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Program Development Study Groups

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium (Consortium) funds students and their faculty mentors to collaborate with Sea Grant Program Specialists to form research-student-specialist Study Groups. These groups conduct integrated research and extension projects based on identified priorities.

Introduction and Background

The Consortium’s mission is to provide science-based information about the practical use and conservation of coastal and marine resources to residents, communities, and businesses in order to foster a sustainable economy and environment for the state of South Carolina. The Consortium serves to support, improve, and share research, education, training, and advisory services in fields related to ocean and coastal resources.

Our long-term goal is to provide science and technical assistance that can guide businesses and other organizations to be sustainable within the coastal ecosystem and more resilient to climate and weather impacts (such as flooding from coastal storms and sea level rise), as well as economic downturns and man-made disasters. These program priorities fall within the context of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) Strategic Plan and the Consortium’s current Strategic Plan.

Strength in Partnerships – Program Description

The Consortium uses novel approaches to integrate science, outreach, management, and policy initiatives that address issues related to the use, management, and conservation of the state’s coastal and marine resources. When a specific need for research and extension projects is identified to enhance Consortium activities, proposals are invited from faculty/student/specialist teams. Proposals are reviewed externally and the selected team will be awarded, $25,000-50,000, depending on the project. This will be announced through the publication of New Directed Study Group Guidelines.

The proposed Study Group blends faculty members and students with a Consortium Program Specialist to focus on the specific science and outreach needs identified by the Consortium. Students will be recruited to partner with the faculty member and will engage a Consortium Program Specialist as a member of the Study Group before submitting their proposal. We encourage that an awarded project become part of the student’s thesis, dissertation, honors thesis, or capstone paper, or serve as an earned-credit internship.

Faculty at the Consortium’s member institutions will provide research guidance and expertise, while the Consortium’s program specialists will guide the project development, stakeholder engagement, and product outcomes. The Consortium considers only those efforts that address a listed priority in the Directed New Study Group Guidelines when those are released.

Informal and formal engagement of targeted stakeholders (e.g., resource management entities, local communities, business and industry, etc.) in proposals and in the funded projects is strongly encouraged. Project results should provide environmental, economic, and/or social benefits to an identified and engaged target constituency. In addition, principal investigators or students are encouraged to publish their findings in appropriate journals. Consortium staff can assist Study Groups in suggesting potential linkages with cooperators and stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Usually Study Group projects range from 6 to 18 months. The proposals are reviewed internally, and projects that are technically proficient and meet the needs of the Consortium will be reviewed for selection.

Preparation and Submission of Study Group Proposals

Study Group proposals should follow the instructions detailed in the Outline for Study Group Proposals. The proposed budget should be used to support student time, travel, and materials and must include a 50% match in time, supplies, salaries, or IDCs or a combination of some or all. It is the long-standing policy of the Consortium Board of Directors not to use Sea Grant funds to pay indirect costs to its member institutions; however, indirect costs may be used to satisfy the National Sea Grant College Program’s 50% matching fund requirement.

Questions and discussion about individual projects should be addressed to the collaborating Consortium Program Specialist or Brita Jessen.

Available Funding

Study Group projects range in funding depending on the specific needs of the Consortium and the time needed to conduct the work. Funds are available at irregular intervals and dependent on grant funding.

Statement of Expected Outcomes

The Consortium requires prospective principal investigators to explicitly list the expected outcomes to be achieved and potential practical implications and applications of the proposed work to the economy, environment, and society. We are particularly interested in cost savings, revenue generation, jobs created, businesses supported, new products/tools developed, workforce development results, policy or management changes, and similar outcomes.

Diversity and Inclusiveness

The Consortium is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people with unique backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking. We encourage applicants from minority backgrounds to apply for these competitive research opportunities. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to:

  • Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in natural and social science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,
  • Increased public scientific literacy of and public engagement with these disciplines,
  • Improved well-being of individuals in society, and
  • Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others.

Data Sharing Plan

All environmental data and information collected and/or created under NOAA grants and cooperative agreements must be made visible, accessible, and independently understandable to general users, free of charge or at minimal cost, and in a timely manner (typically no later than two years after the data are collected or created), except where limited by law, regulation, policy, or by security requirements.

This requirement has two parts: (1) environmental data generated by a research project must be made available after a reasonable period of exclusive use, and (2) the grant proposal must describe the plan to make the data available. To comply with this requirement, prospective Study Group proposers must include a Data Sharing and Management Plan explaining how data and metadata will be offered and shared. Funds may be budgeted in the Study Group proposal for this task. Investigators should work with Consortium Program Specialists to complete these.

Electronic Submission of Study Group Proposals

The Consortium requires electronic submission of proposals. Proposals should be submitted through the eSeaGrant research and fellowships management system.

At least one week prior to the submission deadline, you will need to register in the eSeaGrant research and fellowships management system in order to receive login credentials. Please click on the “Register” tab to create an account. As soon as registration is complete, you should receive a “Welcome” email with your login credentials. If you do not receive a “Welcome” email, please contact Susannah Sheldon at or 843-953-2083.

New Directed Study Group Guidelines

GIS-Based Siting Tool for Mariculture Site Selection


If you need assistance or require further information please contact the following individuals:

For Information on Program Development Study Group Competitions

Dr. Brita J. Jessen​, Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships Lead

Information on Budgets and Justifications

Ryan Bradley, Assistant Director for Administration