VNPS Research Grant 2018

VNPS Research Grantroundcorner

Award: Up to$15,000
Deadline:  February 15, 2018 at 5 P.M.

Purpose

The VNPS Research Grant Program awards funds for well-defined projects whose results can be evaluated and which address VNPS goals and mission.  VNPS research grants should advance our understanding of the biology of native plants and their relationship to their ecosystems; teach students about the importance of native plants and habitat preservation; measure the benefits of native plant habitats to the economic and environmental health of the Commonwealth; or address similar topics.

Grant Details

Grants are made to principal investigators through their academic institution or non-profit organization; individuals are not eligible.

Generally, grants will be for projects up to one year in duration and up to $15,000, although in the past the average grant amount has been closer to $5,000.  We anticipate awarding two or three grants this year, including at least one to an undergraduate student.

Grants could:

(1) Provide seed money for preliminary research that could support applications for more substantial follow-on grants from other sources;

(2) Provide stipends and expense money for post-secondary and graduate student research; or

(3) Fund rigorous undergraduate or citizen science projects.

Submissions

All applicants must submit a complete research proposal to the VNPS Grant Manager no earlier than January 1 and no later than 5:00 P.M. Eastern time, February 15, 2018. 

VNPS does not require proposals to follow a specific format; however, each organization is expected to submit a written proposal that includes the information listed below, in the order listed. Please combine all the parts of the application into a single pdf.

  1. A one-page summary cover letter, addressed to the VNPS Grants Manager.
  2. The proposal. Include the name of the applicant, proposal name, and a page number on every page. Limit: 20 pages.
  3. A complete description of the activities and tasks that will be accomplished during the project and by whom. This should include a timeline with milestone and deliverable dates.
  4. Plans for evaluating the project’s results. 
  5. A description of the project deliverables. Deliverables must at least include a final report; applications should indicate what it will address.  At the end of the overall project, we encourage publication of the results in a peer-reviewed journal.
  6. A detailed financial plan that includes a breakdown of costs and the total cost, the specific amount requested, other supplemental funding sources (if applicable), and provisions for contingencies.  VNPS does not fund overhead costs.
  7. Plans for sustaining the project after grant funds expire, if applicable.
  8. A resume of the principal investigator who will conduct the proposed program. If the principal investigator is a student, also include a brief resume of the faculty member who will provide oversight of the principal investigator. Limit: 2 pages apiece.
  9. A letter from an official of the organization stating that the organization has approved the proposed program and identifying the faculty member who will provide oversight of the principal investigator, if he or she is a student.

Proposals and correspondence concerning grants should be submitted to:

Joyce Wenger
VNPS Grants Manager
grantsmanager@vnps.org

Awards

Applications will be reviewed by the VNPS Research Grants Committee and winners selected at the VNPS Board of Directors Meeting in March.  Applicants will be notified in writing of the decision of the Committee no later than March 15.  VNPS will not critique unsuccessful applications.

For approved applications, funds will be forwarded to the recipient organization as stated in the award letter.  A report of the use of the funds and a final project report must be made no later than one year after the payment of a grant, but specifically on the date stated in the award letter. For multi-year projects, only the current year will be funded: A separate application for continued funding must be submitted.

Grantees must submit a financial report within 30 days after completion of the project, or by 13 months after the award, whichever is earlier.  Grantees must submit a research report suitable for publication within 6 months after completion of the project, or by 18 months after the award, whichever is earlier.  All publications resulting from the work must acknowledge the financial support of VNPS.  Grantees must also make an oral or poster presentation to VNPS upon completion of the project, at the request of VNPS.  VNPS will pay all expenses related to such presentation.

GRANT AWARD HISTORY

2017 Awards

In 2017, three awards were given. 

  • Integrative taxonomic studies with the Unified Species Concept reveal four evolutionary species in Virginia populations of the Early Violet (Viola subsinuata) – $6,010.00. Ohio University, Harvey Ballard.  This research will complete studies to document geographic distributions of four phenotypes of “Viola subsinuata” in Virginia; provide a detailed analysis of potential niche differentiation among the phenotypes; and permit objective evaluation of the taxonomic and evolutionary status of these phenotypes based on morphological traits, reproductive behavior, genetic differentiation and microhabitat preference.
  • Biotic Disturbances and Tree Mortality in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Ecoregion – $5,000.00. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Kristina Anderson-Teixeira.  This proposal focused on the effects insect pests and pathogens on forests of Virginia’s Blue Ridge ecoregion. Insect pests and pathogens are a leading cause of mortality in the region, yet their impacts have yet to be quantified. Researchers conducted an annual tree mortality census of a large forest plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. They will use data from this plot and others throughout the region to quantify the impacts of biotic disturbances on forest mortality, biodiversity, productivity and biomass. This study will help improve general scientific understanding of the net impact of biotic disturbances on forest diversity, structure, and function.
  • Pollination in the Piedmont: towards an understanding of the beneficial effects of native plants and pollutants in Ashland, Virginia – $3,990.00. Randolph-Macon College, Nicholas Ruppel.  Educating the public on the value of native plant- pollinator relationships will promote the use of local green spaces as refuges for native plants and their pollinators. This project will assess the diversity of insect pollinators on native plants in Ashland, Virginia. This will be a collaborative project involving undergraduate students and faculty from Randolph-Macon College, as well as elementary school students from Gandy Elementary School. Several modes of insect identification (e.g. digital photography, trapping, etc.) will be used to assess the pollinator abundance and diversity in the R-MC Brian Wesley Moores Native Plant Garden.

2016 Awards

  • Patterns of introduction and dispersal during the emerging invasion of wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius) into Virginia’s forest understories, submitted by Dr. Carrie Wu of the University of Richmond. This project will attempted to answer fundamental questions about the genetic structure of the invasive species wavyleaf basketgrass, which is in the still early rapid expansion-of-range phase of invading new habitat.  Outcomes may help to stop or slow the spread of this plant and may also provide a theoretical framework applicable to other invaders in early stages of range expansion.
  • Estimating invasion risk in native forest in Northwestern Virginia, submitted by Dr. Iara Lacher of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. This project utilized advances in geospatial data combined with citizen science efforts to develop a measure of invasion risk in native forests. It developed models that relate forest patch characteristics with land use and land cover across the area and conduct surveys involving interns, students, and landowners.
  • Investigation of morphological, ecological, and genetic species boundaries in Phlox & glaberrima and P. carolina in the Southern Appalachians, submitted by Dr. Gerald Bresowar of Emory & Henry College. This project worked with undergraduate students to perform a systematic study of two species of Phlox that Weakley et al. declared were in need of study.  It is possible that the morphological, ecological and gene sequence data might provide clarity and new insights and, ultimately, better means of distinguishing the two.

2015 Awards

In 2015, the initial year of the VNPS Research Grant Program, two awards were given, each in the amount of $5.000. 

  • One proposal, submitted by Dr. Alycia Crall and Michelle Prysby, Extension faculty members in the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, funded a project titled “Improving Knowledge of Native Plant Species Distributions in Virginia: A Citizen Science Project for Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteers.”  Their project was to develop a citizen science program in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Division to monitor the distribution and threats to rare and threatened plant populations in the state. They sought to discover the current status and distribution of 30 rare and threatened plant species in Virginia and identify the primary threats to those plants using citizen science techniques.
  • The second proposal selected was called, “Virginia’s Virtual Herbarium: Liberating Big Data for Our Native Plants.”  This proposal was submitted by Dr. Andrea Weeks, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Ted R. Bradley Herbarium at George Mason University.  Her grant supplemented funding from the National Science Foundation to implement high-throughput, digital imaging of specimens from 11 Virginia herbaria and citizen-science transcription.  This initiative helped create a publicly accessible, online herbarium of nearly 300,000 Virginia vascular plant specimens.