Environmental Center Seed Grants

The Environmental Center at the University of North Florida seeks to stimulate the creation of multidisciplinary research projects related to the environment. The grants offered to faculty are intended to “seed” environmentally related research that subsequently results in the preparation and submission of a proposal to an external funding agency that is submitted through the Environmental Center. In addition, the Environmental Center especially hopes to inspire effective collaboration between faculty members and students in diverse disciplines. The Seed Grants are competitively awarded to the most meritorious proposals.


The Seed Grant program is supported by an endowment provided by the River Branch Foundation. A recent gift from the Vulcan Materials Company Foundation has allowed the Environmental Center to expand the Seed Grant program and offer two additional grants focused on water issues in Northeast Florida. 


The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, 2017  


Environmental Research Grants - Up to $6,000 each  

Supported by the River Branch Foundation


Proposals must address one of the following priority areas: 

  • Rivers, coasts and springs
  • Parks and preserves
  • Sustainability (social, health, environmental and economic)

Water Research Grants - Up to $5,000

Supported by the Vulcan Materials Company Foundation

 Water Research Grant Application

Proposals must address water issues in Northeast Florida. 

Examples of Successful Past Seed Grant Applications


Voices from the Stream: An Environmental History of the St. Johns River 2009


Dig in! Go Green! Fruit and Vegetable Gardening with Preschoolers 2009

2017 Seed Grant Recipients

Spartina alterniflora Floating Nurseries: Growing Plants to Reduce Nutrient Loading and Enhance Coastal Shoreline Restoration

Dr. Kelly Smith, Department of Biology

Kenneth Rainer,  Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR)

Nicole Llinas, Biology Undergraduate Research Assistant

Retention ponds are ubiquitous in the southeast and play a key role in allowing stormwater to re-enter the groundwater supply; however, these ponds are sources of nutrients that can lead to nuisance algae blooms in recipient waterways. We propose using floating mats planted with Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) to achieve two goals: 1) Reduce nutrient levels in retention ponds through uptake by plant roots, and 2) harvest mature and healthy plants for control of sediment erosion and as habitat for coastal organisms. This collaborative effort between the education group at Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) lead by Kenneth Rainer and the Department of Biology will merge scientific inquiry with environmental education. Outcomes of the project include: assessment of nutrient uptake in retention ponds, analysis of plant health response to floating mats and subsequent deployment in coastal shorelines, and integration of middle school student participation in plant harvesting and deployment as an environmental science activity.

Correlating Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) strandings to cyanobacterial and cyanotoxin exposure in the St. Johns River, Jacksonville

Dr. Quincy Gibson, Department of Biology

Amber Brown, Biology Graduate Research Assistant

Recent necropsy reports have documented a large number of unexplained deaths among bottlenose dolphins in the St. Johns River, Jacksonville. Moreover, a number of these deaths occurred in low salinity areas of the river that are strong deviations from the residential population's known home ranges. These findings indicate that dolphins are traveling farther upstream into the freshwater, suggesting possible exposure to native toxin producing cyanobacterial blooms. In 2015, two dolphin stranding reports noted the presence of dermal "algal mats." Preliminary microscopic identification of these algal mats revealed the presence of both water mold and cyanobacteria. This combination could potentially provide an explanation for these previously unexplained fatalities. This research will focus on unusual strandings and the effects of freshwater cyanobacterial blooms on the health of dolphins in the St. Johns River.

  • Past Seed Grant Recepients and Projects