Research Grants & Fellowships at PLE

Researchers at PLE are very fortunate to have excellent internal research support that can fund the early stages of ecological and evolutionary research. Grant proposals are submitted each year in February and several awards are made. The two main types of support PLE offers are:   

PLE Research Grants

PLE offers small grants (awards generally not exceeding $3500) to graduate students and, less commonly, post-doctoral and faculty researchers. Successful proposals can be supported through any combination of four funding sources (see below) as determined by the proposal review panel.

Frank J. Schwartz Early Career Research Fellowship

The Frank J. Schwartz Early Career Research Fellowship provides up to $10,000 plus up to three months of station fees and residency costs for the primary investigator (PI). This opportunity is open to researchers holding PhD degrees in any science discipline that can benefit from PLE's resources. We especially encourage applications from individuals in the post-doctoral or early faculty phases of their careers but researchers holding Ph.D. degrees at all stages of their careers are encouraged to apply.


**The due date for 2018 grant and fellowship proposals is February 19, 2018.**

Eligible applicants

  • Graduate students in good standing at the University of Pittsburgh are eligible for grant support from the McKinley Research Fund, The Arthur and Barbara Pape Endowment and the Leasure K. Darbaker Prize in Botany.  Graduate students in good standing from other institutions are eligible for support from the McKinley Research Fund.
  • Recent Ph.D.'s, initiating new research at PLE are eligible for fellowship or grant support from the McKinley Research Fund and PLE Discretionary Funds. University of Pittsburgh post-doctoral researchers are also eligible to be considered for the Leasure K. Darbaker Prize in Botany.
  • More senior researchers initiating new research at PLE are eligible to apply for the Frank J. Schwartz Early Career Research Fellowship, which can be funded by the McKinley Research Fund and/or PLE Discretionary Funds.

The proposals received by the deadline will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers, with the intent of funding those proposals most likely to produce significant results and lead to a longer-term extramurally funded program of research at PLE. Awards should not therefore be seen as a way of funding a multi-year project.

The funds awarded are to be spent according to the guidelines given below. All funds must be spent by October 31 of the year in which they are awarded. Any funds unspent (including receipts not turned it for reimbursement) by October 31 will revert to the general pool of funds.

A graduate student researcher will not ordinarily be considered for more than three years of funding (except under extenuating circumstances). When funding is requested for a fourth year, evidence should be provided showing that the researcher has actively sought extramural funding.

A post-doctoral researcher will not ordinarily be considered for funding for more than one year (except under extenuating circumstances). When funding is requested for a second year, evidence should be provided showing that the researcher has actively sought extramural funding.

Under no circumstances will a senior researcher be considered for more than a single year's funding.

All proposals for grants and fellowships must use the following format:

  • Cover page, containing project title and researcher contact information
  • Project summary, page containing a project summary of not more than 100 words
  • Project description, not exceeding 4, single-spaced pages (including all figures and tables)
  • Literature Cited
  • Budget
  • Applicant's resume or CV
  • For non-University of Pittsburgh graduate student applicants, a letter of recommendation from the major advisor should be sent to pymlab@pitt.edu

Formatting details: All margins should be set at one inch, all text should use a minimum 12-point font. All figures, figure captions, and tables must use a minimum 10-point font. Proposals that do not meet these formatting requirements will be returned without review.

Applications should be submitted as an attachment to pymlab@pitt.edu in MS WORD format (no PDF files) by February 19th. If there is a problem in the application process please contact the PLE office in advance. Awards will be announced in mid-March.

Allowable Expenses

  • The research must be conducted while in residence at PLE.
  • Allowable expenses include materials and supplies necessary to conduct the research, travel between PLE and local field sites, housing, bench fees, equipment necessary to conduct the research, field and laboratory assistants. The PLE Office should be contacted early about the availability and costs of laboratory and housing space.
  • All materials, supplies and equipment purchased with grant funds are the property of PLE. All equipment and any remaining materials and supplies at the end of the season must be turned over to the PLE Assistant Director.
  • Stipends or hourly wages for graduate students, post-docs or faculty members- are not allowable expenses.
  • Page charges for publications are not allowable expenses.
  • The cost of purchasing food or meal plans is not an allowable expense.
  • Work done at locations other than PLE is not an allowable expense.
  • Travel between PLE and the researcher's academic-year home is not an allowable expense except in the case of Frank J. Schwartz Early Career Research Fellowships.

Procedures for Spending Funds

  • All expenditures must be in accord with the approved budget. If the award is less than the requested budget, or certain items listed in the requested budget have been disallowed in the award letter, the budget must be resubmitted before funds can be spent. The resubmitted budget must include only those items deemed allowable in the award. Any uncertainty should be resolved by contacting the PLE Director prior to resubmitting the budget request.
  • To adequately track expenditures, all expenditures must be made through the PLE Secretary or Pat Dean (Pitt-Oakland Fiscal Office). Cash expenditures, within the allowable limits set by the University's purchasing policies, are allowable and necessary from time-to-time. Multiple cash reimbursements must be detailed on a log sheet indicating the date of purchase, the vendor, and the cost. Unless this procedure is followed, reimbursement may not be possible. All mileage records should be kept as a log that includes date of travel, purpose of travel, and number of miles.
  • Recipients of awards are responsible for keeping track of their expenditures and account balance to ensure that funds are available to cover housing and bench fees at the end of their residence at PLE.

Responsibility for Research Sites

Like any kind of land use, research can have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity, community and population dynamics of sensitive communities and species. On PLE and on Commonwealth land in the PLE vicinity, repeated use by researchers and its cumulative effects is an area of special concern. Even if the research has had no casually visible effects on the area, it may compromise the area for certain kinds of future research. It is the researcher's responsibility to minimize those effects. The following conditions apply to all PLE-based projects, including PLE-funded projects:

  • All introductions of species or individuals alien to the site of the research must be approved by the PLE Director in advance. Failure to do so can result in termination of the project.
  • The location of all research sites should be recorded as accurately as possible. At a minimum, this means using a Global Positioning Unit (GPS) to mark the corners of all research plots/sites. PLE has several GPS units that are available for this purpose free of charge.
  • All tags, markers, flags and other hardware must be removed from the site at the end of the research season unless their continued presence across seasons has been approved by the PLE Director in advance of the end of the research season for that project.

Reporting

  • All researchers must present their work as a seminar to the PLE community during the summer of residence. Scheduling is done through the PLE Secretary.
  • All awardees must submit a project report by December 23 of the year following the award. Reports should be no more than three pages, exclusive of figures and citations. Any publications, seminars, talks at meetings, posters or submitted manuscripts should be noted.
  • All publications must acknowledge support of the McKinley, Darbaker, or Pape Funds and have a PLE publication number (obtainable from the Administrative Secretary at the time of acceptance for publication).

All proposals for grants and fellowships must use the following format:

  • Cover page, containing project title and researcher contact information
  • Project summary, page containing a project summary of not more than 100 words
  • Project description, not exceeding 4, single-spaced pages (including all figures and tables)
  • Literature Cited
  • Budget
  • Applicant's resume or CV
  • For non-University of Pittsburgh graduate student applicants, a letter of recommendation from the major advisor should be sent to pymlab@pitt.edu

Formatting details: All margins should be set at one inch, all text should use a minimum 12-point font. All figures, figure captions, and tables must use a minimum 10-point font. Proposals that do not meet these formatting requirements will be returned without review.

Applications should be submitted as an attachment to pymlab@pitt.edu in MS WORD format (no PDF files) by February 19th. If there is a problem in the application process please contact the PLE office in advance. Awards will be announced in mid-March.

Sources of Support

Successful proposals can be supported through any combination of four funding sources below as determined by the proposal review panel.

McKinley Research Fund:

The G. Murray McKinley Research Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation provides grants and fellowships to support research in ecology conducted at the PLE.

Arthur and Barbara Pape Endowment:

The Arthur and Barbara Pape Endowment provides support for research conducted by University of Pittsburgh graduate students at PLE.

Leasure K. Darbaker Prize in Botany

An annual award available for support of botany-related studies conducted by University of Pittsburgh researchers at PLE at the graduate or post- doctoral levels.

PLE Discretionary Funds

Some support for the Frank J. Schwartz Early Career Research Fellowship may come from PLE's discretionary budget.