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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Fall 2012 EPA Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships For Graduate Environmental Study

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: (See Section I.D. for descriptions)

NUMBER

TOPIC TITLE

EPA-F2012-STAR-A1

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Environmental Entrepreneurship (A1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-A2

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Information Science (A2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-A3

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Social Sciences (A3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B1

Air, Climate & Energy: Clean Air (B1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B2

Air, Climate & Energy: Global Change (B2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B3

Air, Climate & Energy: Green Energy/Natural Resources Production & Use (B3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C1

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Green Engineering/Building/Chemical Products & Processes/Materials Development  (C1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C2

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Nanotechnology (C2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C3

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Pesticides and Toxic Substances (C3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-D1

Human Health Risk Assessment: Public Health (D1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-D2

Human Health Risk Assessment: Risk Assessment and Risk Management (D2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E1

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Drinking Water (E1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E2

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Coastal and Estuarine Processes (E2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E3

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Hydrogeology and Surface Water (E3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F1

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Aquatic Systems Ecology (F1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F2

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Animal Ecology (F2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F3

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Soil and Plant Ecology (F3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F4

Safe and Healthy Communities: Built Environment and Land Use/ Protection (F4)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F5

Safe and Healthy Communities: Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communities (F5)

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.514

Solicitation Opening Date: September 14, 2011
Solicitation Closing Date: November 8, 2011
Solicitation Closing Time: 4:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) to receive paper applications.
11:59:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) for electronic submission through Grants.gov.
11:59:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) for email submission of All Letters of Recommendation.

Technical Contact: Brandon Jones
Eligibility Contact: James Gentry
Electronic Email Submissions: Todd Peterson

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas/Topics of Interest
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
B. Content and Form of Application Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. External Peer Review
B. Internal Programmatic Review
C. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access STAR Fellowship Application Package and Forms (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)
View research awarded under previous solicitations (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is offering Graduate Fellowships for master’s and doctoral level students in environmental fields of study. The deadline is November 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM ET for receipt of paper applications, and November 8, 2011 at 11:59:59 PM ET for submittal of electronic applications via Grants.gov. Subject to availability of funding and other applicable considerations, the Agency plans to award approximately 80 new fellowships by July 31, 2012. Master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years, usable over a period of five years. The fellowship program provides up to $42,000 per year of support per fellowship.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Fellowship
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 80 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $4.5 million for all awards
Potential Funding per Fellowship: $42,000 per year per fellowship. Master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years for a total of up to $84,000. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years for a total of up to $126,000, usable over a period of five years. Cost sharing is not required.  Eligible applicants as defined in Section III below, including those attending institutions with significant minority enrollment, are particularly encouraged to apply.  Examples of such institutions include Accredited Postsecondary Minority Serving Institutions as defined in 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1061; 20 U.S.C. Secs. 1059(c) and 1059g(a)(2); and 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1101a(a)(5). 

If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 1, 2012 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 31, 2012, for the fall term. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. The earliest anticipated start date for these awards is September 1, 2012.

Eligibility Information:

  1. Students must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories) for their graduate studies.
  2. Applicants must also be citizens of the U.S. or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application (you must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity). EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.

Application Materials:
The following application materials must be submitted:

    Item 1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 (for electronic submissions via Grants.gov) or Standard Form (SF) 424 I-Individual (for paper submissions)

    Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)

    Item 3. Front Page

    Item 4. Personal Statement

    Item 5. Proposal Description

    Item 6. Background Information:

      Education & Relevant Experiences
      Publications & Presentations
      Course Work

    Item 7. Letters of Recommendation (sent by referees)

You may submit only one application under this announcement, which means you can only submit an application under one Funding Opportunity Number (FON) as described below.  In instances where more than one application is submitted, EPA will contact the applicant to determine which application(s) will be withdrawn.

You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application via Grants.gov but not both for this announcement (electronic applications are encouraged). The necessary forms for submitting a STAR Fellowship paper application can be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the application package available at Grants.gov (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). See Section IV for further information on application submission procedures.

Agency Contacts:
Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the "Guidance & FAQs." If your question is not covered, then send a query to the contact us page. You will receive a personal response through a return email. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than those indicated below may not be accurate.

Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Technical Contact: Brandon Jones
Eligibility Contact: James Gentry
Electronic Email Submissions: Todd Peterson

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites applications for the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships for graduate environmental study for master’s and doctoral level students. The deadline is November 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM ET for receipt of paper applications, and November 8, 2011 at 11:59:59 PM ET for submittal of electronic applications via Grants.gov. Subject to availability of funding and other applicable considerations, the Agency plans to award approximately 80 new fellowships by July 31, 2012. Master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years, usable over a period of five years. The fellowship program provides up to $42,000 per year of support per fellowship. This amount covers a monthly stipend of $2,083 for up to 12 months totaling $25,000 for the year, $5,000 for authorized expenses, and up to $12,000 for tuition and fees. The actual amount awarded per year will vary depending on the amount of tuition and fees and the number of months the stipend is required. These fellowships are intended to help defray costs associated with advanced, environmentally-oriented study leading to a master's or doctoral degree.

Eligible applicants as defined in Section III below, including those attending Accredited Postsecondary Minority Serving Institutions, as defined in 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1061; 20 U.S.C. Secs. 1059(c) and 1059g(a)(2); and 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1101a(a)(5), are encouraged to apply. . 

This solicitation contains one important change from the previous year’s solicitation. The topic areas have been re-arranged according to the Office of Research and Development’s new suite of integrated, trans-disciplinary research programs organized around the sustainability paradigm, including Air, Climate & Energy, Chemical Safety for Sustainability, Human Health Risk Assessment, Safe and Sustainable Water Resources, and Safe and Healthy Communities.

B. Background
The STAR Fellowship program was initiated in 1995. Approximately 1,600 STAR fellowships have been awarded since the inception of the program. The U.S. is projected to have considerable human resource needs in the science, engineering, and policy fields (Jackson 2002, National Research Council 2007). The STAR Fellowship program is part of the national effort to help meet those workforce needs, especially in the environmental arena (US EPA 2003). The goal of the fellowship program is to encourage promising students to obtain advanced degrees and pursue careers in an environmental field. This goal is consistent with the mission of EPA, which is to provide leadership in the nation’s environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, preservation, pollution prevention and sustainability efforts.  The STAR Fellowship program has proven to be beneficial to both the public and private sectors by providing a steady stream of well‑trained environmental specialists to meet society’s environmental challenges (National Research Council 2003). It has also provided new environmental research in engineering and in the physical, biological, health, and social sciences.

The specific Strategic Goals and Objectives from the EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are:

    Goal 3: Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development, Objective 3.1: Promote Sustainable and Livable Communities.

The EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan can be found at:
http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/strategicplan.html/

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r; Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403; Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C. 1254; and Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6981.

For fellowships with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102 (2)(F).

Applicable Regulation: 40 CFR Part 46 (Fellowships)

D. Specific Areas/Topics of Interest
This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits applications from students to perform graduate level investigation towards protecting human health and the environment.

Applications are welcomed from students studying any academic discipline to the extent that the particular topic of proposed research is related to EPA’s mission. This includes students studying in ecology, economics, engineering, modeling, the health sciences, physical sciences, earth sciences, exposure sciences, social sciences, informational sciences, mathematical and computer sciences, and environmental sciences. Applications are also welcomed from students who have not traditionally participated in environmental conversations or research, including those that attend Minority Academic Institutions (MAIs).

The mission of the EPA STAR Fellowships Program is to help ensure that the U.S. meets its current and projected human resource needs in the environmental science, engineering, and policy fields. Thus, the EPA is looking to fund students at the graduate level who are committed to meeting the challenges of today and the next generation by pursuing a career related to protecting human health and the environment. Proposals may come from students in traditional and interdisciplinary academic disciplines; from students studying in emerging fields that will require increased human capacity such as in the social and exposure sciences; from students utilizing multidisciplinary approaches and/or addressing multiple media; and, in areas which focus on environmental justice, environmental education, community-based participation, and/or environmental decision-making.

Selected candidates will have identified skills, achievements, and potential in consort with the STAR Fellowship program’s strategic goals: bolstering the environmental generation of tomorrow, bridging to diverse communities, and boosting excellent research & development that advance the protection of human health and the environment through education. Candidates will be evaluated for their demonstrated commitment to an environmental career, for their potential for success in the proposed area of inquiry, and for their proposal’s potential to have broader societal impacts. More specific information on the evaluation criteria are found in Section V.

This RFA solicits applications from students performing investigations in a variety of environmentally-related research topics which are described below. By providing financial support across disciplines, EPA expects to continue to assist in increasing the nation’s environmental workforce and ability to produce leading edge environmental research, and in advancing the nation’s environmental research and development enterprise (Executive Office of the President 2011).

Funding Opportunity Numbers (FON)/Topics

EPA will select students whose projects meet high standards of scientific excellence and creativity, have the potential to broaden the academic frontiers of protecting human health and the environment today and in the next generation, and fall within the purview of EPA’s authorizing statutes (see Section I.C. “Authority and Regulations” for more details).

Thus, EPA seeks to fund projects that address protection of human health and the environment from a wide variety of perspectives and approaches, focusing on the purposes of pollution prevention and/or control.

In order to assist EPA staff in the review and funding processes, applications must identify a single topic and corresponding Funding Opportunity Number (FON) that is appropriately related to the proposed area of inquiry. The review assignments will be made based on the one FON that you indicate in your application. If your application seems to fit under more than one topic/FON, you still must choose a single topic/FON for purposes of submission. Your application can be submitted to one, and only one, FON.  In instances where more than one application is submitted, EPA will contact the applicant to determine which application(s) will be withdrawn.   EPA staff will not assist in identifying a topic/FON.  Applicants should review the relevant authorizing statutes listed in Section I.C.  Additionally, see the glossary of statutes prior to the descriptions.

Note: Your planned course of study/project should focus on one of the following topics of environmental significance and your application should describe the relationship of the topic area to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.  
The applicant’s project must focus on activities within the statutory terms of EPA’s financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed in Section I.C above.  Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control depending on which statute(s) is listed above.  These activities should relate to the gathering or transferring of information or advancing the state of knowledge.  Proposals should emphasize this “learning” concept, as opposed to “fixing” an environmental problem via a well-established method.  Proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term “environment” such as recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., must describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

STAR GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP TOPICS and FUNDING OPPORTUNITY NUMBERS (FON)

NUMBER

TOPIC TITLE

EPA-F2012-STAR-A1

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Environmental Entrepreneurship (A1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-A2

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Information Science (A2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-A3

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Social Sciences (A3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B1

Air, Climate & Energy: Clean Air (B1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B2

Air, Climate & Energy: Global Change (B2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-B3

Air, Climate & Energy: Green Energy/Natural Resources Production & Use (B3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C1

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Green Engineering/Building/Chemical Products & Processes/Materials Development  (C1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C2

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Nanotechnology (C2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-C3

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Pesticides and Toxic Substances (C3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-D1

Human Health Risk Assessment: Public Health (D1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-D2

Human Health Risk Assessment: Risk Assessment and Risk Management (D2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E1

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Drinking Water (E1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E2

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Coastal and Estuarine Processes (E2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-E3

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Hydrogeology and Surface Water (E3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F1

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Aquatic Systems Ecology (F1)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F2

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Animal Ecology (F2)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F3

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Soil and Plant Ecology (F3)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F4

Safe and Healthy Communities: Built Environment and Land Use/ Protection (F4)

EPA-F2012-STAR-F5

Safe and Healthy Communities: Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communities (F5)

All projects should describe the relationship of these topic areas to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

Glossary of Statutes
CWA Clean Water Act
CAA Clean Air Act
FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act
SWDA Solid Waste Disposal Act
TSCA Toxic Substances Control Act
SDWA Safe Drinking Water Act

In general, EPA aims to support research and demonstration projects that will seek sustainable solutions that protect the environment, strengthen our communities and foster prosperity. Sustainability is defined by the Brundtland Commission (WECD, 1987) as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," and by the President’s Council on Sustainable Development as “…an evolving process that improves the economy, the environment, and society for the benefit of current and future generations.”

A sustainable approach is a systems-based approach that seeks to understand the interactions which exist among the three pillars of sustainability (environment, society, and economy) in an effort to better understand the consequences of our actions. Investigations and study that seek sustainable solutions protects the environment, strengthens our communities and fosters prosperity.

  1. EMERGING ENVIRONMENTAL APPROACHES & CHALLENGES (A)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-A1: ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (A1)

    Applications in this category are for interests in and investigations at the intersection of sustainability and innovative technology development and utilization. More specifically, this category is for applicants whose graduate environmental study and/or project have an entrepreneurial component involving the identification, development, and demonstration of innovative environmental technologies, methods, or management approaches. Innovation is the process of making changes; a new method, custom or device.  Innovation can take the form of wholly new applications or applications that build on existing knowledge and approaches for new uses. Game-changing innovations are of special interest.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, research on the following: using “open innovation” R&D practices to identify and create green technologies; demonstrating technologies built on green engineering principles that can help solve environmental problems; developing and utilizing green technologies in the BRIC countries--Brazil, Russia, India, and China; exploring the entrepreneurship aspects of increasing the sustainability of recycling in the United States and developing countries; investigating how policy and non-federal regulatory approaches increase the demand for innovative environmental technologies, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-A2: INFORMATION SCIENCE (A2)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of processing environmental information to enhance decision making for pollution prevention and/or control. Proposals in this topic focus on facilitating environmental research and management by developing ways to access and/or integrate databases of environmental information, and developing new algorithms enabling different environmental datasets to be combined to test environmental hypotheses.

    Projects may include applying informatics to environmental health, public health, ecosystem services, and/or environmental economics; broadening environmental decision-making and policy-development at the State, Local, and/or Tribal levels by using more expansive information processing techniques; engineering newer informational systems and technologies for environmental protection, etc.

    Note: Proposals related to American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities and/or Tribes may also be well suited for the Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communities FON/Topic (F5).

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-A3: SOCIAL SCIENCES (A3)
    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on enhancing the integrated use of the natural and social sciences into emerging trans-disciplinary environmental research as well as to examine concepts of environmentalism, environmental decision-making, and environmental governance (e.g. ecosystem-based management, social-ecological systems, coupling social and natural systems). Proposals in this topic focus on identifying and expanding the importance of social and cultural dimensions in the protection of the environment and human health.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, bringing theories and methods of social sciences to subject areas such as environmentalism, environmental justice, environmental health, ecosystem services, air and water quality, land use, pollution prevention, risk assessment and/or risk management; broadening environmental decision-making schemes using more expansive social theories and methods to develop models, outputs, and interventions that protect human health and the environment; investigating social and cultural factors to gain more comprehensive understandings of the impacts of social indicators (e.g. understandings, behaviors or actions) for the protection of the environment and human health; etc.

    Note: Proposals related to American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities and/or Tribes may also be well suited for the Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communities FON/Topic (F5).

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

  2.  

  3. AIR, CLIMATE & ENERGY (B)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-B1: CLEAN AIR (B1)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of air quality and pollution. Proposals in this topic focus on air pollution assessment, monitoring, transport, transformation, control, management, and modeling.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, studying secondary formation of air pollutants, spatial temporal heterogeneity of particulate matter (PM) size fractions and components, studying the atmospheric science of air pollution mixtures, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-B2: GLOBAL CHANGE (B2)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of global change, particularly climate variability and change in the U.S. Proposals in this topic focus on global change impacts and mitigation of these impacts on air quality, water quality, ecosystems, human health, and socio-economic systems.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, examining the impacts of global climate change on air quality, water quality, aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems, or human health; adapting air or water quality management systems or decision support tools to respond to risks posed by climate change; understanding the environmental consequences of potential climate mitigation strategies, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-B3: GREEN ENERGY/NATURAL RESOURCES PRODUCTION & USE (B3) (focusing on multimedia pollution prevention; includes resource extraction)

    Applications in this category are for interests in and investigations on the science and engineering of sustainability as they pertain to green energy production or the extraction and use of natural resources. Proposals in this topic focus on 1) the benefits and impacts of green energy production on air quality, water quality, ecosystems, human health, and socio-economic systems, or 2) the impacts of natural resource extraction and use on air quality, water quality, ecosystems, human health, and socio-economic systems.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, examining the links between green energy or natural resource production and use and air quality, water quality, aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems, or human health.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, SDWA, SWDA

  4.  

  5. CHEMICAL SAFETY FOR SUSTAINABILITY (C)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-C1: GREEN ENGINEERING/CHEMICAL PRODUCTS & PROCESSES/MATERIALS DEVELOPMENT (C1)

    Applications in this category are for interests in and investigations on the science and engineering of sustainability as it pertains to green engineering, green chemistry, and green materials. Proposals in this topic focus on the design and analysis of chemicals, materials, products, or systems.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, green synthesis; evaluating use of post-consumer or post-industrial recycled materials for new chemicals, materials, or products; examining life cycle assessment and other materials systems analyses; applying biometric approaches to material, product, or process design, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-C2: NANOTECHNOLOGY (C2)

    Applications in this topic are for interests and investigations on engineered/manufactured nanomaterials. Proposals in this topic focus on how engineered/manufactured nanomaterials (including nano-bio and other emerging compounds) may be used to advance pollution prevention/remediation, and understanding material life cycles such that the impact of these materials can be accurately and rapidly assessed.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to applying green chemistry and engineering to nanomaterial synthesis; exploring how nanomaterials can be used effectively to clean up contaminants released into the environment; investigating unique exposure pathways associated with nanomaterials; conducting a life cycle analysis on a particular class of nanomaterials, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

     

    EPA-F2012-STAR-C3: PESTICIDES and TOXIC SUBSTANCES (C3)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of understanding (e.g. toxicity), reducing, and/or preventing risks to humans, wildlife, and non-target plants from exposures to contaminants and groups of contaminants. Proposals in this topic focus on the use of molecular tools, pesticides, toxic chemicals, emerging environmental contaminants (e.g. endocrine disrupting chemicals, and pharmaceuticals in the environment), and products of biotechnology (e.g. genetically engineered agents).

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, searching for pesticides and/or chemicals which are safer for humans and non-target organisms; developing screening and monitoring techniques used to detect toxic chemicals and/or quantifying the effects of toxic chemicals and chemical mixtures in the environment, including computational toxicology; providing new insights into how pesticides or environmental contaminants may affect wildlife or human populations; understanding the toxicology of environmental contaminants, and developing techniques and tools to predict hazards of environmental contaminants, etc.

    Note: Nanotechnology related proposals may be well suited for the Nanotechnology FON/Topic (C2).

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

  6.  

  7. HUMAN HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT (D)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of human health risk assessment, including understanding exposures and health effects that can lead to protection of human health. Proposals in this topic focus on advancing the field of risk assessment, including cumulative risk research; community-based risk assessment research; exposure assessment; susceptible subpopulations and lifestages research; and tools for risk management decisions.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, studying exposures and health effects of environmental contaminants (especially unique exposures from cultural practices, unique geographic regions, or environmental justice communities) and cumulative risks posed by exposure to mixtures of contaminants (and/or a combination of chemical, physical, biological and social/psycho-social stressors); providing new insights into how environmental contaminants may affect vulnerable populations (e.g., children and older adults) and susceptible populations that are at high risk of suffering the adverse effects of environmental factors (e.g., minority, low-income and indigenous populations, populations with pre-existing medical conditions, populations that are linguistically isolated, etc.); what key factors impact exposures of  these subpopulations; developing and evaluating novel exposure assessment tools (e.g., methods, models); evaluating alternative exposure metrics in epidemiologic studies; evaluating the effectiveness of State, Local, and/or Tribal policy, regulatory and risk communication actions to reduce health risks resulting from exposure to environmental contaminants; applying health impact assessment on State, Local, and/or Tribal policy  policies, projects or programs dealing with environmental health issues, etc.

    Subtopics—applicants to this topic area must choose one of the subtopics below:

    EPA-F2012-STAR-D1: PUBLIC HEALTH (D1)
    (e.g. environmental epidemiology, biostatistics, human exposure, health economics, health physics, health impact assessments, etc.)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-D2: RISK ASSESSMENT & RISK MANAGEMENT (D2)
    (e.g., cumulative risk research; community-based risk assessment; exposure assessment; susceptible subpopulations and lifestages research; tools for risk management decisions; intervention strategies; environmental health communications and education; environmental justice, etc.)

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

  8.  

  9. SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES (E)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-E1: DRINKING WATER (E1)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of drinking water quality. Proposals in this topic focus on protecting drinking water sources, producing and distributing safe drinking water, managing health risks associated with exposure to waterborne contaminants, and promoting the safety and sustainability of water resources and water infrastructure.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, developing assessment tools to characterize the occurrence of waterborne contaminants in drinking water supplies and quantify the extent of exposure from drinking these sources; adapting management and monitoring strategies to protect surface and ground water sources of drinking water; developing treatment technologies and/or understanding their efficacy; characterizing microbial ecology within distribution systems, etc.

    Authorizing statutes: SDWA, CWA

     

    WATER QUALITY (E2, E3)

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of water quality. Proposals in this topic focus on assessing, protecting, and restoring surface and ground water quality, aquatic ecosystems, watershed management, and source control management.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, developing better tools and technologies for assessing, monitoring and managing the impacts of nonpoint source pollution; developing approaches, tools, technologies, and models to characterize and manage the combined effects of multiple stressors on aquatic life and water quality; studying harmful algal blooms; adapting management strategies to assess surface and ground water quality; determining causes of impairments; developing sustainable and innovative tools to manage, restore, and protect these resources, etc.

    Subtopics—applicants to this Water Quality topic area must choose one of the subtopics below:

    EPA-F2012-STAR-E2: COASTAL and ESTUARINE PROCESSES (E2)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-E3: HYDROGEOLOGY and SURFACE WATER (E3)

    Authorizing statutes: CWA, SWDA, SDWA

  10.  

  11. SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES (F)

    ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

    Applications in this topic are for interests in and investigations on the science of understanding, protecting, and restoring ecosystems. Proposals in this topic focus on improving knowledge to protect and restore the ecosystem services that are important for supporting humans and all organisms, such as clean air; clean water; and unpolluted, fertile soil which can aid in waste composition, water filtration and degradation of environmental contaminants. This includes developing data, methods, models, and tools needed by states, communities, and tribes to understand the cost and benefits of using ecosystem services, as well as, developing the underlying science for the characterization, quantification, and valuation of ecosystems services as responses to and/or regulators of environmental exposures to humans and ecosystems.

    Projects may include, but are not limited to, ecosystem restoration from pollution, landscape ecology for pollution prevention, studying pollutant effects on plants, animals and/or habitats, furthering knowledge on ecosystem services valuation (including but not limited to monetization), exposure scenario construction, model formulation and/or mapping for ecosystems services and their responses, and multimedia fate and transport models for exposures to the full range of stressors that interact with ecosystems services, etc.

    Subtopics—applicants to the Ecosystem Services topic area must choose one of the subtopics below:

    EPA-F2012-STAR-F1: AQUATIC SYSTEMS ECOLOGY (F1) (focusing on freshwater endpoints)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-F2: TERRESTRIAL SYSTEMS ANIMAL ECOLOGY (F2) (limited to pollution effects on animals or habitat)

    EPA-F2012-STAR-F3: TERRESTRIAL SYSTEMS SOILS and PLANT ECOLOGY (F3) (limited to soils and plants that can serve as a media for contaminant transport)

    Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

EPA-F2012-STAR-F4: BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND LAND USE/PROTECTION (F4)

Applications in this category are for interests in and investigations on the science and engineering of sustainability as it pertains to the built environment, protecting the nation's land, and protecting public health from exposure to land-based contaminants, particularly solid waste. Proposals in this topic focus on strategies for waste  and contaminant management, treatment, and reduction; extractive industries and land protection; landfills and leach testing for material reuse; and, protection through urban and regional planning.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, developing technologies or analyses that enable multi-media pollution prevention of agricultural processes and practices; developing sustainability metrics and indicators that inform regional or industrial decision-making; green buildings; developing more cost-effective tools, technologies, models, and methods related to land preservation and solid waste collection, disposal, and management; studying effects of sediment dredging on biota and contaminant re-suspension; developing effective modeling and sampling methods to reduce uncertainty in analysis of vapor intrusion from land-based contamination and solid waste into homes and buildings; developing modeling tools such as GIS to assist urban and regional planners in protecting land from pollution; reducing uncertainty in modeling of (land based) oil spill fate and effects, etc.

Authorizing statutes: SWDA, SDWA, CAA, CWA

Please note that projects falling only under the purview of CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act - Superfund) cannot be supported by this fellowship.

 

EPA-F2012-STAR-F5: TRIBES AND AMERICAN INDIAN/ALASKA NATIVE/PACIFIC ISLANDER COMMUNITIES (F5)

Applications in this topic are for interests and investigations at the intersections of American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities and/or Tribes (including indigenous populations in other global regions) and protecting human health and the environment. Proposals in this topic focus on related environmental health, sustainability, and pollution prevention/remediation strategies and issues.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, assessing the impacts of environmental challenges on American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities and/or Tribes such as climate change, mining activities, water quality, drinking water reliability, invasive species, and land-use changes; exploring how American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander lifeways may be connected to unique risk and exposure pathways; exploring sustainability through tribes' traditional ecological knowledge and/or local ecological knowledge of an area; expanding the understanding of cumulative risk in tribes, American Indians/Alaska Natives/Pacific Islanders and related communities; analyzing environment-related governance amongst American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities such as risk management, multi-sectoral or emerging approaches, ecosystem-based management approaches, etc; exploring integrated approaches to providing reliable supplies of safe drinking water to American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander communities, etc.

Authorizing statutes: CAA, CWA, FIFRA, SWDA, TSCA, SDWA

E. References (i.e., examples of supportive documentation)
Jackson, Shirley Ann. The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent, Building Engineering and Science Talent (2002). Available at http://www.bestworkforce.org/PDFdocs/Quiet_Crisis.pdf  Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer (12 pp, 2.08 MB, about PDF).

National Research Council. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11463 Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer(2007).

Environmental Protection Agency. “Investing in Our People II: EPA’s Strategy for Human Capital 2004 and Beyond” (2003). Available at http://www.epa.gov/nscep/index.html by searching for “Investing in Our People”

Environmental Protection Agency.  EPA Strategic Plan, 2011-2015. Available at
http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/strategicplan.html.

National Research Council.  The Measure of STAR. Available at  http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10701.html Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer(2003).

Executive Office of the President. “Innovation, Education, and Infrastructure: Science, Technology, STEM Education, and 21st Century Infrastructure in the 2012 Budget.” Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/FY12-rd-fs.pdf (15 pp, 253KB, about PDF) (2011).

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy and ethical considerations prevent EPA technical staff and managers from providing applicants with information that may create an unfair competitive advantage.  Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, and/or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs.  EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application.

The fellowship awards expected to be made under this RFA may involve the collection of "Geospatial Information," which includes information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $4.5 million will be awarded under this RFA, depending on the availability of funds, the quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 80 fellowships under this RFA. The projected award per fellowship is $42,000 per year total costs. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $84,000 for Master’s level students and $126,000 for Doctoral students will not be considered. Master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years, usable over a period of five years.

The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards, or make fewer awards than anticipated, under this RFA.  The EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made.  Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than six months after the original selection decisions.

The fellowship provides up to $42,000 per year of support per fellowship. A maximum of $84,000 will be provided for master's fellows (two years) and up to $126,000 (three years) for doctoral fellows. The $42,000 annual support covers stipend, tuition, and expenses as follows:

Stipends: For the 2012-2013 academic year, stipends will be $25,000 for 12‑month tenure, prorated monthly at a maximum of $2,083 for shorter periods. Funds for unused months are forfeited. Stipends are paid directly to the fellow. At its discretion, the institution may supplement a fellow's stipend from institutional funds in accordance with the supplementation policy of the institution.

Tuition and Academic Fees: Up to $12,000 per year (apportioned over the various academic semesters/quarters) will be provided directly to the institution. For the purposes of this fellowship, health insurance is an expense, not an academic fee.

Expense Allowance: Up to $5,000 will be provided directly to the institution to pay for items and activities for the direct benefit of the student's education and research, such as health insurance, books, supplies, computers, data analysis, publication costs, equipment, travel to technical and scientific meetings, and domestic and international travel required to conduct the proposed research. Specific instructions regarding the disbursement and management of the expense allowance will be provided during the award process.

EPA Fellowship Conference: Fellows are expected to attend the EPA Graduate Fellows Conference as long as they are in the program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.

International Activities: The Fellow's proposed research may be conducted outside the U.S. However, EPA allows only $5,000 for all expenses, including travel. See "Expense Allowance" above for details. If it becomes necessary to travel outside the U.S. or its territories, you must notify your Project Officer six (6) months in advance. You will also be required to obtain local permits in other countries to conduct research there. Your Project Officer will obtain the necessary EPA and State Department approvals before the fellowship funds can be used to conduct these activities. Fellows who travel overseas using federal funds will be required to comply with the provisions of the Fly America Act.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
Applicants must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories) for their graduate studies. Individuals must be citizens of the U.S. or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application. Resident alien applicants must have their green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity. EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.  

Applicants do not need to be enrolled in or formally accepted into a full‑time graduate program at the time they apply for a fellowship, but proof of enrollment or acceptance must be produced prior to the award of the fellowship. To be eligible for this fellowship, applicants must be pursuing a master's or doctoral degree in an environmentally-related topic area at a fully accredited U.S. college or university (based in the U.S. or its territories).

Applicants who are in a graduate program at the time of application and meet either of the following two criteria as of November 8, 2011 ARE NOT eligible to receive a fellowship: 1) have completed more than one year in their current master's program; or 2) have completed more than four years in their current doctoral program. However, applicants enrolled in a master's program who intend to pursue a doctoral degree beginning in the fall of 2012 may apply for a doctoral fellowship.

This fellowship does preclude receiving other federal fellowships. However, acceptance of this fellowship does not necessarily preclude acceptance of another private, state, regional, local, or non-profit scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, research assistantship, teaching assistantship, or grant aid.

Employees of the U.S. government may apply, but must be able to prove separation from Federal service before accepting this fellowship.

Diversity: EPA recognizes that scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical (STEM) competence is essential to the Nation’s future well being in terms of national security and competitive economic advantage.  For instance, the health and vitality of the economy is predicated, in part, on the availability of an adequate supply of scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians, to develop innovative technologies and solutions. In other words, this country must engage all available minds to address the challenges it faces. Minorities, persons with disabilities, and women historically have been under-represented in the STEM fields. For this reason, EPA strongly encourages all eligibile applicants, including women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to apply. At the same time, the EPA seeks to expand environmental conversations by including members of communities which have not previously participated in such dialogues; therefore EPA strongly encourages such eligible applicants, including applicants from Minority Academic Institutions, to apply.

B. Cost-Sharing
Cost sharing is not required.

C. Other
Applications must substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a page limit is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, pages in excess of the limitations will not be reviewed. Applications must be submitted electronically to Grants.gov or received by the EPA (via major courier; e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) on or before the solicitation closing date and times as identified in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. All applicants must also follow the instructions for verifying that their application was received by NCER or their application may be rejected without review. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described in Sections I and II will not be reviewed.  Further, applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal Agency) will not be funded.

Applicants must only submit one application under this fellowship announcement and therefore can apply for only one FON.  In instances where more than one application is submitted, EPA will contact the applicant to determine which application(s) will be withdrawn.

Applications must be submitted by the student.  Applications submitted by the institution on behalf of the student will be rejected without review.

Applications deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact James Gentry in NCER.

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

You may submit either a paper application, or an electronic application via Grants.gov, but not both for this announcement. If not otherwise marked, the following instructions apply to both types of submissions as follows.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
For paper applications, STAR Fellowship forms can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. Instructions for completing these forms follow.

For electronic applications (encouraged), use the application package available at Grants.gov (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). Instructions for completing these forms follow.

For both paper and Grants.gov applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the applicant to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; any email sent to this address will not be accepted. Please be aware that this notification is separate from the one you will receive from Grants.gov. NCER does not notify you of receipt of your Letters of Recommendation.

Due to the volume of applications received, the emailed acknowledgement from receipt.application@epa.gov may take several weeks. Thus, our staff will not respond to queries regarding applications received before November 28, 2011. Please make a notation on your calendar to contact the program at the contact us page from Monday, November 28, to no later than 5:00 PM ET Friday, December 2, for information if you have not received the notification from receipt.application@epa.gov by that time. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications" for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted applications.Due to possibility of delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER's confirmation of receipt of your application when using major couriers. Also, check your email spam folder and/or check your spam filter settings to ensure emails from EPA are delivered to your email inbox.

B. Content and Form of Application Submission
Summary of Application Materials

    Item 1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 (for electronic submissions via Grants.gov) or Standard Form (SF) 424 I-Individual (for paper submissions)

    Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)

    Item 3. Front Page

    Item 4. Personal Statement

    Item 5. Proposal Description

    Item 6. Background Information:

      Education & Relevant Experiences
      Publications & Presentations
      Course Work

    Item 7. Letters of Recommendation (sent by referees)

The application is made by submitting the materials described below. For Items 3-6 prepare these using standard 8.5" x 11" page size, 12-point, Times New Roman font, 1" margins on all sides, and single spacing or greater. Do not exceed the page limits indicated. Excess pages will not be reviewed. References in the end notes do not count towards the page limits. Images may be included; however they will be reproduced only in black and white. All images, in-text citations, and footnotes are included in the page limits.

It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described. It is also essential that all contact information be that of the applicant unless specifically requested otherwise. 

The applicant submits Items 1-6 either in hard-copy by courier, or as part of the Grants.gov application (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”). The Letters of Recommendation (Item 7) are emailed directly to EPA by those referees writing the letters (see "Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements”).

NOTE: GRE scores are NOT needed and must NOT be sent to EPA. Only prepare and send the materials described below.

Item 1. Standard Form 424 (electronic) or 424 I-Individual (paper)
The student, that is the individual applying for funding, must complete Standard Form 424 for electronic submissions via Grants.gov or Standard Form 424 I (Individual) for paper submissions. This form will be the first page of the application. For paper submissions, use the 424 I-Individual form identified for Fellowships available at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. For electronic submissions, use the Standard Form 424 in the electronic application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications").
Instructions for Standard Form 424 - electronic submissions only:

Do not follow the instructions provided with the form. Instead, follow the instructions detailed below for items that may cause difficulty. Only the yellow highlighted fields of the form need to be completed.

    1. Check “Pre-application.”
    8.a. The applicant is the student submitting the application (not an Institution).
    8.b. Enter the applicant's social security number.
    8.f. The contact person is the applicant (see 8.a.).
    9. Enter "P: individual"
    15. Provide a Title for your environmental research project. The Title (no more than 150 characters) must be brief yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the Title will be used by those not familiar with the project, avoid highly technical words and phrases and use more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as “research on.” If the specific topic could not be selected, enter your research area of interest. 16.a. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District, see http://www.house.gov/. If you cannot locate a Congressional District (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter "00."
    16.b. Enter "00".
    17.a. Enter a Start Date of 09/01/2012.
    17.b. Enter an End Date up to two (2) years later for master's degree support or up to three (3) years later for Ph.D. degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.
    18.a. Enter the amount of funding you are requesting (up to $84,000 for Master's degree, up to $126,000 for Ph.D.)
    18.b.-f. Enter "0".
    19. Enter "c" Program is not covered.

    The Authorized Representative is the applicant (see 8.a.). You may enter "student" as the title. “Close Form” will save and close the form.

Instructions for Standard Form 424 I Individual - paper submissions only:
This form is in a PDF format that must be filled in first, and then printed for paper applications. It is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well.  Only the sections highlighted in yellow must be filled in.

Fill-in Instructions:

Section 1: NAME OF FEDERAL AGENCY. Type in “Environmental Protection Agency.”

Section 2: CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE NUMBER. Type in “66.514.”

CFDA TITLE: Type in “Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship Program.”

Section 3: Enter the present date.

Section 4: Click in this field to choose only one Funding Opportunity Number (FON). Click in the “TITLE” field to choose the corresponding Topic Title for the FON. They must match. See Section I.D. for a listing.

Section 5:

  1. Enter your Prefix, First and Last Name. You may include a Suffix and Middle Name if you choose, but they are not required.

    Enter your (Daytime) Telephone Number. You may include an evening number if you choose.

    Enter your contact email address. You may include a fax number if you choose.

  2. Enter the address of your legal permanent residence (must be in the U.S. or one of its territories).
  3. Select your citizen status. If you select “No”, enter your residency information. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application (you must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity). EPA will request a copy of your green card if you are selected as a finalist may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.
  4. Enter your social security number.
  5. Enter the Congressional district for your legal permanent residence. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District of your place of legal, permanent residence, see http://www.house.gov/. If you cannot locate a Congressional District (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter "00". 

Section 6:

  1. TITLE: Provide a Title for your environmental project. The Title (no more than 150 characters) must be brief yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the Title will be used by those not familiar with the project, avoid highly technical words and phrases and use more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as “research on.”
  2. PROJECT DESCRIPTION: COPY your Title and enter it here as well.
  3. START DATE: Enter “09/01/2012.”

    END DATE: For End Date, enter a date up to 2 years later for Master's degree support or up to 3 years later for Ph.D. degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.

Section 7: For your application to be processed, you must check this box.

SIGNATURE:

For Paper applications (submitted via courier), print the filled-out form (it is recommended that you save it as well). Sign and Date the form before mailing it in with your application package (See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications”).

Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)

The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form as the second page of the application as directed below. For paper submissions, use the EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) identified for Fellowships available at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. For electronic submissions, use the EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) in the electronic application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications.").
Ignore all other instructions for completing this form that may be found elsewhere. Please make certain that all contact information is accurate. 
Key Contacts Form Instructions for Electronic Submissions:
Authorized Representative: Enter the applicant's current address information.

Payee: Enter the applicant's permanent address information. This is the address NCER will use for any U.S. Postal Service correspondence.

Administrative Contact:  Enter the business information for the applicant's advisor. Leave blank if the applicant has not identified an advisor.

Principal Investigator: Leave blank or, if the applicant has a second advisor, please enter the second advisor's information here.

Key Contacts Form Instructions for Paper Submissions:
Use the Key Contacts form identified for Fellowships available as part of the STAR Fellowship application package at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.
This form is in a PDF format that must be filled in first, and then printed for paper submission. It is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well. Only the sections highlighted in yellow must be filled in.  See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Authorized Representative: Enter the applicant's current address information.

Payee: Enter the applicant's permanent address information. This is the address NCER will use for any U.S. Postal Service correspondence.

Administrative Contact:  Enter the business information for the applicant's advisor. Leave blank if the applicant has not identified an advisor.

Principal Investigator: Leave blank or, if the applicant has a second advisor, please enter the second advisor's information here.

The applicant does not need to fill out the second page.

Item 3. Front Page (1 page)

The third item of the application serves as the Front Page.

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions:

Starting with a blank page, please begin each item on a separate line using the appropriate numbered heading.

  1. Your name: Last name, first name, middle initial/name.
  2. Your citizenship. If not a U.S. citizen, please provide your residency information. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application (you must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity). EPA will request a copy of your green card if you are selected as a finalist may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.
  3. Funding Opportunity Number and Topic Title.
  4. Current College/University, School or Department: Name and location of the college/university, school or department you are currently attending. If you are not attending a college or university at the time of application, put “N/A.”
  5. Intended College/University, School or Department: Name and location of the college/university, school or department from which your graduate degree will be obtained. NOTE: If you are undecided about the school you will attend, please enter “Not selected yet.” If you are considering multiple institutions, list your top two choices.
  6. Include the Title of your project–the same Title used in Standard Form 424 or Standard Form 424I-Individual.
  7. Degree Sought: State if you are seeking funding to support either a master's or doctoral    degree, e.g., M.S., M.A., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., Ph.D. Include the month and year you expect the degree to be awarded.
  8. Environmental Discipline. List your major discipline for your graduate studies.
  9. Educational Level (at the time of application). Enter one of the following choices:
    1. Entering Master's Student (EM) if you are seeking funding for a master’s program, and have completed less than one year* toward this degree.

    or

    1. Entering Doctoral Student (ED) if you are seeking funding for a doctoral program, have completed less than one year toward this degree, and will have no other graduate or professional degree as of November 8, 2011 (e.g., MS, MA, MPH, etc.).

    or

    1. Doctoral Student (DS) if you are seeking funding for a doctoral program,  have completed less than one year toward this degree, and will have completed another graduate or professional degree as of November 8, 2011 (e.g., MS, MA, MPH, etc.).

    or

    1. Continuing Doctoral Student (CD) if you are enrolled in a doctoral program and have completed more than one year, but less than four years*, toward this degree.
    * Students who have completed more than one year in their current master's program or more than four years in their current Ph.D. program at the time of application are not eligible to apply for STAR Fellowships (see Section III).

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 4, 5, and 6 into one PDF file that will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications.”). Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.
For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 4. Personal Statement (2 page limit, not including end note references)

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions:

Use standard 8.5" x 11" page size, 12-point, Times New Roman font, 1" margins on all sides, and single spacing or greater. Do not condense line spacing less than single spacing, reduce margins less than 1”, nor reduce the character spacing scale.  Do not exceed the 2 page limit. Excess pages will not be reviewed.

References in the end notes do not count towards the page limit. Images may be included; however they will be produced only in black and white. All images, in-text citations, and footnotes are included in the page limit.

Refer to the “Criteria for Evaluation for External Peer Review” and “Criteria for Evaluation for Internal Programmatic Review” described in Section V “Application Review Information” before completing your Personal Statement. This Item will provide insight into your organizational, analytical, and written communication skills. In general you should:

  • Explain your academic and environmental career goals.
  • Describe how your proposed course of study and/or project will help you achieve these goals.
  • Speak to your leadership and collaborative potential, communication ability, and potential for broadening investigation and engagement in environmental problems and their solutions.
  • Include any background information you believe is pertinent and provides insight into why you have chosen the goals you are pursuing.

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this Item will be combined with Items 3, 5, and 6 into one PDF file that will be will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”). Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.
For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 5. Proposal Description (5 page limit, plus additional pages as needed for cited references)

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions:

Use standard 8.5" x 11" page size, 12-point, Times New Roman font, 1" margins on all sides, and single spacing or greater. Do not condense line spacing less than single spacing, reduce margins less than 1”, nor reduce the character spacing scale. Do not exceed the 5-page limit. Excess pages will not be reviewed.

References in the end notes do not count towards the 5-page limit. Images may be included; however they will be produced only in black and white. All images, in-text citations, and footnotes are included in the 5-page limit.

Refer to the “Criteria for Evaluation for External Peer Review” and the “Criteria for Evaluation for Internal Programmatic Review” described in Section V “Application Review Information” before completing your Proposal Description. This Item will provide insight into your organizational, analytical, and written communication skills.

The Proposal Description should reflect your educational level (see guidelines below). You are advised, at a minimum, to address the general guidelines below, and those specific to your own educational level. Citation/reference pages are in addition to the page limits for the Proposal Description. You may use any citation format you choose.

General Guidelines for all Proposal Descriptions:

  • Describe the scientific and societal importance of your chosen environmental field of study.
  • Articulate how your planned course of study and/or project is relevant to the protection of human health and the environment, and how it relates to your chosen FON.
  • Explain what broader societal impacts you might have as a fellow by virtue of your particular environmental interests as well as broader environmental applications resulting from your approach. “Broader societal impacts" refers to how the proposed activities have the potential to expand the capacity of society and the research enterprise to protect human health and the environment. Broader societal impacts and environmental applications include:
    • broadening public awareness, understanding, and engagement of all citizens—including those citizens from communities that have been historically under-represented in the environmental decision making process (e.g., tribes, women, communities of color, communities in economically distressed cities and towns, young people, persons with disabilities, linguistically isolated communities,  etc.), in environmentally-related investigation/problem solving;
    • addressing possibilities for disseminating environmental research results and information;
    • collaborating in a trans-disciplinary setting, and with other [non-federal] sectors and users to advance the quality of environmental inquiry as well as environmental decision-making;
    • proposing consideration, (where appropriate and to the degree appropriate to his/her environmental interests and particular proposal), of populations or communities disproportionately impacted by  adverse environmental  and human health effects or unfair treatment/lack of meaningful involvement in environmental decision-making;and,
    • advancing sustainability—which means approaches that seek to understand the interactions which exist among the three pillars of sustainability (environment, society, and economy) in an effort to better understand the consequences of our actions. Investigations and study that seek sustainable solutions protects the environment, strengthens our communities and fosters prosperity.

Minimum Recommended Guidelines for Proposal Description at Specific Educational Levels:

Entering Masters (EM):

  • The degree requirements for your program and your planned course of study.
  • A description of your thesis/project if you will be undertaking one or what environmental project you would like to propose and why it is important and potentially beneficial to the environment.

Entering Doctoral (ED):

  • The degree requirements for your program and your planned course of study.
  • What environmentally-related dissertation/research project you would select, and why it would be important and potentially beneficial to the environment.

Doctoral Student (DS):

  • What environmentally-related dissertation topic/research project you would select, and why it would be important and potentially beneficial to the environment.
  • Influential publications in your area of interest.

Continuing Doctorate (CD):

  • Your dissertation topic, the goal of your research, and environmental problem you are focusing on and/or your hypothesis.
  • Key research published on your topic and how results of that research relate to your topic (include a list of cited literature for your research in the end notes).
  • The rationale, environmental need, and approach of your research (hypothesis testing).
  • Expected results of your research and environmental benefits.

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 3, 4, and 6 into one PDF file that will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”). Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.
For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 6. Background Information

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions:

Start each section on a separate page.

Education & Relevant Experiences (1 Page – Resume format)

List the academic degrees you have received or expect to receive in the near future, including the dates, discipline, and the institution. Also list your relevant experiences (this could include but is not limited to paid employment, military service, research assistantships, internships, special studies, volunteer work, etc.). Give dates and a short description of your duties in each position, listing most recent first. Give names and addresses (City and State) of employers.

Publications & Presentations (2 Pages)

If you have published in the technical/scientific literature, provide a bibliography here. If you have published in any other media (newspaper, book, etc.) provide listing here. If you have not yet published, write “NA.” Also include any presentations you have given at professional meetings (Please provide the following: title of presentation, date of presentation, type of presentation [e.g. oral or poster] and name of meeting or conference).

Course Work (use as many pages as are necessary)

Provide, in tabular form, the following information about your past and current course work (much of this information should be obtained from your transcripts): the institutions at which the credits were earned, dates, names and catalog numbers of courses taken, credit hours, grades received, and cumulative GPA for all courses taken at each degree level. Be sure to list any degree(s) received. Abbreviations are allowed if their meaning is generally understood. Note if courses were audited or not completed. If any institution you attended had a grading system different from the traditional "A, B, C" system, explain the system in a short footnote. Do not leave anything out. Include data from your entire college career. DO NOT INCLUDE COPIES OF YOUR TRANSCRIPTS. Top-ranked applicants will be required to submit official copies of transcripts for validation prior to the award of the fellowship.

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 3, 4, and 5 into one PDF file that will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications.”).
SAVE all Items, 3, 4, 5, and 6 into one file. Convert this one file into a PDF file. Check the file to ensure there are no conversion errors. Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.
For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 7.  Letters of Recommendation   

Each applicant must arrange for the submittal of three (3) current letters of recommendation on official letterhead. If the applicant has a sponsor or advisor for his/her graduate program, one of these letters of recommendation should come from that individual.

At least two (2) should be from individuals who have knowledge of the applicant’s academic record (the sponsor’s or advisor’s letter should be one of these). The third letter may be from an individual who has supervised the applicant (e.g. a mentor, internship supervisor, or work supervisor). Letters should not be written by the applicant. Letters of recommendation are critical components of the application. The student is strongly advised to present the guidelines below to the referees writing the recommendations.

Note: EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application. EPA employees are not permitted to provide letters of recommendation for any application.

Applicants are advised to start the process early of having Letters of Recommendation composed by the referees and sent in. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all Letters of Recommendation are sent by referees so that they are received by EPA by the due date and time specified below.
Only those timely submitted will be considered during the review process.  Failure to submit three (3) Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect the score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.

Guidelines for Referees

  1. Letters of Recommendations should be written on official letterhead.
  2. Referees should include the Funding Opportunity Number (FON), corresponding Topic Title, and applicant’s name in the email “subject” line when sending the letter. The applicant should provide these to the Referees.
  3. Referees are advised to use the applicant’s full name (as opposed to nicknames or shortened names) in order to ensure the Letters are matched with the applicant’s materials.
  4. Referees should write letters specifically about the applicant. Letters of Recommendation that appear to be mass produced do not generally lead to high rankings by the reviewers. It is always useful if the writer also conveys a sense of who the applicant is as an individual, particularly the applicant’s maturity, responsibility, and integrity.
  5. Referees should write Letters of Recommendation that speak to elements of the “Criteria for Evaluation for External Peer Review” and the “Criteria for Evaluation for Internal Programmatic Review” (See Section V “Application Review Information.”). Letters of Recommendation should provide insights into the applicant’s:
    • scientific acumen and creativity,
    • motivation for environmentally-related study,
    • potential for success, including in a research environment and in trans-disciplinary settings,
    • leadership potential, including ability to collaborate,
    • communication ability, including ability to disseminate environmental research results and information, and
    • potential for broadening investigation and engagement in environmental problems and their solutions.
  6. These letters must be submitted directly to EPA electronically via email per the instructions below. All letters of recommendation must be submitted to the EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, November 8, 2011, in order to be considered during the review process.
    • Letters of recommendation must be submitted directly to EPA, and must be submitted to the correct email address given below. All Letters must have the name of the applicant and the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number (FON) and corresponding Topic Title in the letter itself. The name of the applicant and the appropriate FON and Topic Title must appear in the “subject” line of the email. Letters of Recommendation should be attached to the email submission with a filename containing the FON and the applicant’s last name. Letters must be emailed to the address corresponding to the correct FON (see below). Text emails or other parts of the application package sent to these addresses will not receive a response. Any applications emailed to the Letters of Recommendation address will be rejected without review.
    • NCER cannot guarantee that Letters of Recommendation that do not denote the applicant’s name, FON, and corresponding Topic Title will be matched with the appropriate application. Due to the potentially large number of applicants, NCER CANNOT ACKNOWLEDGE NOR VERIFY RECEIPT OF LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION. It is the applicant's responsibility to ENSURE that letters of recommendation are submitted in a timely manner.
    • It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that Letters of Recommendation are submitted by the referees in a timely manner. NCER will close the mailbox to the public after the solicitation closing date.  After that time, NCER will not accept late letters unless the writer can show that he or she attempted to send the letter before the solicitation closing date but was prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond his or her control.

Letters must be submitted to the correct email address below that corresponds to the applicant’s chosen FON.  Letters of recommendation cannot be submitted through Grants.gov.  They must be submitted via email as described above.  Failure to submit three (3) Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect the score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY NUMBER

TOPIC TITLE

Email for Letters

EPA F2012 STAR A1

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Environmental Entrepreneurship (A1)

 2012-STAR-A1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-A2

(Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Information Science (A2)

2012-STAR-A2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-A3

Emerging Environmental Approaches & Challenges: Social Sciences (A3)

2012-STAR-A3-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-B1

Air, Climate, Energy: Clean Air (B1)

2012-STAR-B1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-B2

Air, Climate, Energy: Global Change (B2)

2012-STAR-B2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-B3

Air, Climate, Energy: Green Energy/Natural Resources Production & Use (B3)

2012-STAR-B3-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-C1

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Green Engineering/Building/Chemical Products & Processes/Materials Development  (C1)

2012-STAR-C1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-C2

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Nanotechnology (C2)

2012-STAR-C2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-C3

Chemical Safety for Sustainability: Pesticides and Toxic Substances (C3)

2012-STAR-C3-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-D1

Human Health Risk Assessment: Public Health(D1)

2012-STAR-D1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-D2

Human Health Risk Assessment: Risk Assessment and Risk Management (D2)

2012-STAR-D2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-E1

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Drinking Water (E1)

2012-STAR-E1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-E2

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Coastal and Estuarine Processes (E2)

2012-STAR-E2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-E3

Safe and Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality--Hydrogeology and Surface Water (E3)

2012-STAR-E3-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-F1

Safe and Healthy Communities:  Ecosystem Services--Aquatic Systems Ecology (F1)

2012-STAR-F1-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-F2

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Animal Ecology (F2)

2012-STAR-F2-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-F3

Safe and Healthy Communities: Ecosystem Services--Terrestrial Systems Soil and Plant Ecology (F3)

2012-STAR-F3-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-F4

 Safe and Healthy Communities: Built Environment and Land Use/Protection (F4)

2012-STAR-F4-Letters@epa.gov

EPA-F2012-STAR-F5

Safe and Healthy Communities: Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communities (F5)

2012-STAR-F5-Letters@epa.gov

Confidentiality:
By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants the EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful application may be publicly disclosed to the extent permitted by law.

EPA recommends that you do not include confidential business information (“CBI”) in your proposal/application. However, if confidential business information is included, it will be treated in accordance with 40 CFR 2.203. Applicants must clearly indicate which portion(s) of their proposal/application they are claiming as CBI.  EPA will evaluate such claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. If no claim of confidentiality is made, EPA is not required to make the inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure. The Agency protects competitive proposals/applications from disclosure under applicable provisions of the Freedom of Information Act prior to the completion of the competitive selection process.

C. Submission Dates and Times
Electronic Submissions:

Electronic applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, November 8, 2011.

This includes:

    Item 1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 entered through Grants.gov

    Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) entered through Grants.gov

    Items 3, 4, 5, & 6:
    Uploaded as one PDF file labeled “MandatoryProjectInfo” to be submitted through Grants.gov. Attach the file by selecting “Add Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”).

Note that Letters of Recommendation (Item 7) cannot be submitted through Grants.gov.  They must be submitted via email as described above. 

Paper Submissions:

Paper applications [one original, and one (1) copy for a total of two (2) copies] must be received by EPA by 4:00 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, November 8, 2011. See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications” for more details.

Letters of Recommendation:

All Letters of Recommendation (see IV.B. Item 7 above) must be submitted by email by the referees to the EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, November 8, 2011.

It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required solicitation closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/) and on grants.gov.  Applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a fellowship agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research. However, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports and other contacts with the Fellow. Additionally, once selected, continued funding is contingent on availability of funds.

Applications must not include management fees or similar charges in excess of the direct costs and indirect costs at the rate approved by the institution’s cognizant audit agency, or at the rate provided for by the terms of the agreement negotiated with EPA. The term "management fees or similar charges" refers to expenses added to the direct costs in order to accumulate and reserve funds for ongoing business expenses, unforeseen liabilities, or for other similar costs that are not allowable under EPA assistance agreements. Management fees or similar charges may not be used to improve or expand the project funded under this agreement, except to the extent authorized as a direct cost of carrying out the scope of work.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit only one application for this announcement through only one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically via Grants.gov.
  2. Paper application.

Contact individuals to submit your Letters of Recommendation as soon as possible. They are sent separately via email.

Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov. It is the responsibility of the applicant to see that these instructions are followed. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.

START EARLY!  Grants.gov requires a new individual registration to submit an application for this solicitation; however, registration is not required to view the application package. To register, go to http://www.Grants.gov/, click on "Get Registered," click on "Individual Registration." Allow at least one day for the registration to be activated. Safeguard your username and password, as this information can take a great deal of time to retrieve should it be misplaced. Note that the use of an organizational registration (e.g., an academic institution registration) will result in a Grants.gov rejection.

Due to the potentially high volume of applications submitted as the deadline time approaches, it is possible that the Grants.gov electronic submission and telephone assistance systems may become overwhelmed. To assure successful transmission, it is highly recommended that you do not delay submission of your application past 10:00 AM ET on the deadline day. The complete application must be submitted to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on November 8, 2011. Please note that the Grants.gov telephone assistance line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week excluding Federal holidays.

Note for Fellowship Applicants
As part of the registration process with Grants.gov, applicants need to enter a Funding Opportunity Number (FON) on the "Registration with Credential Provider" page. There is a problem with some FONs that results in an error message. If you encounter this problem, please enter the following FON: 0716-INDV-REGISTRATION.

The electronic application package available through the http://www.Grants.gov/ web site must be used for electronic submissions. The Grants.gov "Applicant's User Guide" is available at http://www.grants.gov/assets/ApplicantUserGuide.pdf.  Grants.gov presents an animated tutorial for individual applicants at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/app_help_reso.jsp#animated.

Note: Grants.gov is not compatible with all internet browsers nor is it readily compatible with all computers. To avoid fatal submission problems, please check the compatibility of the browser and computer system you intend to use prior to attempting to submit an electronic application. Please consider submitting a paper application if you do not have a high-speed internet connection available. For more information on compatible software applications, please see http://www.grants.gov/help/download_software.jsp.

Application Package Preparation. See instructions at Section IV.B above. The application package consists of 1 though 4 below.

  1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the "Application Filing Name" field by entering the Applicant's name, starting with the last name. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the "Competition ID" field.
  2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): See instructions in Item 1 of Section IV.B. above. Do not follow the instructions provided with the form. Instead, follow the instructions in Section IV.B. above.
  3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form as described in Section IV.B. Item 2. above. Ignore all other instructions for completing this form that may be found elsewhere.
  4. Items 3-6 Attachment Form (click on "Add Mandatory Project Narrative"): Attach a single electronic file labeled "MandatoryProjectInfo" that contain Items 3, 4, 5, and 6 described in Section IV.B. above. This file must be submitted in PDF format. Please review the PDF file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic application package. Requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time.

Letters of Recommendation cannot be submitted electronically through Grants.gov; see Section IV.B. Item 7 above for submission instructions. All Letters of Recommendation MUST be submitted by the referees by email to the EPA at one of the FON specific email addresses provided in the table in Section IV. B. Item 7 no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on November 8, 2011.

Once the application package has been completed, the "Submit" button should be enabled (you may need to "Check Package for Errors" as well as save the file before this occurs). If the "Submit" button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Applicants should save the completed application package with two different file names to avoid having to re-key the forms should submission problems be experienced.

Submitting the application to Grants.gov:
Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. In addition, slow connection and transfer rates are generally experienced as the deadline time approaches due to high demand. To assure successful transmission, it is highly recommended that you do not delay submission of your application past 10:00 AM ET on the deadline day. For frequently asked questions concerning submissions via Grants.gov, please see http://www07.grants.gov/applicants/submit_application_faqs.jsp.

Close all other software before attempting to submit the electronic application package. Click the "Submit" button of the application package. Your internet browser will launch and a sign-in page will appear within a few minutes. Enter your individual registration user name and password.

A successful transfer should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. "Print Screen" or “screen capture” this acknowledgement for documentation purposes. (Note: Subsequent Email acknowledgements from Grants.gov regarding your submission may take as long as 48 hours to arrive.) If you experience submission problems, reboot the computer -- turning the power off may be necessary -- and re-attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726 or e-mail: support@grants.gov). The Grants.gov support desk operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties continue after following the above instructions, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the application if it is clearly demonstrated that the transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of unavoidable and unresolvable problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the application for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten calendar days of the request. All emails, as described below, are to be sent to Todd Peterson with the FON in the subject line within one business day of the closing date of this solicitation. Note: Grants.gov will issue a “case number” upon being contacted for assistance.

  1. Unsuccessful transfer of the application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues, send an email before 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date. In that email, document the problem, include the Grants.gov “case number,” and attach the entire application in PDF format.
  2. Grants.gov rejection of the application: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal or use of an institutional rather than an individual registration, immediately send an email to Todd Peterson with the FON in the subject line within one business day of the closing date of this solicitation.  In that email, document the problem, include all materials provided by Grants.gov, and attach the entire application in PDF format.

Grants.gov will send several emails during their processing of the application. The last email will state that the application has been transferred to the Agency and is undergoing review. Save these emails for documentation purposes; however, the critical email is the one acknowledging receipt by the NCER Fellowship Program. This email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov.

Due to the volume of applications received, the emailed acknowledgement from receipt.application@epa.gov may take several weeks. Thus, EPA staff will not respond to queries regarding applications prior to November 28, 2011. Please make a notation on your calendar to contact the program at the contact us page from Monday, November 28, to no later than 5:00 PM ET Friday, December 2, for information if you have not received the notification from receipt.application@epa.gov by that time. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.

Submission Instructions for Paper Applications

Your paper application must contain the following:

  1. One original set of Items 1-6. Item 1 should have an original signature.
  2. One additional copy of Items 1-6. Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.
  3. Please, if possible, include an electronic copy of your application (e.g., on a CD) to help speed up data entry.

Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by the referees by email to one of the FON specific email addresses provided in the table in Section IV. B. Item 7 above.  Do not have referees mail Letters of Recommendation. Letters of Recommendation received by mail will be rejected.

Because of security concerns, paper applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through a major courier (e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL).

The following address must be used for couriers:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725P)
Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate FON here or your application may be sorted incorrectly!)
Attn: Ms. Debra M. Jones
2777 South Crystal Drive, Room S-6982
Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: (703) 347-8081

If you must send in a paper application you must use a courier service.

Electronic applications MUST be submitted to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 PM, Eastern Time (ET), on November 8, 2011.

Paper applications must be received by EPA no later than 4:00 PM, Eastern time (ET), on November 8, 2011. Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by 4:00 PM ET on November 8, 2011. Due to uncertainties associated with timely delivery of couriered packages, it is especially important to provide an email address to which an acknowledgment of receipt notification can be sent (see Section IV.A. above).

NOTE: Letters of Recommendation must be emailed to EPA, and all of them MUST be submitted no later than 11:59:59 PM ET, on November 8, 2011 (see Section IV. B. Item 7 above for further instructions).

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. External Peer Review
All eligible fellowship applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review comprised of individual experts. Each external review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. This review is designed to evaluate each applicant on his or her potential for success in an environmental graduate study program. The review is conducted by at least three external peer reviewers. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application based on Criteria I, II, and III detailed below. Criteria I, II, and III will be weighted equally. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final peer review score. Applications receiving a final score of excellent as a result of this external peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review described below.
Reviewers will consider the entirety of the application—including the Personal Statement, Education & Experiences, Publications & Presentations, and Course Work Information—with respect to the criteria below. Additionally, the content of the Letters of Recommendation will be considered with respect to how they speak to the criteria below. Applications with fewer than three letters of recommendation may not be rated as highly.
Reviewers will consider the educational level of the applicant, as defined in Section IV.B. Item 3 when applying the Criteria below.
Criteria for External Peer Review:

Criterion I. The Applicant’s Potential for Success in the Proposed Area of Inquiry. Reviewers will consider the following elements, to be weighted equally:

  • The candidate's organizational, analytical, and written skills;
  • The candidate’s demonstrated potential for success in a research environment;
  • The candidate's scientific curiosity, creativity, acumen, and potential for success in research appropriate to his/her educational level as indicated in their planned course of study (which may include a thesis project/dissertation topic description and listing relevant research literature based on educational level); and,
  • The planned course of study and/or proposed project, as appropriate to the candidate’s educational level (i.e. EM, ED, DS, CD according to the educational level guidelines specified in Section IV. Item 5), for its technical merit, social application, potential for success, and expected environmental benefits.

Criterion II: The Applicant’s Demonstrated Commitment to an Environmental Career. Reviewers will consider the following elements, to be weighted equally:

  • The degree to which the candidate possesses a strong potential for pursuing an environmental career;
  • The candidate's demonstrated commitment to the environment and/or potential for leadership in the environmental arena;
  • The candidate's demonstrated potential for success in attaining an advanced degree in an environmentally-related field; and,
  • The candidate's demonstrated potential for maturity, responsibility, and integrity.

Criterion III. The Applicant’s Potential for Broader Societal Impacts. “Broader societal impacts" refers to how the proposed activities have the potential to expand the capacity of society and the research enterprise to protect human health and the environment. Reviewers will consider the following, which are weighted equally:

  • The applicant’s demonstrated potential, by virtue of his/her environmental interests, for broadening public awareness, understanding, and engagement of all citizens—including those citizens from communities that have been historically under-represented in the environmental decision making process or in environmentally-related investigation/problem solving (e.g, tribes, women, communities of color, communities in economically distressed cities and towns, young people, persons with disabilities, linguistically isolated communities, etc.);
  • How the applicant addresses possibilities for disseminating environmental research results and information; and,
  • How the applicant proposes to collaborate in a trans-disciplinary setting, and with other [non-federal] sectors and users, to advance the quality of environmental inquiry as well as environmental decision-making.

B. Internal Programmatic Review
Applications receiving a final score of excellent as a result of the external peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review conducted by technical experts from the EPA. All other applications are automatically declined.

The STAR fellowship solicitation typically results in more applicants receiving an excellent rating from the external peer review process than there are funds. Therefore, those applications which receive a final score of excellent from the external peer review are further subjected to an internal programmatic review to help determine which applications to recommend for award. This process helps ensure that proposals relate to the mission of the EPA, and assures an integrated, balanced research portfolio for the Agency. EPA experts conducting the internal programmatic review assess the excellent applications against the criteria and process described below.

The criteria below are of equal importance.

Criteria for Internal Programmatic Review:

Comment on the Relevance to EPA’s Mission of Protecting Human Health and the Environment. Reviewers will consider the following elements, which are weighted equally:

  1. The strength and degree to which the proposed area of inquiry relates to protection of human health and the environment in light of EPA’s authorizing statutes while not being duplicative of a government effort [e.g. supported by EPA or some other source];
  2. The strength and degree to which the proposed area of inquiry has the potential to improve environmental management decisions and practices and/or improve the managing of complex environmental problems; and,
  3. The strength and degree to which the proposed area of inquiry provides a focus for future approaches towards assessing and managing environmental risks.

Comment on the Potential for Broader Environmental Application. Reviewers will consider the following elements, which are weighted equally:

  1. The strength to which the application proposes consideration, where appropriate and to the degree appropriate to his/her environmental interests and particular proposal, of persons and groups affected by disproportionate environmental impacts and/or unequal distribution of environmental protection; and,
  2. The candidate's commitment to advancing sustainability—which means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, or improving the economy, the environment, and society for the benefit of current and future generations.

C. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the external peer review and internal programmatic review. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider the availability of funds and program goals such as distribution of awards across disciplines, institutions and geography, and degree level being sought. Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide the additional information listed below under “Award Notices.” The application will then be forwarded to EPA’s Grants and Interagency Management Division for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
A written evaluation provided by the external peer review will be provided to each applicant with an award or declination letter. If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 1, 2012 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 31, 2012, for the fall term. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. The earliest anticipated start date for these awards is September 1, 2012.

You are advised to retain this announcement for future reference.

The official notification of an award will be made by the EPA's Grants and Interagency Management Division. Selected applicants will be required to provide the following information to complete the application process:

  1. EPA Form 5770‑2, "Fellowship Application".  This form is available on the NCER web page (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/).
  2. Additional information and documentation about your educational status and tuition/other costs.
  3. Sealed official transcripts.
  4. Fellowship Recipient Abstract, not to exceed one page, which should include: Project Title, Name of Fellow, Institution, EPA Project Officer, Project Period, FON/Topic, Description of Research Project (including Objective(s)/Research Questions(s), Approach, Results or Expected Results, Potential to further Human Health and the Environment, and Keywords).
  5. A project synopsis written in non-technical terms not to exceed 595 characters (approximately seven typed lines).

B. Disputes
Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Terms and conditions associated with this award can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/.

  1. Reporting: A fellow is expected to manage fellowship funds efficiently and effectively and make sufficient progress towards completing the project activities described in their proposal description in a timely manner as well as remain in good standing as a student in the graduate program.  The fellowship agreement will include terms/conditions implementing this requirement. Fellowship recipients must provide annual progress reports in order to retain their funding, and must provide a final report upon termination of the award. Fellows are encouraged to maintain contact with the Agency for at least five years after graduation.
  2. Meetings: Fellows are required to attend the EPA Graduate Fellows Conference as long as they are in the program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.
  3. iii. Human Subjects: A grant applicant must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 CFR § 26. Studies involving intentional exposure of human subjects who are children or pregnant or nursing women are prohibited by Subpart B of 40 CFR § 26. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women and fetuses please refer to Subparts C & D of 40 CFR § 26. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR § 46.101(e) have long required "... compliance with pertinent Federal laws or regulations which provide additional protection for human subjects." EPA’s regulation 40 CFR § 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation. Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR § 26. No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s IRB approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.
  4. Animal Welfare: A fellowship recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training" (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20, 1985).
  5. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPA's full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:

    This publication [article] was made possible by EPA fellowship number _______.  Its contents are solely the responsibility of the fellow and do not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA.  Further, the EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

    A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the "Guidance & FAQs." If your question is not covered, then send a query to the contact us page. You will receive a personal response through a return telephone call or email. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than those indicated may not be accurate. 

Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Technical Contact: Brandon Jones
Eligibility Contact: James Gentry
Electronic Email Submissions: Todd Peterson

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