Seed Proposals

The National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping surveys up to seven projects every year (each covering no more than 40 sq km, or 2 sq km for UAS platform) for graduate student PIs from acredited U.S. institutions who desire to incorporate Airborne Laser Swath Mapping (ALSM) data in their research. 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.

Applications for proposals for the NCALM seed projects typically open in September or October each year, with a deadline no later than January of the following year. They 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 OpenTopography and various email lists.

Go to the NCALM Data Tracking Center to find examples of past seed projects and what coverage already exists. The website shows the locations of past and current NCALM projects and specifically identifies the seed projects. Papers published using the data are linked to each project. The data can be downloaded from OpenTopography.

For 2021 submissions, given that NCALM has scheduled projects in Alaska during Summer 2022, the Steering Committee could recommend conducting a limited number of seed surveys in Alaska. These proposals have to be developed for conventional platforms (no UAS), and the project locations must be within a 100-mile radius of Anchorage or Fairbanks. Feasibility will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


Due Date

Friday, January 7th, 2022 at midnight Central Standard Time


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 ongoing projects.
  3. A location map showing target area, which must be in the contiguous United States (or within 100 mi of Anchorage/Fairbanks) and no more than 40 sq km (or 2 sq km for UAS platform).

Additional submission information:

  1. This is a single project/single year proposal. Repeat data collection proposals will not be supported.
  2. Seed proposals are for ALSM (airborne lidar) data and do not include other types of data collection (e.g., aerial photography, terrestrial lidar, or hyperspectral imaging).
  3. Proposals that do not follow the format outlined in the NCALM Format Guidelines and Proposal Form will be returned without review.

Note: 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 to the student. NCALM collects and provides lidar data to a student only if the project is awarded.


Projects outside of the contiguous United States and/or in regions higher than 2,500 m elevation (2,000 m for UAS platform) cannot generally be funded under the seed proposal program.

Additional Information

For information beyond this page, the Format Guidelines, the Selection Criteria, and the FAQ page, please contact the NCALM staff:

ncalm [at]

P: 832.842.8881
F: 713.743.0186