant in another STC proposal in the same competition.  Should a proposal be declined at any stage, a PI or co-PI on the declined proposal may then participate in another STC proposal.  The solicitation further states that past members of STCs may participate only if the themes “are substantially different from those they pursued with prior NSF Center support.”  

Partners:  Lead institutions are expected to develop partnerships with other organizations, such as: other universities and colleges, national laboratories, research museums, private sector research laboratories, state and local government laboratories, and international organizations as appropriate.  While not every partner must support all Center activities, all of the expected features of the Center must be accomplished through the partners’ activities.  NSF further encourages, but does not require, international dimensions.  Although not required by NSF, STCs are strongly encouraged to build “substantive and long-term” partnerships with institutions that serve underrepresented students interested in STEM. 

Preliminary Proposals:  Preliminary proposals are required and are due December 11, 2014.  NSF will not review any proposals that are duplicative or substantially similar to proposals submitted to other NSF programs. 

Full Proposals:  NSF will accept full proposals by invitation only.  For those invited, full proposals will be due June 16, 2015.  Recommended awards are expected to be announced by April 15, 2016. 

Sources and Additional Information: 

Tags:  food security  NSF 

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Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Solicitation for Fifth PIRE Competition

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Solicitation for Fifth PIRE Competition

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – July 22, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released the long-awaited solicitation for its fifth Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) competition.  PIRE, first competed in 2005, is NSF’s signature international research and education program.  In contrast to the last round, the 2014 competition is open to proposals from all science and engineering disciplines supported by NSF.  The 2012 iteration of PIRE was limited to NSF’s Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) initiative.  This round of PIRE also follows a reorganization of NSF’s international activities that resulted in the merger of the Office of International Science and Engineering with the Office of Integrative Activities to form a new Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA).  The creation of IIA came amidst a desire to decentralize NSF’s international activities and better integrate them across NSF directorates and programs.     

According to NSF, the purpose of PIRE is to “support high quality projects in which advances in research and education could not occur without international collaboration.”  NSF reiterates throughout the solicitation that while applicants are afforded wide authority to propose projects in a range of topic areas, a clear case must be made for how international collaborations are defining characteristics of the project.  Further, while NSF says it will accept proposals in any area of supported research or education, it encourages those that are interdisciplinary.  Also of interest to potential applicants, NSF stresses throughout the solicitation that educational impacts will factor into proposal evaluation and applicants must demonstrate how projects would support a diverse, globally-engaged science and engineering workforce.  As with other NSF programs, PIRE proposals must address the agency’s Broader Impacts criteria to receive funding.  NSF encourages proposals that involve early career researchers and individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering.   

Similar to the autonomy provided to applicants in selecting topic areas, NSF allows investigators to select collaborators from the country of their choosing.  However, the solicitation contains information on commitments from many of NSF’s international counterparts to supplement NSF funding for the competition.  Partner countries have made varying commitments to the program and will have different levels of involvement in the proposal review process.  Some of NSF’s international partners will be involved beginning with the initial review of pre-proposals while others will not engage until after final award decisions are made.  Complete details of participating countries and their arrangements with NSF are in the full solicitation. 

NSF will hold a webinar for prospective applicants from 2:30-4:30 PM (EDT) on July 29.  The webcast will be available at  

Preliminary Proposals: Given the immense interest in PIRE, NSF requires that all applicants submit preliminary proposals to outline intended projects.  Preliminary proposals are due to NSF by October 21, 2014.

Full Proposals: Following review of preliminary proposals, NSF will accept full proposals by invitation only.  For those invited, full proposals will be due May 15, 2015.

Total Funding and Award Size: NSF intends to award a total of $10 million-$15 million for this round of PIRE.  Pending the availability of funds, NSF will make average awards of approximately $4 million over five years. 

Eligibility and Proposal Limitations: NSF states that proposals may be submitted by U.S. academic institutions with Ph.D.-granting programs that have awarded doctoral degrees in the 2012 or 2013 academic years in any area of research supported by NSF.  Note that universities are limited to one proposal as the lead institution.  There are no limits on the number of proposals per principal investigator or co-principal investigator.    

Sources and Additional Information:

·         The complete PIRE 2014 solicitation is available at

·         Complete details of the PIRE program, including information on past awards, is available on the NSF website at

Tags:  funding  international  NSF 

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NSF Releases NSF Research Traineeship Program (NRT) Solicitation

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lewis-Burke Associates – March 31, 2014

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released the first solicitation for the NSF Research Traineeship Program (NRT), a new graduate education initiative that replaces the longstanding Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT). 

The objective of NRT is to innovate interdisciplinary, transformative models for STEM graduate education in order to prepare the scientists and engineers of the future. NRT is intended to build on IGERT but additionally includes “training for multiple career pathways, rotating priority research themes, inclusion of both master’s and doctoral students, a broader definition of trainees, and greater budgetary and programmatic flexibility”.[1] 

Unlike IGERT, the new NRT program has specific research themes that will rotate every two to three years, with the initial focus on Data Enabled-Science and Engineering (DESE).  Proposals are also invited from other interdisciplinary themes as long as they connect to national research priorities and “have high potential for development of innovative practices in graduate education.”

Letters of Intent: Optional letters of intent are due May 20, 2014.  While optional, NSF requests that letters of intent be submitted to help NSF gauge estimated proposals submissions and review requirements.

Due Date: Full proposals are due June 24, 2014.  The solicitation only covers 2014, but future solicitations are expected.

Total Funding and Award Size: NRT awards are expected to be up to five years in duration with a maximum budget of $3,000,000.  NSF anticipates awarding between eight to ten NRT grants with total program funding of $24,000,000 to $30,000,000. 

Eligibility and Limitations: Unlike IGERT, the NRT program is open to graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs.  NRT stipends and cost-of-education allowances are limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  However, international students can be trainees in a NRT program and participate fully in NRT training elements or activities.

Institutions can submit up to two proposals.  If an institution supports only one proposal, it can be in either DESE or another theme.  If an institution submits two proposals, at least one must be in DESE.  Additionally, an individual may serve as the Lead Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on only one NRT proposal, however, the PI or a Co-PI of a proposal may serve as a faculty participant on other NRT proposals submitted.

Sources and Additional Background:

Tags:  traing grant 

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Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

Posted By Tyrone Spady, Monday, March 17, 2014

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas: Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics; Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators; Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing); new innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening; and methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production efficiency, handling and processing of specialty crops.

Special Notation

More SCRI Information

Who Is Eligible to Apply

  • 1862 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1890 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1994 Land-Grant Institutions
  • For-profit Organizations Other Than Small Businesses
  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed
  • Other or Additional Information (See below)
  • Private Institutions of Higher Ed
  • Small Business
  • State Agricultural Experiment Stations
  • State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed
  • More Information on Eligibility

    For the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), applications may be submitted by Federal agencies, national laboratories, colleges and universities, research institutions and organizations, private organizations or corporations, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, Cooperative Extension Services, individuals, or groups consisting of two or more of these entities.

    Request for Application (RFA) | Apply: Electronic | Abstracts of Funded Projects

    Solicitation Date (Opening)March 17, 2014
    Letter of Intent Due DateNone
    Due Date (Closing)
    June 20, 2014
    Due Date (Closing)
    Letter of Intent and Stakeholder Relevance Statement Deadline
    April 11, 2014
    Estimated Total Program Funding$76,800,000.00
    Range of Awards$50,000.00 to $10,000,000.00
    Percent of Applications Funded Last Fiscal Year20%
    Cost Sharing Requirements100%
    For More Information ContactThomas (Tom) Bewick
    Funding Opportunity NumberUSDA-NIFA-SCRI-004509
    CFDA Number10.309 Specialty Crop Research Initiative
    Contact for Electronic Access

    Tags:  funding  specialty crops  USDA 

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    Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

    Posted By Tyrone Spady, Monday, March 17, 2014

    Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

    The OREI seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities. The purpose of this program is to fund projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics. The OREI is particularly interested in projects that emphasize research, education and outreach that assist farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning by delivering practical research-based information. Projects should plan to deliver applied production information to producers. Fieldwork must be done on certified organic land or on land in transition to organic certification, as appropriate to project goals and objectives. Refer to the USDA National Organic Program ( for organic production standards.

    Who Is Eligible to Apply

  • 1862 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1890 Land-Grant Institutions
  • 1994 Land-Grant Institutions
  • For-profit Organizations Other Than Small Businesses
  • Other or Additional Information (See below)
  • Private Institutions of Higher Ed
  • State Agricultural Experiment Stations
  • State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed
  • More Information on Eligibility

    The following entities are eligible: 1. State agricultural experiment stations; 2. colleges and universities; 3. university research foundations; 4. other research institutions and organizations; 5. Federal agencies; 6. national laboratories; 7. private organizations or corporations; 8. individuals who are United States citizens or nationals; or 9. any group consisting of 2 or more of the entities described in subparagraphs (1) through (8).

    Request for Application (RFA) | Apply: Electronic | Abstracts of Funded Projects

    Solicitation Date (Opening)March 17, 2014
    Letter of Intent Due DateNone
    Due Date (Closing)
    May 8, 2014
    Estimated Total Program Funding$20,000,000.00
    Range of Awards$0.00 to $2,000,000.00
    Percent of Applications Funded Last Fiscal Year24%
    Cost Sharing RequirementsSee RFA
    For More Information ContactMathieu Ngouajio
    Funding Opportunity NumberUSDA-NIFA-ICGP-004510
    CFDA Number10.307
    Contact for Electronic Access

    Tags:  funding  organic  USDA 

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    Funding Opportunity: Water for Agriculture at NIFA

    Posted By Tyrone Spady, Monday, February 24, 2014
    Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2014



    Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – February 24, 2014

    Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI’s) new Water for Agriculture program. AFRI is NIFA’s main competitive extramural grants program and it aims to award a total of $30 million in fiscal years (FYs) 2014-2018 for this program, with $6 million slated for this first round in FY 2014.

    The release of the Water for Agriculture RFA builds upon the Obama Administration’s efforts to address and to draw attention to climate change and related impacts as well as the California drought. In a press release today, Secretary Vilsack noted NIFA will fund three main topic areas:

    1. "Ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services;

    2. "Improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and

    3. "Reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation’s water supply.”

    This new Water for Agriculture program was first floated to the scientific community in July 2013 when NIFA held a stakeholder listening webinar on the topic. According to the RFA, "NIFA will solicit integrated CAP [Coordinated Agricultural Project], FASE [Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement], and conference award types, with a focus on regional scales.” NIFA emphasizes this program will leverage existing efforts in its other related challenge areas of Agricultural Production and Climate Change as well as Sustainable Bioenergy. Additionally, the program will "focus on developing solutions for water management that link food, water, climate, energy and environmental issues [and] funding will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and managers, public decision-makers, public and private managers and citizens.” There is also an emphasis on social sciences.

    NIFA also announced today it will release solicitations for the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP) this spring.

    Letters of Intent: Letters of Intent are required and are due April 17, 2014.

    Application Deadline: Applications are due on August 13, 2014.

    Total Funding and Award Size: NIFA is soliciting only CAP, FASE, and Conference grants. CAP grants are capped at $1 million per year for up to five years for a total of $5 million. Conference grants may not exceed $50,000.

    Eligibility and Limitations: Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations.

    Sources and Additional Background:

    • The RFA is available at

    • USDA’s press release is available at

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    NSF Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) FY 2014 Competition

    Posted By Tyrone Spady, Tuesday, February 04, 2014



    The National Science Foundation (NSF) announces its intention to continue to support plant genome research through the Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP). Since its inception in 1998 as part of the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI), the NSF PGRP has followed the long-range plans for the NPGI and, working closely with the other agencies participating in the NPGI, has contributed to tremendous advances in plant genomics and plant sciences. The program is currently following the third five-year plan (National Plant Genome Initiative: 2009-2013; Following the goals set out in this plan, the PGRP encourages new, innovative ideas in the form of basic research and tool development projects that will advance the whole field of plant biology and accelerate basic discovery and innovation in economically important crop plants to meet societal needs. Potentially high-risk, high-payoff proposals or proposals that present unconventional ideas are especially encouraged. The list of ongoing projects available at should be consulted to ensure that, if funded, a planned project would make a significantly new scientific contribution to the field.

    Proposals that focus on individual genes or gene families should be sent to other BIO programs (see web pages available through for listing of programs and funding opportunities). Proposers are strongly encouraged to contact a Program Director prior to submission to determine the suitability of the project for the PGRP.

    Simultaneous submission of proposals to this program and another federal agency is permissible with prior written approval of the agencies involved. A proposal from the same submitter that is a duplicate of, or substantially similar to, a proposal already under consideration by NSF will be returned without review.


    In the sixteen years since the NPGI and the PGRP began, a wealth of genomic resources has been developed for plant biology. Using these resources and building on the advances that have been made in technology development and bioinformatics, it is now possible to address fundamental questions in plant biology and begin to achieve a systems-level understanding of economically important plant processes. This is achievable in the context of the physiology of the plant in a changing environment and will allow improvement of the practice of agriculture, reduction of the demands on environmental resources, and addressing of challenges posed by global climate change. In addition, new tools and methodologies continue to be needed to advance the field of plant biology as well as to tackle questions that are intractable using current approaches. There continues to be a critical need for training in the use of these new tools and technologies, especially for those scientists who possess expertise in traditional fields of plant biology, such as plant anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.

    Activities in four focus areas will be supported in FY 2014: (1) Genomics-empowered plant research to tackle fundamental questions in plant sciences on a genome-wide scale; (2) Development of tools and resources for plant genome research including novel technologies and analysis tools to enable discovery; (3) Mid-Career Investigator Awards in Plant Genome Research (MCA-PGR) to increase participation of investigators trained primarily in fields other than plant genomics; and, (4) Advancing Basic Research in Economically Important Crop Plants (ABR-PG) to develop sequence resources that are critically needed to enable or advance basic research in crop plants.

    Proposals are solicited from single investigators, small groups, or multi-institution "virtual centers." To be eligible, projects should include significant research activities in a crop plant(s) and be developed on a whole genome, whole organelle or whole network scale. The scale of the project in terms of personnel and budget should be developed in the context of the proposed activities. The management plan should be appropriate for the proposed activities and a carefully developed budget, research plan and timetable will strengthen a proposal. Proposers are encouraged to think "outside the box" and to put forward imaginative and creative ideas, selecting the experimental systems best suited to the research focus and taking advantage of all available genomics tools and resources. This could include the limited use of model plant systems to rapidly test hypotheses and/or gene function. Proposers should clearly justify the relevance of the research activities to the overarching goals of the PGRP as well as their potential downstream impacts. Proposals focused entirely on the use of a non-crop model plant system are more appropriate for funding through other programs at NSF (

    The PGRP is committed to broadening participation and the available research tools and resources should enable any institution to take part in plant genome research. New investigators and investigators who have not participated in the PGRP in the past, or are from small institutions, are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal. Individuals and small groups of investigators from Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) are especially encouraged to apply. The PGRP encourages proposals from early-career investigators and also considers proposals submitted to the CAREER program ( New investigators or mid-career investigators considering submission of a proposal for training in the use of genomic tools/approaches are strongly encouraged to contact a PGRP Program Director for further guidance.

    Focus Areas for FY 2014

    Genomics-empowered plant research to tackle fundamental questions in plant sciences on a genome-wide scale

    The whole field of plant biology is being advanced by increased use of the new tools and resources that have become available through the NPGI. While there still remain some large community resources to be built, those available now are more than sufficient to address many of the major unanswered questions in plant biology, some of which have not been tractable using traditional approaches. In keeping with the focus of the PGRP, projects should be developed on a whole genome, whole organelle or whole network scale. In FY 2014, proposals are especially encouraged in the following areas:

    • Development of a genome-level understanding to link genes and pathways to physiological functions and phenotypes in crop plants
    • Development of a genome to systems-level understanding of plant-environmental interactions, especially with respect to adaptation to climate change and response to abiotic and biotic stresses
    • Systems-level approaches to understanding the interaction between the genome and the epigenome in the regulation of economically important processes in crop plants

    Development of tools and resources for plant genome research including novel technologies and analysis tools to enable discovery

    While tremendous advances have been made in the development of tools and technologies for plant genome research, there still remains a need for additional resources, particularly for innovations in high-throughput, high resolution phenotyping platforms to alleviate the constraint for effective utilization of genomics data and tools in the study of plants and plant processes. Proposers are encouraged to develop novel approaches focused on a specific problem or need. Potentially high-risk, high-payoff proposals or proposals that present unconventional ideas are welcomed. Priority will be given to the development of new or novel tools that are likely to contribute broadly to the advancement of the field of plant genomics. In FY 2014, proposals are especially encouraged in the following areas:

    • Improved tools for data integration and analysis, especially to enable linkage of sequence data with data generated using high throughput phenotyping, proteomic and metabolomic technologies
    • Novel methodologies for high-throughput, semi-automated and automated plant phenotyping, especially under field conditions and over time
    • Improved tools for high-throughput gene function analysis and validation, especially to enable targeted manipulation of plant gene activity required to test novel hypotheses
    • Improved tools for genome sequence assembly and analysis to enable effective use of data produced by next- generation sequencing technologies in the absence of physical maps
    • Improved data visualization tools

    Use of model systems in the development of tools and technologies is allowed if it is clear that the tools and technologies developed would be widely applicable for use in plants of economic importance.

    Projects that focus on development of community resources, either through production of research resources or novel tools or establishment of a service, must be justified in terms of potential demand, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. The plans for release of project outcomes, including the timing and form of released resources, tools or materials, must be described explicitly along with the terms of access. If appropriate, plans for continued maintenance or operation of such a service after the award should be described without assuming long-term NSF support.

    Mid-Career Investigator Awards in Plant Genome Research (MCA-PGR)

    New ideas, approaches and technologies are needed to advance the field of plant genomics to meet societal needs. Opportunities for mid-career plant researchers/scientists to move into genomics, or adopt genomics tools and technologies to solve relevant questions will greatly enhance the whole field. The PGRP continues to offer the Mid-Career Investigator Awards in Plant Genome Research (MCA-PGR) opportunity which seeks to increase participation of mid-career investigators primarily trained in fields other than plant genomics. Especially encouraged are proposals from investigators trained in plant anatomy, physiology or biochemistry. A "mid-career" investigator is defined here as any researcher who is post-tenure and not retired. Mid-career investigators trained in genomics of non-plant systems, informatics, and other disciplines that are critical to advancing the field of plant genome research (engineering, mathematics/statistics, physiology and quantitative genetics), are also encouraged to apply. Proposals submitted to the MCA-PGR opportunity should have a research theme that is consistent with the overall goals of the PGRP as well as critical training components proposed for the applicant. Proposers are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to develop new curriculum or course offerings that build on outcomes of the MCA-PGR activities.

    NSF expects that MCA-PGR projects will take full advantage of data, materials, information, expertise, and facilities available through PGRP funded projects. Whenever appropriate, the applicant should network with existing PGRP-supported activities (consult for a list of active projects). Funds may be requested to support research visits to existing PGRP-supported laboratories, for participation in training opportunities offered by existing PGRP projects, and for use of genome research facilities not available at the applicant's institution. If necessary, funds may also be requested for salary support of the applicant during the training period(s).

    Investigators interested in the MCA-PGR opportunity are strongly encouraged to contact a Program Director for further guidance prior to submission of a proposal.

    Advancing Basic Research in Economically Important Crop Plants (ABR-PG)

    Over its sixteen-year history as part of the NPGI, the PGRP has supported the development of tools and biological resources that have enabled plant genomics communities to generate significant new insight into economically important plant pathways and processes through basic research. Advances in next generation sequencing technologies and public access to computational tools provide an opportunity for the PGRP to cost-effectively and strategically add sequence resources that would enable basic research in currently underfunded or understudied crop plants. The Advancing Basic Research in Plants of Economic Importance opportunity (ABR-PG) specifically solicits proposals that focus on biological questions in crop plant systems that could be addressed using a particular sequence or sequences. Sequence resources may include, but are not limited to, whole genome sequences, survey sequences, physical maps, and sequences that could improve genome annotations and assemblies Proposers must provide clear justification for the plant or plants selected, the type of resources to be generated and why the resources are essential to the specific question being posed. Any crop plant system may be chosen as long as it is well justified for the proposed research and the outcomes of the research will advance the goals of the PGRP. Amounts of up to $1,500,000 total for a period of up to two years may be requested for an ABR-PG project. Proposals must describe clearly how the sequence data will be disseminated and accessible to the public. Proposers are encouraged to consider the available resources and to leverage existing resources as much as possible. If other projects are under way that have overlapping goals, including international projects, proposers should present a clear plan for coordination.

    Proposals are solicited from single investigators, small groups, and multi -institution "virtual centers". The scale of the project in terms of personnel and budget should be consistent with the proposed activities. The management plan should be appropriate for the proposed activities and a carefully developed budget, research plan, and timetable will strengthen a proposal. The plans for release of project outcomes, including the timing and form of release, must be described explicitly along with the terms of access.

    Additional Considerations as Appropriate

    Integration of Research and Education and Broadening Participation

    Activities supported by the PGRP should provide an ideal environment for training of young scientists in modern research technologies, introducing them to new paradigms in plant biology, and promoting increased participation by members of under-represented groups. Informatics skills are critical to making the maximum use of genome resources. Accordingly, proposers are expected to integrate these kinds of training into their projects at all levels, wherever appropriate. NSF expects proposers to take advantage of the unique opportunities the proposed project provides in terms of education and incorporate these into the plan at a scale that is commensurate with the scale of the proposed activity. Focused activities that fit well with the specific opportunities offered by the project would be viewed as a strength. Proposers are encouraged to take advantage of existing programs and networks where appropriate, building in additional opportunities unique to the project's research goals. New activities that link and/or enhance ongoing PGRP-supported training and outreach efforts and enable them to increase visibility and impact are encouraged.

    Data Sharing

    Massive amounts of data continue to be generated through PGRP activities. Proposers are strongly encouraged to consider their project outcomes in the context of the whole field of plant biology and ensure maximal accessibility and visibility. Outcomes are expected to meet current community standards for genomic data and to be deposited into existing long-lived community databases where appropriate. Projects that produce resources of utility to other researchers, whether part of a large-scale community resource project or not, are expected to release outcomes as soon as appropriate, once specified quality standards have been met.

    International Collaboration

    Plant genome research is actively pursued all over the world. The PGRP encourages international research collaborations, particularly with investigators from developing countries, and especially where there is a common research focus or system. When applicable, the proposed research activities should be coordinated with similar efforts in other countries to maximize efficiency and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

    It is expected that non-US participants will secure support for their component of the collaboration from their own national programs. The PI is encouraged to contact a PGRP Program Director for guidance regarding allowable costs when considering international collaborations.

    Industrial Collaboration

    Private industry has already made significant investments in plant genomic research. Innovative collaborations with industry are encouraged when they advance the goals of the PGRP. However, NSF funds may not be used to support the industrial collaborators. Participation of a company as a provider of a service should be managed according to the submitting institution's procurement policy. When private industry is involved, the proposer is responsible for ensuring that any intellectual property issues are handled according to NSF Policy (see section A-1 under Special Information and Supplementary Documentation below).

    Additional Funding Opportunities

    The PGRP will accept Research in Undergraduate Institution (RUI) proposals. Information on the scope of RUI projects and the format of these proposals can be found at

    The PGRP will also accept Research Coordination Network (RCN) Proposals. Information on the scope of RCN projects and the format of these proposals can be found at

    Proposals are encouraged from early-career investigators and proposals submitted to the CAREERprogram ( Early career investigators are strongly encouraged to contact a PGRP Program Director for further guidance.

    Finally, proposers are encouraged to consider inclusion of activities described in the Dear Colleague Letter for Developing Country Collaborations in Plant Genome Research (NSF 04-563: Proposed collaborative activities should focus on research problems important to developing countries that include scientist-to-scientist interactions potentially leading to long-term partnerships among participating laboratories. The exchange of ideas and people should be reciprocal and should be built on equal partnerships between U.S. scientists and scientists of developing nations. Examples of activities to be supported would include, but not be limited to, joint research projects and long-term (one year) or short-term (between one and three months) reciprocal exchange visits. Collaborations should be developed that bring complementary sets of expertise to bear on problems of importance to the participants from developing countries and that meet their identified needs. The described activities should meet the budgetary and organizational guidelines described in the Dear Colleague Letter.

    Proposers are encouraged to contact a Program Director about the suitability of the activity for PGRP support prior to submission of these types of proposals.

    Supplemental Funding Requests

    March 1 annually (or next business day if that is a weekend or holiday) is the target date for most IOS programs for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experiences for Teachers (RET), Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS), and Research Opportunity Award (ROA) supplement requests as well as proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops (Meetings). Please note that supplemental funding is intended for unanticipated opportunities only and should be justified on this basis. Guidance for IOS PIs preparing supplemental requests is posted at Proposers are encouraged to contact a Program Director about the suitability of the activity for PGRP support prior to submission of supplement proposals. Requests for support of planned REU, RET, RAHSS, and ROA activities can be included in full proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. Proposers should follow guidance in the current REU solicitation ( when including a request for a supplement (REU, RET, RAHSS or ROA) as part of the proposal.

    Conferences, Workshops and Symposia

    The PGRP supports conferences, symposia and workshops in plant genomics that bring experts together to discuss current research, to expose other researchers or students to new research methods and approaches, and to discuss future directions of major research activities in plant genomics and bioinformatics. Conferences will be supported only if equivalent results cannot be achieved at regular meetings of professional societies or an established conference series. More information about submission of these proposals can be found at Proposers are encouraged to contact a Program Director prior to submission of these types of proposals.

    EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER)

    The EAGER funding mechanism may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. These exploratory proposals may also be submitted directly to an NSF program, but the EAGER mechanism should not be used for projects that are appropriate for submission as "regular" (i.e., non-EAGER) NSF proposals. PI(s) must contact the NSF program officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic prior to submission of an EAGER proposal. This will aid in determining the appropriateness of the work for consideration under the EAGER mechanism; this suitability must be assessed early in the process. For guidelines, see the most recent version of the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (

    Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)

    The RAPID funding mechanism is used for proposals having a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events. PI(s) must contact the NSF program officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic before submitting a RAPID proposal. This will facilitate determining whether the proposed work is appropriate for RAPID funding. For guidelines, see the most recent version of the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (

    Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI)

    Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) promotes university-industry partnerships by making project funds or fellowships/traineeships available to support an eclectic mix of industry-university linkages. Special interest is focused on affording the opportunity for:

    • Faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students to conduct research and gain experience in an industrial setting;
    • Industrial scientists and engineers to bring industry's perspective and integrative skills to academe; and,
    • Interdisciplinary university-industry teams to conduct research projects.

    GOALI targets high-risk/high-gain research with a focus on fundamental research, new approaches to solving generic problems, development of innovative collaborative industry-university educational programs, and direct transfer of new knowledge between academe and industry. GOALI seeks to fund transformative research that lies beyond that which industry would normally fund. More information can be found at

    Tags:  funding  grant proposals  NSF 

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