The RCN is soliciting applications from graduate students and postdocs for a second phase of working groups. Up to $10,000 in stipends can be requested for each working group to support activities conducted by undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdocs. Working group activities and products can take many different forms, so please read the entire announcement to learn more. Please note, however, that the RCN cannot fund collection of new data.

If you are interested in being part of a working group, but don’t plan to submit a proposal, please fill out this form. Working group applicants may want to use this resource to find members for their working group.

If you are not a member of the RCN, you are more than welcome to join! Please follow these instructions to sign up.


The deadline for proposals is Dec 1, 2020. Working group activities are expected to start in January 2021, with a report due in Sept 2021.


The proposal should describe how a working group on this topic will advance knowledge in both marine science and evolutionary biology. Although we invite applications for working groups from a wide variety of topics, priority will be given to those projects associated with genomics. This is because the Genomics Workshop had to be canceled due to the pandemic, and the funding is now available to develop new collaborations.

Topics that were going to be discussed at the Genomics Workshop include (see this page for more information):

  • Seascape genomics and seascape data
  • Using genomic data to define management units in marine systems
  • Hypothesis Testing and Integrative Analyses in Genomics
  • Filtering, standards, and best practices
  • Connecting genotype to phenotype with transgenics

In addition, here is a summary of current working groups funded by the RCN

For information on what topics RCN members think are important for advancing both marine and evolutionary biology, check out results from this 2019 poll. Note that this is only a poll, and some topics may be more important than people think they are.

Products and milestones

The proposal should include clear milestones for products that will result over a 9 month period. Examples of products may be (but are not limited to) a draft of a publication, development of a database or metaanalysis of published data, development of educational materials or best practices, free online trainings or workshops, or a rolling series of regular events (talks, presentations, etc.).

Proposed team

The individual or team of graduate students and/or postdocs will serve as leaders of the working group, along with a mentor or mentors of their choosing. Working groups should have between 6 and 10 people. Priority will be given to working groups that manage to form new collaborations (i.e., individuals who have not previously worked together), as an important goal of the RCN is to foster new collaborations. Applications require a letter of commitment from each mentor that explains how they will provide intellectual guidance over the proposed timeline. Applications also require a letter of commitment from each working group member that explains their expertise and how they will contribute to the working group. The RCN understands that group membership may change through time.

  • For a list of people who are interested in being part of working groups, see this sheet
  • We strongly recommend an inclusive approach to forming working groups, and priority will be given to groups composed of a diverse membership. For assistance with soliciting broader participation in your working group, including from HBCUs and other diversity initiatives, contact
  • Stipends can only be paid to US citizens, however the participation of international scholars is still encouraged.
  • Limitations on stipends: Stipends can only be paid to US citizens and will be paid directly to the recipients. Stipends can be used to pay for time devoted to working group activities for postdoc, graduate student, or undergraduate working group members, pay for online workshop/conference fees, or reimburse domestic travel (note that if travel is requested, a strong rationale should be provided that travel can be completed during the pandemic).

_Recommended minimum stipend rates_: For each week to be spent on working group activities, we recommend a minimum of $1000/week for postdoctoral fellows, $750/week for graduate students, and $500/week for undergraduates. Justification for higher rates can be provided in the Budget Justification.


The application form is here.

Please prepare and upload a single PDF entitled “Working Group Name.pdf” with 1-inch margins, 10-point font, and the following components:

  • Working group proposal (2 pages): Describe the proposed topic, how it will advance knowledge across different fields, the proposed leaders, mentors, and members of the working group, and milestones for working groups meetings and products that will result from the proposed activities (a more specific timeline can be incorporated in the budget justification).

  • Diversity and professional development statement (1 page): Please provide responses to the following questions:
    • How does the proposed working group represent a diversity of career stages, diversity of thought (marine, oceanography, and non-marine evolutionary biologists), and diversity of backgrounds?
    • Which of the proposed working group members have collaborated in the past, and in what capacity?
    • How will this working group be transformative for the professional development of the junior members?
  • Budget and Timeline (1 page): Applications require a 1 page budget justification and timeline for activities up to 9 months. We recognize that working group activities may extend beyond 9 months, but there must be a clear plan for one or more concrete deliverables by the 9-month mark. Up to $10,000 in stipends can be requested to support working-group activities of junior people (undergraduates, graduate students, and/or postdocs). Stipends will be paid directly to the junior person in two payments (one up front, and the second at nine months after working group goals are met). Please ensure that all the stipend recipients are US citizens.

  • Letters of commitment (1 page for each mentor and working group member)

  • Letters of support from academic advisor: For each junior member who will be receiving a stipend, please attach a 1-page letter of support from the academic advisor acknowledging the time commitment of the advisee to the working group. If a stipend will be used to replace the junior person’s salary, this letter should describe the agreement that was reached between the academic advisor and advisee.

Criteria for Evaluation

  • What is the significance of the proposed activities to advancing marine biology? (20%)
  • What is the significance of the proposed activities to advancing evolutionary biology? (20%)
  • Does the proposed working group represent a diversity of career stages, diversity of thought (marine, oceanography, and non-marine evolutionary biologists), and diversity of backgrounds? (20%)
  • Will the proposed working group increase collaborations among people that have historically not worked together? (15%)
  • How will this activity be transformative for the graduate and postdoc members of the working group? (15%)
  • Does the proposed timeline seem feasible and include milestones for products? (10%)

Additional Information

If you need an extension to the deadline because of the pandemic, please contact to discuss the matter.

Rationale on format: The Diversity Committee discussed that if we want to increase the participation of young URMs, then we should ask for proposals for working groups from graduate students and postdocs (with a proposed mentor). We were worried that if we opened applications to the entire field, young people might feel intimidated, and senior people may fail to put in the effort to find someone new in their network. We also wanted to avoid the situation where the mentee fell into a trap of “working” to complete the PI’s research or analyze the PI’s data.