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Research Fellowship Grant Program



Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund) funds research, scholarships and education programs essential to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry.

TREE Fund Research Fellowships are multi-year grants, designed to empower transformative arboriculture research by emerging scholars, in support of TREE Fund’s research priorities. In the ideal funding scenario, the Principal Investigator for a proposed project would be an early career, pre-tenure assistant or tenured associate rank professor, supervising a PhD student. Applicants at the assistant professor/pre-tenure level are strongly encouraged to partner with a tenured professor as Co-Principal Investigator. Research Fellowships may span three to five years with a maximum total grant award of $100,000. Recipients may not receive more than one Research Fellowship.

The theme of “Urban Forest Sustainability” is the current guiding priority for the Research Fellowship grant program. Within this broad theme, successful grant proposals will focus on such urban forest sustainability issues as:

  • Nursery production practices that enhance survival, structural soundness and post-installation performance;
  • Young tree care (e.g. structural pruning, root care, etc.) to enhance longevity;
  • Soil biology and soil amelioration;
  • Sustainable pest and disease management alternatives;
  • Species diversity to mitigate loss and enhance benefits of urban forests; or
  • Mitigating tree damage and loss following construction.

While rigorous, actionable research findings are the primary desired outcome of this program, Research Fellowships are also purposefully designed to empower the academic arboriculture community for years to come — by investing in the careers of pre-tenured professors and scientists in meaningful ways that support their own professional development, even as they expand the knowledge base in their respective fields.


TREE Fund’s current research priorities include the following areas of professional interest; proposals outside of these core areas must clearly and explicitly identify why TREE Fund consideration of the requested scopes of work is warranted:

  • Root and soil management: Many urban tree problems originate below ground. Promoting root development, protecting roots from injury, managing conflicts with infrastructure, improving existing soil, and/or use of other media for root growth are issues that arborists encounter regularly.
  • Tree planting and establishment: Methods of ensuring survival and vigorous growth of trees after planting are of concern to arborists and the entire green industry. Arborists are increasingly dealing with problems that originate in or could be avoided during the planting process.
  • Plant health care: Healthy plants have more effective defense systems, are better able to resist pests, and often require less life-time investment of resources for successful performance in the field. Improved understanding of natural and anthropogenic factors that impact plant health is most likely to lead to new pest/pathogen management strategies for use in the field.
  • Risk assessment and worker safety: Safety is a major concern to practicing arborists, especially as incomplete knowledge of potential hazards can be a life-or-death issue for both tree workers and the public they serve. Detection and prevention of structural degradation of trees via decay and other factors are especially important. However, practitioners face additional challenges when working in sites with live utility wires and whenever their work requires leaving the ground to attend to problem areas.  Thus, research leading to improved equipment and work practices is also a high priority.
  • Urban and community forest management: Trees offer significant economic and health benefits to their home communities, and maximizing these benefits requires an improved understanding of how urban forest ecosystems function, how they should be managed, and how they interact with people in communities and at the urban/rural interface.


Applications may be made between January 15 and and March 15, 2019 and will be accepted only through the online application form at Applicants will need the following information to complete the application; work in progress may be saved before final submittal:

  • Written application narrative, to include the following elements and information:
    • Project Summary: A concise synopsis of the other sections of the proposal. (250 words maximum)
    • Statement of Problem: What needs to be learned, and why? (250 words maximum)
    • Current Knowledge in Project Area: Pay particular attention to previous work that provides a basis for questions posed in the current proposal or for the origin/application of new or novel methods to be used herein. (500 words maximum)
    • Description of Outcomes: Identify up to five measurable outcomes that are most likely to result from work proposed herein. (100 words maximum)
    • Project Work Plan: Clearly define the scope of the work to be performed, including design, hypotheses, methodology, and analyses and approximate timetable. (1,000 words maximum)
    • Dissemination Plan: A brief description of activities and outlets used to share the results of this project; see “Reporting Requirements” section below for additional guidance. (100 words maximum)
    • Literature Cited: List all relevant literature cited in the proposal including personal citations that appear in the author’s CV.  N.B. Here and elsewhere, applicants should use author-year method for in-text literature citations as described under “Guidelines for Citing in Text” which can be viewed here.
  • An itemized project budget; note that:
    • TREE Fund requires a match of least 10% cash or in-kind support from other sources; applicant should be prepared to identify such sources;
    • TREE Fund caps institutional overhead costs in its grant awards at 10% of the total TREE Fund-funded amount of the project; unrecovered institutional overhead costs above this cap may be counted toward the required grant match.


Proposals will be evaluated by TREE Fund’s Research Committee using the following criteria:

  • Potential Impact of the Topic: Does the project address a problem/issue within TREE Fund’s mission? Does the project pose a novel research question, propose a novel approach to an existing research question or represent a new area of research? Does the project address topics that benefit the everyday work of arborists and urban foresters? Will this project have application to a broad sector of the arboriculture and urban forestry communities? Will measurable outcomes occur as a result of this project?
  • Rigorous Approaches to the Process and Problem: Are the methods and proposed analysis appropriate and scientifically sound? Is the project creative, unique or novel in its approach to the problem? If this is a technology transfer project, is the transfer vehicle/method appropriate for the target audience?
  • Feasibility of the Proposed Scope of Work: Has the investigator demonstrated appropriate qualifications and resources to accomplish the project? Can the project be completed within the given time frame?
  • Budget: Is there a clear explanation of how grant funds will be used in the context of the total project budget? Are additional sources of funding for the project being pursued? Is the potential cost/benefit ratio for this project appropriate?

Applications will be specifically rated and screened per the following rubric:

  • Applicant’s C.V. demonstrates acceptable qualifications. (0 to 5 points)
  • Proposed project directly meets one or more of TREE Fund’s research priorities, identified above. (0 to 10 points)
  • Research has practical application. (0 to 10 points)
  • Methods (including means for data analysis) are clear. (0 to 15 points)
  • Objectives are achievable within proposed time frame and budget (0 to 5 points)
  • Requested funds are matched with at least 10% cash or in-kind support from other sources (0 or 5 points; all or nothing).

TREE Fund does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national or ethnic origin. Current trustees of TREE Fund or any member of the family of any such trustee are ineligible to receive grants from TREE Fund.


Recommendations on grant awards will be presented by the Research Committee to the TREE Fund Board of Trustees for approval in May 2019 and grant recipient(s) will be notified in writing within two weeks of Trustee approval. A Grant Conditions and Agreement form will be provided with notification, and it must be completed within two weeks of notification, and returned to TREE Fund with all required supporting documentation.

The notification letter will provide the anticipated payment schedule based on the length of the approved project: three year grants will receive 35% of total value upon completion of the Grant Conditions and Agreement Form, four year grants 25%, and five year grants 20%. Subsequent payments will be made upon completion of defined interim reports. A retained reserve of 6% of the total value of the grant will be held until final and successful completion of all required documentation, including a fair and complete financial statement reflecting the original budget submitted and the actual expenditures. The final report is due to TREE Fund within 15 days of the project completion date identified in the application.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the sample Grant Conditions and Agreement form (which can be viewed here) with their employers’ financial or grant management offices, as appropriate, to ensure that the Agreement forms can be signed expeditiously upon receipt. Potential difficulties with Agreement terms that are identified during the application process may be considered and negotiated more favorably than those presented after the grant award process. Grant recipients will also be required to submit a brief summary of their projects in lay terms, as well as a photo for use in TREE Fund and industry publications, prior to initial payment being disbursed.

The reports shall supply sufficient information as described in the Grant Conditions and Agreement form to verify that the grant is being used for the purposes intended and to allow TREE Fund to fulfill its public reporting responsibilities. 


It is TREE Fund’s explicit desire that research findings eventually be freely and widely available to any and all parties who may benefit from the author’s work. At the same time, TREE Fund recognizes the importance of academic and professional journal publications and will work with grant recipients to ensure that findings are disseminated in a manner that is cognizant of all parties’ schedules and needs. Any anticipated proprietary elements of proposed research must be identified clearly in the initial application. Should applications fail to make such declarations, TREE Fund reserves the right to negotiate royalties from patents, sales, copyrights, or other commercial results of funded research.

Recipient should inform TREE Fund when funded research findings are published or presented at conferences so that these accomplishments can be widely publicized. Recipients should also recognize the support provided by TREE Fund in their articles or presentations related to the funded project. Recipients are strongly encouraged to publish findings to relevant professional journals, i.e. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Arboricultural Journal, Trees: Structure and Function, Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, Plant Pathology, Hortscience, Horticultural Science, Sustainable Development, Landscape and Urban Planning, Journal of Urban Health, Environment and Urbanization, Urban Ecosystems, etc.


Grant Management System provided by WizeHive.


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