Washington State's Agricultural Experiment Station

Agricultural Research Center

Emerging Research Issues for Washington Agriculture 2015 Internal Competitive Grant Program Request for Proposals



A Unified Industry-Based Agriculture Initiative funded by the Washington Legislature provides an internal competitive grants program to address emerging issues facing Washington’s agricultural industries. The program funded $1.7 million dollars of research from 2007-2010; abstracts of the funded proposals are available at http://arc.wsu.edu/info/eri/summaries.html and http://arc.wsu.edu/info/eri/summaries-2013.html. The grants program was structured to provide greater responsiveness to emerging research and outreach needs of state agricultural industries. As one measure of its success, projects related to the funded proposals were successful in attracting over $22 million of external support for related projects, over $11 million of which has been or will be spent in Washington.

The program is a focused effort by the CAHNRS Office of Research to increase competitively funded research from federal agencies and industry that will address emerging issues facing Washington’s agriculture and environment. It is intended to provide seed money to generate preliminary data that will ultimately be used to leverage new support from competitive funding programs and/or from corporations that will bring the best science to bear on Washington’s problems. Thus, proposals that bring together a novel research team or work toward establishing a proof of concept are encouraged. It is also intended to provide funding for taking new directions to fill fundamental knowledge gaps and otherwise enhance our capacity to address significant issues facing Washington Agriculture.
The ERI program is not designed for supplementing currently funded projects or as a substitute for other funding. If a proposal might appear to have some overlap with currently funded grants, the proposal must include an explanation of the novelty of the project and the need for funds in the context of current support so that reviewers can evaluate the overlap.


Sept 1, 2014                RFP issued

Sept 9, 2014                Information Session 4 PM
(Lighty 405, WECN by arrangement—contact sbrooks@wsu.edu)

Oct 1, 2014                Proposals due to CAHNRS Office of Research (electronic submission to ARCGrants@wsu.edu)

Jan 12, 2015            Anticipated announcement of awards


The CAHNRS Kitchen Cabinet provided the following guidance when it was asked to identify emerging issues for Washington’s agricultural industries:

  • An emerging issue is a topic where research-based information is needed and where WSU research activity is currently under-invested.
  • Priority should be given to issues that are not commodity specific, and hence, commodity commission or industry funds may not be targeted to address the issue.
  • The research should position WSU to take a leading regional and national position as the topic is recognized as being of regional or national importance.

Research issues are not limited to traditional production agriculture, but may address social and economic issues. Collaborative projects that bring together a team of faculty with complementary skill sets that will comprehensively address an area are encouraged.
There are two critical elements by which the proposals will be judged.

  • A description of the emerging issue in Washington and the knowledge gaps that will be filled by the subsequent competitively funded research.
  • A description of how this seed money will be used to generate data that will enhance the competitiveness of efforts to obtain additional external support. Thus a strategy for how this data is critical to enhance the competiveness of subsequent research proposals is essential.

Who is eligible to apply?

The lead PI must be a faculty member in a CAHNRS department or hold an ARC faculty appointment if in another college. Research professor track faculty members are eligible to be lead PIs but associates in research, post-doctoral associates, adjunct faculty, and courtesy faculty members are not.

What will be the duration of the grants?

The maximum duration is 2 years, starting January 1, 2015. Proposals can be written for 1 year. Initially, funding will be provided only for the first year but to facilitate supporting graduate students, the first year budget can run through June 30, 2016. For a second year of funding, a proposal, which can be identical to the initial proposal, must be submitted at the following year deadline and may be approved, if:

    • satisfactory progress toward the originally proposed objectives is documented;
    • applications for significant alternative sources of competitive non-university funds have been submitted through the CAHNRS Office of Research/ARC; and
    • adequate funds are available. A budget must be submitted for the second year of support.

What funding amounts will be permitted?

Grants may be funded up to $80,000 over the possible two-years of a project, with funding for the first year limited to $50,000. Efficiency in using resources will be an important element of the review. That is, proposals will be evaluated based upon projected impact per dollar of funds invested; therefore, the minimum amount essential to accomplish the objectives of the project should be requested. Partial funding may occur, depending on the review and funds available.

Note on Accountability. PIs who have had previous ERI funding must include a brief summary of their accomplishments as a result of the previously funded project.

What criteria will be used to evaluate proposals?

  • Ability of the project to define and address an emerging issue. (30 points)

The proposal should clearly describe why the subject of the proposal should be considered to be an Emerging Issue. The rationale and significance of the problem must be clearly articulated, including how stakeholders might ultimately benefit from completion of the competitively funded research, the information gaps to be filled (the researchable questions) and how the research will contribute to an overall solution. The intended output of research conducted under the ERI is to enhance the competitiveness of subsequent proposals.

  • Ability of project to catalyze future extramural support. (20 points)

A primary objective of this grant program is to encourage faculty to develop preliminary data that will enhance the competitiveness of future competitive grant proposals. This anticipated outcome(s) must be clearly delineated. Potential funding sources and the project leaders’ strategy for developing a competitive proposal are required elements of the proposal.

Anticipated competitive extramural grant applications that will be facilitated by the use of these funds must be explicitly described in the grant proposal (agency, program, application deadline). Requests for second-year funding must be accompanied by documentation that competitive extramural grant application(s) have been submitted.

  • Appropriate research methodologies and approaches (20 points)

The proposals will be reviewed to evaluate whether the approach and methodology, as articulated, are sufficient to accomplish the stated objectives. This should also include extension activities as appropriate.

  • Interdisciplinary, team-based approach to address the issue(s) (10 points)

Not all emerging issues are interdisciplinary in nature; but for the many that are, it is important to describe the multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary components of the project. The formation of teams to address the emerging issues is strongly recommended.

  • Faculty capacity to successfully complete the project (10 points)

The researchers listed for the project should be actively involved in the project and have a documented history of research productivity that is appropriate for the research being proposed. The specific role of each faculty member listed on the proposal must be explicitly and clearly described and the component of the project that depends on each faculty member’s effort must be stated. Is the budget appropriate?

  • Contributions to graduate education (10 points)

In support of one of the most broadly identified benchmarks at WSU and in CAHNRS, faculty are encouraged to support Ph.D. graduate students through this program, recognizing that funding beyond one year (up to a maximum of two) is not guaranteed and the faculty member and/or department must be willing to continue the support of the student beyond the duration of ERI support.

  • Separation from currently funded projects.

If the project appears to be a routine continuation, component or supplementation of significant currently funded research, it is not eligible for ERI funding.

Note the following definitions of targeted deliverables:

    • Outputs can be products such as journal publications, web-based information, other publications, presentations, workshops, seminars, or other tangible items, activities, or events
    • Outcomes are new or modified behaviors, practices, or policies in Washington that result largely from the efforts and outputs of a project or program.
    • Impacts are the expected or potential social, economic and/or environmental benefits to specific audiences and the broader society that could be attributed to a project.

Proposal Guidelines

  • The text of the proposal should not exceed six (6) pages, must address each of the evaluation criteria, and must include:
    • Title, lead PI name, department, and contact information; cooperating PI(s) name(s), department(s) and contact information
    • Requested duration
    • Amount requested for the first year and estimate of the funding to be requested in the second year, if applicable
    • Project abstract, including brief description of Emerging Issue(s) being addressed and the research strategy that is proposed. (half page)
    • Problem Statement including rationale and significance of the problem from the perspective of Washington stakeholders. It should be made clear how the research conducted in this project will close existing gaps in our ability to conduct research that addresses an Emerging Issue for Washington’s stakeholders
    • Objectives
    • Research Methodology. Intended outputs must be clearly stated
    • Describe how these results will be critical in positioning the group to successfully obtain extramural funding. A significant part of the evaluation will be to critically evaluate the project leader’s strategy for using these funds as a foundation for obtaining additional competitive funds.
    • Description of the Team and Each Person’s Responsibility
    • Anticipated Competitive Extramural Grant Application(s) that will emerge from this project (agency, program, application deadline)
    • Graduate Student Participation in the project, including the name of the graduate degree program in which the student(s) will enroll. These students may be supported by the project or have other relationships to it.


For a second year of funding, a proposal, which can be identical to the initial proposal, must be submitted at the following year deadline and may be approved, if:

  • satisfactory progress toward the originally proposed objectives is documented in a progress report of four pages or less;
  • applications for significant alternative sources of competitive non-university funds have been submitted through the CAHNRS Office of Research/ARC;
  • it contains a budget for the second year of support that lists the amount received in the first year, first year funds remaining, the amount requested for the second year and a plan for how the second year money would be spent and;
  • adequate funds are available.
  • Appended materials (these are not part of the six-page limit)
    • Progress Report (≤4 pages) and summary of results from previous ERI project(s) (1 page), if applicable.
    • Reference citations from the body of the proposal
    • One- or two-page CV of each faculty member participating in the project as PI or co- PI. (Note: Only two pages of each CV will be sent to the reviewers.)
    • One page detailed budget including a description of any matching or leveraged dollars. Do not include any F&A. All salaries and wages must be included but not benefits. Do not include graduate student tuition. Graduate Students should be paid at the Graduate Research Assistantship levels. Salary and benefits for permanent faculty and staff cannot be paid from the requested funds. Resource use efficiency should be clear in  the Research Methodology and Approach, and in the Extension plan.
    • Completed Assurance Form.
    • Completed Current and Pending Support Form.
    • Discussion of overlap of the proposal with currently funded research.

All proposals must follow the format shown below: Max. Page Length:  Proposal: Six (6) pages or less
Appended Materials: no limit but don’t forget that the interest of reviewers may be limited
Font:                          Times New Roman, 12 pt. or larger
Margins:                    1” margins top, bottom, both sides
Software:                   Microsoft Word (you may also submit a PDF if you anticipate formatting problems.)

Budget in Excel
Exclusions:                Do NOT include any type of header/footer

Submit the proposal electronically to the CAHNRS Office of Research/ARC by 5 PM, October 1, 2014. All proposals must be emailed to ARCGrants@wsu.edu and to kahn@wsu.edu. The staff of the Office of Research/ARC will acknowledge receipt of a readable proposal within one working day after submission.

Review Process:

All proposals will be reviewed by panels that may consist of:
Associate deans, center directors and department chairs (selected based on expertise needed for the panel and without personal conflict of interest)
Representatives from the CAHNRS Agriculture Kitchen Cabinet or industry. Scientists with scientific expertise as needed to complete the panel.



Questions: If you have questions about this RFP, please contact the CAHNRS Office of Research/ARC by email at ARCGrants@wsu.edu or kahn@wsu.edu. If we need to post a FAQ, it will be accessible through the ARC web site [http://arc.wsu.edu/].


All publications, posters, websites, field day presentations, etc. resulting from this internal competitive grant program must include the following information:
“This activity was funded, in part, with an Emerging Research Issues Internal Competitive Grant from the Washington State University, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Agricultural Research Center project WNP00xxx.”

Final Report:

A final report is required for each project at the end of the approved funding period. Appropriate metrics (outputs) should be included in the final report that will be indicative of science-based research that will help achieve longer-term objectives associated with the emerging issues. A list of anticipated publications, field days, website URLs, etc. should be included in the Final Report. Within six months of the completion of the proposal, project leader must provide a copy of a proposal submitted to a competitive funding source or to a corporate sponsor. Additional details concerning reporting will be provided to those receiving awards.

Agricultural Research Center programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported to the WSU Center for Human Rights at chr@wsu.edu and 509-335-8288.


2015 Emerging Research Issues Current and Pending

Assurance Form


Summary of 2014 Awards-here


Summary of 2013 Awards-here


Archived Record of Past Years click here...

Agricultural Research Center, PO Box 646240, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6240, 509-335-4563, Contact Us