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
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
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
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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.