The Iowa Water Center (IWC), the Water Resources Research Institute for the State of Iowa as authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964, seeks proposals for the annual 104(b) competitive grants program.

This program consists of two opportunities for 2024:

  • a targeted seed grant research competition, and
  • a graduate student supplemental research competition

Funding for selected projects will be available beginning September 1, 2024 (funding availability dependent upon congressional budget action) for a one-year period. Projects should address local or regional water research needs.

IWC is administered through a partnership between Iowa State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. As such, project activities and expenditures will be subject to federal requirements under Uniform Guidance (UG). To read more about UG, visit:

Applicants are required to submit a letter of intent due February 26, 2024, with full proposals due March 18, 2024.

Questions can be directed toward the Program Contact:

Zita Quade

(515) 210-5472 (leave a voicemail message and your call will be returned)

Targeted Seed Grant Research Competition

This program is intended to address the most pressing water research needs in the state of Iowa as determined by the agencies and organizations that comprise the IWC Advisory Board. For 2024, the board has identified the following priority areas in which we are soliciting proposals for up to $20,000 per project:

  • Water related hazards and society – exploration of the intersections of land/water use, and water hazards, climate change, or drought response. Research emphasizing social and environmental justice regarding these topics is preferred.
  • Exploration and advancement of our understanding of harmful algae blooms (HABs). Proposals are sought that focus on innovations in monitoring the occurrence of HABs and algal toxins, research on factors that result in algal toxin production, and improvements in near-real time modeling and forecasting of toxin-producing blooms.
  • Emerging contaminants: research on the fate, persistence, transport, and impacts of contaminants on water resources and ecosystem dynamics. Research can include social and/or economic assessment of the spread, detection, impacts, solutions, and management. Contaminants include per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances, E. coli, and other physical, chemical, and biological contaminants.

Eligible applicants include faculty, staff, and graduate students at Iowa’s accredited colleges and universities. Priority will be given to proposals that engage early career faculty and/or graduate and undergraduate students.

IWC anticipates funding for approximately 1-2 targeted seed grants in 2024. Due to federal funding cycle constraints, the estimated date of funds expended must be by August 30, 2025. The deadline is subject to change as the funding availability from USGS has not been released.

Proposals must be submitted by email to with the subject line: 2024 IWC Seed Research Competition – [Your Last Name]


Graduate Student Supplemental Research Competition

This program is designed to allow students to complete additional research objectives or products beyond the scope of their current water-related funded project. Funding of up to $5,000 for one year is available to graduate students nearing completion of their program of study or those with well-established, active research projects. (The readiness of the student to embark on additional research is subjective, and students should consult with their major professor before deciding to apply.) The proposed budget must include funds for publication costs. Students will be required to submit their research to peer-reviewed publications.

IWC anticipates funding for approximately three graduate student supplemental grants in 2024. Due to federal funding cycle, the estimated date of funds expended must be by August 30, 2025. The deadline is subject to change as the funding availability from USGS has not been released.

Proposals must be submitted by email to with the subject line: 2024 IWC Graduate Research Competition – [Your Last Name]

Funds from this program can be requested for student support, hourly wages, supplies, local travel, analytical costs, and publication costs. Requesting federal funds for travel to conferences to present research is not allowed. Additional cost categories that are imperative for the project are allowed. Applicants are encouraged to contact IWC with questions prior to submitting the proposal.

Investigators will be required to provide documentation of committed matching funds. The U.S. Geological Survey requires a 1:1 nonfederal to federal funds match. The sponsor will not pay indirect costs. Researchers are encouraged to use forfeited indirect costs as a portion of the required match.

Intent to Apply

Applicants must notify IWC via email ( of proposal submission intention by February 26, 2024, at 5 pm. The notice of intent should include a working title of the project, as well items 1-2 and 4-6 from the proposal guidelines, and four to six names, including contact information of potential reviewers. Reviewers should be qualified to evaluate the scientific merit of the study design without conflict of interest to the applicant. Reviewers can be either within or outside the state or the applicant’s home institution.

Conflict of Interest for Reviewers

The following guidelines and situations are determined to be conflicts of interest, and therefore, individuals who fall into these categories should not be suggested as reviewers for proposals:

  • Individuals who serve on thesis, dissertation, or advising committee to the PI or Co-PI(s)
  • Individuals who have served as a co-author on publications with the PI or Co-PI(s) at least once in the past three years
  • Individuals who are colleagues with the PI or Co-PI(s) within the same department or similar unit for the past three years
  • Individuals who supervise or who have supervised the PI or Co-PI(s)
  • Individuals who have a direct or indirect financial interest in the proposal
  • Individuals who have a personal relationship with the PI or Co-PI(s)

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals must include the information listed below in the order presented and identified by the corresponding number. The body of the proposal (items 10 through 16) should not exceed six (6) single-spaced pages in 12-point, Times New Roman font.

  1. Principal Investigator(s): Provide name, academic rank, university, email address, and phone number of the principal investigators. Graduate students should list their advisor as a co-investigator.
  2. Title: Concise but descriptive.
  3. Project Type: State “Research.”
  4. Focus Categories: Choose from Page 6 of this RFP.
  5. Research Category: Choose the one category that most closely applies from the following: Water Scarcity and Availability, Water Hazards and Climate Variability, Water Quality, Water Policy, Planning, and Socioeconomics, Watershed and Ecosystem Function, Water Technology and Innovation, or Workforce Development and Water Literacy.
  6. Keywords: Enter keywords descriptive of the work.
  7. Start Date: Enter the actual beginning date for the project.
  8. End Date: Enter the estimated end date for the project.
  9. Congressional District: of the university where the work is to be conducted.
  10. Abstract: Provide a brief (one-page) description of the problem, methods, and objectives.
  11. Statement of regional or state water problem: Include an explanation of the need for the project, who wants it, and why.
  12. Statement of results or benefits: Specify the type of information that is to be gained and how it will be used.
  13. Nature, scope, and objectives of the project, including a timeline of activities.
  14. Methods, procedures, and facilities: Provide enough information to permit evaluation of the technical adequacy of the approach to satisfy the objectives.
  15. Related research: Show by literature and communication citations the similarities and differences of the proposed project to completed or on-going work on the same topic.
  16. Training potential: Estimate the number of graduate and undergraduate students, by degree level, who are expected to receive training in the project.
  17. Budget breakdown: EXCEL fillable form that may be downloaded from
  18. Budget justification: fillable form that may be downloaded from  See Page 7 of the RFP for details.
  19. Investigator’s qualifications: Include resume(s) of the principal investigator(s). No resume shall exceed two pages or list more than 15 pertinent publications.
  20. Cost Share Documentation. Cost share letters to support the budget and budget justification. If you are a PI at a non-Iowa State University institution, a transmittal letter from your Department of Sponsored Programs is required.
  21. Data Management Plan (DMP): This brief supplementary document (3-5 sentences) should describe how the proposal will conform to USGS policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results and associated data. A valid DMP may include only the statement that no detailed plan is needed (e.g., “No data are expected to be produced from this project”), as long as the statement is accompanied by a clear justification. This supplementary document may include:
  • the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced during the project
  • the standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies)
  • policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements
  • provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives
  • plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of free public access to them.

Deadline: Please email the proposal as a Word file with accompanying excel spreadsheets (no pdf files) to by close of business day on March 18, 2024. 

Iowa State University applicants: this opportunity is considered internal, and you do not need to submit Streamlyne.

Evaluation Criteria for Funding

Proposals will be reviewed for scientific merit by scientists not involved with this RFP. This information will be used by IWC staff and the IWC Advisory Board to rank proposals for quality and relevance.

Review criteria include:

1.     Scientific and technical merit (20%)
2.     Applicability to the research, education, and training needs identified by the advisory council (20%)
3.     Competence of the PI for carrying out the proposed study efficiently and effectively (15%)
4.     Appropriateness of submitted budget to the proposed study (15%)
5.     Student educational opportunities arising from the proposed study (10%)
6.     Potential for technology transfer via workshops, tech reports, journal articles, theses, etc. (10%)
7.     Feasibility of completing the work in the proposed timeframe (5%)
8.     Quality of proposal: grammar, structure, readability (5%)

Awarded Proposals Expectations

Upon notification of award, IWC staff will work with the principal investigator (PI) to make budget and narrative adjustments as recommended by the advisory board and in accordance with USGS requirements. IWC submits projects for federal approval in late April as part of its “base grant” package. Notice of funding is anticipated in late August. If this timeline is delayed for any reason (most commonly due to congressional budget setting), IWC staff will communicate with the PI. IWC will make every effort to accommodate projects so that they are completed in the time allotted.

Once USGS releases FY24 funds to IWC, work can begin on the project. IWC staff will work with PIs and their home department/institution to set up the project account. IWC will periodically monitor funding on the project to ensure funds are spent in a timely manner. It is the responsibility of the PI to oversee appropriateness and allowability of project expenditures.

PIs will have the opportunity throughout the project period to be featured in photos, videos, and written content produced by IWC to promote their research.

Focus Categories

Acid Deposition ACD

Agriculture AG

Climatological Processes CP

Conservation COV

Drought DROU

Ecology ECL

Economics ECON

Education EDU

Floods FL

Geomorphological Processes GEOMOR

Geochemical Processes GEOCHE

Groundwater GW

Hydrogeochemistry HYDGEO

Hydrology HYDROL

Invasive Species INV

Irrigation IG

Law, Institutions, & Policy LIP

Management & Planning M&P

Methods MET

Models MOD

Nitrate Contamination NC

Non-Point Pollution NPP

Nutrients NU

Radioactive Substances RAD

Recreation REC

Sediments SED

Solute Transport ST

Surface Water SW

Toxic Substances TS

Treatment TRT

Wastewater WW

Water Quality WQL

Water Quantity WQN

Water Supply WS

Water Use WU

Wetlands WL

Research Categories

Biological Sciences

Climate and Hydrologic Processes
Ecological Processes


Ground-water Flow and Transport

Social Sciences

Water Quality


Budget Justification

1. Salaries and Wages: Provide estimated hours and the rate of compensation proposed for each individual (X hours @ $X). Tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as or in lieu of wages to students performing necessary work are allowable, provided that the tuition or other payments are reasonable compensation for the work performed and are conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work.

2. Fringe Benefits: Provide the overall fringe benefit rate applicable to each category of employee proposed in the project.

3. Supplies: Indicate separately the amounts proposed for office, laboratory, computing, and field supplies. Be specific.

4. Equipment: Identify non-expendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of more than $5,000 per unit. If fabrication of equipment is proposed, list parts and materials required for each and show costs separately from the other items.

5. Services or Consultants: Identify the specific tasks for which these services, consultants, or subcontracts would be used. Estimate amount of time required and the hourly or daily rate. Provide a detailed list (i.e., sample analysis: 1000 samples @ $8/sample.)

6. Travel: Provide purpose and estimated costs for all travel. Travel opportunities must be specific (i.e., travel to XYZ conference in XYZ location on XYZ dates) and costs must be itemized (e.g., airfare, lodging, parking, per diem). No international travel is permitted.

7. Other Direct Costs: Itemize costs not included elsewhere, including publication costs. Costs for services and consultants should be included and justified under “Services or Consultants” above.

8. Indirect Costs: No indirect costs are associated with these grants. Please use forfeited indirect costs as part of the required match.



  • Read RFP in totality
  • Submit intent to apply via email to by February 26, 2024, by 5 p.m. (including a list of potential reviewers)
  • Complete proposal guidelines
  • Complete budget with a 1:1 nonfederal to federal funds match
  • Submit proposal as a Word document with accompanying excel spreadsheets by March 18, 2024, 5 p.m. to
    • Proposals must be submitted by email to with the subject line:
      • 2024 IWC Seed Research Competition – [Your Last Name]; or
      • 2024 IWC Graduate Research Competition – [Your Last Name]