Seed Proposals

The National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping surveys up to ten projects (each generally covering no more than 40 square kilometers) each year for graduate student PIs who need Airborne Laser Swath Mapping (ALSM) data. Beginning in 2012, graduate student PIs can specify either near infrared (Optech Gemini, 1064 nm) or green (Optech Aquarius, 532 nm) bathymetric ALSM data (only one wavelength can be selected), as well as optionally request high resolution aerial photography in conjunction with the ALSM collection. Graduate student proposals must define a basic research question in the geosciences (broadly defined). No financial support is provided to the student, but it is hoped that the data from projects selected in this program will enable new research opportunities and lead to successful proposals for future research.

Proposals for NCALM seed projects are invited electronically around September or October each year and are submitted online at the Seed Proposal Submission Site. Final selections from the proposals are made by the NCALM Steering Committee. The NCALM website is the primary source of information for NCALM seed projects. However, announcements may also be made through Eos and various email lists.


Due Date

November 1st, annually.


Proposals should be three pages or less, including any figures and references, and must contain:

  1. A description of the science, why research-grade ALSM data are needed, and the broader impact(s) of the study.
  2. A statement of how this study relates to on-going projects.
  3. A location map showing target location, which must be in the contiguous United States (lower 48 states) and no more than 40 square kilometers.
  4. An optimal timetable for receiving the product.
  5. Data format and processing required (e.g., near infrared or green ALSM, filtered to expose bare earth, gridded, or classified point files including vegetation, optional aerial photography).

  6. Additional submission information:

  7. This a single project, single year proposal. Repeat data collection proposals will not be supported.
  8. Seed propsals are for ALSM (airborne LiDAR) data with optional aerial photography and do NOT include any other types of data collection (e.g., full-waveform data, terrestrial mobile LiDAR, or hyperspectral imaging).
  9. Proposals that do not follow the format outlined by the NCALM proposal guidelines and templates will be returned without review.
  10. NCALM does not provide rankings or evaluations to graduate student PIs or their advisors.

Data Distribution Policy

Seed project data will be made public six months after the delivery of the data to the graduate student.


Awardees are required to submit a report, not exceeding three pages including figures, one year after the delivery of the data. In addition to the report, awardees should submit one MS PowerPoint slide outlining the most important discovery from their ALSM data collection.


NCALM seed projects do not provide any financial support. NCALM collects and provides LiDAR data only to a student if the project is awarded.


Projects outside of the contiguous United States and/or in regions higher than 3,000 m elevation cannot generally be funded under the seed proposal program. If the project area falls into either of these categories, check NCALM's Field Campaign Calendar for anticipated future missions that may be adjacent to your area, thereby enhancing feasibility of a proposal in such regions.

Additional Information

For information beyond that available on this page, the Format Guidelines page and the Selection Criteria page, please contact:

    Ramesh L. Shrestha, Director
    University of Houston
    450 Cullen Performance Hall
    Houston, TX 77204-5059
    Tel: 832.842.8881  
    Fax: 713.743.0186


University of Houston
450 Cullen Performance Hall
Houston, TX 77204-5059


P: 832.842.8881
F: 713.743.0186


NSF's Division of Earth Sciences,
Instrumentation and Facilities
Program, is providing funding for
the center. EAR 1339015.
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