Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant Application Information

Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant Application Information 1
Measuring light reflectance from vegetation at Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center. Image credit: Lobsang Wangdu


  • Applicants must be graduate students enrolled in a PhD or Masters program at a University of California campus.
  • Applicants must use at least one of the 41 reserves in the Natural Reserve System for a significant part of their field research project.
  • Students from all departments and academic disciplines are eligible.
  • Recipients of a Mathias Grant in one or more earlier grant cycles remain eligible for the current cycle if final reports were submitted on time. Failure to submit final reports by the deadline(s) renders previous recipients ineligible in the current grant cycle.

Allowable Expenses

Mathias Grant funding is intended to directly support field work at NRS reserves. Funding may be requested for supplies and minor equipment, reserve user fees, the actual cost of food and travel to, from, and at the reserve, special logistical costs, etc.

Expenses that do not qualify for Mathias Grant funding include the following:

  • salaries and stipends
  • travel to scholarly meetings
  • publication costs
  • purchase of classroom books
  • purchase of computers or printers
  • laboratory analyses

Application Process


All application materials should be uploaded for review via Submittable,

The application will become available on August 4, 2023, with a submission deadline of October 20, 2023. You must use the online application system to apply.

A complete application contains the following:

  • Application form (generated online in Submittable)
  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter from the manager of each reserve where you propose to conduct research that authorizes reserve use for your project
  • Letter of recommendation from your supervising faculty advisor indicating support of the proposed research and addressing its merits for funding by the NRS as well as your ability to conduct the research and meet established deadlines.
  • Copies of appropriate collecting permits and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approvals, where applicable


  1. Write your project description and curriculum vitae (see formatting requirements below) and email both documents to the manager of each reserve you plan to work in requesting authorization for your proposed research. A link to a list of reserve contacts is available at the bottom of this page. In the email, indicate that you are applying for a Mathias Graduate Student Research Grant and ask that the manager(s) send their letter(s) of approval directly to you. We encourage you to reach out to the manager(s) as early as possible so that you receive their written approval well before the application deadline of October 20, 2023.
  2. Send your project description and curriculum vitae to your faculty advisor. Inform your faculty advisor that once you submit your application, they will immediately receive an email prompt from Submittable to upload a letter of reference. It’s in your best interest to make sure your faculty advisor receives and responds to the email from Submittable by the deadline—ask them to check their junk mailbox if they don’t see the email! All letters of reference must be received by October 27, 2023.
  3. Once you have received all required letters of approval from the reserve manager(s), initiate your application in Submittable.
  4. Don’t forget to “send” the application once you are finished by clicking on the “Apply” button at the bottom of the application form!

Completed applications will be evaluated by a UC-wide committee that will determine which applications are funded and in what amounts. Award decisions will be emailed to applicants by December 1, 2023.

Formatting Requirements

  • All application materials must be submitted as Adobe PDF files. There are many ways to create pdf files, some of which are described at
  • The project description cannot exceed three pages in length. This includes all figures, tables, and the list of references. Format on a standard 8.5 inch x 11 inch page with one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Your curriculum vitae cannot exceed two pages in length. Format on a standard 8.5 inch x 11 inch page with one-inch margins on all sides.
  • All text must be in Times New Roman font. Body text should be in 12-point type. References, footnotes, and figure captions should be in 10-, 11- or 12-point type.
  • Line spacing must be standard single or greater.
  • All attached files should be named using the format “Last First Item.pdf”, where Last is your family name, First is your given name, and Item is “Description”, “CV”, “Reserve Approval”, or “Permits” (if applicable). For example, Rosa Peterson’s application materials would contain four attached files: “Peterson Rosa Description.pdf”,“Peterson Rosa CV.pdf”, “Peterson Rosa Reserve Approval.pdf”, and “Peterson Rosa Permits.pdf”

Evaluation Criteria

Primary criteria

Research quality (10 points)
Evaluation of research quality will be based on the importance of the problem, originality, statement of research questions or hypothesis, sampling design and analysis, preliminary data supporting the feasibility of the proposed research, and likelihood of success within the timeframe indicated in the proposal.

Reserve dependence (5 points)
Research must take place on one or more NRS reserve(s) or the areas or regions in which the reserve or reserves are located. Adjacent areas may be used more than the reserve or reserves proper if justified in the proposal. Higher scores will be assigned for research that takes advantage of special reserve conditions, such as building on a history of related research, occurrence of unique/special conditions or resources, need to protect equipment, etc.

Additional considerations

Additional considerations may be applied to differentiate similarly ranked proposals. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Stage of student’s career. Preference will be given to students early in their career.
  • Other funding. Preference will be given to projects lacking other support.
  • Relationship to dissertation research. Preference will be given to proposals for research that are directly related to the student’s master’s or PhD research.
  • Underrepresented disciplines. Preference will be given to disciplines that do not normally take advantage of NRS sites and resources.
  • Reserve research priorities. Preference will be given to research that directly addresses an area that has clearly been identified as a research priority for an NRS reserve.

An attempt will be made to balance funding among campuses and reserve sites consistent with the goal of supporting the highest quality research proposals.

Reserve Contacts

Contact information for reserve directors can be found here.