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Our Scientists Are Active in the Field. Here's What's New:


Are you a scientist or conservationist looking to advance your project or make a positive impact on the environment but struggling to find funding? Many research and conservation projects and other types of environmental projects require significant financial resources that are traditionally funded by large foundations or governments, rather than through traditional investment channels. To be eligible and to secure funding, you need to partner with a university or a non-profit organization like Remote Ecologist, have the right credentials, and present your vision and budget effectively.

Step 1: Partner with a Non-Profit or University

Partnering with a university or non-profit organization like Remote Ecologist increases your chances of securing grant funding by broadening your eligibility to include those grants and funding opportunities that are normally closed to individuals. Universities and non-profits have access to larger networks of donors and funders who are interested in supporting field conservation, science, and other environmental causes. However, there are some differences in how the sausage is made: universities have more physical resources and laboratories to maintain, so their overhead rate can be as high as 65% of direct costs. What does that mean? Let's say that you have $10,000 of materials costs to purchase. The organization will charge $6,500, making the grant $16,500. This can be reasonable, especially if the project requires a lot of laboratory resources. However, many field projects have much lower actual costs for equipment, meaning that a non-profit with a 10% overhead can mean you are more likely to have a streamlined budget.

Either way, by affiliating with a university or non-profit, you gain visibility and credibility, and you can tap into their resources and expertise to help your project be successful.

Step 2: Have the Right Credentials - Or Team Up With Someone Who Does

Having the right educational qualifications is essential when it comes to applying for grants. Most grant-making organizations require applicants to have at least a master's or PhD degree in their respective fields. This requirement ensures that only qualified individuals receive funding for their projects. However, projects are implemented by collaborations of large teams, often across organizations. Each organization and individual brings a different set of expertise and credentials to the table, so grant applications are often submitted with two or more collaborating institutions/organizations. The person who serves as the "Principal Investigator" (PI) is the one who has the set of credentials needed to make sure the project will be completed along established norms.

If you're a conservationist or scientist looking to secure grant funding for your project, make sure you have the necessary educational qualifications before applying or someone on your team who does. Having advanced degrees not only makes you more eligible for grants, but also enhances your credibility as an expert in your field.

Step 3: Present Your Project and Budget Effectively

Presenting your project and budget proposal effectively is crucial when it comes to securing grant funding. Grant-making organizations need assurance that their money will be used responsibly and efficiently towards achieving the intended goals, and that those goals are achievable. They implement grant review panels of experts who rate and recommend proposals for the given funding opportunity, which are then considered by the program officer of the foundation or granting entity.

When presenting your project proposal, it is important that you make sure that your project goals are aligned with the request for proposals (RFP), and that those goals and objectives are achievable in the time allotted. Particularly, presenting pilot results and analyses can be a way of demonstrating the competence and character of the team, and can inspire confidence in the achievability.

When presenting your budget proposal, be clear about how much money you need and how it will be allocated towards different aspects of the project. Include detailed cost breakdowns, cost match and in-kind match amounts, and timelines outlining how each expense will contribute towards achieving the overall goal.

In summary, securing grant funding for a science or conservation project requires careful planning and execution. Partnering with reputable universities and non-profit organizations like Remote Ecologist can increase your chances of securing funding significantly. Having advanced degrees enhances your eligibility, while presenting budgets effectively assures grant-makers that their money will be used appropriately towards achieving intended goals.

Following these steps are a way to move towards generating sustainable, long-term funding for your project and have a positive impact on your field!

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We are currently building our core Thematic Collaboration Clusters (TCCs), which are (and will be) our set of long-term projects that form the basis for us to support scientists and conservationists who are in-between positions (and, therefore, collaborations). Right now those groups include: Coral Reefs, Fisheries & Aquaculture, Coastal Resilience and Restoration, Invasive Species, Reptile & Amphibian Conservation, and Tropical Forests. The upper limit is, well, there is no upper limit. We'll keep being the glue between labs and organizations in order to make big, collaborative science and conservation projects happen.

In that process of building grants and project support infrastructure, we are applying for funding through a LOT of different funding sources. We keep coming across this gem in the FAQs of funding opportunities (paraphrased):

Individual grants are not supported - you must have fiscal sponsorship of a non-profit, university, or have an affiliation with one of those.

How do you move forward if you are unaffiliated? Our experience is, that it is extremely difficult.

While granting to individuals comes with additional grant reporting costs, and provisions for insurance and accounting, it is not impossible - and it improves diversity and inclusion in science and conservation. So, we decided to BECOME that affiliation for folks. Send us an email at our with your CV and ecologically-related interests (one paragraph, please), and we will see how we can best serve you. You get to just focus on the project, while we provide errors & omissions (E&O) insurance, accounting for your grants, a non-profit affiliation, and colleagues. We all get to build a better network to support scientists and conservationists in a field with little safety net. All grants are transferrable after a year of management, and we're happy to be a secondary affiliation if you get a full-time gig (rather than building one with us - that's ok too!).

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Our Coral Conservation and Restoration collaborative workgroup is officially off the ground! This was established with a successful collection and laboratory fertilization of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, spawn in Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo, near Cartagena, Colombia. This success was the result of the work of Colombian National Parks, all three marine aquariums in Colombia (with Oceanario as our host collaborator), one U.S. aquarium, and two universities. The group returns in September to work with another probable spawning species, Orbicella faveolata, and will work to advance scientific understanding of appropriate substrates for benthic settlement of these important reef-building species.

Collaborations - long-term, deep collaborations - are critical to building the funding and personnel resilience needed for multiyear projects. Each member has access to different funding any given year, meaning that the funding streams available help to stabilize the baseline goals, and windfalls can fund work on top of that. Planning beyond a 2-3 year grant, to 40 or 50 years or more, is what is necessary to make meaningful progress toward applied conservation goals like reef restoration or reforestation. As part of our collaborative clusters, like this one for corals, we make this concept a critical piece of our infrastructure. Having stable projects allows us to: 1) make long-term progress on the conservation outcomes and scientific advances, 2) allows for stable projects for our constituents - those reentering or bridging to stay in science - to participate in and advance their careers; and 3) build a collaborative community that allows for greater collaboration across regions and related concepts. While these collaborations start as regionally-based cores, lessons learned and those with experience from these collaborative workgroups will expand to other regions and related areas - like tropical coastal resilience work.

We are excited to serve to connect the science and conservation community to meaningful ways to continue their important work as we continue to advance and expand our core collaborative workgroup offerings. As we continue to grow, so will these field and laboratory opportunities and those for professional development and training. Sign up for our newsletter or as a volunteer to join our movement for a more flexible work environment in science.

Video: Courtesy Dr. David M. Hudson, 2022

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