NAS Gulf Research Program Exploratory Grants 2016


Exploratory grants that seek to break new ground to address an old or a new problem through innovation on one of two topics:

  1. Scenario Planning to Advance Safety Culture and Minimize Risk in Offshore Oil and Gas Operations
  2. Informing Coastal Community Planning and Response to Environmental Change in Regions with Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

Grants are modeled on the National Science Foundation’s EArly concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER). They are not intended for incremental research in well-studied areas. 

Key Dates:

12/14/2015     NAS Announced this opportunity
12/16/2015     This UM ORSP Announcement
Immediately    Inform your ORSP Program Development Specialist of intent to apply
2/17/2016       Required Letters of Intent due to Sponsor
2/18/2016       Online Submission of Full Proposal Opens
4/4/2016         Complete applications due to ORSP
4/13/2016       Full Proposal Due to Sponsor
9/1/2016         Anticipated Effective Date of Awards


  1. This funding opportunity is for new activities only. The applicant must not have received any other support for this project, and the project must not be currently under consideration for funding by another funder
  2. Non-federal government organizations in the United States that have a valid federal tax ID number are eligible to apply.
  3. An applicant institution may submit multiple applications on behalf of different project directors, but it may submit only one application for each project director. Individuals may be involved as a project director and key personnel, or as key personnel, in up to three proposals; in each proposal, a clear description should be included to explain how the proposed project is not duplicative of other proposed efforts or how the participant will budget his or her time.

Application Process:

  1. Letter of Intent:  A letter of intent (LOI) is required for this funding opportunity and must be  submitted on your behalf by ORSP via the online application system. The LOI is not binding and is used by program staff to gauge the size and range of the competition so that staff can better manage the selection of reviewers. In addition, the information contained in a LOI is used to help avoid potential conflicts of interest in the review process.
  2. No later than 3 weeks after the LOI submission deadline, the project director will be notified of the Gulf Research Program’s decision to either encourage or discourage submission of a full proposal. The Gulf Research Program's decision is advisory only, which means that submitters of both favorably and unfavorably reviewed LOIs are eligible to submit full proposals. The intent of encourage/discourage decisions is to improve the overall quality of the full proposal and encourage re-thinking, particularly if a LOI is not specifically responsive to the RFA topic.
  3. Full proposals must be submitted by ORSP via the online application systems, and they cannot be submitted without LOIs. Proposals submitted by other means (including mail, fax, or e-mail) will not be considered. The online form for submission of a full proposal will be available on February 18, 2016 to applicants who have submitted an LOI. It is important that all proposals conform to the instructions provided. Conformance is required and will be strictly enforced. The Gulf Research Program may reject without review proposals that are not consistent with the instructions.

Review Criteria: Four broad review criteria. The sub-bullets under each criterion are meant to guide the reviewers on what to consider in a proposal and are not intended to be all encompassing or comprehensive. Some sub-bullets may not apply to all project types, and reviewers may raise additional concerns under each review criterion that are not covered by the sub-bullets.


1. Relevance and Impact (30%)

  • o Is the proposal responsive to the RFA?
  • o Please summarize how the proposal would address the challenge outlined in the RFA.
  • o How important are the potential impact if this project is funded and successful (societal and scientific)?
  • o If the project fails or does not yield the expected outcome, what are the potential benefits or lessons learned?

2. Innovation/Appropriateness for Exploratory Grant Funding (30%)

  • o How likely is the proposed project to break new ground to address an old or a new problem?
  • o Please describe the old or new problem the proposal seeks to address.
  • o Is the project innovative?
  • o What is the innovation described in the project?
  • o From your perspective, what are the novel insights to be gained or outcomes that address the challenge in the RFA?

3. Technical or Scientific Merit (20%)

  • o What is the likelihood that the proposed project would lead to novel insights or outcomes mentioned in this section?
  • o Does the proposal articulate a sound scientific or technical reasoning for the project? (i.e. Is the proposed project conceptually sound?)
  • o Does the proposal outline an implementation strategy that demonstrates the feasibility of the project?
  • o Does the proposal include a data management plan that is appropriate for the scope of work and follows the published guidelines of the Gulf Research Program?
  • o Is the budget commensurate with the proposed work?

4. Qualifications of Project Director, and Key Personnel if applicable (20%)

  • o How well qualified is the individual relative to his/her stage of career, the team, or the organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  • o Are the institutional support, equipment and/or other physical resources available to the project personnel adequate for the project proposed?   


Award Information:

Anticipated Project Duration: 12-24 months

Estimated Number of Awards: 13 to 20 awards

Anticipated Total Amount for this Funding Opportunity: $4 million.* Resources made available under this funding opportunity will depend on the quality of the proposals received. The Gulf Research Program reserves the right to select for negotiation all, some, one, or none of the proposals received in response to this solicitation.

Anticipated Effective Date of Awards: September 1, 2016
*ORSP Note:  While there is not a specific or suggested per proposal funding amount listed in the grant announcement, this program is “modeled on NSF EAGER” which are usually limited to $300,000 total up to two years.

Questions about the Grants? Ask your ORSP Program Development Specialist, or