Below you will find opportunities related to the Coastal Critical Zone (CZ) Network Cluster.

NSF Coastal Critical Zone Network Research Travel Awards

Application Guidelines

Application Deadline: Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

Overview: In September 2020, the National Science Foundation funded the Coastal Critical Zone (CZ) Network Cluster, one of eight thematic clusters across the U.S. focused on research in the critical zone, the near-surface environment from the tops of the tree canopy to the bedrock, the zone that sustains most terrestrial life. Applications are invited for research travel awards for on-site research visits to the NSF Coastal Critical Zone Network Cluster, located on the Delmarva Peninsula, at six agricultural and forested sites in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Beginning in summer 2022, the project will host researchers for one-week to one-month research visits. This document outlines the application process, and provides background information to assist those who may be interested in applying.

Goals of the Research Travel Awards Program: Two important goals of the research travel awards program are 1) to serve as a resource for other scientists, thereby expanding critical zone research and encouraging new collaborations; and 2) to engage researchers and students who have not been involved in critical zone research before, including members of historically underrepresented groups.

Travel award applicants are asked to describe their research objectives and research facilities needs in proposals. Research proposed by travel award applicants may complement work already underway in the Coastal Critical Zone project, or can make use of field sites and resources relevant to other, parallel projects and research questions. Before applying, we ask researchers to discuss their ideas with potential research hosts, a step outlined in more detail on page two. (See How to Apply.)

Research travel awards provide basic financial support for travel, housing and food.

Scientific Context of the Coastal Critical Zone Network Cluster: Coastal marshes are essential environments that preserve a fragile and highly valuable ecosystem. They are an integral part of the Critical Zone that regulates the conditions at the Earth’s surface and helps sustain life. Coastal marshes provide crucial services such as carbon storage and removal of nutrients and contaminants that would otherwise make their way to the ocean. Rising sea level is expanding these environments, but saltwater is also moving in, destroying woodlands, and damaging farm fields. Ghost forests and salt-damaged farm fields are stark indicators of these ecological changes along world coastlines that can adversely affect land use and economies.

Less apparent, and perhaps even more important, are the concurrent changes in water and chemical cycling that are altering the functioning of the coastal Critical Zone. This research project is quantifying the processes that occur in the changing coastal Critical Zone and associated alterations in cycling, fluxes, and storage of elements at the land-sea margin. The project addresses important questions about how sea-level rise may alter the natural “plumbing” that occurs at the land-sea boundary and its implications with respect to coastal ecosystems and biogeochemistry. The results will assist decision-makers and stakeholders in planning for future environmental changes.

When visiting with support from a travel award, site visits and a review of techniques used by research teams will be available.


Faculty, professionals/postdoctoral scientists and graduate students at U.S. institutions of higher education are eligible to apply. Advisors to postdoctoral scientists and graduate students will need to supply a letter of support for the research visit.

How to Apply:

  • Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the Coastal Critical Zone Network website for an overview of research currently underway.
  • Contact us by email (denin-info@udel.edu) with a brief description of your research interests. We willschedule a Zoom call with a researcher in your area of interest to discuss research visit ideas. If you and the potential faculty host agree on a project and timeframe, please proceed to step three below.
  • Write a brief research visit proposal, and email to denin-info@udel.edu.
    1. Name, title, contact information, home institution, department
    2. Coastal CZ faculty host name
    3. Proposed research title
    4. Summary of research goals, including resources and facilities needed
    5. Proposed start and end dates
    6. Advisor support letter – Postdoctoral scientists and graduate students should include a letter in support of the research visit from the
  • Research visits will be considered on a rolling basis.

Use our contact form if you wish to be notified of any opportunities until they are posted here.


Paid research internships to focus on the effects of sea level rise

Sea level rise, caused by Earth’s changing climate, is impacting the farms, forests and communities along our coastlines.

“Ghost forests” — stands of dead trees killed by saltwater intrusion — are a stark reminder of these impacts on the quality of coastal soil and water. A team of scientists is investigating these effects across the Delmarva Peninsula, through a Coastal Critical Zone grant from the National Science Foundation.

The research team is seeking undergraduate researchers for the summer of 2023, for paid research internships. Working side-by-side with experts, interns will learn field and laboratory techniques, along with other professional and scientific skills. The 10-week opportunity begins June 5 and includes a stipend of $4500. Applications are due February 24, 2023. To learn more, click link here.