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research proposal example environmental science

55 Remarkable Environmental Topics for Research Proposal

Explore the collection of great environmental research topics from field experts.

research proposal example environmental science

Environmental Research Topics: Features, Importance & Great Ideas

Environmental investigations entail investigating the natural world’s structure and function, the association between humans and the environment, and how people’s values, beliefs, and attitudes affect that association. Environmental research topics thus cover a wide range of subjects, including climate change, biodiversity, pollution, renewable energy, and sustainability.

How to Choose Environmental Topics for Research

Environmental investigations is a very broad field that offers a wide range of areas to investigate. So how can you choose a good one for your paper? First, always pick an issue from the area you are interested in. What is environmental science direction you’d like to develop? Working on your paper will be easier since you’ll be motivated to explore something you care about. From there, sort through your environmental topics for research to determine the following:

  • Relevance – does the proposal theme address an environmental issue with significant societal implications, such as pollution or climate change?
  • Originality –  does the investigation subject offer a new perspective on existing knowledge?
  • Feasibility – are the environmental topics to research realistic and achievable based on the scope and your available resources?
  • Scope – how broad is the matter of investigation? It shouldn’t be too broad or too narrow; it should be the right size to provide a comprehensive investigation.

When choosing environmental science research paper topics, avoid those that are too complex or require more resources and time than you can provide. Remember also to consider data availability, literature, funding, time, and ethical issues involved.

environmental research topics

Environmental Topics for Research Paper Are Not Created Equal

Environmental science topics are created differently depending on your discipline, purpose, scope, and methodology. Thus, the approach used to formulate them differs as they will serve different purposes. For example, some are explanatory and will try to explain how something happens or works. Others will try to seek more knowledge about a subject(exploratory). Then, you might also encounter a few that compare and contrast two phenomena or situations.

When assessing investigation issues, carefully evaluate your goals and interests before committing to a specific one. Otherwise, you might get stuck. Luckily our research proposal writing services are always here to help you help to get out of even the most challenging situation!

The Most Actual Environmental Science Topics for an Excellent Proposal

Natural and human-made systems that shape our planet and affect its inhabitants are one of the most interesting areas to write a paper about. Check out these environmental topics for research paper to produce an engaging proposal.

1. Consequences of Climate Change Human Societies.

2. Challenges of Renewable Energy Technologies.

3. Recycling Initiatives and Their Implications on Reducing Pollution.

4. Challenges of Sustainable Management of Freshwater Resources.

5. The Impact of Low Air Quality on Human Health.

6. Effectiveness of Conservational Policies in Addressing Environmental Issues.

7. Impacts of Sustainable Transportation in Reducing Urban Ecological Footprint.

8. Effect of Marine Pollution on Marine Ecosystems.

9. Challenges Facing Sustainable Farming Practices.

10. Impacts of Electricity Generation on the Environment.

11. Ecological Hazards of Electronic Waste.

12. Tourism’s Negative Effect on Ecosystems.

Environmental science research topics are often flexible and can be broadened or narrowed down depending on the scope of your study.

Interesting Environmental Justice Topics

Environmental justice involves advocating for fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in implementing environmental laws and policies. Here’re exciting environmental justice topics for a good proposal.

1. Effect of Hazardous Waste Facilities on Minority Communities.

2. The Influence of Air Pollution Exposure on the Health of Marginalized Populations.

3. Effect of Unequal Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods.

4. Relationship Between Indigenous Communities and Conservation Efforts.

5. Influence of Climate Change on Vulnerable Communities.

6. Differential Impacts of Natural Disasters on Marginalized Populations.

7. The Importance of Environmental Education in Empowering Disadvantaged Communities.

8. Barriers to Equitable Access to Healthy and Sustainable Food Options in Marginalized Communities.

9. Geographical Inequalities in Accessing Clean Water.

10. The Intersection Between Food Justice and Ecological Concerns.

11. The Link Between Exposure to Pollutants Hazards and Adverse Health Outcomes in Socially Disadvantaged Groups.

12. Barriers to Equitable Distribution of Resources and Assistance During Post-disaster Recovery in Marginalized Communities.

The above can provide great options for a research proposal about environmental problems and how they affect specific populations.

Insightful Environmental Economics Research Topics

Environmental economics research topics aim to understand the human activities impacting on the natural environment and human welfare. So if you are looking for decent quantitative research ideas , consider the following offered by our experienced investigator.

1. Effectiveness of Economic Incentives in Promoting the Adoption of Renewable Energy Sources.

2. Effect of Pollution Regulations on Automobile Manufacturing Industry Competitiveness.

3. Factors Promoting Economic Growth in Green Industries and Sustainable Sectors.

4. The Economic Influence of Urban Sprawl on Environmental Quality.

5. Economic Implications of Water Scarcity.

6. Economic Incentives for Conserving Biodiversity.

7. Economic Benefits of Investing in Renewable Energy Technologies.

8. The Economic Viability of Strategies to Reduce Plastic Pollution.

9. Effectiveness of Carbon Pricing Mechanisms in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

10. Economic Consequences of Natural Disasters.

11. Economic Importance of Disaster Preparedness and Resilience.

12. Economic Benefits of Transitioning From a Linear to a Circular Economy Model Focused on Resource Efficiency and Waste Reduction.

13. Role of Green Finance & Sustainable Investments in Supporting Eco-Friendly Projects and Businesses.

14. Efficient Water Pricing Mechanisms to Encourage Conservation.

Captivating Environmental Biology Research Topics

Environmental biology research topics will often try to assess the interaction between living organisms and their natural or human-modified environments. Check out these interesting issues to investigate for your biology research proposal .

1. Ways in Which Climate Change Affects the Distribution and Habitat Suitability of Plants.

2. Relationship Between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health.

3. Role of Keystone Species in Maintaining Ecosystem Processes.

4. Human Factors Contributing to the Decline of Endangered Species.

5. Ecological Effect of Invasive Species on Local Ecosystems.

6. Factors Contributing to Pollinator Decline.

7. Ecological Consequences for Plant-Pollinator Interactions and Food Security.

8. Ecological Effects of Microplastics in Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems.

9. Shifts in the Timing of Seasonal Events in Animals in Response to Climate Change.

10. Ways in Which Changes in Land Use Impact Biodiversity.

11. Ways in Which Deforestation Impacts Ecological Communities.

12. Effects of Agricultural Pollutants on Ecosystems.

13. Challenges of Ecotoxicological Risk Assessments.

14. Ways in Which Wildlife Populations Adapt to Urban Environments.

15. Effects of Conservation on Human-Wildlife Interactions.

16. The Impact of Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels on Coral Reef Ecosystems.

17. The Influence of Marine Tourism on Marine Biodiversity.

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Importance of choosing the right environmental research paper topics.

Choosing the proper investigation issue is crucial for the success and impact of your paper. Topics related to environment issues tend to be complicated and demand a thorough understanding of the natural and social dimensions of the problem. But with the right choice, the writing process is much easier and gives a better chance to produce a quality paper.

Poor environmental research paper topics will waste your time, resources and even cause frustration when investigators struggle to meet the word count. So, choose your subjects of investigation wisely or request expert help if you need extra support.

new environmental research proposal topics

While the above topics for environmental research papers might prove useful, sometimes picking a subject of investigation and working on a proposal can be daunting. But you shouldn’t worry. We have a large team of experienced writers ready to work on your paper and final paper. You only need to send your instructions, and they’ll embark on the task.

We’re here to help with your proposal. So drop us a line anytime you may need professional assistance!

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Research Topics & Ideas: Environment

100+ Environmental Science Research Topics & Ideas

Research topics and ideas within the environmental sciences

Finding and choosing a strong research topic is the critical first step when it comes to crafting a high-quality dissertation, thesis or research project. Here, we’ll explore a variety research ideas and topic thought-starters related to various environmental science disciplines, including ecology, oceanography, hydrology, geology, soil science, environmental chemistry, environmental economics, and environmental ethics.

NB – This is just the start…

The topic ideation and evaluation process has multiple steps . In this post, we’ll kickstart the process by sharing some research topic ideas within the environmental sciences. This is the starting point though. To develop a well-defined research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , along with a well-justified plan of action to fill that gap.

If you’re new to the oftentimes perplexing world of research, or if this is your first time undertaking a formal academic research project, be sure to check out our free dissertation mini-course. Also be sure to also sign up for our free webinar that explores how to develop a high-quality research topic from scratch.

Overview: Environmental Topics

  • Ecology /ecological science
  • Atmospheric science
  • Oceanography
  • Soil science
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Environmental economics
  • Environmental ethics
  • Examples  of dissertations and theses

Topics & Ideas: Ecological Science

  • The impact of land-use change on species diversity and ecosystem functioning in agricultural landscapes
  • The role of disturbances such as fire and drought in shaping arid ecosystems
  • The impact of climate change on the distribution of migratory marine species
  • Investigating the role of mutualistic plant-insect relationships in maintaining ecosystem stability
  • The effects of invasive plant species on ecosystem structure and function
  • The impact of habitat fragmentation caused by road construction on species diversity and population dynamics in the tropics
  • The role of ecosystem services in urban areas and their economic value to a developing nation
  • The effectiveness of different grassland restoration techniques in degraded ecosystems
  • The impact of land-use change through agriculture and urbanisation on soil microbial communities in a temperate environment
  • The role of microbial diversity in ecosystem health and nutrient cycling in an African savannah

Topics & Ideas: Atmospheric Science

  • The impact of climate change on atmospheric circulation patterns above tropical rainforests
  • The role of atmospheric aerosols in cloud formation and precipitation above cities with high pollution levels
  • The impact of agricultural land-use change on global atmospheric composition
  • Investigating the role of atmospheric convection in severe weather events in the tropics
  • The impact of urbanisation on regional and global atmospheric ozone levels
  • The impact of sea surface temperature on atmospheric circulation and tropical cyclones
  • The impact of solar flares on the Earth’s atmospheric composition
  • The impact of climate change on atmospheric turbulence and air transportation safety
  • The impact of stratospheric ozone depletion on atmospheric circulation and climate change
  • The role of atmospheric rivers in global water supply and sea-ice formation

Research topic evaluator

Topics & Ideas: Oceanography

  • The impact of ocean acidification on kelp forests and biogeochemical cycles
  • The role of ocean currents in distributing heat and regulating desert rain
  • The impact of carbon monoxide pollution on ocean chemistry and biogeochemical cycles
  • Investigating the role of ocean mixing in regulating coastal climates
  • The impact of sea level rise on the resource availability of low-income coastal communities
  • The impact of ocean warming on the distribution and migration patterns of marine mammals
  • The impact of ocean deoxygenation on biogeochemical cycles in the arctic
  • The role of ocean-atmosphere interactions in regulating rainfall in arid regions
  • The impact of ocean eddies on global ocean circulation and plankton distribution
  • The role of ocean-ice interactions in regulating the Earth’s climate and sea level

Research topic idea mega list

Tops & Ideas: Hydrology

  • The impact of agricultural land-use change on water resources and hydrologic cycles in temperate regions
  • The impact of agricultural groundwater availability on irrigation practices in the global south
  • The impact of rising sea-surface temperatures on global precipitation patterns and water availability
  • Investigating the role of wetlands in regulating water resources for riparian forests
  • The impact of tropical ranches on river and stream ecosystems and water quality
  • The impact of urbanisation on regional and local hydrologic cycles and water resources for agriculture
  • The role of snow cover and mountain hydrology in regulating regional agricultural water resources
  • The impact of drought on food security in arid and semi-arid regions
  • The role of groundwater recharge in sustaining water resources in arid and semi-arid environments
  • The impact of sea level rise on coastal hydrology and the quality of water resources

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

Topics & Ideas: Geology

  • The impact of tectonic activity on the East African rift valley
  • The role of mineral deposits in shaping ancient human societies
  • The impact of sea-level rise on coastal geomorphology and shoreline evolution
  • Investigating the role of erosion in shaping the landscape and impacting desertification
  • The impact of mining on soil stability and landslide potential
  • The impact of volcanic activity on incoming solar radiation and climate
  • The role of geothermal energy in decarbonising the energy mix of megacities
  • The impact of Earth’s magnetic field on geological processes and solar wind
  • The impact of plate tectonics on the evolution of mammals
  • The role of the distribution of mineral resources in shaping human societies and economies, with emphasis on sustainability

Topics & Ideas: Soil Science

  • The impact of dam building on soil quality and fertility
  • The role of soil organic matter in regulating nutrient cycles in agricultural land
  • The impact of climate change on soil erosion and soil organic carbon storage in peatlands
  • Investigating the role of above-below-ground interactions in nutrient cycling and soil health
  • The impact of deforestation on soil degradation and soil fertility
  • The role of soil texture and structure in regulating water and nutrient availability in boreal forests
  • The impact of sustainable land management practices on soil health and soil organic matter
  • The impact of wetland modification on soil structure and function
  • The role of soil-atmosphere exchange and carbon sequestration in regulating regional and global climate
  • The impact of salinization on soil health and crop productivity in coastal communities

Topics & Ideas: Environmental Chemistry

  • The impact of cobalt mining on water quality and the fate of contaminants in the environment
  • The role of atmospheric chemistry in shaping air quality and climate change
  • The impact of soil chemistry on nutrient availability and plant growth in wheat monoculture
  • Investigating the fate and transport of heavy metal contaminants in the environment
  • The impact of climate change on biochemical cycling in tropical rainforests
  • The impact of various types of land-use change on biochemical cycling
  • The role of soil microbes in mediating contaminant degradation in the environment
  • The impact of chemical and oil spills on freshwater and soil chemistry
  • The role of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in shaping water and soil chemistry
  • The impact of over-irrigation on the cycling and fate of persistent organic pollutants in the environment

Topics & Ideas: Environmental Economics

  • The impact of climate change on the economies of developing nations
  • The role of market-based mechanisms in promoting sustainable use of forest resources
  • The impact of environmental regulations on economic growth and competitiveness
  • Investigating the economic benefits and costs of ecosystem services for African countries
  • The impact of renewable energy policies on regional and global energy markets
  • The role of water markets in promoting sustainable water use in southern Africa
  • The impact of land-use change in rural areas on regional and global economies
  • The impact of environmental disasters on local and national economies
  • The role of green technologies and innovation in shaping the zero-carbon transition and the knock-on effects for local economies
  • The impact of environmental and natural resource policies on income distribution and poverty of rural communities

Topics & Ideas: Environmental Ethics

  • The ethical foundations of environmentalism and the environmental movement regarding renewable energy
  • The role of values and ethics in shaping environmental policy and decision-making in the mining industry
  • The impact of cultural and religious beliefs on environmental attitudes and behaviours in first world countries
  • Investigating the ethics of biodiversity conservation and the protection of endangered species in palm oil plantations
  • The ethical implications of sea-level rise for future generations and vulnerable coastal populations
  • The role of ethical considerations in shaping sustainable use of natural forest resources
  • The impact of environmental justice on marginalized communities and environmental policies in Asia
  • The ethical implications of environmental risks and decision-making under uncertainty
  • The role of ethics in shaping the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable future for the construction industry
  • The impact of environmental values on consumer behaviour and the marketplace: a case study of the ‘bring your own shopping bag’ policy

Examples: Real Dissertation & Thesis Topics

While the ideas we’ve presented above are a decent starting point for finding a research topic, they are fairly generic and non-specific. So, it helps to look at actual dissertations and theses to see how this all comes together.

Below, we’ve included a selection of research projects from various environmental science-related degree programs to help refine your thinking. These are actual dissertations and theses, written as part of Master’s and PhD-level programs, so they can provide some useful insight as to what a research topic looks like in practice.

  • The physiology of microorganisms in enhanced biological phosphorous removal (Saunders, 2014)
  • The influence of the coastal front on heavy rainfall events along the east coast (Henson, 2019)
  • Forage production and diversification for climate-smart tropical and temperate silvopastures (Dibala, 2019)
  • Advancing spectral induced polarization for near surface geophysical characterization (Wang, 2021)
  • Assessment of Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter and Thamnocephalus platyurus as Tools to Monitor Cyanobacterial Bloom Development and Toxicity (Hipsher, 2019)
  • Evaluating the Removal of Microcystin Variants with Powdered Activated Carbon (Juang, 2020)
  • The effect of hydrological restoration on nutrient concentrations, macroinvertebrate communities, and amphibian populations in Lake Erie coastal wetlands (Berg, 2019)
  • Utilizing hydrologic soil grouping to estimate corn nitrogen rate recommendations (Bean, 2019)
  • Fungal Function in House Dust and Dust from the International Space Station (Bope, 2021)
  • Assessing Vulnerability and the Potential for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in Sudan’s Blue Nile Basin (Mohamed, 2022)
  • A Microbial Water Quality Analysis of the Recreational Zones in the Los Angeles River of Elysian Valley, CA (Nguyen, 2019)
  • Dry Season Water Quality Study on Three Recreational Sites in the San Gabriel Mountains (Vallejo, 2019)
  • Wastewater Treatment Plan for Unix Packaging Adjustment of the Potential Hydrogen (PH) Evaluation of Enzymatic Activity After the Addition of Cycle Disgestase Enzyme (Miessi, 2020)
  • Laying the Genetic Foundation for the Conservation of Longhorn Fairy Shrimp (Kyle, 2021).

Looking at these titles, you can probably pick up that the research topics here are quite specific and narrowly-focused , compared to the generic ones presented earlier. To create a top-notch research topic, you will need to be precise and target a specific context with specific variables of interest . In other words, you’ll need to identify a clear, well-justified research gap.

Need more help?

If you’re still feeling a bit unsure about how to find a research topic for your environmental science dissertation or research project, be sure to check out our private coaching services below, as well as our Research Topic Kickstarter .

Need a helping hand?

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1.4: Research Proposals

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Learning Objectives

  • Perform biodiversity research through making and translating your observations of the natural world into research questions, hypotheses, and experimental design that are grounded in scientific literature.
  • Communicate the research process to your peers in a clear, effective, and engaging manner.

Written Proposal

Writing about research is a primary method scientists use to communicate their work. Thus, this course will involve developing a written research proposal. We will use several drafts to refine the research proposal. The first draft can utilize the template available in Appendix 6. Subsequent drafts should become more refined and start to take the format of a scientific paper. The proposal should include an introductory section providing background on the topic of interest, drawing from several primary research articles. This section also develops the argument for why the research question is worth studying. The research question and hypothesis should also be included in the introduction.

The second section should include the proposed methodology. Describe how the hypothesis will be tested. It should outline the experiments and what will be needed to perform them. Ideas can be supported by referring to previously published research. The third section will address anticipated results. Consider the expected findings and the implications of those findings for the original research question and hypothesis. Consider what it would mean if the results turned out a different way. Finally, be sure to include both in-text citations and a full reference list at the end. The proposal should have good narrative flow and be proofread for proper spelling and grammar. See the rubric in the Appendix 3 for evaluation guidelines.

Oral Presentation

Scientists also frequently share their research findings via presentations, such as at meetings with other scientists. Developing an oral presentation of the research proposal provides an opportunity to practice communicating science to our peers. The presentation should be ~10 minutes and delivered via a slideshow. The presentation should include the same content as the written portion, but the distinction here the audience will be engaged in a different way. The best presentations tell a good story, so think about how to translate the proposal into a story – typically start with background information so the audience members have some understanding of the context. Then use the background information strategically to build up to the identified research gap and the corresponding research question. The question then leads naturally into the hypothesis or hypotheses to be tested. The final part of the presentation will be the experimental plan – how will the hypothesis be tested? Try to envision all possible outcomes from the experiment and how that will support or refute the hypothesis and inform on the interpretation of the results.

There will be opportunities for questions from peers at the end. It is important to try to ask questions at the end of presentations in order to practice giving this kind of feedback. This is a very common way in which scientists provide feedback to each other on their work. Attending departmental seminars or conferences will enable witnessing this first hand. See the rubric in the Appendix 3 for evaluation guidelines.

Proposal Workshop I

Proposing research ideas is a key element of working in the biodiversity science field. Thus this first workshop will be focused on sharing and expanding upon initial ideas for a research proposal. It will take a lab meeting format with a round table discussion where each student has the opportunity to share their research proposal ideas. Peers will then ask follow-up questions to help support idea development. Incidentally, this also serves as an opportunity to practice communicating science to peers. It takes practice to clearly articulate ideas. Following the workshop, begin exploring some literature related to the topic of interest and start putting ideas down on paper – they will not be polished yet, but it will help to develop the initial draft of the research proposal. See the Appendix 6 for a proposal first draft template.

Proposal Workshop II

This workshop will continue to develop the research question, hypothesis, and experimental design. We will discuss developing ideas in pairs with both the course instructor and classmates. We will work to develop ideas into excellent proposal material by digging into the following questions.

Research Question

  • What is your research question?
  • Is your question clearly stated and focused? If not, how might you tailor it?
  • Why are you interested in this question? What makes you curious about it? What have you learned from previous studies that lead you to want to ask this question?


  • What are your hypotheses/predictions?
  • Are they stated clearly? If not, what needs to be adjusted?
  • Are they aligned with the question you are asking?
  • Why are you interested in this hypothesis?

Experimental Plan

  • What is your experimental plan?
  • Does the design fit with your hypothesis?
  • Are there things that still need to be considered? If so, what are they?

Proposal Workshop III

This workshop is an opportunity to polish. Use this time to solicit final feedback from peers, test out design ideas for the final presentation, or practice delivering the presentation in front of an audience. no longer supports Internet Explorer.

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:


Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

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research proposal example environmental science

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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Research Proposal Examples for Every Science Field

Looking for research funding can be a daunting task, especially when you are starting out. A great way to improve grant-writing skills is to get inspired by winning research proposal examples.

To assist you in writing a competitive proposal, I have curated a collection of real-life research proposal examples from various scientific disciplines. These examples will allow you to gain inspiration about the way research proposals are structured and written.

Structure of a Research Proposal

A research proposal serves as a road-map for a project, outlining the objectives, methodology, resources, and expected outcomes. The main goal of writing a research proposal is to convince funding agency of the value and feasibility of a research project. But a proposal also helps scientists themselves to clarify their planned approach.

While the exact structure may vary depending on the science field and institutional guidelines, a research proposal typically includes the following sections: Problem, Objectives, Methodology, Resources, Participants, Results&Impact, Dissemination, Timeline, and Budget. I will use this structure for the example research proposals in this article.

Research Proposal Example Structure including the description of a project outline:  Problem: The knowledge gap that should be filled  Objectives: The objectives that will help solve the identified problem  Methodology: The approach that leads to reaching the objectives  Resources: The resources needed to accomplish the objectives  Participants: The research team’s qualification for implementing the research methodology and their complementary value  Results & Impact: The new knowledge that will be created and its real-world impact  Dissemination: The proper target audience and how you will reach them  Timeline: The time required for performing each part of the research project  Budget: The cost items and the distribution of funding between participants  On the side a PhD student is carrying a money bag.

Here is a brief description of what each of the nine proposal sections should hold.

A concise and informative title that captures the essence of the research proposal. Sometimes an abstract is required that briefly summarizes the proposed project.

Research Proposal Problem description

Clearly define the research problem or gap in knowledge that the study aims to address. Present relevant background information and cite existing literature to support the need for further investigation.

Research Proposal Objective description

State the specific objectives and research questions that the study seeks to answer. These objectives should be clear, measurable, and aligned with the problem statement.

Research Proposal Methodology description


Describe the research design, methodology, and techniques that will be employed to collect and analyze data. Justify your chosen approach and discuss its strengths and limitations.

Research Proposal Resources description

Outline the resources required for the successful execution of the research project, such as equipment, facilities, software, and access to specific datasets or archives.

Research Proposal Participants description


Describe the research team’s qualification for implementing the research methodology and their complementary value

Research Proposal Results and Impact description

Results and Impact

Describe the expected results, outcomes, and potential impact of the research. Discuss how the findings will contribute to the field and address the research gap identified earlier.

Research Proposal Dissemination description


Explain how the research results will be disseminated to the academic community and wider audiences. This may include publications, conference presentations, workshops, data sharing or collaborations with industry partners.

Research Proposal Timeline description

Develop a realistic timeline that outlines the major milestones and activities of the research project. Consider potential challenges or delays and incorporate contingency plans.

Research Proposal Budget description symbol

Provide a detailed budget estimate, including anticipated expenses for research materials, equipment, participant compensation, travel, and other relevant costs. Justify the budget based on the project’s scope and requirements.

Consider that the above-mentioned proposal headings can be called differently depending on the funder’s requirements. However, you can be sure in one proposal’s section or another each of the mentioned sections will be included. Whenever provided, always use the proposal structure as required by the funding agency.

Research Proposal template download

This research proposal template includes the nine headings that we just discussed. For each heading, a key sentence skeleton is provided to help you to kick-start the proposal writing process.

research proposal example environmental science

Real-Life Research Proposal Examples

Proposals can vary from field to field so I will provide you with research proposal examples proposals in four main branches of science: social sciences, life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering and technology. For each science field, you will be able to download real-life winning research proposal examples.

To illustrate the principle of writing a scientific proposal while adhering to the nine sections I outlined earlier, for each discipline I will also provide you with a sample hypothetical research proposal. These examples are formulated using the key sentence structure that is included in the download template .

In case the research proposal examples I provide do not hold exactly what you are looking for, use the Open Grants database. It holds approved research proposals from various funding agencies in many countries. When looking for research proposals examples in the database, use the filer to search for specific keywords and organize the results to view proposals that have been funded.

Research Proposals Examples in Social Sciences

Here are real-life research proposal examples of funded projects in social sciences.

Here is an outline of a hypothetical Social Sciences research proposal that is structured using the nine proposal sections we discussed earlier. This proposal example is produced using the key sentence skeleton that you will access in the proposal template .

The Influence of Social Media on Political Participation among Young Adults

Research Proposal Problem description symbol

Social media platforms have become prominent spaces for political discussions and information sharing. However, the impact of social media on political participation among young adults remains a topic of debate.

Research Proposal Objectives description symbol

With the project, we aim to establish the relationship between social media usage and political engagement among young adults. To achieve this aim, we have three specific objectives:

  • Examine the association between social media usage patterns and various forms of political participation, such as voting, attending political rallies, and engaging in political discussions.
  • Investigate the role of social media in shaping political attitudes, opinions, and behaviors among young adults.
  • Provide evidence-based recommendations for utilizing social media platforms to enhance youth political participation.

Research Proposal Methodology description symbol

During the project, a mixed methods approach, combining quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews will be used to determine the impact of social media use on youth political engagement. In particular, surveys will collect data on social media usage, political participation, and attitudes. Interviews will provide in-depth insights into participants’ experiences and perceptions.

Research Proposal Resources description symbol

The project will use survey software, transcription tools, and statistical analysis software to statistically evaluate the gathered results. The project will also use project funding for participant compensation.

Research Proposal Participant description symbol

Principal investigator, Jane Goodrich will lead a multidisciplinary research team comprising social scientists, political scientists, and communication experts with expertise in political science and social media research.

Research Proposal Results and Impact description symbol

The project will contribute to a better understanding of the influence of social media on political participation among young adults, including:

  • inform about the association between social media usage and political participation among youth.
  • determine the relationship between social media content and political preferences among youth.
  • provide guidelines for enhancing youth engagement in democratic processes through social media use.

Research Proposal Dissemination description symbol

We will disseminate the research results within policymakers and NGOs through academic publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at relevant conferences, and policy briefs.

Research Proposal Timeline description symbol

The project will start will be completed within two years and for the first two objectives a periodic report will be submitted in months 12 and 18.

The total eligible project costs are 58,800 USD, where 15% covers participant recruitment and compensation, 5% covers survey software licenses, 55% are dedicated for salaries, and 25% are intended for dissemination activities.

Research Proposal Examples in Life Sciences

Here are real-life research project examples in life sciences.

Here is a hypothetical research proposal example in Life Sciences. Just like the previous example, it consists of the nine discussed proposal sections and it is structured using the key sentence skeleton that you will access in the proposal template .

Investigating the Role of Gut Microbiota in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (GUT-MET)

Obesity and metabolic syndrome pose significant health challenges worldwide, leading to numerous chronic diseases and increasing healthcare costs. Despite extensive research, the precise mechanisms underlying these conditions remain incompletely understood. A critical knowledge gap exists regarding the role of gut microbiota in the development and progression of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

With the GUT-MET project, we aim to unravel the complex interactions between gut microbiota and obesity/metabolic syndrome. To achieve this aim, we have the following specific objectives:

  • Investigate the composition and diversity of gut microbiota in individuals with obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • Determine the functional role of specific gut microbial species and their metabolites in the pathogenesis of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

During the project, we will employ the following key methodologies:

  • Perform comprehensive metagenomic and metabolomic analyses to characterize the gut microbiota and associated metabolic pathways.
  • Conduct animal studies to investigate the causal relationship between gut microbiota alterations and the development of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The project will benefit from state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, including advanced sequencing and analytical equipment, as well as access to a well-established cohort of participants with obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Research Proposal Participants description symbol

Dr. Emma Johnson, a renowned expert in gut microbiota research and Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of PeerRecognized, will lead the project. Dr. Johnson has published extensively in high-impact journals and has received multiple research grants focused on the gut microbiota and metabolic health.

The project will deliver crucial insights into the role of gut microbiota in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Specifically, it will:

  • Identify microbial signatures associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome for potential diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
  • Uncover key microbial metabolites and pathways implicated in disease development, enabling the development of targeted interventions.

We will actively disseminate the project results within the scientific community, healthcare professionals, and relevant stakeholders through publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at international conferences, and engagement with patient advocacy groups.

The project will be executed over a period of 36 months. Key milestones include data collection and analysis, animal studies, manuscript preparation, and knowledge transfer activities.

The total eligible project costs are $1,500,000, with the budget allocated for 55% personnel, 25% laboratory supplies, 5% data analysis, and 15% knowledge dissemination activities as specified in the research call guidelines.

Research Proposals Examples in Natural Sciences

Here are real-life research proposal examples of funded projects in natural sciences.

Here is a Natural Sciences research proposal example that is structured using the same nine sections. I created this proposal example using the key sentence skeleton that you will access in the proposal template .

Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity Dynamics in Fragile Ecosystems (CLIM-BIODIV)

Climate change poses a significant threat to global biodiversity, particularly in fragile ecosystems such as tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Understanding the specific impacts of climate change on biodiversity dynamics within these ecosystems is crucial for effective conservation and management strategies. However, there is a knowledge gap regarding the precise mechanisms through which climate change influences species composition, population dynamics, and ecosystem functioning in these vulnerable habitats.

With the CLIM-BIODIV project, we aim to assess the impact of climate change on biodiversity dynamics in fragile ecosystems. To achieve this aim, we have the following specific objectives:

  • Investigate how changes in temperature and precipitation patterns influence species distributions and community composition in tropical rainforests.
  • Assess the effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral reef ecosystems, including changes in coral bleaching events, species diversity, and ecosystem resilience.
  • Conduct field surveys and employ remote sensing techniques to assess changes in species distributions and community composition in tropical rainforests.
  • Utilize experimental approaches and long-term monitoring data to evaluate the response of coral reefs to varying temperature and pH conditions.

The project will benefit from access to field sites in ecologically sensitive regions, advanced remote sensing technology, and collaboration with local conservation organizations to facilitate data collection and knowledge sharing.

Dr. Alexander Chen, an established researcher in climate change and biodiversity conservation, will lead the project. Dr. Chen is a Professor of Ecology at the University of Peer Recognized, with a track record of three Nature publications and successful grant applications exceeding 25 million dollars.

The project will provide valuable insights into the impacts of climate change on biodiversity dynamics in fragile ecosystems. It will:

  • Enhance our understanding of how tropical rainforest communities respond to climate change, informing targeted conservation strategies.
  • Contribute to the identification of vulnerable coral reef ecosystems and guide management practices for their protection and resilience.

We will disseminate the project results to the scientific community, conservation practitioners, and policymakers through publications in reputable journals, participation in international conferences, and engagement with local communities and relevant stakeholders.

The project will commence on March 1, 2024, and will be implemented over a period of 48 months. Key milestones include data collection and analysis, modeling exercises, stakeholder engagement, and knowledge transfer activities. These are summarized in the Gantt chart.

The total eligible project costs are $2,000,000, with budget allocation for research personnel, fieldwork expenses, laboratory analyses, modeling software, data management, and dissemination activities.

Research Proposal Examples in Engineering and Technology

Here are real-life research proposal examples of funded research projects in the field of science and technology.

Here is a hypothetical Engineering and Technology research proposal example that is structured using the same nine proposal sections we discussed earlier. I used the key sentence skeleton available in the proposal template to produce this example.

Developing Sustainable Materials for Energy-Efficient Buildings (SUST-BUILD)

The construction industry is a major contributor to global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing this issue requires the development of sustainable materials that promote energy efficiency in buildings. However, there is a need for innovative engineering solutions to overcome existing challenges related to the performance, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of such materials.

With the SUST-BUILD project, we aim to develop sustainable materials for energy-efficient buildings. Our specific objectives are as follows:

  • Design and optimize novel insulating materials with enhanced thermal properties and reduced environmental impact.
  • Develop advanced coatings and surface treatments to improve the energy efficiency and durability of building envelopes.
  • Conduct extensive material characterization and simulation studies to guide the design and optimization of insulating materials.
  • Utilize advanced coating techniques and perform full-scale testing to evaluate the performance and durability of building envelope treatments.

The project will benefit from access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, including material testing equipment, thermal analysis tools, and coating application setups. Collaboration with industry partners will facilitate the translation of research findings into practical applications.

Dr. Maria Rodriguez, an experienced researcher in sustainable materials and building technologies, will lead the project. Dr. Rodriguez holds a position as Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at Peer Recognized University and has a strong publication record and expertise in the field.

The project will deliver tangible outcomes for energy-efficient buildings. It will:

  • Develop sustainable insulating materials with superior thermal performance, contributing to reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.
  • Introduce advanced coatings and surface treatments developed from sustainable materials that enhance the durability and energy efficiency of building envelopes, thereby improving long-term building performance.

We will disseminate project results to relevant stakeholders, including industry professionals, architects, and policymakers. This will be accomplished through publications in scientific journals, presentations at conferences and seminars, and engagement with industry associations.

research proposal example environmental science

The project will commence on September 1, 2024, and will be implemented over a period of 36 months. Key milestones include material development and optimization, performance testing, prototype fabrication, and knowledge transfer activities. The milestones are summarized in the Gantt chart.

The total eligible project costs are $1,800,000. The budget will cover personnel salaries (60%), materials and equipment (10%), laboratory testing (5%), prototyping (15%), data analysis (5%), and dissemination activities (5%) as specified in the research call guidelines.

Final Tips for Writing an Winning Research Proposal

Come up with a good research idea.

Ideas are the currency of research world. I have prepared a 3 step approach that will help you to come up with a research idea that is worth turning into a proposal. You can download the Research Idea Generation Toolkit in this article.

Research project idea generation in three steps: 1. Generate many ideas 2. Refine the best ones 3. Rate and select the winner

Start with a strong research outline

Before even writing one sentence of the research proposal, I suggest you use the Research Project Canvas . It will help you to first come up with different research ideas and then choose the best one for writing a full research proposal.

Research Proposal Template in the middle between a Research Project Canvas and a Full Research Proposal

Tailor to the requirements of the project funder

Treat the submission guide like a Monk treats the Bible and follow its strict requirements to the last detail. The funder might set requirements for the topic, your experience, employment conditions, host institution, the research team, funding amount, and so forth. 

What you would like to do in the research is irrelevant unless it falls within the boundaries defined by the funder.

Make the reviewer’s job of finding flaws in your proposal difficult by ensuring that you have addressed each requirement clearly. If applicable, you can even use a table with requirements versus your approach. This will make your proposed approach absolutely evident for the reviewers.

Before submitting, assess your proposal using the criteria reviewers have to follow.

Conduct thorough background research

Before writing your research proposal, conduct comprehensive background research to familiarize yourself with existing literature, theories, and methodologies related to your topic. This will help you identify research gaps and formulate research questions that address these gaps. You will also establish competence in the eyes of reviewers by citing relevant literature.

Be concise and clear

Define research questions that are specific, measurable, and aligned with the problem statement.

If you think the reviewers might be from a field outside your own, avoid unnecessary jargon or complex language to help them to understand the proposal better.

Be specific in describing the research methodology. For example, include a brief description of the experimental methods you will rely upon, add a summary of the materials that you are going to use, attach samples of questionnaires that you will use, and include any other proof that demonstrates the thoroughness you have put into developing the research plan. Adding a flowchart is a great way to present the methodology.

Create a realistic timeline and budget

Develop a realistic project timeline that includes key milestones and activities, allowing for potential challenges or delays. Similarly, create a detailed budget estimate that covers all anticipated expenses, ensuring that it aligns with the scope and requirements of your research project. Be transparent and justify your budget allocations.

Demonstrate the significance and potential impact of the research

Clearly articulate the significance of your research and its potential impact on the field. Discuss how your findings can contribute to theory development, practical applications, policy-making, or other relevant areas.

Pay attention to formatting and style guidelines

Follow the formatting and style guidelines provided by your institution or funding agency. Pay attention to details such as font size, margins, referencing style, and section headings. Adhering to these guidelines demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail.

Take a break before editing

After preparing the first draft, set it aside for at least a week. Then thoroughly check it for logic and revise, revise, revise. Use the proposal submission guide to review your proposal against the requirements. Remember to use grammar checking tools to check for errors.

Finally, read the proposal out loud. This will help to ensure good readability.

Seek feedback

Share your proposal with mentors, colleagues, or members of your research community to receive constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement. Take these seriously since they provide a third party view of what is written (instead of what you think you have written).

Reviewing good examples is one of the best ways to learn a new skill. I hope that the research proposal examples in this article will be useful for you to get going with writing your own research proposal.

Have fun with the writing process and I hope your project gets approved!

Learning from research proposal examples alone is not enough

The research proposal examples I provided will help you to improve your grant writing skills. But learning from example proposals alone will take you a rather long time to master writing winning proposals.

To write a winning research proposal, you have to know how to add that elusive X-Factor that convinces the reviewers to move your proposal from the category “good” to the category “support”. This includes creating self-explanatory figures, creating a budget, collaborating with co-authors, and presenting a convincing story.

To write a research proposal that maximizes your chances of receiving research funding, read my book “ Write a Winning Research Proposal “.

Book Cover for "Write a Winning Research Proposal: How to Generate Grant Ideas and Secure Funding Using Research Project Canvas" by Martins Zaumanis. Includes research project examples.

This isn’t just a book. It’s a complete research proposal writing toolkit that includes a  project ideation canvas, budget spreadsheet, project rating scorecard, virtual collaboration whiteboard, proposal pitch formula, graphics creation cheat sheet, review checklist and other valuable resources that will help you succeed.

Martins Zaumanis

Hey! My name is Martins Zaumanis and I am a materials scientist in Switzerland ( Google Scholar ). As the first person in my family with a PhD, I have first-hand experience of the challenges starting scientists face in academia. With this blog, I want to help young researchers succeed in academia. I call the blog “Peer Recognized”, because peer recognition is what lifts academic careers and pushes science forward.

Besides this blog, I have written the Peer Recognized book series and created the Peer Recognized Academy offering interactive online courses.

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Hi Martins, I’ve recently discovered your content and it is great. I will be implementing much of it into my workflow, as well as using it to teach some graduate courses! I noticed that a materials science-focused proposal could be a very helpful addition.

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  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

  • 5 minute read

Table of Contents

The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Language Editing Services

One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

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  • Environmental Studies Research Proposal
  • Samples List

An research proposal examples on environmental studies is a prosaic composition of a small volume and free composition, expressing individual impressions and thoughts on a specific occasion or issue and obviously not claiming a definitive or exhaustive interpretation of the subject.

Some signs of environmental studies research proposal:

  • the presence of a specific topic or question. A work devoted to the analysis of a wide range of problems in biology, by definition, cannot be performed in the genre of environmental studies research proposal topic.
  • The research proposal expresses individual impressions and thoughts on a specific occasion or issue, in this case, on environmental studies and does not knowingly pretend to a definitive or exhaustive interpretation of the subject.
  • As a rule, an essay suggests a new, subjectively colored word about something, such a work may have a philosophical, historical, biographical, journalistic, literary, critical, popular scientific or purely fiction character.
  • in the content of an research proposal samples on environmental studies , first of all, the author’s personality is assessed - his worldview, thoughts and feelings.

The goal of an research proposal in environmental studies is to develop such skills as independent creative thinking and writing out your own thoughts.

Writing an research proposal is extremely useful, because it allows the author to learn to clearly and correctly formulate thoughts, structure information, use basic concepts, highlight causal relationships, illustrate experience with relevant examples, and substantiate his conclusions.

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Examples List on Environmental Studies Research Proposal


School of Environmental Studies

Your ph.d. research plan.

The Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program is a research-based degree program requiring a written and orally defended research dissertation. Since research is a primary component of this program, the Graduate Advisory Committee must approve the student's Research Plan.

  • The Research Plan is not meant to be in the form of a formal research proposal. There is a separate course (required for Chemistry Concentration students) that teaches students how to prepare a formal research proposal.
  • The Research Plan should be viewed like a contract between the student, the student's mentor, and the student's Graduate Advisory Committee. Changes to the Research Plan may occur while the research is carried out over the course of the student's tenure. The Graduate Advisory committee should be made aware of any substantial changes should this need arise.

Biology Concentration

The project must be defended by the end of the second semester or by the time the student has completed 15 hours of graduate coursework.

Chemistry Concentration

The Research Plan must be completed by the end of the third semester, excluding summer semesters.

Part Time Students

For part-time students, the Research Plan should be completed at a time agreeable with the students Graduate Advisory Committee.

Research Plan Guidelines

  • The Research Plan should be a concise literature review of your proposed research. It should also include any preliminary results obtained by the student as well as the proposed experimental procedures and methods.
  • The experimental procedures and methods should contain sufficient detail in order for the Graduate Advisory Committee to evaluate the proposal and judge its probability of success. Equipment and supplies necessary for this research should be adequately described.
  • The Research Plan should include a bibliography; any other pertinent information may be included in the Research Plan.

Changes to Your Research Plan

  • If changes are suggested at the time of the Research Plan Defense, then the corrected copy is the one that should be forwarded to the Directors office, along with the Research Plan Cover Sheet and any pertinent forms.
  • If the Research Plan is abandoned and a new one is put in place, the Research Plan should be rewritten, presented to the student's Graduate Advisory Committee and forwarded to the Director's office with a revised Research Plan Cover Sheet and any other applicable forms.
  • Research Plan Cover Sheet

The cover sheet must be attached to the Research Plan and copies of both must be forwarded to the Director of the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program.

Program of Study

  • The appropriate completed Program of Study form should also be included with the Research Plan bearing all applicable signatures.
  • The Director will then forward the Program of Study to the Graduate School Office.
  • If a Program of Study has previously been filed, and if changes are made to the Program of Study at the time of the Research Plan, the Substitution Form should be sent to the Director as well.
  • The Director will sign these forms and forward them to the Graduate School Office and retain copies for our records.
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research proposal example environmental science

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Failure evolution and instability prediction of fiber-reinforced polymer-confined cement mortar specimens under axial compression

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Mixture of pesticides based on dimethylamine and imidacloprid affects locomotion of adult zebrafish

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Cellulose nanocrystals intercalated clay biocomposite for rapid Cr(VI) removal

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Selenium-modified activated coke: a high-capacity and facile designed Hg 0 adsorbent for coal-fired flue gas

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Call for Large-Scale Research Proposals, FY 2024

  • February 9, 2023 Letters of intent due
  • February 22, 2023 Invitation of proposals
  • March 23, 2023 Full proposals due
  • July 31, 2023 Decision notices sent
  • October 1, 2023 Projects start

February 9, 2023, 5:00 p.m. PST

February 22, 2023, 5:00 p.m. PST

March 23, 2023, 5:00 p.m. PDT

July 31, 2023, 5:00 p.m. PDT

October 1, 2023, 5:00 PDT

The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) Fiscal Year 2024 Call for Large-Scale EMSL Research Proposals seeks leading-edge research activities to advance scientific understanding in each of EMSL’s science areas. The focus topics announced below aim to advance scientific understanding in areas of interest to, or aligned with, those of the Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program, and EMSL.

Researchers from around the world can apply through this call to use EMSL resources and collaborate with EMSL scientists at no cost. Accepted proposals are valid for two years provided that sufficient progress toward the stated goals is accomplished in the first year. Access to EMSL capabilities is competitive and approximately 30 percent of the proposals submitted will be accepted. Proposals will be evaluated according to the five review criteria listed below. Note that proposals that do not adhere to the guidance provided will not be considered.

Focus topic areas

The focus topics for this call are aligned with EMSL’s mission to accelerate scientific discovery and pioneer new capabilities to understand biological and environmental processes across temporal and spatial scales. The topics are organized by EMSL’s three science areas — Environmental Transformations and Interactions (ETI); Functional and Systems Biology (FSB); and Computing, Analytics, and Modeling (CAM).

Environmental Transformations and Interactions Science Area

We seek proposals that use EMSL capabilities to advance mechanistic molecular knowledge of microbial, geochemical, root-driven, and atmospheric processes, and process interdependencies, that control transformations, fate, and transport of C, N, and other nutrients in bedrock, soils, and rhizosphere, and of terrestrial-sourced emissions in the atmosphere. Proposals that develop or refine biogeochemical process models, provide data crucial to improving numerical models, or are part of an explicit MODEX research framework are of particular interest. Studies that are purely computational and that address ETI topical areas should be submitted under one of the 6 CAM science topics. Proposals that leverage samples and analyses performed through the ETI MONet program are particularly encouraged. Learn more about the ETI Science Area on the EMSL website. Contact the ETI Science Area lead, John Bargar if you have questions about these topics.

ETI-1: Molecular mechanisms of soil carbon cycling

Development of mechanistic information of molecular processes governing carbon uptake, stabilization, and release from soils. Topics of interest include microbial processing of organic matter (OM); enhanced stabilization of soil OM; processes occurring in hot spots; and other processes that modify soil C stability, fate, and transport. Soils from urban, agricultural, rangeland/grassland, forest, and wetland systems are appropriate for this topic. Studies that focus explicitly on mechanisms by which roots drive these processes should be submitted under ETI Topic 3.

ETI-2: Atmospheric processing of terrestrial-sourced emissions

Development of mechanistic understanding of processes that influence the behavior of plant- and soil-derived inorganic and biogenic aerosols in the atmosphere. Topics of interest include volatile organic compounds emitted from soil-plant systems; wildfire-generated aerosols; aging processes of aerosols in the atmosphere; physical, chemical, and optical properties of aerosols needed to assess their impact on warm and cold cloud formation and Earth’s radiative budget; and deposition of aerosol that impacts biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem properties. Anthropogenic aerosols that influence these processes are appropriate research subjects. Atmospheric systems above urban, agricultural, rangeland/grassland, forest, wetland, and water, including remote source points that contribute long-range transported aerosols, are appropriate for this call.

ETI-3:   Root-soil-microbe interactions

Development of mechanistic understanding of root-microbe-mineral processes in the rhizosphere that influence carbon and nutrient fluxes, support soil and plant function, and help maintain ecosystem services. Topics of interest include coupled molecular and transport processes that facilitate carbon and nutrient retention, transformation, and fluxes; root-microbiome chemical signaling; release and biogeochemical processing of metabolites and photosynthates; characterization and modeling of the spatio-temporal distribution of root exudates at the root-soil interfaces; and responses of microbial communities to these processes. Proposals that primarily address changes in rhizosphere function in response to disturbance events should submit their proposal to ETI Topic 4. 

ETI-4:  Molecular and microscale responses to ecosystem drivers

Development of mechanistic molecular knowledge of processes that underpin watershed and atmospheric responses (from bedrock to the top of the troposphere) to transient disturbance events at timescales of hours, days, seasons, and years, (e.g., storms, transient impacts of/responses to wildfires, inundation events, snowmelt, drought, saltwater intrusion, and changes in cold-season climate drivers). Topics of interest include but are not limited to the coupling between hydrological drivers and biogeochemical processes; emissions from plant/soil systems; climate-driven changes in root exudates and subsequent changes in plant-microbe interactions and plant resilience; microbial responses including (meta)transcriptomic signatures, response of mineral-organic associations, and soil OM stability to changes in soil moisture; reactive transport/transformation of carbon, metabolites, major ions, and (micro) nutrients; and changes in the biogeochemical function of terrestrial-aquatic interfaces.

Functional and Systems Biology (FSB) Science Area

We seek proposals utilizing EMSL capabilities for research focused on microbial systems relevant to the sustainable production of biofuels, chemicals and biomaterials, environmental microbiology, and biosystem designs. Learn more about the FSB Science Area on the EMSL website. Contact the FSB Science Area lead, Scott Baker , if you have questions about these topics.

FSB-1: Protein and protein complex structure and function (Principal IRP: SB)

  • The rapid pace of genome sequencing has uncovered a massive catalog of conserved genes encoding proteins of unknown function. The ability to predict, control, and engineer biochemical pathways are reliant on understanding the function of proteins in cellular processes. We seek proposals that structure-function studies targeted at elucidating the biochemical activities or biological activities.
  • Proteins often function in complexes, many of which are not or are poorly characterized. Comprehensive characterization of these complexes can be used to assign function(s) for new and unknown proteins. We seek proposals aimed at characterizing the composition, activities, and location of these complexes.

Overlap with CAM: Reconstruction workflows for protein structure determination and sub-cellular 3-D mapping

FSB-2: Regulatory and biosynthetic pathways (Principal IRP: BP)

  • Understanding the biological circuits in cells is crucial for the simulation or prediction of behavior and the design and engineering of new biological systems for enhanced performance. Projects probing the interconnections and interactions of proteins, and metabolites in the context of environmental nutrient cycling or the production of biofuels, chemicals, or biomaterials are desired.
  • Understanding the metabolic and biosynthetic pathways in natural, designed, and built environmental and biosynthesis systems for the identification and quantification of the functional components of complex systems and probe biological molecules with unknown functions.
  • Our understanding of the regulation of biological circuits is growing but still has gaps. We seek proposals focused on regulatory pathways in microbes involved in environmental nutrient cycling or the production of biofuels, chemicals, or biomaterials.

Overlap with CAM: Processing and integration of multi-omics data for modeling and interpretation

FSB-3: Populations and communities (Principal IRP: CSC)

  • Capturing the breadth and complexity of organism interactions and behaviors across space and time is essential to untangling mechanisms that influence intrinsic microbiome stability and robustness. We seek projects that develop and deploy multi-omics approaches along with high-resolution dynamic imaging to investigate in situ microbial activities controlling key environmental processes.
  • Understanding how individual cell outputs cascade into cumulative, community-level behavior is critical to our ability to predict microbiome function and dynamics. Studies aimed at developing and deploying single-cell measurements to understand how cells in these populations interact and acclimate to internal and external perturbations are desired.
  • The availability of tools and methods for manipulating microbiomes is a critical component for enabling the design of microbiomes with highly improved properties. Projects aiming at building and characterization of engineered consortia, at subspecies/subpopulation resolution, for industrial or environmental applications are encouraged.

Overlap with CAM: We seek computational approaches that facilitate data processing and analysis to integrate molecular measurements at subpopulation and, when possible, at single cell levels.

Computation, Analytics, and Modeling Science Area

The Computing, Analytics, and Modeling (CAM) science area focuses on combining advanced data analytics, visualization, computational modeling, and simulation with state-of-the-art experimental data generation to develop a predictive understanding of biological and environmental systems. Our cohesive approach to integrating experimental and computational methods advances predictive approaches for cellular metabolism toward the production of biofuels and bioproducts as well as material synthesis and degradation (e.g., biomineralization, plant biomass, and plastics) and accelerates research to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying biological and hydro-biogeochemical processes controlling the flux of materials (e.g., carbon, nutrients, and contaminants) in the environment. Please get in touch with Jaydeep Bardhan , CAM Science Area Lead, if you have questions about the following call topics or to discuss your project idea.

CAM-1: Analysis and Modeling for Proteomics

Computation and modeling provide powerful opportunities to enhance discovery in complex proteomic data. Examples include physics-based and AI-enhanced molecular modeling, as well as graphical methods based on databases of protein-protein interactions. Recent AI/ML-based tools such as AlphaFold offer additional transformative possibilities built on protein structure predictions. We seek proposals aimed at achieving a deeper understanding of BER-relevant biological systems by leveraging innovative computational approaches to understand proteomics experiments.

CAM-2: Metatranscriptomics leveraging High-Performance Computing

Metatranscriptomics experiments present important opportunities to understand the responses of microbiomes to environmental perturbations. Typical workflows for such experiments often rely on aligning sample sequences to reference assemblies that are only partial matches, possibly limiting discoveries. New high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities enable full assembly for each sample, thus providing the ideal alignment reference for each sample. We seek proposals in which these new methods may yield important insights into both environmental responses as well as the scientific relevance of traditional approximations.

CAM-3: AI/ML for Mass Spectrometry Data Analysis

Omics studies using hybrid mass spectrometry workflows (e.g., including chromatography, ion mobility spectrometry, or data-independent acquisition) provide valuable insights into molecular regulation, transformation, and activity. Recent advances demonstrate that AI/ML can circumvent long-standing weaknesses of traditional analysis approaches that limit scientific discovery. We seek proposals aimed at leveraging these cutting-edge AI/ML analysis methods to improve the characterization of molecules and their interactions and enhance understanding of complex BER-relevant biological systems.

CAM-4: Bridging Soil Imaging and Modeling

Imaging studies of soil provide detailed structural information relevant to understanding environmental hydro-bio-geochemical processes. We seek proposals aimed at transforming imaging-based structural information into scientific discovery through computational methods that could include the building of simulation models, execution of simulation studies, or AI/ML-based extraction of key quantities of interest.

CAM-5: Novel Data Science and AI/ML Methods

Rapid advances in data science, data integration, and AI/ML could significantly enhance BER science, especially for problems involving complex, heterogeneous data, and data from various types of instrumentation. However, adopting the relevant innovations is frequently stymied by challenges in identifying domain-specific strengths. We seek proposals that will leverage cutting-edge data science and AI/ML approaches in new ways to advance BER science priorities. Methods of particular interest include dimensionality reduction, topological or geometric approaches, Bayesian methods, and approaches designed for noisy, incomplete, or limited training data.

CAM-6: Simulation Modeling from Molecular to Mesoscale

Simulation models can provide essential insights into the structure and function of biological systems, biogeochemical processes, and their regulation, at scales ranging from the molecular to the cellular. We seek proposals that aim to answer BER-relevant questions using molecular, multiscale, or metabolic modeling. Studies involving cryo-electron microscopy (CryoEM) are of particular interest due to the unprecedented insights such experiments can yield into the function and regulation of large biomolecular assemblies.

Highlighted Capabilities

All EMSL instruments and resources are available to users through this call. Applicants are also encouraged to consider emerging cutting-edge capabilities developed by EMSL scientists, including:

  • High-resolution imaging of mineral-associated OM, soil particulate OM, microbial cells, and exudates - EMSL’s Zeiss Orion Helium-ion microscope (HIM) provides high-contrast/depth-of-field morphological information for OM and organic-mineral interfaces at 1 nm resolution in uncoated samples (contact: Shuttha Shutthanandan ). EMSL also has deep expertise in transmission electron microscopy of microbial cells (contact: Alice Dohnalkova ), scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy chemical imaging ( Odeta Qafoku ) and atomic probe tomography ( Mark Wirth ) of microbial-inorganic interfaces down to nm scale. Nano-Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy provides chemical images with isotopic specificity at trace concentrations and sub-100 nm resolution (Jeremy Bougoure, John Cliff ). In combination, these methods provide a comprehensive suite of capabilities for imaging soil OM.  
  • EMSL’s new single-cell transcriptomic workflows elucidate intercellular signaling, communication, and ensuing heterogeneity that underpin the behavior of complex multicellular/multispecies assemblages including microbial communities and host-microbe systems (contact:  Alex Beliaev ). 
  • Chemical biology – EMSL is developing capabilities in chemical biology to probe enzyme function and characterize biochemical pathways. For example, EMSL recently developed a probe library to broadly profile amidase activity, which targets both canonical (peptide-like) and non-canonical amide hydrolase activity. EMSL is seeking users to utilize this library or work with us to develop probes for other activities (contact:  Sankar Krishnamoorthy ).
  • EMSL has integrated new capabilities for studying root-system architecture. The first is optical coherence tomography (OCT) , a transparent growth medium-based root imaging system (Contact: Amir Ahkami ), and the second is x-ray computed tomography ( Tamas Varga ). These approaches are ideal for non-destructive studies of root development in plants. A new 3D root cartographic platform can be used to image, then index, and prepare samples for collecting 3D chemical information on them by other means, based on the image data ( Pubudu Handakumbura ).
  • Three-dimensional BGC characterization of soils: EMSL has developed a workflow for high-resolution characterization of intact/undisturbed soil aggregates or cores for morphology (texture, porosity), chemistry (mineralogy, OM, organo-mineral associations), and hydrology (pore network connectivity, flow properties) in three dimensions (3D) using complementary approaches in x-ray computed tomography, mass spectrometry, hydraulics, and related methodologies (contact:  Emily Graham ,  Odeta Qafoku ).
  • We encourage proposals that focus on developing artificial intelligence/machine learning-aided methods to mine information from 2-D chemical maps, process multimodal data, help co-register spatial data from different instruments, or expand 2-D chemical information to 3-D space (contact:  Jay Bardhan ,  Tamas Varga ).

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Submit a Letter of Intent

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Develop a Research Plan

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Submit a Full Proposal

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Review criteria

User proposals are peer-reviewed against the five criteria listed below. For each criterion, the reviewer rates the proposal Outstanding, Excellent, Good, Fundamentally Sound, or Questionable Impact as well as provides detailed comments on the quality of the proposal to support each rating, noting specifically the proposal's strengths and weaknesses. The reviewer also provides overall comments and recommendations to support the ratings given. These scores and comments serve as the starting point for Proposal Review Panel (PRP) discussions. The PRP is responsible for the final score and recommendation to EMSL management.

Criterion 1: Scientific merit and quality of the proposed research (50%)

Potential Considerations: How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?

Criterion 2: Qualifications of the proposed research team to achieve proposal goals and contribute to high-impact science (10%)

Potential Considerations: Does the proposal team, combined with relevant EMSL staff expertise, possess the breadth of skill/knowledge to successfully perform the proposed research and drive progress in this science area? If successful, would the proposed research deliver high-impact products (for example, be publishable in high-impact journals)?

Note: Impact factors are a measure of the average number of citations per published article. Journals with higher impact factors reflect a higher average of citations per article and are considered more influential within their scientific field.

Criterion 3: Relevance of the proposed research to EMSL's mission (10%)

EMSL’s mission is to accelerate scientific discovery and pioneer new capabilities to understand biological and environmental processes across temporal and spatial scales. EMSL leads the scientific community toward a predictive understanding of complex biological and environmental systems to enable sustainable solutions to the nation’s energy and environmental challenges.

EMSL supports the DOE BER program in achieving a predictive understanding of complex biological, Earth, and environmental systems for energy and infrastructure security, independence, and prosperity. BER seeks to understand the biological, biogeochemical, and physical processes that span from molecular and genomics-controlled scales to the regional and global scales that govern changes in watershed dynamics, climate, and the Earth system.

Starting with the genetic information encoded in organisms’ genomes, BER research seeks to discover the principles that guide the translation of the genetic code into the functional proteins and the metabolic and regulatory networks underlying the systems biology of plants and microbes as they respond to and modify their environments. This predictive understanding will enable the design and reengineering of microbes and plants underpinning energy independence and a broad clean energy portfolio, including improved biofuels and bioproducts, improved carbon storage capabilities, and controlled biological transformation of materials such as nutrients and contaminants in the environment.

BER research further advances the fundamental understanding of dynamic, physical, and biogeochemical processes required to systematically develop Earth System models that integrate across the atmosphere, land masses, oceans, sea ice, and subsurface. These predictive tools and approaches are needed to inform policies and plans for ensuring the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and natural resources.

Note: Projects with direct relevance in these areas will have the best chance for selection. Other projects of scientific significance also are welcomed, but the applicant should clearly outline how the project will further a DOE mission or other areas with economic or societal impact.

Potential Considerations: What is the relationship of the proposed research to EMSL's mission? Does the research project significantly advance the mission goals? How well does the project plan represent a unique or innovative application or development of EMSL capabilities?

Criterion 4: Impact of the proposed research on one or more EMSL Science Areas (20%)

Potential Considerations: Will the proposed research advance scientific or technological understanding of issues pertaining to one or more EMSL science areas? To what extent does the proposed research suggest and explore creative and original concepts related to one or more EMSL science areas? How strongly does it relate to the science area's focused topics as outlined in the most recent Call for Proposals? How well will it advance EMSL along the directions specifically outlined in the focused topics?

Criterion 5: Appropriateness and reasonableness of the request for EMSL resources for the proposed research (10%)

Potential Considerations: Are EMSL capabilities and resources essential to performing this research? Are the proposed methods/approaches optimal for achieving the scientific objectives of the proposal? Are the requested resources reasonable and appropriate for the proposed research? Does the complexity or scope of effort justify the duration of the proposed project–including any modifications to EMSL equipment to carry out research? Is the specified work plan practical and achievable for the proposed research project? Is the amount of time requested for each piece of equipment clearly justified and appropriate?

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Innovative Technology for Destruction PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

A Warren Distinguished Lecture with

Timothy J. Strathmann Colorado School of Mines, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Forever No More: Introduction of an Innovative Technology for Destruction PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

Abstract Timothy Strathmann describes the recent invention and development of a new technology for destruction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) “forever chemicals” at the Colorado School of Mines. The critical importance of technologies for cost-effective destruction of PFAS is growing due to recent US EPA proposals to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and institute strict drinking water regulations. The technology Strathmann and his colleagues invented, H ydrothermal AL kaline T reatment (HALT), applies elevated temperatures (250 – 350°C) to liquid water or wet solid mixtures amended with low-cost alkali (e.g., NaOH) to promote destruction and defluorination of PFAS. HALT is ideal for treating high moisture content wastes (e.g., liquid concentrates, wet soils, biosolids) contaminated with PFAS because input energy requirements are much lower than for competing thermochemical technologies (e.g., incineration, gasification). Strathmann discusses research revealing the underlying mechanisms for PFAS destruction by HALT and recent work demonstrating treatment of the full spectrum of PFAS identified in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF)-impacted water and soil samples, as well as liquid and solid concentrate wastes derived from other treatment processes (e.g., GAC adsorption, foam fractionation). Strathmann also highlights ongoing efforts to commercialize HALT with their industry partner Aquagga. 

Speaker Timothy Strathmann is a Professor in the Department Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. His research aims to develop more sustainable technologies for water treatment and waste valorization. Most recently, his research program has focused on developing innovative technologies for treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including being the lead inventor of the hydrothermal alkaline treatment technology for PFAS (HALT-PFAS). Dr. Strathmann is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and his current research has been sponsored by DoD-SERDP/ESTCP, NSF, and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC). Dr. Strathmann’s formal training includes a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins, BS and MS degrees from Purdue, and postdoctoral training at Princeton.

Timothy Strathmann, headshot

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Research center weighs in on potential environmental impacts from Baltimore bridge collapse

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse clean up begins on the Patapsco River in Baltimore, questions about the potential for pollution and other environmental impacts from the collapse are looming.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science said on Tuesday that the immediate effects are likely minimal. However, the research center’s Interim President Bill Dennison said that they are concerned about what could happen when the ship and the collapsed bridge are removed.

“We are looking at air, water and land impacts, particularly concerned about the disturbance of sediments,” said Dennison.

He said that the research center is working with local officials to offer their expertise as the cleanup begins.

Dennison added that fish and wildlife could be impacted by the removal of debris when toxic sediment is stirred up as the debris removal begins, and dredging could also impact them.

“Baltimore has a long history of industrial development and as a result, there are a lot of contaminants in the Baltimore sediments,” said Dennison.

A release from the center also indicated that some animals like dolphins could affected if pile driving occurs when the bridge is rebuilt because they are very sensitive to sound, and could be driven away.

Increased carbon dioxide emissions are also a concern.

“Ships are going to be rerouted and have to go to different ports,” said Dennison. “The trucks that normally use the key bridge, particularly in going through the Beltway, will be diverted and have more miles… so we’re going to end up with more emissions.”

Dennison said several precautions are being taken by the local and federal partners involved in the cleanup. And said that the research center will do as much as they can to assist with minimizing the environmental impacts.

“No red flags at this point. But but we’re not going to stop watching.”

Copyright 2024 Gray DC. All rights reserved.

Source: WTOC

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