SNAP Call for Proposals

The next RFP will be issued in March 2015

Science for Nature and People

Snap Logo


PDF of this SNAP Call for Proposals, 2014

For inquiries email proposal [at]

Overview and Deadlines
Guidelines for Proposals

SNAP is a scientific collaboration by:


Overview and Deadlines

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) was initiated in 1995 to promote synthesis, analysis, and multidisciplinary collaboration directed toward addressing major questions in ecology and allied disciplines. In a new partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – SNAP: Science for Nature and People – the Center seeks projects that use existing data to fill important knowledge gaps and advance solutions to significant problems at the intersection of nature conservation and human well-being. Proposals may require some original modeling, and in rare cases funding may be provided to collect some original data that fill gaps in an otherwise relatively complete picture. Projects must have the potential to generate clear outcomes for improving human well-being and nature conservation, and should examine a geographic scale that can produce generalizable conclusions and/or replicable solutions.

SNAP is a boundary institution — at the boundary between analysis and action. We seek proposals for Working Groups that help answer two overarching questions:

  • †How can conservation actions benefit a critical mass of people today while addressing long-term ecological resilience and sustainability?
  • How can economic development be achieved without irreversible or severe environmental damage?

SNAP is being managed somewhat like a “venture capital” or “catalyst fund” for innovative conservation science.  By that we mean to suggest that prospective applicants work closely with a member of the SNAP Leadership team (see attached contact information for Leadership Team members) to develop a proposal so that it can attract additional funding or investment, and be as integrated as possible with the field programs and global priorities of either The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, or both organizations. The path to funding will be faster and smoother if applicants work with someone on the SNAP Leadership Team at the onset to create the greatest opportunities for their proposal. This model of “venture funding” is a way for SNAP to leverage its capital investment and tackle bigger problems. Think of the SNAP leadership team as your partners, who are interested in obtaining the maximum resources for you and positioning you for success. Because we seek to attract funding to your proposal beyond SNAP capital funds, we will judiciously circulate your proposal to funders other than SNAP. This will be done with the intent of gaining support for your project. If you do not want your proposal circulated to funders other than the SNAP Board, please indicate so when you submit. 

Working Groups should include expertise from both inside and outside of academia and may include, for example, members from government, other conservation organizations, development organizations, and the private sector. A key component of successful proposals is the integral involvement of staff from TNC, WCS, or both, as members of Working Groups; proposals that do not involve these organizations will be returned without review. Involvement of human development organizations is also encouraged.

It is expected that TNC, WCS and their partners will be well positioned to apply the Working Group results to a significant conservation and development problem in a short timeframe. The proposal must outline an implementation strategy that demonstrates the potential for specific, achievable outcomes. This implementation strategy must include some specific steps that the Working Group will take to implement their findings through WCS or TNC conservation programs, or through the broader conservation community. Such an action might include, for example, a pilot test of results at a WCS or TNC field site. Before preparing a full proposal, WCS and TNC staff should vet ideas with SNAP Leadership by contacting Carter Ingram (cingram [at] or Craig Groves (craig_groves [at], respectively. Individuals from other organizations should contact NCEAS Director Frank Davis (proposal [at] Proposals from Principal Investigators (PI) who have not initiated contact prior to submission may not be reviewed.

It is critical that proposed activities take advantage of the Center’s unique resources. NCEAS provides:

  • †An intellectually stimulating environment for scientific collaborations and discovery,
  • Exceptional scientific support and computing facilities,
  • Excellent linkages to a wide array of institutions and organizations dealing with similar issues, including the UC Santa Barbara faculty and campus.

Research Venues — In most circumstances, SNAP synthesis research will be conducted at NCEAS. However in some cases, it may be important for one or more of the Working Group meetings to be held internationally in order to facilitate participation by a wider group of participants and stakeholders and to enhance the likely uptake of findings.

Data Expectations —NCEAS emphasizes the use of existing data and information. Consequently, the Center has a strong commitment to developing the means to locate, access, analyze and make data available broadly and to imbuing scientists and other users with a sense of sharing information. To this end, Working Groups must commit to the highest standards of openness and transparency, and agree to make derived data (data resulting from the Working Group analyses from which the original data cannot be reconstituted) publicly available. Furthermore, researchers are strongly encouraged to document their original data and make these publicly accessible as well. Proposals must include an estimate of the derived data products and timetable for making derived data publicly available. See the NCEAS Data and Information Policy for details.

Proposal Deadlines for Spring 2014

Proposals for SNAP Working Groups must be submitted by May 20, 2014 at 12:00 noon PST at /snap/rfpform. Decisions will be announced by July 10, 2014.

Who Should Apply

Individuals of any nationality, in any institution or governmental agency, may submit a SNAP proposal. Individuals from the private sector are welcome and should consider issues of intellectual property and open access before applying. First-time applicants and professionals from any relevant field or discipline are encouraged to submit a proposal. Proposals may involve activities with partial support from other institutions or agencies.

Guidelines for SNAP Proposals

SNAP proposals are relatively short. YOUR PROPOSAL SHOULD NOT EXCEED 2000 WORDS, excluding cover sheet, citations, references, figures, tables, and budgets. Proposal should include enough information in an effective form to allow for an accurate evaluation. Before submitting your proposal pay careful attention to the guidance in this Call for Proposals so that you provide the information needed for a successful application. Include the following information in your proposal, where applicable. Here are a few helpful links:


Date of Submission

Descriptive Title

Short Title – Two or three words for use as a project name (25 characters max)

Working Group Leaders' Name(s) and Complete Contact Information

TNC or WCS lead(s) and Complete Contact Information (if different from Working Group leaders)

Project Summary – A brief scientific abstract of your project

Proposed Start and End Dates(duration not to exceed 24 month) –  (month/year to month/year)

How You Heard - Indicate how you heard about the SNAP Call for Proposals

Identify when and with whom you vetted this proposal idea (Carter Ingram, Craig Groves, Frank Davis, others on the SNAP Leadership Team) prior to submission

Under Consideration Elsewhere? -Is this proposal (or a closely aligned proposal) under consideration elsewhere? If so, please briefly describe the circumstances


Problem Statement – Clear and concise statement of what is to be done, why it is important, and how it will be accomplished. Include an explicit statement of how results and products will be applied to an existing problem and who the intended audiences are for this work. Ensure that the problems that are being addressed are tractable – that is, the data and information needed to address these problems through analyses exist and are available to Working Group members.  Indicate what success would be for your project, as well as who represents that target audience or clients for your project, and who would be the likely investors.  Unlike a traditional science proposal, think of the problem statement as something that might be shown to investors to interest them in funding the project as a start-up to a conservation enterprise that needs science input at the outset. 

Proposed Activities – Brief description of data sources, methods, and why they are appropriate.   In this section provide a brief competitive analysis of others pursuing similar activities or research, as well as a discussion of your confidence that the data necessary for the enterprise are available and from where the data can be obtained. 

Names of Participants  and institutions with which Working Group members are associated

  • Indicate whether participants are confirmed
  • Identify a technical liaison for NCEAS computing staff – This individual will work with NCEAS staff to define group computing needs and to help address the goals and requirements of the NCEAS Data and Information Policy (/datapolicy). This could be a Working Group Leader or another project participant.

Timetable of Activities

Anticipated results and benefits –  – Include the plan for applying the results to an existing problem at the nexus of nature conservation[1] and human well-being, as well as descriptions of anticipated data and software products. Applicants are encouraged to provide indication of how target audiences will implement anticipated results or how products of Working Groups will be field-tested by TNC, WCS, or other conservation organizations and will lead to conservation and human well- being outcomes.  In this section expand on what success represents for your project, and who you expect to be most interested in the results.

Project cost sharing: Summarize other sources and amounts of project support (details can be provided in the budget section below).

Literature Cited


Formatting and Submission Instructions

Proposals can be submitted at /snap/rfpform. Proposals must be uploaded as a PDF file. Information to be included in the cover sheet and body of the proposal is provided in the table above. The body of the proposal should not exceed 2000 words (excluding cover sheet, citations, references, figures, tables, and budgets). Proposals longer than 2000 words may not be reviewed. The body of the proposal should follow the cover sheet. Proposals should be submitted as a single document formatted to standard letter size (8.5” W by 11” L) with cover sheet and graphics embedded directly in the document. Do not submit compressed collections of files, such as .ZIP files.

If you have difficulties submitting your proposal please email proposal [at] or call (805) 892-2500 with the first PI’s name and proposal title and someone will follow-up with you shortly. Please contact proposal [at] for extenuating circumstances that would prevent you from submitting your proposal by the deadline.

For answers to questions not addressed on this Call for Proposals, please email proposal [at], visit the SNAP or NCEAS websites, or call (805) 892-2500.

Financial Information

Proposals should include an estimated budget, which can be prepared using the budget worksheet provided (pc) (mac). The budget should include meeting participant costs, and other miscellaneous costs:

  • Participant costs for meetings at NCEAS include reimbursement for actual travel, lodging and per diem expenses. The budget worksheet provided (pc) (mac) will assist in making estimates for these participant costs. For meetings at other sites, please estimate participant and any other costs using a similar format;
  • No salary support for participants is typically provided; however, if the work would substantially benefit from the provision of salary support for WCS or TNC participants, PIs should briefly outline the needs and also the commitments that WCS or TNC has already made to such support, if any. If a student research assistant or postdoctoral-level researcher is requested for the project, describe their essential role and responsibilities as part of the budget justification. This individual will ordinarily be located at NCEAS;
  • Miscellaneous costs include other essential expenses that cannot be covered with other resources such as communications or data purchases. In general, we will not pay for computing equipment, research equipment, or field supplies.

A brief budget justification should be included for any costs except for participant costs associated with meetings at NCEAS. Please note that you should not include any overhead or indirect costs in your budget.

The typical funding range for working group proposals will be: $150,000 - $250,000 in terms of the funding request from SNAP. As noted elsewhere, proposals that include funding from additional sources are strongly encouraged. Any proposal that intends to submit a budget request greater than $300,000 must discuss this in advance with a member of the SNAP Leadership Team. 

Proposal Review Process

Proposals are evaluated for their scientific merit, novel approaches, and adherence to priorities described in the Call for Proposals. Specific criteria on which proposals will be judged include but may not be limited to:

•       Significant conservation problem

•       Scientifically interesting

•       Open to “incubation” with Leadership Team

•       Strong and diverse Working Group

•       Multiple sources of funding

•       Conservation and human well-being outcomes

•       Clear pathway to implementation

•       Significant knowledge gap

•       Alignment with joint organizational priorities

The SNAP Leadership Team reviews proposals and makes recommendations to the SNAP Governing Board regarding which proposals to support. The Leadership team may solicit ad hoc reviewers to assist in their review as subject matters demands. The Governing Board makes the final decisions about which proposals to support. Proposal PIs will be informed of the funding decision and provided a brief written review of their proposal within 6 weeks of the submission date.

Proposals that are clearly inappropriate for this program (e.g., those requesting overhead, funds to be spent at the investigator's home institution, funds intended to support new data collection, or otherwise non-responsive to the priorities outlined in this RFP, etc.) will not be reviewed.

Working Groups Description

  • †Groups of up to 20 scientists work at NCEAS for a few days to a few weeks (generally smaller groups and longer stays are most effective), concentrating on specific issues that require in depth analysis of data and synthesis of ideas. Each Working Group typically meets 1-3 times a year.
  • † It has been the experience at the Center that working groups of 15 or fewer individuals meeting for at least 5 days are the most productive. Thus, we STRONGLY suggest that applicants consider these thresholds.
  • †Working Groups should be interdisciplinary and include expertise from both inside and outside of academia. Groups should integrally involve staff from TNC, WCS, or both, throughout the process.
  • †Working Group proposals must designate at least one participant with considerable analytical expertise who will serve as the liaison with the NCEAS technical staff.
  • †Working Groups should also identify one or more participants whom will be responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the NCEAS Data and Information Policy are met.
  • †It is expected that all Working Groups will involve a diverse group of participants, including a substantial proportion of women and members of under-represented communities.
  • †Successful Working Groups typically involve a mixture of senior and junior colleagues (e.g. postdocs and graduate students), all of who make significant intellectual contributions to the work. 
  • An analysis of NCEAS Working Group productivity was published in: Hampton, S.E., and J.N. Parker. 2011. Collaboration and productivity in scientific synthesis. BioScience 61: 900-910.


The Role of NCEAS

NCEAS administrative staff works with Working Group leaders and members to schedule meetings, plan travel to and from the Center, make local hotel arrangements, and provide logistical assistance during meetings in Santa Barbara, CA. NCEAS staff is also available to help coordinate Working Group meetings outside of Santa Barbara as needed.

NCEAS technical staff consults with Working Group leaders prior to meetings to discuss computing needs and to help resolve data acquisition and data management issues. Computing staff provides advice on scientific computing, data analysis, and visualization. The Center also provides online collaborative services (e.g., a password-protected intranet for the Working Group) and general IT support. Areas of staff expertise include statistical analysis and experimental design, programming in a variety of 3GL and 4GL languages, server and desktop computer hardware and software support, database design and implementation, and data management.

Working Group visitors to NCEAS have access to advanced PC, Macintosh, and Linux workstations running a broad range of software for accomplishing all phases of data analysis. High performance computing is available for memory- and/or processor-intensive modeling, statistical, visualization, and data management projects.

NCEAS has a conference room with additional space for breakout groups. The conference room is equipped with LCD projectors, white boards, printers, as well as Ethernet and wireless Internet access. Our lounge serves as an informal breakout space and is also used for receptions, seminars and other events.

Working Groups have ample opportunity to interact with researchers in residence at NCEAS including Postdoctoral and Center Associates. See the NCEAS directory for a list of current residents.


[1] Nature conservation can refer to either biodiversity conservation efforts directly (including matters related to composition, structure, and function of ecosystems) or to addressing broader issues of conservation concern that are more problem oriented (e.g., climate change, land use change, sustainable fisheries, sustainable energy development, mitigation, biodiversity offsets, green growth, illegal trade in wildlife, and other conservation priorities of TNC and WCS).