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Letter of Intent Guidance for EMSL-JGI FICUS Program

Updated: December 2021

A Letter of Intent (LOI) is required prior to submitting a full proposal, to facilitate planning of the peer-review process, ensure alignment of proposals to EMSL and JGI missions and capabilities, and to assist users in building strong proposals. LOIs are reviewed by members of each facility’s scientific staff and management. 

Researchers preparing LOIs are encouraged to contact scientific staff to discuss research goals and resource needs. For help identifying the appropriate contacts, see the proposal call announcement.  

Required Information 

The list below summarizes the information required for the LOI, to be entered into the online form in the User Portal.  

  • Categorization details (research category; EMSL IRP) 
  • Requested start date 
  • Title and Abstract 
  • Proposed Research description (uploaded PDF document; see instructions below) 
  • Participant details (Name, Institution, ORCID ID, etc) 
  • Funding sources 
  • Samples and equipment  

Once you initiate a new LOI, you can navigate through the entire form to view all required information and additional guidance. 

Proposed Research Description 

The detailed description of your proposed research will be uploaded to the LOI form as a PDF file. Instructions for formatting and content of the Proposed Research document are given below. These guidelines are updated periodically and requirements may change from year to year. Note that all required appendices must be combined with the Proposed Research description in a single PDF file. 

Document Formatting 

  • Pagination is required  
  • 11 point fonts (or larger for headings). Captions, symbols, and special characters can have a font of less than 11 points. 
  • 1 inch margins 
  • No more than 5 lines of text within a vertical space of one inch  
  • Single-spaced lines recommended 
  • Single-column format for text  
  • Adobe (.pdf) file format  

Title and Abstract 

A title and abstract for your project will be requested through the online form. The abstract does not need to be included in the Project Description PDF. Titles and abstracts of successful non-proprietary projects will appear on the EMSL and JGI websites and be shared with the Department of Energy Office of Science. 

Project Description 

Describe your research plan for using resources at each the facilities required. References are not required. Suggested word counts are provided for guidance but are not enforced.

The Project Description should be written at a level appropriate for someone familiar with your general area of research who is not necessarily an expert on the specific topic. 

The Project Description must include the following sections: 

  • Title. The project title must be brief, scientifically or technically valid, intelligible to a scientifically or technically literate reader, and suitable for use in the public press. 
  • Call Topic. Identify which call topic the proposed research is responding to.
  • Relevant Categories: Identify one or more of the following categories that are relevant to the proposal:
    • Bacteria/archaea
    • Fluorescence activated cell sorting/microbial single cell
    • Microbial communities
    • Fungi
    • Algae
    • Plant
    • Synthesis
    • Metabolomics
    • Other (describe)
  • Specific Aims (~250 words). State the specific objectives of the research proposed (e.g., to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology), providing concise and unambiguous details. 
  • Mission Relevance (~250 words). Describe the relevance of this project to the BER mission areas and its economic or societal importance.  
  • Background/Introduction (~250 words). Describe 1) the scientific question(s) being addressed, 2) the anticipated importance or significance of results to be obtained, especially as related to the user facilities’ missions, and 3) how the data will be used and by which scientific community.
  • Approach or Work Plan (~350 words). Describe the work to be conducted, including estimated resource needs and how the data produced will be used. Include any preliminary data, background measurements, or tests completed that validate the approach. Address the strategy for preparing and delivering samples to EMSL, JGI, and CSMB (if applicable), providing an approximate timeline. Refer to the JGI sample preparation requirements for details on quantity and quality of material required for each JGI product type.


As part of the Project Description PDF file, please include the following appendices in the order listed below. 

Appendix 1: Type of Resources Needed

Using the template provided (see Related Documents), please identify high-level list of capabilities that you are considering in your approach. This list allows management and instrument staff to get an idea of the information that would be needed for a full proposal.    

Appendix 2: NEON Letter of Support

If you are proposing to use soils from the NEON Biorepository, a letter of support from NEON is required for the specific samples in your Letter of Intent. Note: The turnaround time for the letter of support is typically two weeks.   

 Appendix 3: CSMB Sample Information 

If you are proposing to use the HFIR BIO-SANS through CSMB, additional sample details are required for a technical feasibility review. Please use the template provided (see Related Documents). 

Appendix 4: Active Collaborators List (required) 

To help EMSL avoid conflicts of interest on our Proposal Review Panels, please attach a list of active collaborators for the PI and co-PI(s) from the past 2 years, and other individuals who may represent a conflict of interest (template available - see Related Documents). In addition to research project collaborators, the list must include co-authors with whom you've actively interacted, co-editors, advisors and advisees, and financial affiliations, all from the past 2 years. 

Participation in very large collaborative effort with an individual does not necessarily constitute a conflict of interest. Identify those who would have a personal interest in this proposal or whose unbiased judgment would be questioned by a reasonable person familiar with your relationship. You may substitute a list from a recent NSF, DOE, or other proposal that meets the spirit of this request, though lists of more than 100 collaborators (per investigator) should be shortened to include only the closest collaborators. Please use your best judgment in these cases. 


For general questions: EMSL User Services,, 509-371-6003 

For technical and scientific questions: Refer to the proposal call announcement for scientific contacts at each partnering facility.