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Funding Opportunities

NURP RegionsNOAA's Undersea Research Program (NURP) is a unique "comprehensive" research program that provides scientists with the tools and expertise to conduct cutting-edge underwater research using advanced underwater technologies (e.g., human occupied submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, an undersea laboratory, mixed gas and technical diving). NURP supports strategic research targeted at the information needs of NOAA's resource managers through a competitive peer-review process.

Research priorities are identified on an annual basis by NURP Headquarters in its Science Guidance. The research priorities are based upon the NOAA Strategic Plan and research needs as identified by NOAA resource managers. The NURP Headquarters Science Guidance is meant to serve as an initial guide to the six regional NURP Centers and the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) in developing their research announcements of opportunity for the year. Each Center and NIUST is expected to further focus their funding based on their individual capabilities, expertise, and unique regional priorities in developing their scientific and programmatic approaches.

FY2009 Schedule of Announcements of Funding Opportunities
Announcement Release Date
None for FY 2009
None for FY 2009
None for FY 2009
None for FY 2009
None for FY 2009
None for FY 2009

The Proposal Process

The quality of NURP-supported research is ensured through a competitive proposal process with high standards of peer-review patterned after the National Science Foundation. Each Center requests proposals based on their region of focus (shown in graphic above); NIUST is national in scope and requests proposals for studies located within waters under U.S. jurisdiction.

Basic guidelines for interested applicants apply to all NURP Centers and NIUST are:


Eligible applicants are U.S. Institutions of higher education, not-for-profit institutions, and federal, state, and local governments. Federal agencies may not charge salary or overhead.


Highest priority is given to proposals for studies within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and waters under U.S. jurisdiction, including the Great Lakes, territorial seas, and adjacent waters of the United States; U.S. Territories; and the Freely-Associated States.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for funding from NURP through its six regional NURP Centers and NIUST must meet rigorous scientific guidelines, including:

  • Research subjects must support NOAA's and NURP's strategic goals.
  • Research questions should be hypothesis-driven, and formulated in a way that is answerable by the proposed methodology. "Look and see" explorations are generally not supported.
  • Hypotheses and methods should be economic - efficiently addressing the research problem with the least use of resources. "Shotgun" approaches to problem solving are discouraged.
  • Proposed methodology must be adequate to address the problem, appropriate to the situation, and must be the most cost-effective. Alternative methods must be effectively eliminated.
  • Research should address processes or relationships that will lead to explanatory knowledge that can be extrapolated to the larger world.
  • Research should be innovative, and must produce new knowledge.
  • Proposals to develop models to predict the impacts of environmental change, anthropogenic stressors, etc. should contain a field component that utilizes the assets and/or expertise of the NURP Centers and/or NIUST.
  • Proposals for technology testing should utilize the new technology in novel research.
  • Principal Investigators must demonstrate that they have the background knowledge and familiarity with the research subject and methodology proposed. Previous publications in related subjects are beneficial.

Proposal Submission and Review

Funding opportunities will be announced through the individual NURP Center or NIUST. Each solicitation for proposals will have specific guidelines, research priorities, and deadlines for submission. Most solicitations will require a pre-proposal - a brief document (usually < 4 pages) that contains a summary of the proposed research, including the hypotheses to be tested; a brief description of the experiments and methods to be employed; any relevant time constraints; the area of operations; and an estimate of the level of support required. Pre-proposals are reviewed to ensure that the appropriate research guidelines are being addressed and that the project being proposed is operationally feasible. Writers of successful pre-proposals will be requested to submit full proposals.
Once full proposals are received, they are sent out for mail review. Mail reviews are confidential evaluations by authorities in the field. Mail reviews are provided to the Principal Investigators to allow for rebuttal of critical reviews. The proposal, mail reviews, and rebuttals are then packaged together and reviewed by a panel of experts. Based on scientific merit, relevance to the priority research needs stated in the announcement of opportunity, technical feasibility, and the qualifications of the investigators; the panel ranks the proposals and recommends which should be supported.

Developmental Projects

In addition to the funds available through the announcement of opportunity, some funds (less than $10,000 per project) are available for developmental projects or small exploratory research grants. These funds are reserved for late-breaking, high priority issues and may be awarded at the discretion of the Center Director. For more details contact the Center in your region of interest.


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Updated: October 17, 2008