FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Vembu Subramanian Ocean Scholars Award

August 23, 2023
In remembrance of Vembu Subramanian – our friend, colleague and the SECOORA Data Manager – we established an award for the next generation of ocean experts to meet others in their field and present their work at meetings or conferences.


SECOORA is continuing Vembu’s legacy by sponsoring the annual Ocean Scholars Award. SECOORA has $2,500 total to support participation in an in-person regional, national, or international meeting or conference. SECOORA anticipates funding 2-3 recipients with the available funds. The maximum individual award value is $1,250 to cover travel and conference/meeting costs. Ideally, we will support at least one person in each funding category (undergraduate and other, see pages 2-3).

Proposals are due Tuesday, October 3, 5:00 PM ET.

Requests for Applications/Proposals

Proposals must follow the required proposal format and be relevant to a SECOORA focus area. Proposals that do not follow the required format will not be evaluated. All proposed activities must be completed within one year of the project start date; however, in the event that the identified meeting or conference is postponed, SECOORA will provide an extension to the award.

Maximum page length is four pages (does not include appendices). Text should be 12-point font, all margins one-inch, and must include the following components:

  • Title Page
    • Proposal title
    • Applicant’s name and complete contact information (email, phone number, mailing address)
    • Advisor name and contact information (i.e., professor supervising work)
    • Proposal summary (one paragraph)
  • Short description of the research to be presented at the meeting or conference
    • Statement of the issue being addressed
    • Project description including research goals, objectives, and location of research sites. At least a portion of the research must be conducted within the SECOORA region.
    • Identification of SECOORA focus area addressed and how the project supports a user/stakeholder need.
  • Description of conference attending
    • Identify the in-person conference you plan to attend plus the conference dates. Provide a brief rationale for presenting your work at the selected conference, and whether your presentation will be an oral presentation or a poster session.
    • Provide a budget and budget justification.
      • Funds may be used for any purpose related to conference attendance and travel. The budget should include items such as conference registration fees, transportation costs (e.g., airfare, mileage), lodging rate, per diem, etc.
      • Please note, University overhead charges are not permitted, nor is any support for the faculty sponsor. Matching funds and in-kind support are not required.

The following are proposal appendices that do NOT count towards the four-page limit:

  • Literature Cited page.
  • Applicants must include a one-page curriculum vitae (CV) or resume.
  • For undergraduate and graduate students, a signed letter of support from their major professor, transcript, and a completed SECOORA endorsement form by the College/University sponsored programs office is required.
  • For the early career applicants, a signed letter of support from their mentor or supervisor is required.


Applicants located within the SECOORA region (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) and who meet either of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

Category 1 – Undergraduate Students

Applicants must 1) reside in and attend an academic institution in the SECOORA region, and 2) be enrolled as an undergraduate student during the Fall 2023 semester.

Category 2: Other (Graduate Students or Early Career Professionals)

Applicants must 1) attend an academic institution in the SECOORA region OR work at an organization in the SECOORA region (if applying as an early career professional), and 2) be a graduate student OR an early career professional (working less than five years from your most recent graduation date). Federal employees are not allowed to submit a proposal.

How to Submit

Please submit the entire application package electronically in PDF format through The submission deadline is 5:00 PM ET, October 3, 2023. You must complete the registration process in order to upload a proposal to This is a two-part verification system (phone and email confirmations are required). Once you have registered, please select the RFP to which you are applying, complete the required fields, and upload your proposal as a PDF.

Application/Proposal Review Process and Terms

  • Proposal package is due by 5:00 PM ET, October 3, 2023 via
  • SECOORA will convene a 3-5 person review panel that includes SECOORA staff and members. The review panel will rank proposals based on their relevance to SECOORA’s mission and stakeholder needs and adherence to the instructions provided in this request for proposals. Review criteria are below:
    1. Relevance and need for conference attendance – 30%
    2. Clear statement of the issue and well written project description – 25%
    3. Alignment with SECOORA Focus Area(s) – 20%
    4. Budget reasonableness – 15%
    5. Proposal follows required format and all appendices are included – 10%
  • Conference attendance must be completed no later than one year after receiving the award.
  • Upon completion, the successful scholar will have to submit a photo of themselves presenting at the meeting/conference. SECOORA will use the photo in a SECOORA news story which will be posted on-line and distributed via our newsletter mailing list.

Award Funding

The successful applicants will be notified no later than November 3, 2023. For graduate and undergraduate student recipients, funds will be distributed by SECOORA to the applicant’s academic institution. The awardee’s major professor must agree to serve as principal investigator on the project and manage the funds on behalf of the student. Funding for early career professionals will be distributed to the applicant as a subcontract from SECOORA.

This is an open and competitive process. SECOORA reserves the right to reject any and all applications/proposals received as a result of this process. SECOORA reserves the right to request that applicants make modifications to proposals at any time before an award is made.

Questions Regarding Application Solicitation

For any questions related to this fellowship, please contact  Good-faith efforts will be made to answer as many questions as possible, but an answer is not guaranteed for every question.


The SECOORA region encompasses Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. This opportunity enables recipients to become familiar with SECOORA’s mission and objectives, US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), and related marine scientific and technological programs.

SECOORA is one of the 11 coastal ocean observing regional associations partnered with the US IOOS. SECOORA sustains and advances coastal and ocean observing, modeling, and data management subsystems for the US southeast coastal and ocean waters. SECOORA supports: maintenance and operation of in-situ real-time ocean moorings and High Frequency (HF) radar observational networks from North Carolina to West Florida; a multi-scale, multi-resolution modeling subsystem that delivers model data and products for coastal resource and emergency response managers and other users; and, has established a robust data management and communications infrastructure. SECOORA is IOOS certified and implements the US IOOS recommended standards that promote interoperability, discovery, efficient data aggregation, access, sharing, visualization, and use of coastal ocean data (physical, chemical, biological and geological). Information products are made available to stakeholders and decision makers via the SECOORA data portal. SECOORA’s website provides a central hub for access to our communication, education, and other content materials, as well as our data, models, and data portal.