Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP)
Note: Application deadline for 2020 assistantships was December 6, 2019.
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) continues its support of a graduate assistantship opportunity called the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program provides graduate assistant stipends for up to three years to Master of Science students both enrolled full-time at Louisiana colleges/universities and involved in research relevant to Louisiana coastal protection and restoration efforts (see: THE MASTER PLAN – Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana). The program will both expose students to CPRA activities and provide a potential avenue for recruitment of new CPRA personnel. Students recruited under this assistantship program will be required to complete 240 hours of internship with CPRA at mutually convenient times during their pursuit of a master’s degree. To expose the students to CPRA’s various functions and activities, internships will involve work either at the headquarters in Baton Rouge or at one of the regional offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, or Thibodeaux. Students will also be required to give a presentation on their research findings to CPRA personnel in Baton Rouge upon completion of their research and prior to graduation.
The Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) College Program will administer these assistantships with funding provided by CPRA. The assistantships will be available to all faculty pursuing appropriate coastal protection and restoration-related research at Louisiana colleges/universities to fund Master of Science students. Up to four new students will be funded each academic year based on evaluations of applications submitted by faculty members. The annual student stipend is $25,000 for up to three years; however, CSAP funds may only be used to cover graduate assistantships and any associated tuition and fringe benefits in accordance with the applicant institution’s normal policies. The total award for each student will not exceed $25,000 per year for up to three years under any circumstances. No other costs are allowed to be charged to CSAP funds.
In the fall of each year, LSG will release an announcement to the in-state academic community soliciting applications for funding to support graduate students involved in research relevant to coastal protection and restoration projects in Louisiana. Faculty at Louisiana colleges/universities will be responsible for submitting applications via Louisiana Sea Grant’s online eSeaGrant system and research must be consistent with the CPRA mission of protecting coastal communities and offsetting coastal wetlands loss. These applications will typically be due to LSG in mid-November. After receipt of applications, CPRA personnel will evaluate each for technical merit and relevance to CPRA ongoing or proposed activities. Decisions on award of the four new assistantships will be made by the end of January of each year. This deadline should allow faculty sufficient time to recruit students during the winter and early spring prior to the initiation of assistantship duties either in the summer or in the fall.
Standard graduate assistantships, both research and teaching, require the student both to be registered as a full-time student and to apply a specified number of hours per week (this may vary among institutions) during each semester to either assistantship duties or thesis research. In addition to these requirements, students recruited under this assistantship program will be required to complete 240 hours of internship with CPRA at mutually convenient times during their pursuit of a master’s degree. To expose the students to CPRA’s various functions and activities, internships will involve work either at the headquarters in Baton Rouge or at one of the regional offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, or Thibodeaux. Students will also be required to give a presentation on their research findings to CPRA personnel in Baton Rouge upon completion of their research and prior to graduation.
Participation of CPRA personnel on student academic advising committees is not required; however, CPRA will encourage participating institutions to allow for that possibility consistent with existing policies on status requirements for committee members. CPRA feels that their personnel can serve as an invaluable mentoring resource to the student awardees and that promoting interactions between CPRA and universities will be mutually beneficial.
Due to the budget process in Louisiana state government, CSAP awards beyond the first year will be contingent upon approval of CPRA budgets for succeeding years. Students will be funded for the first year with the understanding that the following two years will be funded based on both outstanding performance of the student and state budget appropriations.
Benefits to CPRA
CSAP will allow CPRA to address two important issues: funding applied coastal ecosystem restoration research and relevant work experience for CPRA job applicants. Funding these assistantships will allow CPRA to direct scientific research to answer questions about planning, designing, constructing and evaluating coastal protection and restoration projects, which will ultimately contribute to program success. In addition, these assistantships will improve CPRA’s scientific credibility by developing relationships among the students, the professors, their universities, and CPRA. These improved relationships will allow for greater communication and participation in the state’s coastal protection and restoration program. Finally, the program will provide valuable recruitment opportunities to assist CPRA with its recurring need for capable employees with M.S. Degrees
Benefits to Student Awardees
In addition to monetary support for up to three years, participation in the CSAP will provide students invaluable professional working experience beyond that gained in traditional academia. The required internship with CPRA staff will offer on-the-job training that promotes understanding of CPRA’s daily activities and of broader issues relevant to coastal protection and restoration. This training will make the students attractive job candidates, thus increasing their opportunity for employment within CPRA after graduation. If not ultimately employed with CPRA, students will have been exposed to the issues of coastal land loss and will hopefully remain engaged with the protection and restoration effort in some other capacity.
Priority Research Areas
This RFP solicits proposals on general topics that have a direct link and application of demonstrated outcomes to the CPRA’s mission and mandate ‘to develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive protection and restoration master plan for coastal Louisiana.’ More specifically, this RFP solicits proposals for research advancements that will assist the CPRA in achieving the objectives in Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. The five objectives of the Master Plan are to: (1) reduce storm surge flooding, (2) use natural processes to promote a sustainable coastal ecosystem, (3) provide habitats for a wide array of activities, (4) sustain cultural heritage, and (5) promote a working coast. More information on the 2017 Coastal Master Plan can be found at http://coastal.la.gov/our-plan/2017-coastal-master-plan/. Proposals should indicate relevance to CPRA’s mission and mandate and Master Plan objectives and implementation.
Research topics that are of particular interest under this RFP include, but are not limited to, improvements and advancements to the following:
- Evaluation of the processes that contribute to elevation gain including interactions between flooding and vegetation that produce shallow expansion.
- Improvement of development of methodologies processing historic topobathymetric elevation and data of coastal wetlands (e.g., historic maps and charts) to improve understanding of system evolution prior to the availability of aerial imagery. Compiled data sources can aid in the assessment of model performance of wetland evolution models used for planning purposes in coastal Louisiana.
Applications will be reviewed and scored by CPRA in the following five categories: Scientific Merit, Relevancy to CPRA, Originality, Body of Knowledge, and Credibility. Applications from faculty must be submitted via LSG’s online eSeaGrant system by 6 December 2019; a decision on award of the assistantships will be made by CPRA by the end of January 2020. Funding should be available 1 June 2020.
The application consists of:
- Information about the applicant and prospective student
- An agreement of CSAP term and condition
- A narrative (two-page maximum) description of the research that would be conducted as part of the recruit’s Master’s Degree at your institution
- The anticipated curriculum for the student including the classes that the student might take
- A description of additional current or anticipated funding sources that will be applied to support the research activities proposed for the student (if applicable)
For information or questions specific to the eSeaGrant system, contact Katie Lea at (225) 578-6445 or [email protected]
For additional CSAP information, please contact either:
|Matthew Bethel, Ph.D.
Louisiana Sea Grant
232 Sea Grant Bldg.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7507
Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority
150 Terrace Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70802