text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text
Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation HomeNational Science Foundation - Directorate for Geological Sciences (GEO)
Ocean Sciences (OCE)
design element
OCE Home
About OCE
Funding Opportunities
Career Opportunities
NSF OCE Reply to NRC Sea Change Report, May 2015
Environmental Compliance
Making Waves, OCE Newsletter
See Additional OCE Resources
View OCE Staff
GEO Organizations
Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS)
Earth Sciences (EAR)
Ocean Sciences (OCE)
Polar Programs (PLR)
Proposals and Awards
Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
Proposal Preparation and Submission
bullet Grant Proposal Guide
  bullet Grants.gov Application Guide
Award and Administration
bullet Award and Administration Guide
Award Conditions
Other Types of Proposals
Merit Review
NSF Outreach
Policy Office
Additional OCE Resources
Report of the Research Coordination Network RCN: OceanObsNetwork, Facilitating Open Exchange of Data
GEO Advisory Cmte Report on Ocean Drilling, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions by Ocean Sciences PIs for the CAREER Competition
Integrative Programs Section: Additional Information
OCE Data and Sample Policy
Clarifications on NSF OCE Facilities Costs and Coordination (May 2012)
Wilkes Land Expedition, February 2010 (video link)
Policy on Seismic Reflection Equipment Per Foreign Waters
Seismic PEIS Scoping Posters

Biological Oceanography

The information provided on this page highlights some current research interests and activities within the Biological Oceanography Program. The section describing Research Interests is intended to help PIs determine if their research topic falls within the purview of projects typically supported by the Program. The subsequent sections provide a broader overview of Program activities.

You may select from the following links or scroll down:

Research Interests
Multi-disciplinary Programs
Long-Term Ecological Research site expansion possibilities
Community Building and Science Planning
Supplement Support
Proposal Submission Tips

Please contact the Program if you have questions regarding the projects described below or other activities related to NSF research.


Bathycryroe fosteri (Lawrence P. Madin, WHOI)

The Biological Oceanography Program supports marine ecological projects in environments ranging from estuarine and coastal systems to the deep sea, and in the Great Lakes. Proposals submitted to the Program should have a compelling ecological context and address topics that will contribute significantly to the understanding of marine ecosystems. The Biological Oceanography Program often co-reviews and supports projects with programs in the Directorate of Biology (BIO). Proposals may be more appropriate for programs in BIO, as the lead program, if the primary focus is on organismal physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, population biology, systematics, etc. Similarly, some ocean-focused, interdisciplinary studies may be more appropriately directed to one of the other programs in the Division of Ocean Sciences or programs in the Office of Polar Programs as the lead program. Investigators are encouraged to contact Program Officers by phone or e-mail and read recent award abstracts to determine the appropriate program for their proposal.


The National Science Foundation has emphasized the importance of research that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. In addition to jointly supporting unsolicited proposals submitted to regular program target dates, the Biological Oceanography Program collaborates in multidisciplinary activities that involve other NSF Programs and other Federal Agencies:

  • Coastal SEES: Coastal SEES
  • CNH: Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems
  • Dimensions: Dimensions of Biodiversity
  • Frontiers: Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics
  • GLOBEC: Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (with NOAA and NASA)
  • LTER: Long Term Ecological Research (cross-NSF)
  • OA: Ocean Acidification
  • RIDGE 2000: (with Marine Geology and Geophysics)


OCE is considering soliciting proposals for one or more coastal ocean ecosystem LTER sites.

The LTER program is an effective mechanism to address some of the more pressing environmental and sustainability issues of our time.  Developing a competitive proposal for the program will require significant effort. Coastal ocean LTER investigators organized a community discussion to share their experience with developing an LTER site, science questions addressed, and consider what an expanded network might look like at the ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting in February 2015. Their presentations are available from the links below:

  • Presentation 1 - by Mark Ohman, UCSD, provides an overview of the NSF LTER program
  • Presentation 2 - by Russ Schmitt, UCSB, provides an overview of the current coastal ocean LTERs
  • Presentation 3 - by Chuck Hopkinson, UGS, provides examples of cross-site research
  • We also anticipate further discussion at the LTER All Scientist Meetings in late August 2015. It is important to emphasize that presently this is a potentially developing plan and we do not have a budget commitment. However, we do want the ocean sciences community informed and ready if the funding does become available.

    If you would like to stay informed of the potential developments concerning the possible expansion of coastal ocean LTERs and receive information on community discussions at meetings,send an email to listserv@listserv.nsf.gov with the message body “subscribe LTER-OCE”. The subject may be left blank. The listserv is for announcements only.


    SBC LTER investigators lauch a towed vehicle, the scanfish, from the R/V Pt. Sur in the Santa Barbara Channel. (SBC staff)

    The Division of Ocean Sciences and the Biological Oceanography Program encourage and support community planning efforts to identify opportunities and priorities for future research. Efforts range from providing support for community workshops that build research capacity or facilitate new research directions to fostering national/international planning and coordination efforts. Workshop proposals to the Program are by invitation and limited to topics or themes where there has been considerable discussion within the community and with the Program. Examples of current interests and planning efforts by the community and the Program include:


    Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) replaced the Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program in 2009. RAPID is a funding mechanism to support quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events. Requests may be for up to $200K and one year duration. The EAGER mechanism supports high-risk, exploratory and potentially transformative research. Requests may be for up to $300K and up to two years duration. These opportunities are not intended to develop a proposal, generate preliminary data or to respond to solely "ship-of-opportunity" situations. For more information on these funding opportunities refer to the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.D.1 and 2. You must contact a program officer in advance of submitting EAGER or RAPID proposals. If you are considering submitting an EAGER or RAPID, contact Dan Thornhill by e-mail (dthornhi@nsf.gov) to discuss your project.


    Student researcher examines Xestospongia muta (Joseph Pawlik, UNC-W)
    In general, with the exception of the targeted activities described below, the Program does not provide supplemental funding to projects. However, the Program recognizes that unusual circumstances may occur where additional funding is needed to ensure adequate completion of the original scope of the awarded project. In such cases, the Program may provide supplemental support for what we consider unforeseeable, emergency situations (see NSF Proposal and Award Manual X.C.4, for guidance of supplements).

    Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and Research Opportunity Awards (ROA) activities can be incorporated in new or renewal proposals and the supplements mechanism should be reserved for unique opportunities that arise after the award is in progress. Supplements are not to meant to provide annual funding for any of the targeted activities. The Program encourages investigators to include these activities when the proposal is initially submitted rather than request supplements after award. However, if a unique or exceptional project has developed that is directed to one of the targeted activities, supplemental support may be available. Before submitting any supplement request, an investigator should contact Gayle Pugh (gpugh@nsf.gov).

    Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): REU supplements to ongoing projects provide a mechanism to support meaningful opportunities to undergraduate students. As noted above, the Program does not intend for the post-award supplement mechanism to provide annual support for REU activities. In general, undergraduate support should be included in the proposal at the time of submission. If you are considering an REU supplement request, send an email to Gayle Pugh (gpugh@nsf.gov) detailing the proposed activities and costs by February 1 (annually).

    Research Experiences for Teachers (RET): RET activities are designed to enhance the professional development of science teachers through participation in new or on-going NSF-funded research projects as detailed in the "Dear Colleague" Letter NSF 11-052. PIs are encouraged to include outreach programs for K-12 teachers within the broader impacts of a proposal at the time of submission. Supplements to ongoing projects are intended to provide opportunities for novel ideas that transpire after the project is underway. The request has to made when there is at least 12 mos. left of on the duration of the grant. RET supplement requests/inquiries to ongoing projects can be sent via e-mail to Gayle Pugh (gpugh@nsf.gov) anytime.

    Research Opportunity Awards (ROA): ROA activities are part of the NSF-wide Research at Undergraduate Institutions program . ROAs enable faculty at predominately undergraduate institutions, including community colleges, to pursue research as visiting scientists with NSF-supported investigators at other institutions. The purpose of ROA activities is to enhance the research productivity and professional development of science faculty at undergraduate institutions. In addition, research activities should contribute to basic knowledge in science and provide opportunities to integrate research and undergraduate education. ROA supplement requests/inquiries to ongoing projects can be sent via e-mail to Gayle Pugh (gpugh@nsf.gov) anytime.

    Proposal Submission Tipsfading line

    Proposals submitted to the Program for the 15 February and 15 August target dates should be fully compliant with the most current NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Proposals that have errors or are not compliant create distractions for those responsible for reviewing and processing the proposal thereby detracting from merits of the research. Moreover, there are an increasing number of compliance issues that require the Program to return proposals without review. For these reasons, review your proposal thoroughly before submission to ensure that your proposal is in compliance with the NSF GPG.

    A casually-prepared proposal may be considered a fatal flaw in the evaluation of Intellectual Merit. Beyond checking for compliance issues, we suggest you carefully edit your proposal. Make sure your CV is complete and up-to-date, and double check your references. Reviewers often comment that numbered references make reviewing excessively tedious. Incorrect/inaccurate references annoy reviewers -- especially if it is their research that is improperly cited.

    If your research requires the use of a UNOLS research vessel you must submit a request through the UNOLS website and include a copy of that ship request as a supplementary document with your proposal submission.

    International participants and federal employees are generally not funded by the Program in accordance with the GPG sections I.E.6. and I.E.7., respectively. The Program does not typically send proposals out for review that contain support costs that we cannot cover. We advise you to contact the Program prior to submission if you have questions regarding support for Federal employees or International participants. Support for state and local governments is only available for educational opportunities (see GPG I.E.4.).

    Finally, your proposal will be reviewed by your colleagues and leading scientists in the field of the proposed study. Be considerate of the time and effort it takes to review proposals and submit only your best work.


    Email this pagePrint this page
    Back to Top of page