For more information on Program Development Funds, please contact Phyllis Grifman | 213.740.1963


Brief Description

Many times circumstances arise when needed research cannot be sponsored through the regular USC Sea Grant program cycle. When these circumstances arise for projects that are otherwise academically worthy and relevant to the Southern California program, USC Sea Grant management needs the flexibility to initiate action and funding as needed. With this flexibility, USC Sea Grant management can respond to community needs and plan future research projects more effectively. The overall goal is to provide the USC Sea Grant management with more flexibility than the regular funding cycle provides, in order to make the program more responsive to research needs and opportunities.



USC Sea Grant management reserves Program Development funds for projects that meet one or more of the following special criteria:

  • Contingency/Emergency. Under this category, USC Sea Grant considers funding immediate research on an unanticipated problem.
  • Out-of-phase/Advance Funding. At times, project work must begin or conclude under a schedule not easily accommodated by our regular funding cycle. We may advance funds to a project if it must be accelerated because data will not be available later, if a client of the research work has a deadline for results sooner than could be accommodated under the regular schedule, if a ship schedule alteration has been made and is beyond the control of a principal investigator, etc.
  • Program Development. The purpose of this category is to encourage prospective researchers to propose or perfect useful, interesting and relevant ideas that might later be presented during the review process for full funding consideration. Sometimes a prospective researcher needs some support for design, construction, documentation or literature search. At times, USC Sea Grant management may even solicit the submission of early sketches, outlines or basic research designs that fit major categories of USC Sea Grant research responsibilities.
  • Project Maintenance. On occasion, USC Sea Grant will not be awarded sufficient funding to begin projects that have gone through the full annual review cycle and received high marks. In some of these cases, the prospective principal investigator may be in a position to continue background work for another year before beginning full-scale research. It is in the interest of the program to grant such principal investigators limited funds to keep up their skills and data until the full project can begin.
  • Symposia. Research project results need to be disseminated to different users. One possible method is by face-to-face discussion. Principal investigators who believe their users could benefit by a workshop or small conference may apply for financial support.
  • Discretion. To maintain flexibility for the program, the director must be granted some limited discretion to fund relevant ideas that do not fit other categories. In some cases carryover funds, matching funds and/or other University accounts are used to fund Program Development awards.

“Program Development” projects are subjected to a “mini-review” by the USC Sea Grant staff and appropriate subject area coordinators. Larger program development proposals are sent to the National Sea Grant Office and, if appropriate, to an outside reviewer. No set schedule exists. USC Sea Grant will proceed from informal discussions to final decisions as quickly as possible.

The criteria by which program development projects will be judged are essentially the same as the criteria for full-scale projects. These criteria are considered in combination:

  • Academic quality of the proposal (focus, budget, methodology, etc.)
  • Experience and qualifications of the investigator
  • Relevance of the project to other USC Sea Grant projects
  • Applicability of the project to the program theme