Grant Funds to Investigate Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

Dickinson Students are Invited to Apply
Next Deadline: October 1, 2020

Proposals from Dickinson students are invited for a research grant to investigate the sustainable use of natural resources in a disadvantaged and underserved community abroad or in the United States. Proposed projects should generate data, knowledge and understanding expected to be useful to the community of study for solving an existing or potential challenge related to the use or misuse of natural resources, including renewable and nonrenewable resources. The project should produce a research paper as well as outputs for sharing results with the community such as an information brochure, poster, public presentation, video, podcast, and/or website. The grant recipient will also give a presentation of their work at Dickinson.

Applicants should have a project adviser who will provide guidance to help with formulating a research question, choosing and applying appropriate research methods, working with community stakeholders, managing risks, budgeting and other aspects of the project. The project adviser should not participate in the conduct of the research beyond an advisory role. The project adviser should be a Dickinson faculty member or other person with relevant research experience. 

Coronavirus Safeguards: The continually evolving COVID-19 risks may limit whether, where and how field research may be conducted in 2021. Applicants should be aware that limitations on field work are likely to be more restrictive during winter break than in summer 2021. Limitations are also likely to be more restrictive for field work done outside of the U.S. than within the U.S. Proposals should include protocols for field research to protect the health of the researchers and the community in which the research would be conducted. Award of the grant will be subject to compliance with safety requirements that will be stated at the time an award is made. A grant award may be modified or withdrawn at any time should risks change and/or if travel restrictions are implemented in the jurisdiction of the field research. 

Questions: After reviewing the information on this page, please contact CSE Director Neil Leary ( or Emeritus Professor Jeff Niemitz ( for further information. We are happy to answer questions and give advice to help you develop a strong proposal.

Eligibility: The opportunity is open to all Dickinson students, with priority given to students majoring in Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies and closely related fields.

Available funds: One grant of up to $5,000.

Project period: The preferred project period should not begin prior to January 1, 2021 and should be completed on or before December 31, 2021.

Deadline for application: October 1, 2020

Application instructions: To apply, submit the following via email to

  • Research proposal (outline is provided below)
  • Budget proposal (instructions are provided below)
  • Letter of support from a project advisor

If your research involves human subjects (e.g. you plan to survey or interview people), you must also submit a research protocol to Dickinson’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Contact Neil Leary ( for information about IRB review.

Criteria for award of the grant:

  • Relevance of the proposed research to problems of sustainable resource use.
  • Potential benefit to members of the community where the research will be done.
  • Clarity and importance of the research question.
  • A thorough, logical and feasible research plan.
  • A thorough and appropriate budget.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the community, the problem to be studied and relevant literature.
  • Qualifications of the student to conduct the research successfully.

Research Proposal Requirements

  • Project title
  • Summary (half to 1 page)
    • Identify the community and resource problem that are the focus of your proposed research
    • Describe briefly the knowledge that your research would generate, why/how it would be useful to the community, how it would be shared with the community, and what outputs you plan to produce.
    • Time period when you would conduct your research. If you will travel, where and when would you travel?
  • Context (half to 1 page)
    • Describe the community, its priorities, its resources and its challenges as they relate to your research. Include, as relevant, the culture, geography, politics and history of the community of study.
    • Briefly summarize research done by others that is relevant to your proposed research.
    • Cite relevant literature.
  • Research question, method and plan (1 to 2 pages)
    • What is your research question? Why is it important?
    • Describe in general terms your research method.
    • Describe if and how the community would participate in your research.
    • Describe, step-by-step, how you will conduct your research.
  • Risks (half page)
    • Identify potential risks to yourself and measures to mitigate any risks.
    • Identify risks to others who would participate in the research and measures to mitigate those risks.
    • Note: If your research involves human subjects (e.g. you plan to conduct surveys or interviews), you must submit a research protocol to Dickinson’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The protocol can be submitted to the IRB after the deadline for the research proposal.
  • Qualifications (half page)
    • What knowledge, skills and/or prior experience do you have that will help you to be successful in performing your proposed research?
    • Have you been to the area where you will conduct your research? Do you have contacts there who can help?
  • References
    • List, with full bibliographic details, the information sources cited in your proposal.

Budget Proposal Requirements
Provide a budget table showing expenses by category and a budget narrative that briefly describes how funds will be used for each category.

Examples of eligible expense categories:

  • Travel expenses
    • Travel to get to the research site
    • Travel at the research site
  • Lodging (nightly rate, number of nights, total)
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Other (specify)