Call for proposals for DECIMALS grants – application guide
Applicants are advised to read this guide to ensure that they fulfil all the requirements in preparing applications and are familiar with TWAS general policies and guidelines concerning grants.
General Information: TWAS and SRMGI
The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) represents the best of science in the developing world. Its principal aim is to promote scientific capacity and excellence for science-based development in the South. The administrative and financial operation of TWAS is undertaken by UNESCO, in accordance with an agreement between UNESCO and the Italian government for TWAS. Since 1986, TWAS has been supporting scientists and institutions in developing countries through a wide range of programmes that include providing merit-based grants to research projects.
The Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI) is an international, NGO-driven initiative that seeks to build developing country capacity to take part in SRM research and discussions. SRM stands for “solar radiation management” or “sunlight reduction methods” (also called albedo modification). It is a set of proposals for reflecting a small amount of sunlight away from Earth in order to reduce some of the impacts of global warming, and the leading idea would involve spraying reflective aerosols into the stratosphere. If it could be realised technically and politically, SRM would be the only known method for quickly slowing, stopping or even reversing the rise in global temperatures, but there are large uncertainties about the full effects of SRM and it is not known whether it would reduce or add to the risks from global warming.
Launched in 2010 by the Royal Society, TWAS and Environmental Defense Fund, SRMGI is neutral on SRM and has run more than 15 workshops across the Global South, always in concert with local not-for-profit partners. These workshops are designed to expand the conversation around SRM research and its governance, and build Southern capacity to take part in discussions around SRM. SRMGI work is funded by a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project.
The DECIMALS Fund
The DECIMALS fund has been set up to provide grants to small research teams in developing countries, allowing them to analyse the impacts that SRM might have in their regions. It was launched in response to a common concern voiced at SRMGI’s engagement workshops, where local participants often proposed and widely supported the idea that scientists in developing countries should undertake research on the potential local impacts of SRM, noting that there is typically very little funding available to support research in this area.
There are several objectives of the DECIMALS grants:
- to support excellent science on the potential impacts of SRM;
- to build the capacity of developing country scientists to play a greater role in analysis and discussion of SRM;
- to expand the conversation around SRM with local stakeholders;
- and to build South-South and South-North links over SRM research and discussion.
DECIMALS grants: logistical and financial details
The 2018 DECIMALS grants will be provided in August or September 2018, with projects to be completed by the end of 2020. A research grant will amount to a maximum of US$70,000. The large part of each DECIMALS grant – up to $60,000 – will go towards supporting research scientist salaries, perhaps covering a small amount of the time of a senior researcher and much/all of the time of a junior researcher. Capacity-building is a key part of the DECIMALS fund, and applications that fund multiple investigators, especially early career, will be looked on favorably. However, there are no set guidelines for how the salary funds should be allocated and applicants should explain in their applications why they are allocating money as they are.
Each DECIMALS research team will also be allocated up to $10,000 per grant, which will be held by TWAS, to support additional activities and purchase equipment related to the grant. This will include:
- publication of a research paper in an open access journal (up to $2,000 per grant);
- the purchase of desktop computer equipment and software where necessary to complete the DECIMALS research activities (up to $2,500 per grant);
- participation of one of the scientists in a research-planning workshop (up to $2,500 per grant);
- participation of one of the scientists at an international conference during the lifetime of the grant (up to $2,500 per grant);
- support for each research project to hold a workshop to discuss its findings with local stakeholders towards the end of the research project (up to $500 per grant).
SRMGI places an emphasis on community-building through the DECIMALS fund and the research planning workshop will be held in November 2018 at the TWAS headquarters in Trieste, Italy. This will bring together at least one scientist per DECIMALS project to learn about SRM from established experts, to share their knowledge of local impact analysis, and to discuss and sharpen their proposed research projects. It is intended this will create a small collaborative community of scientists from the Global South and North who will assist each other during the DECIMALS research process.
In addition, recognising that there is little SRM modelling experience in the Global South, SRMGI will seek to connect each DECIMALS team with a collaborator who is an expert in SRM modelling (but not necessarily an expert in local impacts analysis). It is expected that DECIMALS researchers will touch base with their collaborators once per month to discuss the progress of the research and work through questions about the SRM datasets and modelling practices. Researchers will be paired with collaborators (where possible) soon after grants have been announced. While researchers are welcome to make applications with potential collaborators already in place, this will not have a bearing on their chances of success, as SRMGI does not want to disadvantage applicants who do not already have SRM modeller contacts.
In 2020, towards the end of the research period, DECIMALS will provide a small amount of financial support for researchers to hold local workshops, where they will share their findings with local stakeholders and will contribute to a discussion on the next stages for SRM research and its governance in their countries. More details will be provided in due course.
Scientists whose salaries are already covered by their research institutes may also apply for smaller DECIMALS grants. Where no or little salary support is required, DECIMALS would still cover the sundries that come with each DECIMALS grant, including publication fees, computer equipment and software (if needed), plus researchers would enjoy the benefits of being in the DECIMALS community: funded participation of one representative in the 2018 DECIMALS research-planning workshop, assistance for participation at an international conference, financial support for an end-of-project workshop to discuss research findings with local stakeholders, and the support of the DECIMALS research community as they do their analysis. Requesting a reduced amount of funding potentially allows TWAS and SRMGI to provide a greater number of grants.
DECIMALS grants: scientific details
DECIMALS researchers will analyse the impacts that SRM could have on their regions. The research can address any aspect of physical climate change or any climate impact, e.g. agriculture, ecosystems, water resources. They will work with data generated by large climate model runs, such as the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) or the NCAR Geoengineering Large Ensemble (GLENS).
TWAS and SRMGI are not prescriptive about the focus of DECIMALS research projects, or about the methods used to undertake the research. Therefore there are numerous potentially useful projects that would require bias correction and dynamical downscaling (e.g. studies focused on areas of mountain or coast), ones that would require statistical downscaling (e.g. projects looking at river runoff or crop impacts), and ones that would not require downscaling of any kind (including studies of climate impacts with large scale drivers like monsoon changes or tropical cyclones).
Applicants will be expected to formulate the scientific questions that their research will answer, and they are welcome to discuss potential research projects with SRMGI before application: please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To date there has been little regional analysis of the impacts of SRM, and so projects do not necessarily have to be very complex or ambitious to secure DECIMALS funding. Additionally, it is not expected that applicants will have a high level of knowledge of SRM geoengineering at the time of application. Applications are therefore expected to clearly convey:
- What they propose to study: there are many possible impacts that researchers might want to explore, including, but not limited to, effects on agriculture, droughts, climate extremes, water resources, the hydrological cycle, floods, tropical cyclones, and climate feedbacks. Applications should clearly outline the variables of interest as well as the geographical region they propose to cover.
- Why their proposed research would be of local importance and would help local stakeholders better evaluate SRM: successful applications will explain why their research matters to the understanding of SRM impacts in their regions.
- How they will conduct their research: applicants should be as clear as possible about the analytical techniques they plan to use to carry out their projects.
- That they will be able to complete their research to a high standard: even though it is not expected that they will have worked directly on SRM before, applicants will need to demonstrate to reviewers that they have the requisite skills and experience to complete their projects within financial and time constraints.
Choice of emissions/SRM scenarios will not be a major factor in the evaluation of applications. Where applicants have specific scenarios they would like to analyse they are encouraged to outline them, but those without specific ideas at this stage can use a template SRM scenario: exploring how the warming from the RCP4.5 emission scenario might affect their chosen regional variables, then analysing the impacts if SRM were used to halve the rate of warming, or to keep global temperatures from exceeding 1.5C above pre-industrial. DECIMALS researchers will be able to define the specific scenarios they would like to work on at the research planning workshop in November 2018.
Principal investigators for the DECIMALS grant should have a PhD and significant research experience.
- They must be nationals of one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
- Researchers should operate in a university or research institution in one of the above-listed eligible countries and should contact TWAS if they expect to be away from their institution during the period of the grant for longer than three months.
- Noting the wide range of research budgets in the countries eligible for grants, SRMGI will seek a wide distribution of both geography and national income level for the DECIMALS grants.
- SRMGI will look favourably on applications from countries that do not already have SRM research projects. Capacity-building is a key goal of DECIMALS and applicants are not expected to have experience working on SRM at the time of application.
- There are no age limits for DECIMALS grant applicants.
- Funding is only available for modelling or analysis of physical climate change or any climate impact, e.g. agriculture, ecosystems, water resources. Social science research is not supported at this stage.
- On selection by an expert committee and approval by the TWAS Executive Director, a written grant agreement is made between TWAS, the principal investigator and her/his institute.
- Letters of acceptance have to be returned signed by the applicant and his/her Head of Institution within 15 days after receipt.
- The institute undertakes to administer the grant according to the agreement and to provide laboratory space, and other facilities necessary for the project. Equipment, software, consumables and literature provided for the project through the DECIMALS fund remain the property of the institute after the project is completed.
- The funds for sundries are kept at TWAS for the purchase of all items requested by the grantee. TWAS contacts the supplier(s) upon receipt of proforma invoices submitted by the grantee in accordance with the itemised budget.
- Funds for participation in the research planning workshop, an international academic conference, and the final research discussion workshop, will be kept and administered by TWAS, in consultation with the grantee.
- Research projects are due run throughout the grant period, from August 2018 to December 2020.
- Principal investigators leaders are required to submit a final report by the end of the grant period.
How to apply
- Complete the electronic application form available here, before 23:59 on 29 May (Central Europe time).
- Each scientist who will be involved in undertaking the proposed research project should provide as attachments a copy of his/her passport or ID, a 2-4-page CV, and a full list of publications.
- A researcher may only submit one application as principal investigator for this call. There are no limits to the number of proposals on which a researcher is listed in other roles.
- Incomplete applications cannot be considered.
- Each applicant will receive an automated email to acknowledge receipt of an application. If you do not receive such acknowledgment within 24 hours, please contact:
Mr Marco Beltramini
The World Academy of Sciences, Research Grants Office
ICTP Campus, Strada Costiera 11, 34151, Trieste, Italy
Tel: +39 040 224 0662
When to apply
The deadline for receiving applications is 23:59 (Central Europe time) on 29 May 2018.
Notification of TWAS decision
The DECIMALS Application Review Chair will meet with representatives or TWAS and SRMGI in mid-July. Notification of the results will be made shortly afterwards. Successful applicants will then receive a letter of acceptance a few weeks later which must be sent back signed within 15 days after receipt.