The Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories Programmatic Area supports major improvements to biological field stations or laboratories in any terrestrial, marine, estuarine, or freshwater environment for research and education. Such field stations and laboratories play a critical role in: providing access to study areas and organisms; providing facilities and equipment close to study areas; and fostering an atmosphere of mutual scientific interest and collaboration in biological research and education. The scope of proposed infrastructure improvements in this programmatic area can include, but is not limited to: equipment, communications, data management, or physical plant improvement. Proposals should focus on well-defined and significant efforts rather than a compilation of small improvements. Projects are expected to produce quality products, have important science or education outcomes that will be achieved by the users of the resource, and have the potential to be used by a community of researchers, educators, or students beyond a single research team.
The proposal should address the potential for the proposed improvement to increase extensibility, portability, or interoperability that enhances the station's capacity to support larger scale or replicated biological research. Improvements that directly benefit multiple stations may be proposed, but PIs must first consult with the cognizant program director regarding eligibility before submission. All aspects of the request must be justified by a clear and unified advance in research capability. Requests for multiple unrelated components or predominantly miscellaneous, low-cost supplies will receive lowest priority. Improvement proposals may include the following:
- Improvements in the physical plant of a field station or marine laboratory. Such requests may include renovations to the physical structures on the station that are to be used for research, for training and education activities, or for temporary accommodations intended for visiting scientists and students. Limited support is available for new construction, and priority is for facilities that advance research capacity such as labs, greenhouses, or other structures with specialized research functions. This program will not consider improvements to: (1) administrative, classroom, or office space; (2) maintenance, repairs, or replacements of existing infrastructure that do not advance research capability beyond a prior state; or, (3) facilities or equipment used for research or educational activities on board a University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System research ship or similar vessel (such requests should be directed to Oceanographic Facilities and Equipment Support in the Division of Ocean Sciences at: http://nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504848&org=OCE)
- Improvements in or new equipment. Such requests should be for major, shared-use items (including special purpose vehicles and boats) that are directly essential to the facility's research activities as well as associated training and education programs. These items should enhance and expand the research capabilities of the facility and attract additional users to the facility.
- Improvements in or new observational or experimental infrastructure. Such requests may include fixed infrastructure such as towers, sensors/gauges, manipulative features, and other facilities used in support of research and data collection activities.
- Improvements in or new data management and communication systems. Such requests should be directed at deployment of appropriate, up-to-date technology and should be directed toward broad community use of such systems for research, training, and dissemination.
Planning proposals should focus on long-term strategic planning for growth or redirection in the facility's science and education programs. The outcome of these projects is usually a 5 to 10 year strategic plan that will be made publicly available and provide vision for the future of the facility and an actionable plan for how it will be achieved. They should not be focused on short term planning or design for specific improvements. While not a prerequisite, field stations and marine labs that have undergone periodic planning activities are often better prepared to write improvement proposals.