green landscape with passing clouds

Grants Program


2023 ForestGEO Research Awards

with support from 

J&J Ruinen Fellowship in Tropical Forestry

The 2023 call for applications is now closed. Please check back in Spring 2024 for the next round of awards!


The Research Grants Program of the Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) and the J&J Ruinen Fellowship in Tropical Forestry funds research projects associated with the ForestGEO network of Forest Dynamics Sites. The program is intended to provide opportunities for graduate students and early-career researchers (researchers who have completed their PhD within the last seven years) to use existing Forest Dynamics Sites to conduct research in collaboration with scientists currently associated with these sites.

Projects Supported by the Grants Program:

The Grants Program supports research directly tied to ANY ForestGEO Forest Dynamics Sites, including projects requiring fieldwork, site data analysis, or the generation of complementary data that strengthens ForestGEO programs. Projects can be field-oriented, herbarium- or laboratory-based, or analytical. Research projects can be basic or applied in nature and based around the social or natural sciences. Project duration can range from 3 months to 2 years.

Successful proposals will require the use of ForestGEO site data (the site data must be integral to the completion of the project). Applicants do not need to be associated with a site prior to applying, but each applicant will need to contact a site Principal Investigator prior to submitting a proposal.


Students and early-career researchers (researchers who have completed their PhD within the last seven years) who are working directly in any ForestGEO Forest Dynamics Site, analyzing site data, or generating complementary data that strengthens ForestGEO programs are eligible to apply. Both social scientists and natural scientists are encouraged to apply. In rare cases, highly advanced undergraduate students will be considered. Applicants of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

Priority will be given to researchers with less access to other institutional funds, projects that include multiple sites, and projects that include a strong educational/capacity-building component.

Budget Information:

Research projects up to $15,000 USD will be considered. 

Funding is restricted to expenses directly related to field research, laboratory research, and data analysis. Examples of eligible expenses include travel, living expenses during fieldwork, supplies, research assistance, and publication fees.

Funding is NOT available for salary and/or fringe benefits of the applicant, indirect costs for institutional support, undergraduate or graduate study costs (e.g., tuition, textbooks, fees), non-project personnel, or travel to meetings or conferences. 

Application Instructions:

Applicants must submit two documents following the below guidelines:

1. An online application through Google Forms: click here to submit.

2. A single PDF with information in the following order:

  • A research proposal (1000-word limit. Research proposals that exceed 1000 words will be disqualified prior to review). The research proposal should include:
    • Title
    • Introduction
    • Description of the proposed research that includes the relevance to one or more of the Forest Dynamics Sites
    • Research objectives, including clearly stated hypotheses and expected significance
    • Research plan, including detailed methods
    • Anticipated outcomes
    • Broader significance of the research to the discipline
    • How the proposal builds scientific capacity through education
    • References (not included in the word limit)
  • A list of project collaborators. For students and postdoctoral researchers, this includes an advisor. Host-country (country where forest site is located) collaborators are strongly recommended. 
  • Proof that the applicant has contacted site Principal Investigators BEFORE submitting a proposal (through inclusion of email correspondence).
  • A Curriculum Vitae (limit 2 pages), including the applicant's contact information, educational background, current and previous fellowships and grants, and research interests.
  • A detailed budget. The budget should include all costs related to carrying out the proposed research. See the above Budget Information for expenses that can be included in the proposal. Include a budget justification for any unclear expenses.
  • A project timeline. A timeline with the schedule for proposed research activities should be included. Please note: accepted applicants will receive award funding not before late fall 2023.

Submission Instructions:

In order to be considered, proposals must follow the above Application Instructions.

Submit the online applicant information through Google Forms here.

Submit the single PDF document to

All materials must be submitted by 5:00PM EDT (UTC-04), Wednesday, 6 September 2023.

How will applications be evaluated?

Applications are evaluated by a panel of scientists associated with the ForestGEO network. Outside scholars may also be called on to review grant proposals. Awards are made based on the proposal's merit, the applicant's ability to carry out the proposed research, the likelihood that the research can be carried out in the proposed timeframe, the extent to which ForestGEO sites contribute to the proposed research, and the broader significance of the project.

Priority will be given to researchers with less access to other institutional funds, projects that include multiple sites, and projects that include a strong educational/capacity-building component.

Read about our 2022 awardees here.

Further questions? Send an email to or attend our Zoom Q&A session on Wednesday July 12 at 9:00am EDT. Register here. Recording will be available upon request. 

ForestGEO extends many thanks Erik and Atch Stapper for their continued support of early-career researchers and students through the J&J Ruinen Fellowship in Tropical Forestry.