As the deadline for our first Seed Fund approaches, we wanted to provide some helpful tips on developing your application for submission by answering some FAQs and providing some insight on the guidelines.
I am not located at a Puerto Rican university but my research will be conducted there, can I still apply?
The Seed Fund is designed to give our local students the financial boost they need to get started in research. So, for the time being, the fund is only available to students who are enrolled at a local university and conducting research here.
I am not a biology or oceanography major, but my undergraduate research project involves studying the plant and animal life located in sand dunes. Does this apply?
You do not have to be majoring in a field directly related to marine science, but your research needs to be tied to the ocean in some aspect. In this case, yes, your research does apply because the dune system is a very important part of the marine ecosystem in general. Be sure to give a strong rationale as to why your research/study organism is tied to the marine environment.
I am a molecular biology major. I need to sequence my meiofauna samples that I collected from the ocean. Does this apply?
Yes! Sequencing costs are an approved use of the funds.
I am a graduate student with a current grant funding my salary, but my grant no longer has a supply budget. During my sampling, I discovered that I needed to collect more water samples from other sites that I did not originally budget for, but I no longer have a supply budget. Does this apply?
Yes, this does apply but you will need to provide a valid rationale as to why funds from your current grant cannot be adjusted to account for this new sampling need, and you will need to include in your proposal why the new sites are required for your research.
I am not sure if I am eligible. How can I check?
Developing the application
I have never written a project proposal before, where do I begin?
We realize that some students may be very new at writing a research proposal. This grant application may be the first time that you have started to outline and draft your research question. Please do not consider this to be a fault, as we will take this into consideration when we are reviewing the applications. For tips on writing a research proposal, check out this blog post - there's lots of great info here on what to consider!
How can I make my project proposal really stand out?
Keep the background and introductory material brief, and use references. Tell us a little bit about your study organism or system, but then move along to the more important aspects of your Rationale and spend more time on the WHY and HOW. We want to know WHY your research is needed and HOW you are going to tackle it. Make the connection between the HOW (your methods) and the justification for your budget and what you need the funds for - do not leave us guessing or questioning how you intend to use the funds.
I am applying to attend a training. Do I still need to write a project proposal focused on my research question, or should it be about the training?
We still need to know how the training is going to fit into your research plan, so yes a project proposal is still required. But in that proposal, you will include this training in your Methods section and explain why it's necessary and how it will help you answer your research question.
Does the project proposal need to be written in English?
No, you may choose to write your proposal in Spanish.
What is a budget justification?
This is a simple summary (1-3 sentences) for each budget item that describes what the budget item is, what is used for and why that amount is needed. This shows us that you have done your work to identify your estimated costs and you are showing us why certain items are needed and what you will use the funds for. Besides your project proposal main text, this is also your chance to make it very clear how you intend to use the funds.
My resume/CV is longer than two pages, is that okay?
No, please condense your resume/CV to only the material that is most relevant and recent. For example, you do not need to include work experience that is over 10 years old.
My advisor wrote my letter, but sent it to me. Can I submit it to you with my application?
No, your letter must be sent to us directly from your advisor.
Your application will be reviewed by the Isla Mar team. Each project proposal will be judged based on the following criteria:
Eligibility - Does the applicant meet the necessary requirements to apply? Has the applicant submitted every part of the application package? Is the project proposal a maximum of three pages? Is the amount requested equal to or less than $2000? Does the applicant have the skills necessary to achieve the project, or demonstrate the ability to achieve these through training?
Thoroughness - Does the project proposal adequately introduce the research question and demonstrate how the applicant will address the question? Are the methods appropriate to answer the question? Are the expected results within the scope of what can be achieved with the methods? Does the applicant demonstrate an understanding of their topic? Does the project proposal leave no remaining questions about the rationale, design, and expected results?
Use of Funds - Are the intended use of funds appropriate for the project's goals? Will the funds help the project or applicant achieve their intended results? Is the funding amount requested appropriate?
Reference - Is the support from the advisor clear and concise? Does the advisor demonstrate that they know of the applicant's ability to achieve the project goals?
We hope these FAQs have helped answer any lingering questions about the Seed Fund application process and review. If you have any additional questions, please be sure to reach out soon so we can answer quickly! Remember that your application is due on May 30!