2014 Seed Grant Program

Seed Grant Recipients

Climate and Ecosystem Change

A Stronger, More Resilient New York: Responding to Sandy in the Rockaways

Shedra Snipes, College of Health and Human Development
Petra Tschakert*

Arctic Biodiversity and Climate Response in Deep Time: The Fossil Record of the Pribilof Islands

Russell Graham*
Douglas Kennett  
Brendan Culleton, Vice President for Research 

Climate and Water Science: how will corals survive ocean acidification?

liana Baums*, Eberly College of Science
Lee Kump, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Development of Imaging Techniques to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on Plankton

Timothy Bralower, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences*

Drought, Ecosystem Change, and Food Security in the tropical Maya Lowlands

Katherine Freeman, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Douglas Kennett*

Summer temperature variability, Drought and the Atlas Cedar: A tree-ring δ 13 C based multi-centennial record in Northwestern Africa

Matthew Hurteau
Lee Newsom*

Future Energy Supply

Biomimetic Two-dimensional crystals of PSI for enhanced hydrogen production

John Golbeck, Eberly College of Science
Manish Kumar*

Clean Coal, Renewable Energy and CO2 Mitigation using a Photosynthetic Algae Biofilm

Randy Vander Wal, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Wayne Curtis*, College of Engineering

Investigation of Flow Behaviors in Shales during Primary Gas Depletion and CO2 Sequestration

Derek Elsworth, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Shimin Liu*, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences 
Ming Xiao, College of Engineering 

Health and the Environment

Spatial Analysis of Environmental Risk Factors for Hematologic Cancers

Shannon Monnat*

Understanding the impact of persistent environmental chemicals on the gut microbiome

Edward Dudley, College of Agricultural Sciences
Andrew Patterson*, College of Agricultural Sciences 
Istvan Albert, Eberly College of Science 

Smart Energy Systems 

Building a Membrane Science and Technology Center at Penn State: Workshops and Industry Outreach

Michael Hickner, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Manish Kumar
Bruce Logan, College of Engineering 
Darrell Velegol, College of Engineering 
Andrew Zydney*, College of Engineering

Dynamic Stochastic Dispatch and Commitment of Generation and Storage

Mort Webster, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Vinayak Shanbhag*, College of Engineering 
Hosam Fathy  

Enabling multilayer polymer light-emitting diodes for energy-efficient white lighting

Noel Giebink, College of Engineering
Jerzy Ruzyllo*

SolarPVAnalyst 2.0: Toward advanced geospatial decision-support for renewable energy

Jeffrey Brownson*, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Joseph Ranalli, Penn State Hazleton 
Kirby Calvert  

Sustainable Intensification of Grazing Land to Produce Food and Bioenergy

Armen Kemanian, College of Agricultural Sciences
Erica Smithwick*, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences 
Ethan Davis  

Water and Biogeochemical Cycles

Emerging Contaminants in Vernal Ponds Across a Human Impact Gradient

Heather Preisendanz*, College of Agricultural Sciences
Elizabeth Boyer, College of Agricultural Sciences 
David Miller, College of Agricultural Sciences 
Tracy Langkilde, Eberly College of Science 

Full-circle wastewater treatment; using aquatic biomass to maximize nutrient recovery, increase crop yields, and reduce agricultural runoff

Mary Ann Bruns, College of Agricultural Sciences
Rachel Brennan*, College of Engineering 

Hydrogeology of a late Holocene cat’s-eye pond sequence, Presque Isle State Park, PA: Mapping wetland functioning prior to a climate-driven decline in lake level

Michael Justik, Penn State Erie
Anthony Foyle*, Penn State Erie 

Quantifying the Causes of Changing Acidity in Coastal Waters of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States

Elizabeth Boyer, College of Agricultural Sciences
Raymond Najjar*, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences 

*= Principal Investigator


Proposal Format

Please complete all sections below, save the document to your computer, and email the document to psiee@psu.edu. Proposals should not exceed 5 pages (excluding budgets and investigator information requested in sections 8, 9, and 10). Proposals must be single-spaced, in Times New Roman font size no smaller than 12-point type, left-aligned with one inch margins. Proposals are due by 12 noon on February 14.  Late proposals will not be considered.


Provide a succinct overview of the proposal. Assume that reviewers do not necessarily have technical knowledge in your specific field. Avoid or explain technical jargon, field-specific terminology, or acronyms.

Brief background, rationale, and specific aims and objectives

Provide a brief summary of the background and rationale for the proposal. List the specific aims and objectives of the proposal. Be sure to explain the current state-of-the-art, how your project will address critical challenges, the nature of your innovation, and how the accomplishment of this project will advance scholarship and contribute to Penn State’s leadership in this field.

Project plan

Describe the methods and activities for which support is requested. Indicate the roles and interactions among PIs and other key personnel as well as external partners, and any plans to encourage interdisciplinary interactions (e.g. co-advising of graduate students, participation in interdisciplinary conferences or other activities). Indicate any use of Penn State or other shared research instrumentation or core facilities.

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

Describe the anticipated impacts of the funding in operational terms. Detail plans for specific outputs (publications, research/outreach/educational programs established) and justify expected outcomes (improved environmental performance, enhanced decision processes, increased energy security. reduced greenhouse gas emissions, etc.).

Proposals for the development of conferences, workshops, courses or training must include the plans for dissemination and outreach (anticipated dates, methods for dissemination, target audience, advertising strategy and expected numbers).

Continued Activity and External Funding Potential

Explain plans for continuation of the project beyond the term of the seed grant. Continuation can include many strategies for research and public engagement, but must include scholarship, external funding, and societal impact. For external funding include specific agencies and programs with the following details:

  1. investigators involved
  2. title of proposal(s)
  3. time frame of proposal(s), and
  4. external funding sources to be targeted


Describe the anticipated timeline to accomplish the goals of the proposal.

Budget and Justification

Provide an itemized budget and budget justification for your funding request:

  • Projects can start as early as March 15, 2014.
  • Ending date will be June 30, 2015; time extensions are not available.
  • Funds are to support research development and coordination such as:
    • Graduate and undergraduate student support
    • Instrumentation fees and sample analysis to collect preliminary data
    • Travel associated with the conduct or reporting of research
    • Equipment and supplies, and participant payments
    • Hosting a research planning meeting for an interdisciplinary team
    • Planning and hosting conferences and symposia
  • Funds cannot be used for faculty salary support or course buy-outs.
  • Include the following with the justification
    • Name and phone number of your budget coordinator
    • Budget and fund number
    • Administrative area number

Investigator Information

Identify the lead investigator, collaborating investigators, and the departments or units they represent. Contact information must be included for all investigators.

Lead Investigator:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Department/Organization
  • College/Campus
  • Phone
  • Email

Collaborating Investigator (make additional entries if more than 2 PIs):

  • Name
  • Title
  • Department/Organization
  • College/Campus
  • Phone
  • Email

 [Please include complete contact information for additional investigators here.]

10. Letters of Support and 1 page CVs from All Collaborators

Collaborating investigators and any external partners must indicate their support of the project by writing letters of support; these letters should be emailed to the Lead Investigator and be attached to the proposal when submitted.   A 1 page CV for each investigator should also be included in this appendix.  Proposals that do not include these materials will not be reviewed.

Review Criteria

  1. Intellectual merit of the proposal (15 points) – All projects should: address a critical challenge related to a PSIEE strategic priority; significantly advance scholarship in the field; demonstrate creativity and innovation; provide a sound research plan; be ambitious yet achievable within the time period of the grant.
  2. Potential for developing or strengthening interdisciplinary collaborations (6 points) – All projects should describe how the project will: initiate or expand novel interdisciplinary collaborations between PIs and/or with other internal or external partners, and engage with a broader community of scholars and/or practitioners through interdisciplinary conferences or other events during the course of the seed grant.
  3. Potential for continued activity beyond the seed grant phase (9 points) –All projects should provide a detailed and credible strategy for leveraging this seed grant investment into: exceptional scholarship; significant external funding; and positive impact(s) on society. Plans for continued activity may include high impact scientific publications, applications for external support from federal, state or local government agencies, foundations, private companies, etc.; continued research activities involving in-kind support, student engagement, on-going scholarly work, etc.; public engagement and outreach; and expanded implementation by external stakeholders.