AY 2023-2024 Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Awards

Award Amount: $4,000 

The application period for the ​AY 2023-24 ​​Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Award​ Program is now closed. 

In honor of Dr. Kenneth H. Coale, a pioneer and leader in ocean science whose legacy will live on for decades.

Section Links
Program Description | Eligibility | Application Materials and Instructions  | Letter of Recommendation  | Award Conditions and Details  | Important Financial Aid and Tax Liability Information  | Examples of Highly Ranked Applica​tions

Please read this entire Award Announcement in detail BEFORE you apply for this opportunity to ensure you are applying correctly and following all instructions. Incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed. 

Application Timeline 
Relevant Details
Sept. 19, 2023
Announcement released

October 16, 2023

Pre-recorded informational webinar released
Recording | Slides

October 25, 2023
12:00 - 1:00 pm
Virtual office hour session #1
Zoom Link: https://csumb.zoom.us/j/81404672755
December 1, 2023
10:00 - 11:00 am
Virtual office hour session #2
Zoom Link: https://csumb.zoom.us/j/81404672755
​January 9, 2024
​10:00 - 11:00 am
Virtual office hour session #3
​Zoom Link: https://csumb.zoom.us/j/81404672755
​January 17, 2024
​11:00 - 12:00 pm
Virtual office hour session #4
​Zoom Link: https://csumb.zoom.us/j/81404672755
January 24, 2024

EXTENDED to January 31, 2024

Applications due by 5:00 P.M. PST

- ALL materials MUST be submitted by the deadline as attachments in ONE email to [email protected].

- Letters of Recommendation must be submitted directly from CSU Advisors to [email protected] by the deadline. 

Jump to Application Materials and Instructions

**The application period for the ​AY 2023-24 ​​Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Award​ Program is now closed. **

Late April 2024
Applicants notified

May 15, 2024
Award start date
There is no award end date; award funds do not expire.
Dec. 2, 2024
Post-Award Reports due
Jump to Post-Award Reporting Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions or additional information: Contact Kimberly Jassowski ([email protected]), COAST Program Analyst. 

Program Description

The Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Awards are $4,000 scholarships intended to support CSU graduate students working on marine, estuarine, coastal and coastal watershed research projects. These awards provide students with valuable resources to procure critical research materials and supplies or to help defray living expenses while engaged in research. This allows students to obtain the skills necessary to join a highly skilled, technologically advanced workforce while promoting and supporting CSU research.

Students who are members of groups that have been historically excluded from marine and coastal science, including students who are Hispanic, Latina/o, Black or African American, Asian, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian, American Indian, Alaska Native or a combination of ethnicities; noncitizens; female; LGBTQIA+; first-in-family; economically disadvantaged; veterans; have disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants of any race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, immigration status, national origin, age, dis/ability or veteran status are welcome.

COAST promotes research and education to advance our knowledge of ocean and coastal systems and disseminates scientific information to stakeholders for the development of responsible policy. The scope of COAST includes 
  • The open and coastal ocean;
  • Coastal zones (bays, estuaries, beaches); 
  • Coastal watersheds: the organism, material or process being studied in the watershed must have a clear and direct impact on the downstream marine environment (e.g., anadromous fish, surface and groundwater flow, water quality).
Work supported by COAST is NOT limited to California. Please see www.calstate.edu/impact-of-the-csu/research/coast/about/Pages/about.aspx for additional information


Applicants are required to 
  • Conduct their thesis or Professional Science Master’s work under the direction of a CSU faculty member (“Advisor”).
  • Define a project that supports one or more of COAST’s goals. 
  • COAST encourages all types of research. Clear connections to COAST goals must be identified.
  • Work supported by COAST is NOT limited to California, but priority will be given to projects that are applicable to the needs of California.
The application must be a product of your own work. You are required to have your Advisor review your application prior to submission to provide guidance and input. Your Advisor will need to sign the Advisor Sign Off form at the end of your Application From indicating this. 

Applicants may be part-time students but must be enrolled in a graduate degree program. Post-baccalaureate students not enrolled in a graduate degree program are not eligible to apply. Advisors must verify these conditions in the letter of recommendation. 

Prior Graduate Student Research Award recipients are eligible to apply provided they have met the obligations of their previous award; however, preference will be given to new applicants who have not previously received a graduate award. Preference will not be influenced by prior receipt of other COAST funding (e.g., Undergraduate Student Research Support, Student Travel Award).

Individual students may submit only one application in response to this announcement. Advisors may recommend more than one student. 

Previous awards are listed at https://www.calstate.edu/impact-of-the-csu/research/coast/funding/Pages/past-student-awards.aspx (select “Graduate Student Research Program” in the “COAST Award Program” drop down menu at the top of the page). Jump to Examples of Highly Ranked Applications. 

Application Materials and Instructions

  1. APPLICATION FORM Required for all applicants (download zipped file)         
  2. DEPARTMENT COMMITMENT FORM Required IF you are requesting that all or a portion of your award be paid to your Department

All materials, including letters of recommendation, must be submitted by Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 5:00 p.m. PST Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 5:00 p.m. PST. Incomplete applications and applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered. **The application period for the ​AY 2023-24 ​​Dr. Kenneth H. Coale Graduate Scholar Award​ Program is now closed. ​**
  1. Complete the Application Form, and save as both a Word document and a PDF file named as follows: LastName_FirstName_App.docx and LastName_FirstName_App.pdf. Do not attempt to reformat the form or submit it as a different file type. Submit both the .docx and .pdf application files.
    • Degree Program: Enter the official name of the degree program in which you are enrolled. 
    • Degree Sought: Enter either Master’s or PhD.
    • Matriculation Date: Provide the date (mm/yyyy) on which you began your degree program.
    • Anticipated Graduation Date: Provide the date (mm/yyyy) on which you anticipate graduating from your degree program.
    • Grade Point Average (GPA): Enter your GPA in major courses of your graduate degree program. If you are currently enrolled in the first semester of graduate school, please use, “N/A, first semester”.
    • Budget Summary: Enter how much money you want to go to your Department and directly to you (through Financial Aid). This must add up to a total of $4,000. 
    • Committee Members: List all of the Committee Members associated with your project. 
    • Suggested Reviewers: Provide the names and contact information for two possible reviewers. These reviewers must be CSU faculty members or research associates and may not be 1) from your home campus, 2) members of your committee or 3) anyone with whom there may be a potential conflict of interest. You are encouraged to consult with your advisor to identify potential reviewers. COAST will use the suggested names to assist with assigning reviewers. Your suggestions will not be shared with potential reviewers. 
  2. To encourage you to engage with your CSU Advisor as you develop your application, we require an Advisor Sign-Off Form for all applications. The Advisor Sign-Off Form can be found at the end of the Application Form. By signing this form, your advisor indicates that they have reviewed your application, provided guidance and input, and approved it for submission. This form is NOT a substitute for a letter of recommendation (LOR). 
    • Please note: A signature is required from your advisor on the Advisor Sign-Off Form in the PDF version of your application that you submit (the Word document does NOT need to be submitted with a signature).
  3. If you are requesting that all or a portion of your award be paid to your Department for you to use for services and supplies (see Budget instructions below), you must complete the Departmental Commitment Form and obtain all necessary signatures. Scan the signed form and save it as LastName_FirstName_DCF.pdf. If you are requesting that the entire award be paid directly to you to help defray personal living expenses or tuition, you do NOT need to submit this form. 
  4. When completed, email your Application Form (which includes the Advisor Sign-Off Form) as both a .docx and .pdf and Departmental Commitment Form (if needed) as separate attachments in one email to [email protected]. Within one hour of application submission, you will receive a confirmation email from COAST. If you submit multiple files to [email protected], you will receive a confirmation email for each submission. Please save these emails for future reference. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact COAST ([email protected]) immediately to ensure your application was received. This is your responsibility-COAST is not responsible for applications that were not successfully submitted if applicants cannot provide a copy of the email confirming successful submission. 
  5. Your email cannot exceed a total file size limit, including all attachments, of 10 MB. 
Submissions will be evaluated based on the quality of the research described, how the proposed research meets one or more of the goals of COAST, and the need for support. The headings below with specific point values included in parentheses are included in the Application Form and add up to 100 possible points. 

Project Description (1500-word maximum, 65 points total)
The project description must clearly describe the research project to be conducted, including its significance, novelty and application. Primary literature must be referenced. The project description must include experimental design, including a clear statement of hypotheses and/or objectives, methodology and planned data analysis. The project description should be easily understood by someone outside the immediate field. E.g., a geologist should be able to understand a proposal on fish ecology, and vice versa. Avoid the use of jargon and highly technical terms without explanation. 
  • Clear description of the project, its goals and significance (30 points) 
  • Statements sufficiently referenced (5 points) 
  • Use of original, peer-reviewed literature, both foundational and current (5 points)
  • Clearly stated hypotheses or objectives (5 points) 
  • Experimental design and methodology (15 points)
  • Data analysis plan (5 points)
The project description must also make clear how your proposed activities relate to ocean or coastal environments, organisms or issues. The organism, material or process being studied in the coastal watershed must have a clear and direct impact on the downstream marine environment.  

The project description is limited to 1,500 words; any text over this limit will be redacted. References are submitted in a separate section and are not subjected to a word count. Figures and tables can be included in the project description; any text in tables or figures will be included in the word count. 

References (0 points)
Provide full bibliographic information for each citation. Reviewers should be able to easily locate any references you include. For examples of widely accepted citation formats, see http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.

Timeline (250-word maximum, 10 points total)
Include a timeline for use of your award beginning May 15, 2024. Include projected dates/timeframes for specific activities including your anticipated graduation date. If you reference activities occurring prior to May 15, 2024, for context, be sure to clearly identify the activities an award would fund.  As noted below in the Budget and Justification section, awards cannot be used to fund any activities that occur prior to May 15, 2024.  Requests for funds for expenses or work done prior to start date will result in your application being returned without review.

Need for Research (250-word maximum, 7 points total)
This section must clearly articulate the scientific need for your research. How will your work will contribute to the advancement of your field? What intellectual contribution will your expected results make?  

Relevance to state of California (100-word maximum, 3 points total)
Work supported by COAST is NOT limited to California, but priority will be given to projects that are applicable to the needs of California. Please describe how your research is relevant to California. 

Budget and Justification (250-word maximum for justification, 15 points total)
Construct a line-item budget totaling $4,000 that shows how you will use the award. Awards can be used for living expenses, research-related expenses or both. PLEASE NOTE: COAST considers requests for personal living expenses and/or tuition to be equal in merit to requests for research-related expenses. 

You can request that the entire award be paid 1) directly to you to help defray personal living expenses and/or tuition, 2) to your Department for you to use for supplies and services, or 3) any combination of the two. Any portion of the award paid directly to you will be processed as a scholarship through your campus financial aid office (see Section 7 below). Portions of awards paid through your Department for supplies and services will be managed by the Department. In some cases, materials or supplies purchased for your use by the Department are property of the Department and therefore are not considered personal property. Please consult with your Department for policies regarding purchase of materials and supplies. 

Funds can only be requested for costs incurred ON or AFTER the project start date (May 15, 2024). Award funds may not be used for activities that occur prior to this date. Requests for funds for expenses or work done prior to the start date will result in your application being returned without review.

An example budget is provided in the Application Form. You may use this template (after deleting the example text) or create your own as long as a similar or greater level of detail is provided. 

Provide a budget justification that clearly explains your need for the requested support and details how this award will help further and support your research activities. If you request funds to help pay tuition or defray personal living expenses, please be very specific about HOW the funds will be beneficial (i.e., what would an award allow you to do that would not be possible otherwise?).  
  • Line item budget (7.5 points)
  • Justification (7.5 points)

Letter of Recommendation

Your CSU Advisor must provide a letter of recommendation (two-page maximum). The letter must be on CSU letterhead and submitted electronically as either a scanned version of an original containing a signature or must contain an electronic signature. Letters must discuss the value of the student’s proposed research and must comment on the student’s ability to successfully conduct and complete the proposed project. Letters must verify that the student is enrolled in a graduate degree program at a CSU campus. Advisors may recommend more than one student. Advisors should name the file ApplicantLastName_LOR.pdf and submit it directly to COAST at [email protected] by the deadline. Letters will remain confidential. 

Award Conditions and Details


Awardees are required to 
  1. Make an oral or poster presentation at an external meeting or conference within one year of receiving the Award, and acknowledge COAST in the presentation. Presenting at a virtual meeting or conference is allowed.
  2. Acknowledge COAST in any publications or presentations resulting in whole or in part from the Award. 
  3. Provide COAST with an abstract of their research and a one-page summary of the impact of this award on their research progress by December 2, 2024.  

Important Financial Aid and Tax Liability Information

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with their campus financial aid office prior to applying to COAST to determine the potential impact of this award to other forms of compensation provided through their university, including financial aid. Portions of awards paid directly to students will be processed through campus financial aid offices. Please be advised that receiving and accepting a COAST award could lead to a decrease in other forms of financial assistance. Ordinarily, adjustments (if any) are made to loans first before other grants or scholarships. Award recipients should contact their campus financial aid office to determine how the award may affect their total financial aid package. 

Because of Internal Revenue Service and other requirements, campuses may also consult with accounting, human resources and international programs staff to determine appropriate method of payment and any tax withholding requirements. Award recipients should consult with a tax professional regarding tax liability resulting from any award.  

Examples of Highly Ranked Applications

In an effort to facilitate successful application development, we have gathered several examples of Graduate Student Research Award applications that were highly ranked in previous competitions. This is meant to serve as a guide to the quality of writing and level of detail required to be successful in this competitive opportunity.