California Sea Grant

Request for Regional Social Science Research Proposals for California, Oregon and Washington

Funding Cycle: February 1, 2012 – January 31, 2014

West Coast Sea GrantThe California, University of Southern California, Oregon, and Washington Sea Grant Programs are jointly interested in coordinated research efforts that bring together researchers from across the region to address specific social science issues of regional priority.  Subject to the availability of funding, the four West Coast Sea Grant Programs will make a total of $700,000 available collectively at the regional level over two years to fund projects.  In addition, the National Sea Grant Office may augment available state program funds. Given these funding limits, we anticipate being able to fund between two and four regional projects for the 2012-2014 biennium. Projects will be selected though an open, competitive peer-review process.

Project Submission and Review Schedule

Call for regional research projects issued: December 17, 2010
Letter of Intent due: February 22, 2011, by midnight PST
Review and recommendations for full proposals: March 15, 2011
Full proposals due: May 15, 2011, by midnight PST
Peer review and project selection: June - September 2011
Notice of funding decisions: Mid-September 2011
Projects begin: February 1, 2012

West Coast Social Science Research Priorities

Encompassing the shorelines, estuaries and offshore ocean environments from Washington to California, West Coast marine and coastal ecosystems are diverse and rapidly changing.  Expanding pressures from population growth, changing land use and large-scale environmental shifts are affecting the natural resources and biogeochemical processes that sustain coastal regions and the communities, businesses and people that rely upon them.

The four West Coast Programs are interested in regional proposals that address social science questions related to national Sea Grant goals for healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable coastal development, safe sustainable seafood supply and hazard resilient coastal communities. Alignment is encouraged with state, regional and national priorities identified in:

The diverse range of potential marine and coastal research topics includes, but is not limited to, proposals that investigate:  

  • Coastal and marine spatial planning and its application to emerging issues like marine renewable energy
  • Use and valuation of coastal and marine resources, including fisheries, and implications for management
  • Relationships among social, economic and ecological sustainability and resilience of coastal regions
  • Patterns, processes and social institutions that underlie changing coastal demographics and economies
  • Human roles and responses to regional climate and environmental changes such as severe storms, coastal inundation, ocean acidification, sea level rise and shifting circulation and marine population distributions
  • Community and stakeholder engagement, visioning, social learning and other methods to support coastal sustainability and environmental protection

West Coast Social Science Research Project Teams

1. Regional research project teams are required to contact their respective Sea Grant Program directors to discuss ideas and linkages prior to submitting a letter of intent.

2. Projects must be regional in scope and project teams must be comprised of investigators from two or more institutions within the four-state region. Project teams are strongly encouraged to employ multi-disciplinary approaches and include investigators from two or more states.  Projects must identify clear mechanisms for regional interaction and coordination.

3. Project Principal Investigators (PIs) must be affiliated with a university, two- or four-year college, museum, research laboratory or other nonprofit or tribal research institution within the three-state region. Project Co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs) may be affiliated with the listed institutions, research institutions outside the region, state and federal agencies and for-profit and foreign organizations. Except in exceptional cases, individuals from state and federal agencies and for-profit and foreign organizations are discouraged or prohibited from requesting direct support, but their contributions can be counted as matching or in-kind support for the project. West Coast Sea Grant Programs welcome proposals for cooperative projects involving research institutions and the private sector.

4. Federal law requires that Sea Grant programs provide a non-federal cost share of one dollar for every two dollars of federal funds received. The one-third match will be a minimum for regional research projects.  Inclusion of additional matching or in-kind funds for a project will allow West Coast Sea Grant programs to better leverage limited available funds for project support and will be a positive factor in evaluating project costs.

Letter of Intent

1. Submission of a Letter of Intent (LOI) from the PI is mandatory. The LOI will allow West Coast Sea Grant programs to examine the proposals with respect to the eligibility requirements, to identify correctible issues, and to categorize proposals in order to prepare for the proposal review process. Submission of multiple LOIs by a PI is not allowed.
2. Each LOI must be submitted as a single PDF file to by midnight PST on February 22, 2011. An LOI must contain all of the following components in the order provided below:

  1. Cover letter from the PI that briefly summarizes the project.
  2. Project Title Page that provides a descriptive title of the project; list of project PI and Co-PIs including name, institutional affiliation and contact information; and a project budget summary table that provides year 1, year 2 and totals for the funds requested from Sea Grant and available matching funds.
  3. Scope of Work of no more than four pages that makes a compelling argument relating the project to an identified regional research priority, concisely describes the project including research methods, and provides a plan for outreach and engagement with appropriate stakeholders.
  4. Biosketches that provide a two-page curriculum vitae for all senior personnel.
  5. Separate budget worksheets for each institution comprising the regional research team that provides a year 1, year 2 and summary budget sheet. A 90-4 federal budget form is available on the National Sea Grant Web site at Do not complete a summary budget that combines states or institutions; PLEASE keep each institution budget separate.

3. The West Coast Sea Grant programs will coordinate a review of LOIs submitted and provide feedback to each regional research project team by March 15, 2011 to assist teams in development of the full proposal.

Full Proposal

1. Full proposals are due May 15, 2011, by midnight PST.

2. Full proposals are to be submitted to Washington Sea Grant using the program’s online proposal development system and following the guidelines and procedures for proposal submission that will be available in March at PIs will be required to use this online system to generate completed forms – including the budget (90-4), budget justification and project summary (90-2) – for proposal submission. PIs must contact Washington Sea Grant at after March 1, 2011, to gain access to the online proposal system. Contact your Sea Grant office if you have questions or concerns.

3. The West Coast Sea Grant programs will select projects for funding based on the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Project Relevance (30%): Importance, relevance and applicability of proposed project to the region; societal (resource management, economic, social) relevance; contribution to capacity building in the social sciences and partnerships at all levels (student, investigator, institution and region).
  2. Technical and Scientific Merit (30%): The degree to which the activity will advance scientific understanding and whether the approach is technically sound and innovative, including:
    • clearly stated goals and measurable objectives;
    • project technical feasibility and use of appropriate methods;
    • appropriate mechanisms to evaluate the success of the project; and
    • the likelihood of meeting milestones and achieving anticipated results in the time proposed.
  3. Engagement Plan (20%): Description of how specifically targeted groups will learn about and benefit from research outcomes through outreach, communications and education activities. The degree to which Sea Grant outreach staff and potential users of the results have been and will be included in project planning and implementation.
  4. Qualifications of Applicants (10%): Whether the project team is regional in scope and possesses the necessary education, experience, training, facilities and administrative resources to accomplish the project.
  5. Project Costs (10%): Budget evaluation to determine if costs are realistic and commensurate with the project needs and time-frame, reasonable given the availability of program funds, and effectively leverage other resources to achieve project objectives.

4. Each completed full proposal will be distributed to external reviewers for written evaluation and comments. At the completion of the merit review process, PIs will be given the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments. The West Coast Sea Grant directors will convene a technical review panel to develop funding recommendations for inclusion of regional social science research projects in the omnibus research submission of each of the five participating programs.

For Further Information

Prospective investigators should contact their state Sea Grant program:


Penny Dalton, Director
Raechel Waters, Associate Director

Washington Sea Grant
University of Washington
3716 Brooklyn Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105
P: 206.543.6600


Steve Brandt, Director
Oregon Sea Grant
Oregon State University
322 Kerr Admin. Bldg.
Corvallis, OR 97331
P: 541.737.2714


James Eckman, Director
Shauna Oh, Associate Director

California Sea Grant
University of California
9500 Gilman Drive Dept 0232 La Jolla, CA 92093-0232
P: 858.534.4440

Linda Duguay, Director
Phyllis Grifman, Associate Director

USC Sea Grant
University of Southern California
University Park
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0373
P: 213.740.1961