Minnesota Sea Grant 2024-2026 Biennial Request for Proposals (RFP)

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Competition Description

The Minnesota Sea Grant College Program (MNSG) requests proposals for the MNSG 2024-2026 biennial research competition.

  • The RFP in its entirety is on this webpage and in the MNSG 2024-2026 Biennial RFP Google doc.
  • Projects should be based in Minnesota and support one or more goals, actions, or outcomes in the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan.
  • Proposals should clearly articulate the benefit(s) to MNSG stakeholders, which include businesses, industry, government, policymakers, youth, educators, citizens, community organizations, agencies, cities, and resource managers.
  • See Competition Priorities for additional details about priority topics for this competition.
  • Proposals for research not related to these priorities but aligned with the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan will also be considered.
  • Applicants are encouraged to consider the review criteria before starting their proposal and application.

Timeline and Deadlines

  1. December 8, 2022, 12 p.m. CT: Informational Webinar 1.
  2. January 5, 2023, 11 a.m. CT: Informational Webinar 2.
  3. January 31, 2023, 5 p.m. CT: Preproposals due via eSeaGrant.
  4. Mid-February, 2023: Preproposal feedback from Minnesota Sea Grant.
  5. March 31, 2023, 5 p.m. CT: Full proposals due via eSeaGrant.
  6. August 2023: Investigators notified of award status.
  7. February 1, 2024: Projects begin.*
  8. January 31, 2026: Projects conclude.

*Award of funds is contingent upon approval by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Grants Management Division. Funds may not be approved by the February 1 start date, which may lead to delays in project timelines.

Eligibility

  • Researchers based in Minnesota who are not federal employees are invited to apply.
  • Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) encourages collaborations that include scientists from colleges and universities; state, federal, tribal, and private agencies; and industry and nongovernmental organizations.
  • Sea Grant and federal employees may be part of the project team, but their salaries cannot be included in the budget.

MNSG is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people with unique backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking. MNSG encourages applicants of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, citizenship, job classifications, veteran status, and socioeconomic status to apply for this competitive research opportunity.

Outreach

  • Extending research beyond the field and laboratory to the people who can use research outcomes is key to the Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) mission.
  • Researchers are strongly encouraged to work with outreach, extension, and/or education professionals to develop and execute their Outreach and Information Transfer plans (see the Application section).
  • If you are interested in working with one or more MNSG staff members, please contact them as soon as possible to discuss their interest, ability, and availability to collaborate on your proposal.
  • To identify MNSG extension staff with expertise in one or more of the four MNSG focus areas go to the "Competition Priorities" section of this webpage where each staff member and their contact information is listed.
  • MNSG staff are not required to collaborate with investigators.

Funding

Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) anticipates funding three to five research projects.

Project Funding Has Three Components:

1. Base Student Support:

All projects may request up to two years of graduate student support (academic year and summer); this support should not be included in the core funds budget. Projects should indicate their intent to request base student support during both the preproposal and full proposal submission. Projects are not required to request graduate student support.

2. Core Funding:

Research teams may request up to $100,000 in core funds to support research efforts. Additional student support above the base student support may be included in the core fund budget.

3. Match Funding:

For each budget year, research teams must provide a 50% non-federal match for all requested core funds (2:1, for example, a year one request for $50,000 in core funds would require $25,000 in matching funds). Base student support should not be included when estimating the required match.

Additional Funding Guidance:

Non-Minnesota Costs

  • While small subawards outside Minnesota are allowed, the majority of funds should go to entities in Minnesota.

Indirect Costs

  • University of Minnesota (UMN) system-based researchers should not include indirect costs in the core funds budget or match budget.
  • For researchers not affiliated with the UMN, indirect costs should be included in the core fund budget using your organization’s federally negotiated indirect cost rate.

Non-University of Minnesota Student Support

  • Researchers not affiliated with the University of Minnesota (UMN) and without access to a graduate education program are encouraged to find a UMN partner with whom to host a graduate student. If you plan to host the student in a non-UMN graduate program, please ensure you note this at the preproposal stage. Projects are not required to include a graduate student.

Competition Priorities

The competition priorities and topics listed below for the Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) 2024-2026 Biennial Request for Proposal reflect needs identified during the MNSG 2024-2027 strategic planning and RFP development process. Proposals for research not related to these priorities but aligned with the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan will also be considered for funding. Priorities are organized by the four MNSG focus areas.

Resilient Communities and Economies (RCE)

Outreach contacts: John Bilotta, Madison Rodman, Kelsey Prihoda, Maggie Karschnia.

Market, labor force, and/or ecosystem service evaluation of topics important to coastal communities, economies, or ecosystems and their management.

  • Assessment of the labor force needs to support climate adaptation, such as green infrastructure implementation and maintenance, near Lake Superior and/or inland lake coastal areas.
  • Realized direct value of the recreational cruise industry, the commercial fishing industry, the charter fishing industry, or other coastal activities in Minnesota.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of stormwater best management practices in the context of major Minnesota urban systems and ecosystems.

Safe and equitable use of Lake Superior under current and future conditions.

  • Predictive modeling and/or monitoring of nearshore physical conditions along the Minnesota coast of Lake Superior. Integrating data visualization and forecasting for future conditions.
  • Analysis of demographics of the users of Minnesota's Lake Superior resources and barriers to use among underserved communities.

Sustainable use and management of coastal and water resources under current and future conditions.

  • Investigations into the impacts and infrastructure needs caused by climate-driven population shifts in coastal areas.
  • Modeling of sediment and sediment flow in and around the Minnesota Point and Wisconsin Point barrier system in Lake Superior.
  • Development of evidence-based approaches that promote community-wide watershed protection with measurable impacts.

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA)

Outreach contacts: Amy Schrank, Don Schreiner, Kieran Smith.

For Minnesota food fish, quantification of consumption-related risks and investigations of causes and solutions for known chemical or biological risks.

  • Validate per- and poly-flouroalkyl (PFAS) substance concentration observations in Lake Superior Rainbow Smelt and determine the sources and mechanisms that drive PFAS accumulation in these fish.
  • Compare contaminant levels in farm-raised and wild-caught Minnesota fish species in the context of consumer attitudes and education.

Advancement of fish behavioral, management, and/or ecological knowledge to support fisheries management in Minnesota.

  • What are the bottlenecks for recruitment of Lake Sturgeon in the St. Louis River?
  • What are the impacts and feasibility of novel management approaches for Minnesota’s nongame fish species?

Development or assessment of technologies, methods, and management approaches in support of sustainable land-based freshwater aquaculture.

  • Development of a tool aquaculture farmers can use to self-assess farm sustainability (i.e., economic, environmental, and social) that can help them make improvements and increase efficiencies in their systems.
  • Identify barriers preventing aquaculture farmers from producing food in Minnesota and identify how these barriers can be overcome.
  • Develop effective methods for the collection and culture of freshwater live larval feeds and/or use of dry feeds in place of live food at the larval stages of fish development in aquaculture.
  • Develop effective methods for quantification of larval fish, eggs, zooplankton, and algae that can be used to assess survival and mortality in aquaculture systems.
  • Determination of the proper use and efficacy of vaccines for common fish diseases.

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems (HCE)

Outreach contacts: Kelsey Prihoda, John Downing, Maggie Karschnia.

Advancement of environmental knowledge to support coastal ecosystem management.

  • Synthesis of existing St. Louis River Estuary data, particularly on fish habitat location and use, spawning locations, and seasonal movements. Presentation of associated data in a way that is accessible and enables simplified public and resource manager access and continues to provide access beyond the life of the project.
  • Analysis of the major biotic and abiotic factors that control wild rice production and survival.
  • Human health risks related the consumption of wild rice grown in the St. Louis River Estuary.
  • Determine under what future conditions an algal bloom in Lake Superior might become toxic.

Development of technology and methodology that support water quality improvements and/or coastal ecosystem restoration.

  • Development of spatially and cost-effective methodologies for reducing goose herbivory of wild rice which support large-scale wild rice restoration.
  • Development of alternative deicing, winter road management, and/or chloride runoff reduction techniques to reduce salt pollution.
  • Evaluation of soft armoring to stabilize shorelines of Lake Superior and large inland lakes.

Ecosystem service and/or effectiveness evaluations of coastal ecosystem management approaches.

  • Ecosystem service valuation of invasive species introduction, wild rice restoration or removal, current or future dredging practices in the St. Louis River Estuary, or watershed connectivity improvement (e.g., dam removal, fish passage installment).
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of current aquatic invasive species management laws and enforcement.

Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development (ELWD)

Outreach contacts: Marte Kitson, Maggie Karschnia.

Needs assessments and methods development that inform the advancement of environmental literacy or workforce development.

  • Study of the most effective approaches to increase knowledge and elicit measurable behavior change and how specific educational efforts lead to measurable water quality, ecosystem, or community improvements.
  • Determine the gaps in coastal workforce development that, if filled, could lead to social and economic gain for coastal communities along Lake Superior and in Minnesota coastal areas.
  • Determine the best methods, approaches, and tools for meaningful engagement with marginalized and underrepresented communities on coastal resilience and disaster recovery.

Application

Submission

All preproposals and full proposals must be submitted through Minnesota Sea Grant's (MNSG) eSeaGrant. Please see the eSeaGrant proposal submission instructions for more information.

Preproposal

To be eligible for funding, investigators must submit preproposals before the preproposal deadline (see Timeline). Preproposals must include the following components:

  1. Principal investigator (PI) information, including curriculum vitae (CVs) of all PIs and Co-PIs (< 2 pages each).
  2. Scientific and plain language titles.
  3. Preproposal narrative (< 2 pages with the following sections):
    • Importance and relevance: Justify the project's importance. Explicitly describe why it is relevant to this RFP and/or the goals, actions, or outcomes in the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan.
    • Objectives and project plan: Overview of the project's objectives and how they will be achieved.
    • Anticipated results: Detail the anticipated results of this project and which specific MNSG stakeholders would benefit from the results.
    • Outreach and information transfer plan: Detail the anticipated outreach approach, including target audiences and any specific outreach professionals you plan to work with. Plans should strive to increase environmental literacy and/or result in positive behavior change.
    • Works cited (not counted in page limit).
  4. Partners: Anticipated and likely collaborators, such as other universities, industries, and/or state or tribal agencies.
  5. Preproposal budget overview (see Funding):
    • Estimated core funding request
    • Intent to request base student support
    • For non-University of Minnesota applicants:
      • Graduate student tuition rate
      • Graduate student fringe rate

Full Proposal

All investigators who submit a preproposal are eligible to submit a full proposal. To be eligible for review, the following components must be submitted by the full proposal deadline (see Timeline).

  1. PI and Co-PI contact information and affiliations.
  2. PI and Co-PI CVs or resumes (< 2 pages each).
  3. Project abstract (< 0.5 page).
  4. Full proposal narrative (< 12 pages):
    • Title
    • Importance and relevance: Justify the project's importance. Explicitly describe why it is relevant to this RFP and/or the goals, actions, or outcomes in the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan.
    • Objectives and project plan: Detail the project's objectives and explicitly explain how the objectives will be achieved, including methods.
    • Anticipated results: Detail the anticipated results of this project and which specific MNSG stakeholders would benefit from and/or apply the results.
    • Outreach and information transfer plan: Detail the anticipated outreach and information transfer approach. Include target audiences and any specific outreach professionals you plan to work with. Plans should strive to increase environmental literacy and/or positive behavior change.
    • Societal impact: Describe how this proposal will benefit society, specifically detailing diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and/or accessibility efforts.
    • Project timeline: Detail when key project activities and outputs would occur within the two-year project period. Project extensions will only be granted under major unforeseen circumstances.
    • Works cited (not counted in page limit).
  5. Letters of support (optional).
  6. Partners: Collaborators, such as other universities, state or tribal agencies, industries, etc.
  7. PI and Co-PI Current and Pending Support Form (template).
  8. Voluntary demographics web form, which will be sent to all named collaborators after proposal submission.
  9. 90-4 Budget Form (template).
    • See Funding for additional information about the breakdown of the budget. All funds must be justified and allowable by NOAA’s Grants Management Division (see guidance).
  10. Budget Justification (template).
  11. Data Management Plan (template).
  12. NEPA Questionnaire

Review of Proposals

Preproposal

Preproposals will be reviewed by the appropriate Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) staff. Staff will rate preproposals on a scale from “does not meet expectations (1/10)” to “adequately meets expectations (5/10)” to “exceeds expectations (10/10)” for each of the following review criteria:

  • Alignment with the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan (33%)
  • Potential for results to be incorporated into MNSG programming (33%)
  • Potential for results to be applied by the people and communities MNSG serves (33%)

After review, investigators who score more than 50% will be encouraged to submit full proposals, and those who score less than 50% will be discouraged from submitting a full proposal. Qualitative feedback will be shared with investigators. All investigators who submit a preproposal are eligible to submit a full proposal regardless of encouraged/discouraged status.

Full proposal

Full proposals will be reviewed in a four-stage process: 1. peer review, 2. technical panel review, 3. advisory board review, and 4. final selection.

1. Peer review

Full proposals will be reviewed by at least three reviewers with relevant expertise. Reviewers will be from outside of Minnesota and attest to having no conflicts of interest. Reviewers will provide qualitative comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. Peer reviews will also rate the proposal on a scale from “does not meet expectations (1/10)” to “adequately meets expectations (5/10)” to “exceeds expectations (10/10)” for the following review criteria:

  • Importance and relevance (25%): How important is the proposed work? How well does the proposal support RFP priorities and/or goals, actions, or outcomes in the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan?
  • Feasibility and approach (25%): How likely is it that the project team will be able to achieve the objectives given the proposed project plan, methods, and budget? Are the methods appropriate given the objectives?
  • Applied nature (10%): How likely are the results of this project to be applied by the people and organizations MNSG serves? Does the proposal clearly identify the specific stakeholders who would benefit from and/or apply the results?
  • Outreach and extension (10%): How likely is the outreach and information transfer plan to advance environmental literacy or cause positive behavior change? Does the plan effectively describe target audiences? How well does the project team partner with outreach and/or extension professionals?
  • Societal impact (10%): How could the proposed project positively impact society, specifically considering diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and/or accessibility?
  • Qualifications of research team (10%): How does the research team’s qualifications match the proposed work relative to each person's career stage?
  • Partnerships (10%): How well does the research team leverage partnerships to increase the impact of the project?

2. Technical panel

After peer review, a technical review panel will be convened. The panel will synthesize peer reviews for each proposal and provide a total proposal rating based on all criteria detailed in the peer review section. The panel will rate the proposal on a scale from “does not meet expectations (1/10)” to “adequately meets expectations (5/10)” to “exceeds expectations (10/10).” The panel may provide suggestions for proposal improvement. The panel will rate each proposal as fundable or unfundable based on scientific criteria. Those rated as unfundable will be ineligible for funding. If a large number of proposals are rated as fundable, the lowest-rated proposals may not be advanced to the relevancy panel.

3. Relevancy panel

Proposals advanced by the technical review panel will be reviewed for relevance by the MNSG advisory board. The advisory board will review non-technical summaries and rate the relevancy of each proposal in the context of the MNSG 2024-2027 Strategic Plan, this RFP, and the communities MNSG serves. The panel will rate each proposal on a scale from “does not meet expectations (1/10)” to “adequately meets expectations (5/10)” to “exceeds expectations (10/10)” for relevancy.

4. Final selection

The MNSG leadership team will select proposals for funding from those that passed technical and relevancy review panels. Final selection will account for all reviews and rankings, availability of funding, prior award performance of applicants, balance across institutions, balance across focus areas, applicant diversity, and programmatic needs, objectives, and priorities.

Contact

Questions about this competition should be directed to Minnesota Sea Grant Research and Fellowship Coordinator, Alexander Frie, afrie@umn.edu, 218-726-8714.

Questions about budgets and funding should be directed to Minnesota Sea Grant Fiscal Officer, Peter Thibault, thiba026@d.umn.edu, 218-726-6605.

Every two years Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG) awards approximately $2 million in research grants through a rigorous, competitive, peer-reviewed process. The current MNSG RFP is for research to be conducted during the years 2022-2024. Researchers based in Minnesota who are not federal employees are invited to apply and may request up to $100,000 in core funds to support research efforts. In addition, researchers may request up to two years of graduate student support.