Ocean Life Institute
2015 Call for Proposals


Deadline for proposal submission: Friday, May 1, 2015 (Please contact your individual department staff regarding their internal policy and deadlines.)

Award Start Date: June 15, 2015

Award Duration: Two year (with all funds allocated in the first year)

Amount Available:  Approximately $250,000 (with a maximum of $75,000 per proposal request)

OLI Director:  Simon Thorrold, x3366, sthorrold@whoi.edu

The Ocean Life Institute (OLI) is soliciting proposals that address one or more of these themes, as detailed below.  Proposals with an interdisciplinary focus are especially encouraged.

  • Ocean biodiversity: Documenting the diversity of ocean life at all levels of biological organization.

  • Ocean megafauna:  Science to foster knowledge-based conservation efforts for the largest animals in our oceans.

  • Coral reefs:  Research to promote healthy coral reefs and the resources that these ecosystems support.


Research Projects

The OLI is soliciting proposals for research projects that fall within one or more of the above research themes.  Awards are available to those who satisfy the WHOI eligibility requirements to be a Principal Investigator (see http://www.whoi.edu/DoR/page.do?pid=30035&tid=3622&cid=34968 ).

Please note that an individual may not be a PI or a co-PI on more than one (1) proposal for this combined Ocean Institutes/Access to the Sea Call for Proposals.  Furthermore, a PI cannot submit the same proposal to the Independent Study Call and the Ocean Institutes/Access to the Sea Calls for proposals, but a PI can submit different proposals to the Ocean Institutes/Access to the Sea Call, and the Independent Study Call.

A total of approximately $250,000is available for all awards by the Ocean Life Institute in 2015, with a maximum total target budget of $75,000 for each proposal.  Proposals will be fully funded in 2015 and must be spent over a maximum of two years.

Award Criteria

The Ocean Life Institute will support individual and collaborative research projects that are relevant to the current themes of the Institute.  A major goal of OLI awards is to support research efforts that cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines and explore new collaborative approaches. OLI research grants may be used as initial funding for the research of young scientists, to support established scientists exploring new research directions, or to review and synthesize existing work relevant to an Institute theme.

Summaries of prior OLI awards are available at http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=96466

Awards are based on the quality of the proposed research project and its relevance to Institute themes.  The awards may be used for salary support for Principal Investigators, postdoctoral investigators, support staff and graduate students, the development or purchase of equipment, sea-going activities, or any other tasks normally associated with research projects.  Salary support will not be provided to those receiving substantial Institute or Institution salary support as Chairs, Fellows, Directors, Education Coordinators, etc. unless a strong justification is provided.  Proposals should include a brief description of how the proposed work would fit with other existing or planned research projects, and/or contribute to longer-term programs, goals, and professional development.

Principal Investigators will be expected to participate in some activities of the Ocean Life Institute and to help communicate the results and implications of their research to donors, the public and to policy-makers in government.  PIs may also be expected to work with the Institute Director and Institute Advisory Council in developing future research plans and activities for the Institute.

The following factors will be considered in granting the awards:

  • Quality of proposal (scholarship, innovation, research approach, scientific importance)

  • Relevance to the Institute’s mission and related initiatives:
    • Interdisciplinary in nature;
    • Interdepartmental (particularly for larger awards);
    • Match to a current Institute theme (see above);
  • Other attributes (optional)
    • Unlikely to be readily or immediately funded by external sources;
    • Launches an important new area of inquiry at WHOI;
  • Likelihood of leveraging additional agency support


Proposal Submission and Guidelines

The deadline for submission of proposals for these awards is May 1, 2015.

The start date for most of these awards will be June 15, 2015.

Funds will be awarded for a two-year period with all funds allocated in the first year.  Please be sure that you will have sufficient time to accomplish the proposed work within this time frame, as the need for these funds is usually greater than the amount of funding available.

Upload proposal package online, in pdf format, at: http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=22956

Proposal applications must be received by the stated deadline, and include the following in this order:

  • The WHOI Research Proposal Summary (Green Sheet) with appropriate signatures at the Departmental level.
    1. Address Field on the routing form (green sheet) should indicate that the proposal is to be submitted to Dr. Simon Thorrold, MS#50, OLI.

    2. Agency information to be inserted is as follows:
       - Agency: WHOI Internal Awards
       - Agency Division: WHOI - OLI
       - Program Field should be left blank
  • Abstract: The abstract should be only 1-2 paragraphs long.  Abstracts of funded proposals will be posted on the webpage and will be part of a report to the donor to describe what was done with the money provided for this program.  Therefore, the abstract should not be too technical.  Please be sure that your abstract does not "give away" any privileged information that you may need to acquire future funds from government or other sources.

  • Text: The text should describe what you wish to do.  All criteria will be explicitly addressed in a successful proposal.  Since these proposals are reviewed by an interdisciplinary team.  Care must be taken with the use of jargon and lengthy technical narratives.  Reviewers will be looking for clear descriptions of your questions and methods for achieving the answers.
    • Page limit of 1-2 pages for the text (excluding the abstract) will be strictly enforced. Graphics and references are not included in this limit.
    • Proposals must be readily legible.  Font size should be a minimum of 12, and vertical spacing appropriate for the font size.  Small type size makes it difficult for reviewers to read the proposal; consequently, small or type or cramped line spacing may be cause to return the proposal without review.

  • Budget: Provide a budget that is prepared in WHOI Grants and that shows your proposed expenditures.  The simple budget feature in WHOI Grants is recommended.  Use a 24 month period with start date 15 June 2015.  A Budget Justification statement is required.

  • CV: Each PI should provide a current 2-page CV that includes a list of the 10 most recent or relevant publications.

  • Signed originals must be sent to the Office of Grant & Contract Services, MS #39 within two days after electronic submission of the pdf file

The Review Process

Ocean Life Institute proposals are initially reviewed by an ad-hoc panel of scientific and senior technical staff members with expertise appropriate for the proposal topics received.  The panel will rate the proposals on the basis of the quality and relevance of the proposed research.  A final review will include all OI Directors, who will in turn make funding recommendations to the Director of Research.  Normal WHOI procedures to avoid conflict of interest will be followed.

Points of Contact

If you have any questions about the appropriateness of your proposal to OLI, or if you wish to discuss your OLI proposal in advance, please contact Simon Thorrold, sthorrold@whoi.edu , x3366).  Questions about the submission process may be directed to Andrew Daly (adaly@whoi.edu, x2852).

Final Project Report

A brief report is required at the end of the award period.  This report will be posted on the OLI project web page with your abstract and used to keep the donors of the funds that support the OLI informed of the awards and to express our gratitude by sharing the results of the research.  The donors, while not necessarily trained in your field, are knowledgeable about science in general, and curious about what we do.  We wish to do everything we can to keep them fully informed of our progress.  PIs will be encouraged to work with the Communications group to prepare popular accounts of their OLI funded research.