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C-DEBI Request for Research Proposals

The next call will be our first in Phase 2
to be posted 12/1/15
with a submission deadline of 1/31/16

Review the Renewal Proposal for details on the shift in research themes in C-DEBI Phase 2.

C-DEBI values a diverse research environment and encourages proposals
from applicants who would help to improve diversity in C-DEBI and STEM fields.

[PDF version of the January 2015 C-DEBI Special Research RFP]

The NSF Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) invites proposals for one-year projects that will significantly advance our central research agenda—to investigate the subseafloor biosphere deep in sediments and the crust. C-DEBI intends to fund 2-3 proposals in response to this call, up to $100,000 each.

C-DEBI has a deep appreciation of the specific challenges that accompany microbiological investigations and the study of biogeochemical processes in the deep subsurface, and encourages research that addresses these challenges through approaches such as timely analyses of perishable samples, experiments with live samples, refining or adapting difficult techniques, or applying well-established methods to the analysis of substantial sample sets. C-DEBI also encourages basic research on biogeochemical processes that will lead to better understanding of subsurface microbial activities, and marine hydrogeological studies performed in the context of C-DEBI research themes.

Parameters for this Special Proposal Call

Proposals will be considered for research on subseafloor samples, participation on upcoming expeditions (including C-DEBI field programs, IODP expeditions and other field opportunities relevant to C-DEBI objectives), and shore-based investigations. Proposed research can also focus on theoretical and experimental deep biosphere studies in a broader sense, which might include, for example, testing novel techniques for deep biosphere research, lab-based experiments with deep biosphere organisms, model development, and metabolic studies of growth under deep subsurface conditions. Fundamental studies of microbial metabolism that can be applied to subsurface conditions will also be considered. In this call, we especially encourage proposals with one of the following foci:

  1. Synthesis and integration of datasets that link microbiological processes to environmental conditions. A primary goal should be to provide insight into microbial activity, connectivity, limits, evolution, or survival in deep subseafloor ecosystems.
  2. Analysis of or experimentation with samples from a recent or upcoming field program with clear C-DEBI research objectives (e.g., North Pond cruise April 2014, Juan de Fuca Ridge flank cruise in August 2014, Guaymas Basin cruise in October 2014, Dorado Outcrop cruise in November 2014, North Atlantic long-coring expedition in October-December 2014, new site surveys in preparation of subsequent drilling).

Successful proposals will clearly articulate the relevance of proposed research for C-DEBI research themes and/or major programs (where applicable), indicate sources of samples (where necessary), and describe the qualifications of the applicant(s). See the Review Process section below for additional review details.

Applicants who wish to use samples or data from IODP expeditions or C-DEBI field programs must ensure that their proposed projects do not conflict with existing expedition-related projects (e.g., shipboard scientists’ projects). Proponents should resolve this issue by contacting expedition co-chiefs and shipboard scientists before they submit their proposals. In this respect, it should be noted that receiving research support from C-DEBI does not guarantee access to samples or data that are not available to the community at large. A moratorium period of one year is granted to members of the expedition science party to conduct drilling project-related research before core samples and data are made available to the general scientific community. Applicants for C-DEBI support are responsible for securing access to all samples and data needed to complete proposed work, and should provide evidence of access to the samples in the proposal, if appropriate by submitting our IODP Sample and Data Access Form. For the IODP Sample, Data and Obligations Policy and other sample and data access information, visit

Application and Submission

Proposals should include an institutional letter of intent, a short project summary of 200 words maximum written for a broad audience, a project description of not more than 5 pages (font size not smaller than 11 points), a bibliographic reference section, a detailed budget and budget justification including institutional overhead, NSF-style 2-page CVs of all participating researchers, and our IODP Sample and Data Access Form (if applicable). Please submit your proposal via our online submission form.

This call is closed.

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by the C-DEBI Executive Committee. Only proposals that are relevant to C-DEBI research themes and that are rated highly under scientific criteria are likely contenders for funding. We anticipate making decisions on funding by February 15, 2015 for successful proposals to start April 1, 2015.  See details in our Grants Programs FAQs.

Contact Information

Questions regarding proposal submissions can be addressed to:
Rosalynn Sylvan (, C-DEBI Managing Director

> Read our Grants Programs FAQs to understand how C-DEBI proposals are reviewed and more!
> What research projects have been funded?


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