Cave Research Foundation
The Philip M. Smith Graduate Research
Grant for Cave and Karst Research
Deadline: March 1, 2024
Beginning in 2015, the Cave Research Foundation named the graduate
research grant program in honor of Philip M. Smith, CRF's founding
president (1957-1965). Philip Meek Smith (1932-2014), a native of
Springfield, Ohio, and graduate of Ohio State University with degrees
in geology and science education, was a national and international
leader in science, technology, and public policy for five decades. He
is best known for his work on polar research programs with the National
Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, and the National
Science Foundation, and served three U.S. presidents – Nixon, Ford, and
Carter – on issues of science policy. From the 1950s through the 1960s,
Smith was deeply involved in caving, helping to found the Central Ohio
Grotto of the National Speleological Society and taking part in the NSS
C3 expedition in Floyd Collins Crystal Cave, Kentucky.
In the early 1950s, there were few American scientists pursuing
cave-related research, but advances in exploration like the C3
expedition showed immense potential for sustained exploration and
study. CRF was formed to help provide this support, largely modeled on
similar organizational support for the International Geophysical Year,
in which Smith was then deeply involved. From its inception, CRF has
always placed importance on multidisciplinary, integrated research.
Inspired by Phil Smith's lifelong support for science and his early
influence on the organization of CRF, the graduate research grant
program is dedicated in his memory.
Each academic year, CRF accepts proposals for graduate student research
in cave and karst studies leading to either a master's or doctoral
degree. Proposals may be in any field of the earth, natural, or social
sciences as long as the research addresses topics related to caves or
karst. The award ceiling is determined annually by the CRF Board of
Directors; however, typically, four to six grants are awarded annually,
ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each. Students must be enrolled in a
degree-granting institution and preference is given to research
directly related to the student's thesis or dissertation project.
Competition is open to U.S. and international institutions, but
application materials must be in English.
The application deadline is March 1 of each year.
The following materials are required as part of the application:
1. A title and
abstract. The abstract should not exceed 250 words and be
understandable to a non-specialist audience. On this title page,
indicate your departmental affiliation, major advisor, and whether this
is a master's or doctoral project.
2. A proposal describing the intended research. The
body of the proposal should be no more than ten (10), single-spaced
pages in length (12 pt. font, 1 inch margins) including tables and
figures (references cited are not counted in this limit), and should
discuss the problem to be addressed, background, significance of the
research, especially as it relates to cave and karst studies, and
methods to be used.
3. A budget and proposed research schedule. Indicate
other sources of funding or grant programs to which you are applying.
4. A curriculum vitae. This should include a list of
peer-reviewed papers, presentations at conferences, honors, and any
other information relevant to your qualifications for research and
5. Two (2) letters of reference. One letter must be
from your graduate advisor or committee chair. These letters may be
sent directly to the grant program chair by the referee.
In preparing the proposal, it is important to remember that several
karst scientists will review the proposal. These scientists may include
geologists, biologists, hydrologists, archaeologists, and others.
Reviewers are more likely to support research that has broad
significance to cave and karst studies.
Application material should be submitted electronically, preferably as
a single Adobe Reader-type PDF file (items 1 through 4 above in order)
to the Grant Committee co-Chairs, Dr. Patricia Kambesis (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Kayla Sapkota (email@example.com), by the deadline. If you do not have the
capability to produce PDF files, electronic submission as a DOCX or RTF
file format is acceptable. Do not send paper copies of the application
Applicants may wish to contact the grant committee chair prior to
submitting a full proposal to discuss their research topic and
appropriateness to the grant program.
It is recommended that an account for disbursing grant funds be set up
through the student’s university if at all possible. You should contact
your university's research and grant office before submitting your
proposal to make sure this is possible and their requirements. The
following conditions apply to all grants:
indirect or overhead costs (Facilities & Administrative Costs) may
not be charged to the grant.
2. The start date of the project is the date of the
award letter and ends one year from that date.
3. If the student has not completed all work on the
project within that year, they should request a no-cost extension from
the grant program chair. Provide a brief justification and estimated
4. A check for the full amount of the award will be
sent to the institution at the beginning of the award. Provide
appropriate remittance information to the grant program chair and CRF
5. At the end of the project, CRF would like a brief
financial report of expenditures. If funds remain unspent they should
be returned to CRF.
6. The student will prepare a summary report of the
research for publication in the CRF Annual Report. This report will be
due three months after completion of the project. The report should be
less than 2,000 words in length (excluding references) and may contain
two or three figures or tables as appropriate.
7. The Cave Research Foundation should be
acknowledged as a supporter of the research in any publications
deriving from the project.
1. Travel costs to
and from the field or while in the field. If driving, these costs
should be itemized based on university motor pool rates or reasonable
rates for use of a personal vehicle.
2. Per diem or daily allowances for food and lodging
while in the field. These costs should be itemized and reasonable.
3. Expendable field or laboratory supplies necessary
for the project. Itemize.
4. Specialized analyses necessary to the project.
Examples might include radiometric dating, isotopic analyses, and
specimen thin sections.
5. Specialized field or laboratory equipment, if it
is necessary to the project and justifiable. Examples might include
dedicated data loggers, specialized cave equipment, or other
specialized measuring equipment.
1. Facility and
2. Salary for the principle investigator(s) or other
student employees. Salary for field workers from the host country on
international projects may be allowable if justified.
3. General equipment or instruments that have a long
use life outside the project, such as computers, cameras, scales, and
software are generally not allowable unless they can be justified under
number 5 above.
4. Travel, lodging, and registration for scientific
Click the following links to see
abstracts for grant recipients in previous years:
last updated or validated on May 26, 2023