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Microbiology Research Proposal

Profile image of Timothy Mumo James

2021, Assessment of Microbial Contamination on a used and disposed facemask.

Micro-organisms are ubiquitous and are found in almost every area around human bodies. Some are specifically found in certain regions of the body as a normal flora where they live as commensals with man. This association is important in protecting the body against other infectious diseases. Each area of the body surface acquires a characteristic flora of organisms well adapted to growth at that particular environment. These residents (normal flora) tend to suppress the intruders either by competition for space and food supply or by production of metabolites that are antagonistic to the survival of the intruder. These residents could be dislodged from their environment when sneezing, coughing, belching, yawning or could be destroyed by regular use of antiseptic soaps or creams on the body surfaces. Facemasks commonly used to prevent infectious diseases from airborne pathogens, therefore constitute an abode for bacteria. Furthermore, bacteria found in Facemasks could differ from one individual to another as the bacteria found could be a reflective of the environment and pathological conditions of the individual using the facemask.For instance, individual with upper respiratory tract infection are likely to dislodge strains of pathogenic microbes along sides with the normal flora in these regions. Enumeration of bacteria on used facemasks can be done using microscopic cell count and viable cell counting. Microscopic counts can be done on either samples dried on slides or samples in liquid. A viable cell counting is the one that is able to divide and form offspring. Viable cell counting is also called plate count and there are at least two ways of performing plate count: the spread plate and pour plate method. In spread plate method, a volume of appropriately diluted culture is spread over the surface of an agar plate using a sterile glass spreader. The plate is then incubated until colonies appear, and the number of colonies formed are counted.

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Microorganisms exist in a large and mixed population and therefore isolation of microorganisms to pure cultures will be the initial step in the study of the characteristics and potential of microorganisms. In nature, microbial populations do not segregate themselves by species but exist with a mixture of many other cell types. In the laboratory, these populations can be separated into pure cultures. These cultures contain only one type of organism and are suitable for the study of their cultural, morphological, and biochemical properties. In this experiment, you will first use one of the techniques designed to produce discrete colonies. Colonies are individual, macroscopically visible masses of microbial growth on a solid medium surface, each representing the multiplication of a single organism. Once you have obtained these discrete colonies, you will make an aseptic transfer onto nutrient agar slants for the isolation of pure cultures. Streak Plate : Isolation of Discrete Colonies from a Mixed Culture PRINCIPLE: The techniques commonly used for isolation of discrete colonies initially require that the number of organisms in the inoculum be reduced. The resulting diminution of the population size ensures that, following inoculation, individual cells will be sufficiently far apart on the surface of the agar medium to effect a separation of the different species present. The following are techniques that can be used to accomplish this necessary dilution: 1. The streak-plate method is a rapid qualitative isolation method. It is essentially a dilution technique that involves spreading a loopful of culture over the surface of an agar plate.

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In this practical laboratory works, three points were focused. These are: Anti-microbial susceptibility test, colony counting, and motility test. Each points discussed in detail as follows. Anti-microbial susceptibility test performed by using disc diffusion method to determine susceptibility of salmonella .In this test, kanamycin formed 24.26 mm ,ciprofloxacin formed 34.23 mm, and chloramphenicol formed 28.46 mmzone of inhibition, while sulphonamides formed no zone of inhibition. Colony counting was done by plate count method. Two medias were used. On VRB (violet red blue agar) media, with dilution of 10-2 was CFU/ml=3.5*103, with dilution of 10-3, CFU/ml=4.1*104 and with dilution of 10-4, CFU=1.5*105. But in this case also it is reported as "TFTC= too few to count". While on PCA (plate count agar) media, with dilution of 10-3 colony counted was 100, and CFU/ml=1.00*105,with dilution of 10-4 colony counted was 171, and CFU/ml=1.71*106 , with dilution of 10-5colony counted was 58, and CFU/ ml=5.8*106,with dilution of 10-6colony counted was 19, and CFU/ml=1.9*107,but in this case it is reported as "TFTC= to few to count". On the other hand, motility test was done in SIM (sulphure-indole-motility) and results obtained were: Staphylococcus aureus was non-motile; grow only on the line of stab, Escherichia. Coli spp. were motile, grow and move throughout the medium and Salmonella was both motile and produced gas.


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The Proposal Writer’s Guide

research proposal microbiology


Writing a proposal for a sponsored activity such as a research project or a curriculum development program is a problem of persuasion. It is well to assume that your reader is a busy, impatient, skeptical person who has no reason to give your proposal special consideration and who is faced with many more requests than he can grant, or even read thoroughly. Such a reader wants to find out quickly and easily the answers to these questions.

  • What do you want to do, how much will it cost, and how much time will it take?
  • How does the proposed project relate to the sponsor’s interests?
  • What difference will the project make to: your students, your field, your patients, the state, the nation, the world, or whatever the appropriate categories are?
  • What has already been done in the area of your project?
  • How do you plan to do it?
  • How will the results be evaluated or analyzed?
  • Why should you, rather than someone else, do this project?

These questions will be answered in different ways and receive different emphases depending on the nature of the proposed project and on the agency to which the proposal is being submitted. Most agencies provide detailed instructions or guidelines concerning the preparation of proposals (and, in some cases, forms on which proposals are to be uploaded); obviously, such guidelines should be studied carefully before you begin writing the draft.

Bottom line: The principal investigator needs to keep in mind that a Grant Proposal is as much a marketing document as an intellectual document.


  • How to write a COVER LETTER – Faculty, Postgraduate, Postdoc – sample attached
  • Steps for a Successful Post-Doctoral Fellowship Application, Grant Call or Scholarships for Postgraduate Studies Abroad – A Personal Memoir 


  • Access to scholarship and funding opportunities for conferences, study (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.), postdoctoral fellowships and research grants


  • SCHOLARSHIPS-B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., Postdoc, Faculty Position, Research Position etc.

Preliminary Steps

You will benefit by consulting a few key individuals at an early stage in the planning of the proposal.

  • The Sponsor’s Program Officer (PO). Regardless of the funding agency, it is advisable (and sometimes required) to contact the program officer for the purposes of introducing yourself and your work. Let him or her know that you plan to apply, and seek their input on the program relevance of your proposed work. The PO also can discuss the latest agency guidelines, and can explain funding peculiarities that might affect your preparation of the proposal, such as the review process. In most cases, email the individual with a brief message introducing yourself and your project. Append a 1-2 page summary of your work and request feedback regarding the fit with the sponsor’s funding priorities; be sure that there is an adequate amount of time for the PO to respond before the deadline. Request a follow-up phone call and leave your contact information. If you have not heard from the PO in a week or so, follow up with a phone call.  
  • Your department research administrator. This person will greatly appreciate advanced notice of your intent to submit as he or she will likely help you prepare the budget and application for submission, and will oversee the internal routing process of the Proposal Approval Form. The research administrator may also refer you to others on campus who may assist in issues such as human subjects review, the use of animals, potential conflicts of interest, off-campus work, subcontracting, space rental, staff additions, consultants, equipment purchase, biological hazards, proprietary material, cost sharing, and many other matters.  
  • Your Chair/Dean. The department chair, whom you will eventually ask to approve the proposal and thereby endorse your plans for personnel and facility commitments, should be informed of your intentions and especially of any aspect of the proposed project that might conceivably affect departmental administration or your departmental duties. Early discussion of potential problems will smooth the way for the proposal. Several schools and colleges have associate deans with special responsibilities for sponsored programs. These persons can provide valuable help and advice both in substantive and administrative matters. They also may be able to suggest key collaborators or resources, and perhaps will be willing to review a draft before submission.

Research Proposals – Parts of a Proposal

Parts of a proposal.

Proposals for sponsored activities generally follow a similar format, although there are variations depending upon the sponsor and whether the PI is seeking support for a research grant, a training grant, or a conference or curriculum development project. Be sure to follow the outline contained in the sponsor’s guidelines. The following generic outline is generally focused on the components of a research proposal. (The follow-on section describes format variations required for other kinds of academic programs.)

Research Proposals

Typical parts of a research proposal are outlined below. Note that examples are pulled from databases of awards from either federal agencies (i.e., NSF and NIH) or foundations.

Cover Letter

Abstract or summary.

  • Table of Contents
  • Background or Significance
  • Project Purpose
  • Plan or Approach
  • Institutional Resources
  • ​Biosketches

This (usually optional) letter may be used to convey information that is pertinent to the review of the proposal. Make sure you identify your name, the University of Michigan, project title, RFP or and specific funding mechanism if any. Depending on sponsor’s regulations, this letter may be used to request a reviewer or a specific study section with special expertise in your field, or to identify conflicts with potential reviewers. Sometimes this letter is used to explain special circumstances, e.g., budget outside of limits, missed deadline, unique subawards, request to send in delayed preliminary data results before review date. State if you have attached any special approval documentation pertaining to any of the above.

The Title (or Cover) Page

Most sponsoring agencies specify the format for the title page, and some provide special forms to summarize basic administrative and fiscal data for the project. Generally, the principal investigator (PI), his or her department head, and an official representing the University sign the title page.

A good  title  is usually a compromise between conciseness and explicitness. One good way to cut the length of titles is to avoid words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding, such as “Studies on…,” “Investigations…,” or “Research on Some Problems in….” The title needs to: match interests of reviewers; use appropriate key words; be specific to the work to be accomplished; and be long enough to distinguish it from other studies in the field, but not too long to bore the reader. Examples of good titles are: “Applications of the motivic Becker-Gottlieb transfer,” “Advancing engineering education through virtual communities of practice,” “Structural controls of functional receptor and antibody binding to viral capsids,” “Active tectonics of the Africa-Eurasia zone of plate interaction in the Western Mediterranean.”

Every proposal should have an abstract. The abstract forms the reader’s initial impression of the work, and therefore plays a big role on whether the application is funded. The abstract speaks for the proposal when it is separated from it, provides the reader with his or her first impression of the request, and, by acting as a summary, frequently provides the reader their last impression. Some reviewers read only the abstract, e.g., a foundation board of directors’ member who votes on final funding decisions. Thus it is the most important single element in the proposal.

To present the essential meaning of the proposal, the abstract should summarize the significance (need) of the work, the hypothesis and major objectives of the project, the procedures to be followed to accomplish the objectives, and the potential impact of the work. Though it appears first, the abstract should be edited last, as a concise summary of the proposal. Length depends on sponsor’s guidelines (from ½ to 2 pages).

Agencies often use the abstract verbatim to disseminate award information.

The Table of Contents (ToC)

Whether to include a ToC depends on (a) the direction in the guidelines, and (b) the complexity and length of the proposal.

Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need a table of contents; the guiding consideration in this is the reader’s convenience.

Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list of illustrations (or figures) and a list of tables.

If all of these are included, they should follow the order mentioned, and each should be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals. If they are brief, more than one can be put on a single page. 

The Background Section or Significance (Need) for the Work

This section will be labeled differently depending on the guidelines. It addresses why the proposed work is important in the field, and answers the question, “so what?” In this section, provide the status quo of the relevant work field and identify a gap in knowledge or activities that must be filled to move the field forward. Sufficient details should be given in this discussion (1) to make clear what the research problem is and exactly what has been accomplished; (2) to give evidence of your own competence in the field; and (3) to show why the previous work needs to be continued.

Literature reviews should be selective and critical. Reviewers do not want to read through a voluminous working bibliography; they want to know the pertinent works and your evaluation of them. Discussions of work done by others should therefore lead the reader to a clear impression of how you will be building upon what has already been done and how your work differs from theirs. It is important to establish what is original in your approach (innovative), what circumstances have changed since related work was done, or what is unique about the time and place of the proposed research. Note: guidelines may require a separate section for innovation or for transformative potential of the work.

This is one place where a PI may include their own work (and that of their research team) related or preliminary to the proposed study. Preliminary data or pilot studies must relate directly to the hypothesis or aims, and show the reviewer that the aims are feasible and the team has the required experience and skills. Data may or may not be published, but published data have more credibility.

Purpose of the Project (Aims or Objectives)

This section describes what will be accomplished or tested in the project.

Research proposals usually are focused on a central hypothesis. A good research grant hypothesis is a testable, focused, clear, declarative statement of relationships between variables based on previous observations. Sometimes research questions are used in place of hypotheses, especially if work is in early stages. And sometimes working hypotheses (per aim) are used in place of a central hypothesis. This decision is often based on common practice in the discipline or field.

The objectives (or aims) should focus on outcome as opposed to process . For example, the outcome of the work is “ To identify the candidate allele; ” while the process of getting there includes “ to run several trials on samples .” There should be 2 to 4 outcome objectives per proposal. When writing aims, use active, measurable terms, e.g., to identify , to characterize vs. to study . 

Research Plan (Approach)

This section includes a comprehensive explanation of the proposed research, and is addressed to other specialists in your field (not to laymen). The section is the heart of the proposal and is the primary concern of the technical reviewers. To make it clear and easy to follow, you may need several subsections tailored to your work. Research design is a large subject and cannot be covered here, but a few reminders concerning frequently mishandled aspects of proposals may be helpful.  

  • Be realistic in designing the program of work. Overly optimistic notions of what the project can accomplish in one, two, or three years, or of its effects on the world, will only detract from the proposal’s chances of being approved. A frequent comment made by reviewers to new investigators is “the work is too ambitious.” Research plans should be scaled down to a more specific and manageable project that will permit the approach to be evaluated and, if successful, will form a sound basis for further work. In other words, your proposal should distinguish clearly between long-range research goals and the short-range objectives (2 – 4) for which funding is being sought.  
  • If your first year must be spent developing an analytical method or laying groundwork, spell that out as Phase 1. Then at the end of the year you will be able to report that you have accomplished something and are ready to undertake Phase 2.
  • Be clear about the focus of the research. Be explicit about the hypotheses the research method rests upon, and restate the aims from the Purpose section.
  • Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the proposed work. When will the first step be completed? When can subsequent steps be started? What must be done before what else, and what can be done at the same time? A Timeline detailing the projected sequence and interrelationship of major tasks often gives the sponsor assurance that the investigator is capable of careful step-by-step planning, and that the work will be accomplished in an efficient and feasible manner.  
  • If you are proposing new, risky or unorthodox methods, be sure to include adequate justification, e.g., references in literature about success of these methods in similar studies.
  • Be specific about the means of evaluating the data, conducting the analysis, or determining the conclusions. Try to imagine the questions or objections of a hostile critic and show that the research plan anticipates them. This is a good reason to have your proposal pre-reviewed by peers in your field before sending to the sponsor.
  • Be certain that the connection between the research objectives and the research method is evident. If a reviewer fails to see this connection, s/he will probably not give your proposal any further consideration.

List of References

If a list of references is to be included, it is placed at the end of the text. This section typically is not counted in the page limitation of the Research Description.

In the text, references to the list can be made in various ways; a simple way is to use a raised number at the appropriate place, like this.1 Such numbers should be placed outside any contiguous marks of punctuation. If you have space, you might consider the American Psychological Association style because the reader does not have to refer to the reference list to see authors and data of publication, e.g., (Wiseguy, 2014).

The style of the bibliographical item itself depends on the disciplinary field. The main consideration is consistency; whatever style is chosen should be followed scrupulously throughout. In most cases in bibliography, you will not use “et al” but will include full names of authors.

Remember, NSF applications need to include specific activities in response to their criterion of Broader Impacts in several sections (Summary, Recent NSF Support, Project Description). 

The Description of Relevant Institutional Resources/Environment

The nature of this section depends on your project, but in general this section details the resources available to the proposed project. It underscores why the sponsor should wish to choose this University and this investigator(s) for this particular research. Some relevant points may be the institution’s demonstrated competence in the pertinent research area, its abundance of experts in related areas that may benefit the project, its supportive services that will directly benefit the project, and its unique or unusual research facilities or instruments available to the project.

When collaborating with another institution, that partner also will submit an Institutional Resources section.

The Budget Section: Budget & Budget Justification

The budget is a line item (tabular) representation of the expenses associated with the proposal project. The Budget Justification contains more in depth detail of the costs behind the line items, and sometimes explains the use of the funds where not evident. Examples include the need for consultants, or the unavailability within the University of an item of equipment proposed for purchase. Foreign travel should be specifically detailed and justified, and not combined with domestic travel. The need to travel to professional meetings should be tied to the proposed project, if possible.

Cost estimates need to be as accurate as possible to cover the expenses proposed in the project. Reviewers will note both over- and under-estimations.

The budget should be developed with your departmental research administrator, in consultation with the appropriate ORSP project representative as needed. Sponsors customarily specify how budgets should be presented and what costs are allowable. The overview given here is for preliminary guidance only.

Typical divisions of the line item (tabular) budget are personnel, equipment, supplies, services, travel, and indirect costs (IDC). Other categories can be added as needed. The budget should make clear how the totals for each category of expenses are reached. Salary information, for example, often needs to be specified in detail: principal investigator (.5 FTE for 3 months at $80,000 [9-month appointment]) = $13,333. Make clear if salary totals involve two different rates (e.g., because of an anticipated increase in salary during the budget period).

The category of Personnel includes not only the base salary or wage for each person on the project, but also (listed separately) the percentage added for staff benefits. The current figure used for approximately the average cost of staff benefits is 30% of the total salaries and wages. Project representatives should be consulted on the calculation of staff benefits, because the rate may vary significantly depending on the kinds of personnel involved and the selected benefit option. A table is available from ORSP.

Graduate Student Research Assistants, who are to be employed on research projects for more than 1/2 time, may have part of their tuition costs covered by their unit. The remaining tuition costs must be included as a line item in the budget to the sponsor.

Indirect costs (IDC) are shown as a separate category, usually as the last item before the grand total. Indirect costs are figured as a fixed percentage of the total direct costs (modified by various exceptions).  For federally funded grants, some items are excluded from IDC, e.g., equipment (over $5,000), graduate research assistant tuition, and the balance of subcontracts over $25,000.

Because indirect cost percentages change after periodic negotiations with the federal government, PIs should consult their departmental research administrator or an ORSP project representative before calculating this part of their budget.

If cost sharing is required (mandated) by the sponsor, please check with your departmental research administrator for how to show that in the budget. This must be approved by your Chair or Dean.

To call attention to the variety of expenses that might arise in the conduct of a research project, a  checklist * of possible budget items is included here. This checklist suggests many of the expenses that might be appropriate to your budget, but consultation with the ORSP project representative is important. S/he can help ensure (1) that the budget has not omitted appropriate elements of cost, such as service charges for the use of certain University facilities (for example, surveys conducted by the Institute for Social Research); (2) that any estimates for construction, alterations, or equipment installation have been properly obtained and recorded; (3) that costs are not duplicated between the direct and indirect cost categories; (4) that the budget complies with any cost-sharing requirements of the sponsor; (5) that provisions are made for the escalation of costs as may be appropriate; and (6) that costs in all categories are realistically estimated.

Checklist for Proposal Budget Items Directly Tied to the Project:

A. Salaries and Wages

1. Academic personnel 2. Research assistants 3. Stipends (training grants only) 4. Consultants 5. Interviewers 6. Computer programmer 7. Data managers or analysts 8. Administrators 10. Editorial assistants 11. Technicians 12. Study/clinical coordinators 13. Hourly personnel 14. Staff benefits 15. Salary increases in proposals that extend into a new year, e.g., Cost of Living increases 16. Vacation accrual and/or use B. Equipment

1. Fixed equipment 2. Movable equipment 3. Office equipment 4. Equipment installation C. Materials and Supplies

1. Office supplies specifically for project 2. Communications 3. Test materials or samples 4. Questionnaire forms 5. Data access 6. Animals 7. Animal care 8. Laboratory supplies 9. Glassware 10. Chemicals 11. Electronic supplies 12. Report materials and supplies D. Travel

1. Professional conferences 2. Field work 3. Sponsor meetings 4. Travel for consultation 5. Consultants’ travel 6. Mileage for research participants 7. Subsistence 8. Automobile rental 9. Aircraft rental 10. Ship rental

E. Services

1. Computer use/data storage 2. Duplication services (reports, etc.) 3. Publication costs 4. Photographic/graphic services 5. Service contracts 6. ISR services (e.g., surveys) 7. Data analysis

1. Space rental 2. Alterations and renovations 3. Purchase of data, periodicals, books 4. Subjects/Research participants 5. Patient reimbursement 6. Tuition and fees 7. Hospitalization 8. Subcontracts

The Appendices

Some writers are prone to append peripheral documents of various kinds to their proposals on the theory that the bulk will buttress their case. Most sponsors restrict what can be appended, if anything. If not restricted, remember that reviewers almost never read such appendices, and may resent “the padding.” The best rule of thumb is: When in doubt, leave it out.

Appendices are occasionally used for letters of endorsement or collaboration, and reprints of relevant articles if they are not available electronically. Other uses may be data tables, surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments, clinical protocols, and informed consent documents, as allowed by the sponsor.

If two or more appendices are included in a proposal, they should be designated Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.


The Biosketch in a grant proposal gives the investigators the opportunity to highlight their expertise and experience related to the proposal work . The format and length may be specified in the guidelines. Education should include not only degrees, but additional courses or activities that underscore your skills in a relevant area. Under professional positions, be sure to include post doc experiences. Publications reflect your productivity, work record, and collegiality; the most valuable publications are full articles in peer review journals where the subject is relevant to the proposed work and the investigator is a primary contributor; you can include papers accepted for publication by a journal. Remember, you may be able to annotate individual publications to show how this relates to the proposed work.

If given the option to write a personal statement as part of the Biosketch, compose it thoughtfully. Describe not only your background and qualifications to conduct the proposed work (e.g., post doc work, experience in essential methodology), but your prior work with your co-investigators.

B. Proposals for Academic Programs

It may be that your need is not for a research grant, but for outside sponsorship of an academic program involving a new curriculum, a conference, a summer seminar, pipeline activities, or training. If so, once again your best proposal preparation is to carefully consult guidelines that the sponsoring agency provides, and communicate with the program officer (as above). In the event that guidelines are not available, crucial elements include:

Statement of Need for the Program : Be sure to describe unmet need in the field and gap in the current programing, and why it is important to fill the gap. Cite statistics and demographics as appropriate.

Objectives : Specify the intended outcomes such as developing a curriculum, recruiting participation in a field, synergizing new ideas, or offering education or skill training.

Program description : This section lists the courses, activities or instructional sessions to be offered; the interrelationship of parts; involvement of stakeholders if appropriate; and the program leading to certification or a degree. It discusses the students or participants to be selected and served by the program, as well as plans for faculty retreats, negotiation with cooperating institutions, released time to write instructional materials, and so on. As always, a Timeline is a good idea. Most sponsors want to see a plan for evaluating the outcome of the activities, e.g., academic or career tracking, publications, participation numbers, new databases, course evaluations.

Before concluding with the  Institutional Resources, Personnel , and  Budget  sections, special attention should be given to a section entitled Institutional Commitment . Here the agreements made by various departments and cooperating institutions are clarified, and the willingness of the home institution to carry on the program once it has proven itself is certified. This section is crucial to the success of curriculum development programs because, in contrast to research programs, they have a profound impact on the host institution. Funding agencies need to be reassured that their funds will not be wasted by an institution that has only responded to a funding opportunity without reflecting soberly upon the long-range commitments implied.

Inquiries to Private Foundations

Proposals to foundations have a better chance of succeeding if they are preceded by an informal contact. This contact is usually a brief (not more than two pages) letter outlining the proposed project, suggesting why the foundation should be interested in it, and requesting an appointment to discuss it in further detail. Such a letter permits an investigator to make inquiries to several foundations at once and gives an interested foundation the chance to offer suggestions before receiving the formal proposal. In many cases, the letter of inquiry is required for the purposes of either preparing for reviews or screening out non-responsive ideas. (Please note that it is still acceptable to contact the program officer before you submit your letter of inquiry.)

Most foundations have specific areas of interest for which they award funds. It is essential that the grant seeker identify those foundations whose interests match the proposed project. Seldom will a foundation fund a project outside of its stated field of interest.

The initial letter of inquiry should demonstrate that the investigator is acquainted with the work and purposes of the particular foundation being approached and should point out a clear connection between these and the proposed project. A letter so generally phrased that it could be a form letter is almost certain to be disregarded. An effective letter will discuss the significance or uniqueness of the project: Who will benefit? Who cares about the results? What difference will it make if the project is not funded? It will give enough indication of step-by-step planning to show that the project has been thought through and that pitfalls have been anticipated. It will demonstrate the writer’s grasp of the subject and his or her credentials to undertake the project. It will emphasize at the same time that this is a preliminary inquiry, not a formal proposal, and that the investigator will send further details if the foundation wishes, or, better yet, will visit the foundation to discuss the project in depth. It is unnecessary in the preliminary inquiry to include a detailed budget, although an overall cost estimate should be mentioned.

A good letter, then, might begin something like the following: “Because of the interest the __________ Foundation has shown in __________, I am writing to solicit its support for a project that will __________.” This should be followed by a sentence describing the program, the institution, and another one or two concerning the need for and uniqueness of the project.

The body of the letter should consist of three or four paragraphs giving the context or background of the project, its scope and methodology, the time required for its completion, the institutional commitments, and any special capabilities that will ensure the project’s success. A separate paragraph might be given to some of the major categories of the proposed budget, including a rounded total direct cost estimate, and mention of any matching fund or cost-sharing arrangements, either in dollars or in-kind contributions.

The last paragraph could be patterned along these lines: “Please let me know if you would like to discuss this idea further or have any questions. My contact information is ______________________. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your consideration.”

This letter of inquiry is crucially important, and in preparing it investigators should avail themselves of the advice and help of foundation relations staff in the Schools and Colleges. Contacting U-M Development’s Foundation Relations office for help in approaching and coordinating activities with foundations also is a good idea. Contacts with some foundations are controlled by this office and others are coordinated. UM Foundation Relations can provide valuable consultation, e.g., prior funding to the University of Michigan. Refer to their “Foundation Funding for Faculty” at foundations.umich.edu for advice on how to write a letter of inquiry, sample awarded proposals, foundation prospecting, etc.

Detailed information about the foundation’s priorities can be gleaned from the foundation’s annual reports and from the list of projects that the foundation has actually supported. 

Organizing Your Writing Approach

First, start (don’t finish) with the sponsor’s guidelines. Mark them as you study, noting such things as funder’s priorities, eligibility requirements, formatting details, deadline, content idiosyncrasies, review criteria, etc. The guidelines will probably specify certain topics or questions that must be addressed. If possible, use the sponsor’s exact phrases as your headings. You may even wish to borrow some of the language of the guidelines if it fits naturally into the framework of your proposal. For example, if the sponsor is looking for a “transdisciplinary” approaches to the problem, you would do well to use that term rather than “interdisciplinary” to describe the same activities.

Second, after you have studied the guidelines, if there are sections that are either too vague or too specific for comfort, check with the department research administrator who may be familiar with this opportunity. This way you will also alert the administrator to your intent to submit and allow them to plan the process. Alternatively, ORSP staff or the sponsor’s program staff may be able to provide a clarification.

Third, break the proposal up into small and simple subsections – especially if more than one person will be writing. Give each subsection headings and subheadings (referring again to the guidelines), and write slavishly to this outline. Using subheadings liberally will not only help you organize your material, but will also guide reviewers through your project description?

Fourth, compare your budget and your text to insure that for every cost figure a corresponding activity is mentioned and justified in the text.

Fifth, pay special attention to the abstract. Having rushed through the project description, you will find that careful construction of the abstract will serve both as a summary of what you intend to do and as a check on whether you have omitted any essential topics. Don’t just copy and paste your Aims or Significance section. Make this section fresh, informative and engaging; remember that the reviewer may go directly to your Project Description after reading the Abstract, so avoid redundant language.

Sixth, get an internal review from respected colleagues before you send to the funder for review!

Why Proposals Are Rejected

Assuming that funds are available, that eligibility is met, and that political considerations are not present, the success of a proposal will depend both on the quality of the project itself and the quality of its presentation in the proposal. Different reviewers, of course, will weigh merits and defects differently, but the following list of short-comings of 605 proposals rejected by the National Institutes of Health is worth pondering. The list is derived from an article by Dr. Ernest M. Allen (Chief of the Division of Research Grants, NIH) that appeared in Science, Vol. 132 (November 25, 1960), pp. 1532-34. (The percentages given total more than 100 because more than one item may have been cited for a particular proposal.)

A. Problem (Significance) (58%)

  • The problem is not of sufficient importance or is unlikely to produce any new or useful information. (33.1)
  • The proposed research is based on a hypothesis that rests on insufficient evidence, is doubtful, or is unsound. (8.9)
  • The problem is more complex than the investigator appears to realize. (8.1)
  • The problem has only local significance, or is one of production or control, or otherwise fails to fall sufficiently clearly within the general field of health-related research. (4.8)
  • The problem is scientifically premature and warrants, at most, only a pilot study. (3.1)
  • The research as proposed is overly involved, with too many elements under simultaneous investigation. (3.0)
  • The description of the nature of the research and of its significance leaves the proposal nebulous and diffuse and without a clear research aim. (2.6)

B. Approach (73%)

  • The proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are unsuited to the stated objective. (34.7)
  • The description of the approach is too nebulous, diffuse, and lacking in clarity to permit adequate evaluation. (28.8)
  • The overall design of the study has not been carefully thought out. (14.7)
  • The statistical aspects of the approach have not been given sufficient consideration. (8.1)
  • The approach lacks scientific imagination. (7.4)
  • Controls are either inadequately conceived or inadequately described. (6.8)
  • The material the investigator proposes to use is unsuited to the objective of the study or is difficult to obtain. (3.8)
  • The number of observations is unsuitable. (2.5)
  • The equipment contemplated is outmoded or otherwise unsuitable. (1.0)

C. Investigator (55%)

  • The investigator does not have adequate experience or training for this research. (32.6)
  • The investigator appears to be unfamiliar with recent pertinent literature or methods. (13.7)
  • The investigator’s previously published work in this field does not inspire confidence. (12.6)
  • The investigator proposes to rely too heavily on insufficiently experienced associates. (5.0)
  • The investigator is spreading themselves too thin; they will be more productive if they concentrate on fewer projects. (3.8)
  • The investigator needs more liaisons with colleagues in this field or in collateral fields. (1.7)

D. Other (16%)

  • The requirements for equipment or personnel are unrealistic. (10.1)
  • It appears that other responsibilities would prevent devotion of sufficient time and attention to this research. (3.0)
  • The institutional setting is unfavorable. (2.3)
  • Research grants to the investigator, now in force, are adequate in scope and amount to cover the proposed research. (1.5)

More recent statistics largely support the rankings of proposal sections above. Sally Rockey, Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH, published a blog that included a discussion of the correlation between the overall Impact score (essentially what determines whether you get funded), and the five other NIH criteria. Scores for the criterion in order of regression weight were Approach (6.7), followed by Significance (Problem) (3.3), Innovation (1.4), Investigator (1.3), and Environment (-0.1). This means the most important sections of the Project Description are the Approach (work plan) followed by the perceived importance of the work (Significance).

The following list is composed of grant proposal “dos” and “don’ts” that are in addition to those above:

  • Respond directly to the priorities of the funder and make the connection clear (do not assume the sponsor will change the guidelines just because you have a good idea that falls outside of them).
  • Follow the guidelines explicitly both in content and format.
  • Positively represent your capabilities, e.g., “We have a strong academic program, but we want to reach more students” vs “We do not have any resources.”
  • Present evidence that (a) this issue is significant in the field (based on literature review, statistics, stakeholder opinions, etc.), and (b) your project is likely to succeed (e.g., preliminary data or pilot study).
  • Make sure you have described adequate expertise on your team and physical resources to do the work.
  • Make sure you have an evaluation plan for project proposals (e.g., measure outcomes in the classroom or in the community).
  • Use foundation funds to leverage other funding and at minimum show sustainability of the program.
  • Publish results of all funding.
  • Write clearly, succinctly; follow an outline; and support your assertions with references or data.
  • Try to do too much in light of your experience and skills, the budget, the time allotted, your access to study participants (e.g., subjects), and your resources. Being “too ambitious” is a common rookie mistake, and is reflected in many of the comments above.
  • Duplicate other funded projects.
  • Resubmit a proposal without revisions in response to reviewer’s comments.
  • Submit a large research proposal without a publication history in the area.
  • Write a budget that is either too small (skimping) or too large (padding) for the proposal work.

Remember, many of these “don’ts” can be identified by your peer reviewers before you submit. Best wishes! 

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Chika Ejikeugwu (PhD, 2017, UNIZIK, Nigeria) is a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Stiftung in Germany. Dr. Chika Ejikeugwu is currently a Research Fellow at the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany, where he is working on "the soilRESIST project to investigate the effects of antibiotic mixtures on soil microbiomes." He founded Africa's Number 1 Microbiology website, www.MicrobiologyClass.net. Dr. Chika Ejikeugwu was a DAAD postdoctoral fellow at Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), Berlin, Germany (2021) and a MIF Postdoctoral Fellow at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (2018). In 2021, he was awarded the Young Investigator Award on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) by Institute Mérieux in France. Dr. Chika Ejikeugwu is a member of the Global Young Academy in Germany, and a member of other professional (microbiology) societies including Applied Microbiology International (AMI), European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), Nigerian Society for Microbiology (NSM) and American Society for Microbiology (ASM). He holds a doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology. Dr. Chika Ejikeugwu is a Senior Lecturer & Researcher at Enugu State University of Science & Technology (ESUT), Nigeria where he mentors undergraduate and postgraduate students on microbiology & other aspects of life. He has a flair for teaching, research and community service.

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  • Open access
  • Published: 30 July 2015

The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal

  • Julian R. Marchesi 1 , 2 &
  • Jacques Ravel 3 , 4  

Microbiome volume  3 , Article number:  31 ( 2015 ) Cite this article

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The advancement of DNA/RNA, proteins, and metabolite analytical platforms, combined with increased computing technologies, has transformed the field of microbial community analysis. This transformation is evident by the exponential increase in the number of publications describing the composition and structure, and sometimes function, of the microbial communities inhabiting the human body. This rapid evolution of the field has been accompanied by confusion in the vocabulary used to describe different aspects of these communities and their environments. The misuse of terms such as microbiome, microbiota, metabolomic, and metagenome and metagenomics among others has contributed to misunderstanding of many study results by the scientific community and the general public alike. A few review articles have previously defined those terms, but mainly as sidebars, and no clear definitions or use cases have been published. In this editorial, we aim to propose clear definitions of each of these terms, which we would implore scientists in the field to adopt and perfect.

The assemblage of microorganisms present in a defined environment. The term microbiota was first defined by Lederberg and McCray [ 1 ] who emphasized the importance of microorganisms inhabiting the human body in health and disease. This microbial census is established using molecular methods relying predominantly on the analysis of 16S rRNA genes, 18S rRNA genes, or other marker genes and genomic regions, amplified and sequenced from given biological samples. Taxonomic assignments are performed using a variety of tools that assign each sequence to a microbial taxon (bacteria, archaea, or lower eukaryotes) at different taxonomic levels from phylum to species.


Metataxonomics is a term we propose and define as the high-throughput process used to characterize the entire microbiota and create a metataxonomic tree, which shows the relationships between all sequences obtained. While viruses are an integral part of the microbiota, no universal viral marker genes are available to perform such taxonomic assignments.

The collection of genomes and genes from the members of a microbiota. This collection is obtained through shotgun sequencing of DNA extracted from a sample (metagenomics) followed by assembly or mapping to a reference database followed by annotation. Metataxonomic analysis, because it relies on the amplification and sequencing of taxonomic marker genes, is not metagenomics. Metagenomics is the process used to characterize the metagenome, from which information on the potential function of the microbiota can be gained.

Metagenomics was first used by Handelsman et al. [ 2 ]; however, it was in the context of what the authors called functional metagenomics, an approach where random fragments of environmental DNA are cloned into a suitable vector for maintenance in a surrogate host for functional screening, looking for gain of function in the surrogate host.

This term refers to the entire habitat, including the microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, lower and higher eurkaryotes, and viruses), their genomes (i.e., genes), and the surrounding environmental conditions. This definition is based on that of “biome,” the biotic and abiotic factors of given environments. Others in the field limit the definition of microbiome to the collection of genes and genomes of members of a microbiota. It is argued that this is the definition of metagenome, which combined with the environment constitutes the microbiome. The microbiome is characterized by the application of one or combinations of metagenomics, metabonomics, metatranscriptomics, and metaproteomics combined with clinical or environmental metadata.


This term describes the analytical approaches used to determine the metabolite profile(s) in any given strain or single tissue. The resulting census of all metabolites present in any given strain or single tissue is called the metabolome . Most commonly used platforms to characterize the metabolome include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) linked to a liquid chromatography separation system.


The term is a variant of the metabolomic approach; however, it describes the approach used to generate a metabolite profile(s) from complex systems, e.g., mammals in which more than one strain or tissue has contributed to the total metabolite pool, for example, fecal water, urine, or plasma. This term avoids the clumsy use of meta-metabolomics and was first defined by Jeremy Nicholson [ 3 ].


This term refers to the analysis of the suite of expressed RNAs (meta-RNAs) by high-throughput sequencing of the corresponding meta-cDNAs. This approach provides information on the regulation and expression profiles of complex microbiomes.


First coined by Rodriguez-Valera [ 4 ] and refined by Wilmes and Bond [ 5 ], this term refers to the large-scale characterization of the entire protein complement of environmental or clinical samples at a given point in time. The method indiscriminately identifies proteins from the microbiota and the host/environments (metagenome). Computational analyses afford assignments of these proteins to their biological origins. It is often performed using liquid-chromatography-based separation coupled to mass spectrometry for peptide identification.

Misnomers and correct usage of the terms

Misnomers are often found in studies discussing metataxonomic analyses relying on sequencing and analysis of 16S rRNA genes. In the literature, one can find the use of “16S survey,” “16S sequencing,” or “16S analysis,” for example. There is no such thing as “16S.” The “S” in 16S is a non-SI unit for sedimentation rate and stands for the Svedberg unit. The Svedberg unit offers a measure of particle size based on its rate of travel in a tube subjected to high g force. The small subunits of the bacterial and archaeal ribosomes are 30S and comprise one structural 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA, ~1540 nucleotides) bound to 21 proteins. Thus, we would like to argue that the proper terms should be “16S rRNA genes” or “16S rRNA gene sequencing/analysis.”

Additionally, the word microflora has been used for a long time in the scientific and medical literature. However, its definition does not justify its use to describe microbial communities associated with human (i.e., microbiota). Its definition has evolved over time, but remains “microscopic plants, or the plants or flora of a microhabitat.” The origin of the definition dates back to the early 1900s. Furthermore, the definition of the word “flora” further highlights the inappropriateness of the word microflora in the microbiome scientific literature: “the plants of a particular region or period, listed by species and considered as a whole” or “a work systematically describing plants” or “plants, as distinguished from fauna.” The definition of flora dates back to mid 1600s and has its origin in the Latin name “Flora,” the Roman goddess of flowers and the Latin word “flor,” meaning flower. These definitions and their origins make it obvious that “microflora” refers to plants and not microbes. While some dictionaries are now including a third definition for microflora, “the aggregate of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms normally occurring on or in the bodies of humans and other animals: intestinal flora,” these newly added definitions are the results of over one century of misuse of the word, driven by a limited understanding of the microbes associated with humans. Our knowledge of microbial communities is such that the scientific community should not continue to use the word in the scientific literature. It is time to change, and we suggest that to describe the assemblage of microbes living in a microhabitat we use “microbiota.” Interestingly, microflora is almost exclusively used in the literature referring to microbial community associated with human or animal, but rarely in those associated with the environment. We believe that microflora has still its place in the popular literature or in a yogurt/probiotic advertisement destined to the general public, but it does not in the scientific and medical literature.

The public, the scientific popular press, medical doctors, and other scientists need to be educated, but this will come if the scientific community adopts a common language. The word microbiota is adequate and appropriate to describe the composition and abundance of microbial communities whether they inhabit the human body or the environment.

This editorial was informed from papers and other communications we have had with colleagues. We hope that a consensus use of these terms could be adopted in the near future. This editorial aims at stimulating a discussion and standardizing the vocabulary of microbiome research. Microbiome will continue to strive toward a standardization of the vocabulary used in this ever-expanding field of research.

Lederberg J, McCray AT. ‘Ome sweet ‘omics - a genealogical treasury of words. Scientist. 2001;15(7):8–8.

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Wilmes P, Bond PL. Metaproteomics: studying functional gene expression in microbial ecosystems. Trends Microbiol. 2006;14(2):92–7.

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Cardiff School of Biosciences, Division of Microbiology, Cardiff University, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AT, United Kingdom

Julian R. Marchesi

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Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 801 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA

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Marchesi, J.R., Ravel, J. The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal. Microbiome 3 , 31 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-015-0094-5

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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Master of Science (MSc)

Thesis-based program

Program overview.

The Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Master's program provides students with a strong foundation for doctoral studies while opening many research-oriented career options. Faculty research ranges from lung infections in cystic fibrosis and systemic infections such as sepsis to molecular diagnostics and therapeutics and vaccine development. The program is associated with several research groups, including the Immunology, Bacterial Pathogenesis and Gastrointestinal Research Group, as well as the Inflammation Research Network. Ambitious students will find many opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and will enjoy studying in the heart of a vibrant, young city that is one of the cleanest in the world and on the doorstep of Alberta's Rocky Mountains.

Completing this program

Courses: Topics may include medical microbiology and microbial diseases, gene expression in bacteria and others.

Research Ethics:  Students are required to attend Research Integrity Day sessions in the first year of their program.

  • Sex & Gender Module: Students are required to complete one of the CIHR sex and gender online training modules found at discoversexandgender.ca in the first year of their program.

Seminar: Students will present an annual seminar in an applicable research group.

Research proposal: Students must defend a written research proposal to their supervisory committee.

Thesis:  Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.

Pharmaceutical industry – researcher, project manager; Academia, including post-doctoral research; Government, Clinical Microbiology, Consulting, Alberta Health Services.

A master’s degree in microbiology and infectious disease will give you the pre-requisite for a PhD.

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.

Two courses

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment.

Two years full time; four years maximum

A supervisor is required, and must agree to oversee the student's research before the student applies for admission

See the Graduate Calendar for information on  fees and fee regulations,  and for information on  awards and financial assistance .

Virtual Tour

Explore the University of Calgary’s (UCalgary) Foothills Campus from anywhere. Experience all that the Cumming School of Medicine has to offer for interested prospective graduate students. Explore this state of the art campus from wherever you are. Discover the buildings, student services and available programs all from your preferred device.


Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.

George Chaconas

George Chaconas

Eduardo Cobo

Eduardo Cobo

Carla Coffin

Carla Coffin

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Jennifer Corcoran

Jeroen De Buck

Rebekah DeVinney

Rebekah DeVinney

Craig Jenne

Craig Jenne


Nargis Khan

Douglas Mahoney

Douglas Mahoney

Michael Parkins

Michael Parkins

Admission Requirements

A minimum of 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

A four year baccalaureate degree, or equivalent from a recognized institution.

Work samples

Reference letters, test scores, english language proficiency.

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ibt)  score of 105.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)  score of 7.5 (minimum of 6.0 in each section)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE)   score of 75, or higher (Academic version).
  • Canadian Academic English Language test (CAEL)  score of 70 (minimum 70 in each section)  
  • Academic Communication Certificate (ACC)  score of A- in each course.
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced or Cambridge C2 Proficiency  minimum score of 200.
  • Duolingo English Test  and obtaining a minimum score of 145* (with no sub-score below 125*). ( temporary until Fall 2024 intake )

For admission on May 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Mar. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Dec. 1 application deadline

For admission on September 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: June 1 application deadline
  • International students: Apr. 1 application deadline

For admission on January 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Oct. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Aug. 1 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Are you ready to apply?

Learn more about this program, microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases.

HSC G345A, Health Sciences Centre 3330 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, AB T2N 4N1

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website

Health Sciences Centre Foothills Campus, University of Calgary Calgary, AB T2N 4N1

Visit the Cumming School of Medicine website

Learn more about UCalgary by taking a virtual tour

Related programs

If you're interested in this program, you might want to explore other UCalgary programs.

Biological Sciences

Thesis-based MSc

Gastrointestinal Sciences


Course-based MKin

Thesis-based MSc

Medical Science

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100+ Microbiology Project Topics [Updated]

microbiology project topics

Microbiology, the study of microorganisms, holds immense importance in the realms of medicine, agriculture, industry, and environmental science. It’s a field teeming with opportunities for exploration and discovery. For students passionate about unraveling the mysteries of the microbial world, engaging in microbiology projects is not just educational but also immensely rewarding.

In this blog, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to over 100 updated microbiology project topics across various sub-disciplines. Whether you’re a student seeking inspiration for your next research endeavor or an educator looking to expand your list of project ideas, this resource is tailored to meet your needs.

Choosing a Microbiology Project Topic

Table of Contents

Selecting the right project topic is crucial for the success and fulfillment of your research journey. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Personal Interest and Career Goals: Opt for a topic that aligns with your interests and long-term career aspirations. Whether it’s bacterial pathogenesis, virology, immunology, environmental microbiology, food microbiology, or clinical microbiology, choose a subject that excites you.
  • Relevance to Current Trends: Stay abreast of the latest advancements and trends in microbiology. Topics related to emerging infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance, microbiome research, and biotechnological applications are particularly timely and impactful.
  • Resource Availability and Feasibility: Assess the availability of laboratory resources, equipment, and expertise required for your chosen project. Ensure that your topic is feasible within the constraints of your academic or research environment.

100+ Microbiology Project Topics

Now, let’s delve into our curated list of microbiology project topics across various sub-disciplines:

Bacterial Microbiology

  • Role of quorum sensing in bacterial biofilm formation.
  • Antibiotic resistance mechanisms in clinically relevant bacterial strains.
  • Bacteriophages as alternative therapeutics for antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenicity using model organisms.
  • Genetic diversity and evolution of influenza viruses for vaccine development.
  • Host-virus interactions underlying viral replication and pathogenesis.
  • Metagenomic profiling of viral communities to identify novel pathogens.
  • Screening natural products for antiviral activity against emerging diseases.
  • Efficacy of novel vaccine formulations in eliciting immune responses.
  • Immunomodulatory effects of probiotics on mucosal immunity and gut health.
  • Dysregulated immune responses in autoimmune disorders.
  • Host immune evasion strategies in persistent viral infections.

Environmental Microbiology

  • Microbial diversity in hydrothermal vent ecosystems using next-generation sequencing.
  • Biodegradation of environmental pollutants by microbial consortia.
  • Extremophilic microorganisms adapted to harsh environmental conditions.
  • Role of soil microbiota in plant growth promotion and biocontrol.

Food Microbiology

  • Microbial contamination in food processing facilities and sanitation practices.
  • Identification and characterization of foodborne pathogens.
  • Spoilage mechanisms of food products and strategies for shelf life extension.
  • Safety and efficacy of probiotic supplements in fermented foods.

Clinical Microbiology

  • Molecular epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections using whole-genome sequencing.
  • Mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in clinically important pathogens.
  • Human microbiome profiling in health and disease states using metagenomics.
  • Rapid diagnostic tests for infectious diseases in clinical settings.

Miscellaneous Topics

  • Microbial ecology of the human gut microbiota.
  • Role of microbiota in neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.
  • Microbiological aspects of bioremediation in environmental cleanup efforts.
  • Microbial production of biofuels and bioplastics.
  • Application of CRISPR-Cas technology in microbial genome editing.
  • Microbial production of enzymes for industrial processes.
  • Microbial synthesis of novel antimicrobial compounds.
  • Microbial fermentation processes for food and beverage production.
  • Bioinformatics analysis of microbial genomes and metagenomes.
  • Microbial ecology of extreme environments, such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
  • Microbiological aspects of the human skin microbiome and its implications for health.
  • Microbial diversity and ecosystem functions in freshwater and marine environments.
  • Microbial interactions in symbiotic relationships with plants and animals.
  • Microbial biogeochemical cycling of elements in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in urban environments.
  • Microbial ecology of infectious diseases in wildlife populations.
  • Microbial contributions to nutrient cycling and soil fertility in agricultural systems.
  • Microbial contamination of water sources and strategies for water quality management.
  • Microbial degradation of pollutants in soil and water environments.
  • Microbial diversity and biotechnological potential of hot springs and thermal vents.
  • Microbial ecology of the built environment, including hospitals and households.
  • Microbial interactions in the rhizosphere and their effects on plant health and productivity.
  • Microbial diversity and function in extreme environments, such as polar regions and deserts.
  • Microbial ecology of air quality, including indoor and outdoor microbial communities.
  • Microbial contributions to biogeochemical cycling in aquatic ecosystems, such as lakes and oceans.
  • Microbial roles in the decomposition of organic matter and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems.
  • Microbial diversity and community dynamics in mangrove ecosystems and their ecological functions.
  • Microbial contributions to the degradation of pollutants and xenobiotics in contaminated environments.
  • Microbial interactions with pollutants and their role in environmental remediation strategies.
  • Microbial diversity and function in hydrothermal vent ecosystems and their biogeochemical significance.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in permafrost environments and their response to climate change.
  • Microbial ecology of extremophiles and their adaptations to extreme environmental conditions.
  • Microbial diversity and function in deep-sea environments, including the deep ocean and hydrothermal vents.
  • Microbial contributions to the biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycling in marine ecosystems.
  • Microbial interactions with marine organisms and their role in marine food webs and ecosystem dynamics.
  • Microbial diversity and function in coral reef ecosystems and their response to environmental stressors.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and organic matter in coastal ecosystems and estuaries.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in Arctic and Antarctic environments and their response to climate change.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the degradation and detoxification of contaminants.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine sediments and their role in biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem functioning.
  • Microbial ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps and their contributions to global biogeochemical cycles.
  • Microbial diversity and community dynamics in oceanic oxygen minimum zones and their implications for carbon and nitrogen cycling.
  • Microbial interactions with marine organisms and their role in shaping marine biodiversity and ecosystem structure.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in marine ecosystems, including primary production and decomposition processes.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine plankton communities and their role in biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem productivity.
  • Microbial ecology of marine symbioses, including mutualistic, commensal, and parasitic relationships between microbes and marine organisms.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the biodegradation and detoxification of contaminants in marine environments.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine sediments and their role in biogeochemical cycling, nutrient regeneration, and sediment stability.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in coastal ecosystems, including estuaries, salt marshes, and mangrove forests.
  • Microbial diversity and function in coastal sediments and their role in biogeochemical cycling, organic matter degradation, and nutrient fluxes.
  • Microbial ecology of marine viruses and their role in shaping microbial communities, nutrient cycling, and ecosystem dynamics in marine environments.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine snow aggregates and their role in transporting carbon, nutrients, and microbes in the ocean.
  • Microbial interactions with marine organisms and their role in mediating host-microbe interactions, disease dynamics, and ecosystem functioning.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of carbon and sulfur in marine sediments, including the role of anaerobic microbial processes in sedimentary environments.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine hydrothermal vent ecosystems and their role in chemosynthetic primary production, mineral precipitation, and ecosystem sustainability.
  • Microbial ecology of marine deep-sea ecosystems, including abyssal plains, trenches, and seamounts, and their role in global biogeochemical cycles and biodiversity.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine sponge microbiomes and their role in nutrient cycling, secondary metabolite production, and host-microbe interactions.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the bioremediation of oil spills, heavy metal contamination, and other anthropogenic pollutants in marine environments.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in deep-sea ecosystems, including the role of chemosynthetic microbes in supporting deep-sea food webs and ecosystem functioning.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine coral reef ecosystems and their role in reef health, resilience, and recovery from environmental stressors such as climate change, pollution, and disease.
  • Microbial ecology of marine plastic pollution and its impact on marine ecosystems, including microbial degradation of plastic polymers, biofilm formation on microplastic surfaces, and microbial interactions with plastic-associated pollutants.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine coastal habitats, including rocky shores, sandy beaches, and tidal pools, and their role in coastal ecosystem processes, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.
  • Microbial interactions with marine organisms and their role in mediating host-microbe interactions, disease dynamics, and ecosystem functioning in marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, kelp forests, and seagrass meadows.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in marine ecosystems, including the role of microbial processes in carbon sequestration, nitrogen fixation, and nutrient regeneration in the oceanic food web.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine pelagic ecosystems, including the open ocean, coastal upwelling zones, and polar seas, and their role in primary production, nutrient cycling, and global climate regulation.
  • Microbial ecology of marine biofilms and their role in ecosystem processes, including biofouling, biocorrosion, and nutrient cycling in marine environments, such as ship hulls, oil platforms, and marine infrastructure.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine benthic habitats, including deep-sea sediments, hydrothermal vents, and cold seeps, and their role in biogeochemical cycling, energy flow, and ecosystem stability.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the biodegradation, detoxification, and bioaccumulation of contaminants in marine ecosystems, including oil spills, heavy metals, plastics, and agricultural runoff.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in marine ecosystems, including the role of microbial processes in carbon fixation, nitrogen cycling, and sulfur metabolism in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine deep-sea ecosystems, including abyssal plains, trenches, and seamounts, and their role in global biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning.
  • Microbial ecology of marine sponge microbiomes and their role in nutrient cycling, secondary metabolite production, and host-microbe interactions in marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the bioremediation of oil spills, heavy metal contamination, and other anthropogenic pollutants in marine environments, including coastal waters, estuaries, and marine sediments.
  • Microbial contributions to the cycling of nutrients and energy in deep-sea ecosystems, including the role of chemosynthetic microbes in supporting deep-sea food webs, hydrothermal vent communities, and cold seep ecosystems.
  • Microbial diversity and function in marine pelagic ecosystems , including the open ocean, coastal upwelling zones, and polar seas, and their role in primary production, nutrient cycling, and global climate regulation in the marine biosphere.
  • Microbial diversity and community composition in marine benthic habitats, including deep-sea sediments, hydrothermal vents, and cold seeps, and their role in biogeochemical cycling, energy flow, and ecosystem stability in the deep sea.
  • Microbial interactions with marine pollutants and their role in the biodegradation, detoxification, and bioaccumulation of contaminants in marine ecosystems, including oil spills, heavy metals, plastics, and agricultural runoff in coastal and oceanic environments.

Tips for Successful Microbiology Projects

Embarking on a microbiology project can be both exhilarating and challenging. Here are some tips to help you navigate the research process with confidence:

  • Planning and Organization: Start with a clear research question and outline a detailed project plan with achievable milestones.
  • Literature Review: Thoroughly review existing literature to build a solid theoretical framework for your research.
  • Laboratory Techniques and Safety: Adhere to best practices for experimental design, data collection, and laboratory safety protocols.
  • Data Analysis and Interpretation: Utilize appropriate statistical methods and data visualization tools to analyze your results effectively.
  • Effective Communication: Prepare concise and compelling presentations or manuscripts to communicate your findings to peers and stakeholders.

In conclusion, microbiology offers a vast playground for exploration and innovation. By choosing the right project topic and following sound research principles, you can make meaningful contributions to our understanding of the microbial universe.

We hope this curated list of microbiology project topics serves as a valuable resource for students and educators alike, inspiring the next generation of microbial enthusiasts to embark on their research journeys. Happy exploring!

Feel free to share your thoughts, feedback, or additional project ideas in the comments section below. Together, let’s continue unraveling the mysteries of microbiology!

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100+ microbiology research topics to succeed.

microbiology research topics

Microbiology topics are some of the most researched ideas. This field entails the study of different microorganisms, ranging from eukaryotic fungi and single-celled organisms to cell-cluster organisms. When pursuing a microbiology course in a university or college, your educators will ask you to write academic papers on microbiology research topics.

Choosing the right microbiology topics to write about is essential because it determines the direction of your research and writing processes. Therefore, take your time to identify a topic you will be comfortable working with from the beginning to the end.

Top Microbiology Topics for Research

If looking for the top microbiology research paper topics, this list has some of the best ideas to explore. That’s because most people are searching for information related to these topics in microbiology.

  • Bioterrorism- Bioweapons limit with technological developments
  • Antibiotics resistance- A major limitation in medicine
  • Extraterrestrial life- Existing life evidence in space
  • Gene therapy- Gene therapy as a controversial biology topic
  • Cloning- Latest developments in cloning research
  • Antibacterial products-Latest discoveries explaining the possibility of antibacterial products effects on the immune system
  • What is the future of microbiology research, both theoretically and technologically?
  • Epidemics- Current disease control protocols and possible solutions
  • Vaccines- Recent research about the effectiveness of vaccines like flue
  • Food preservation methods- How technology enhances safe food preservation and consumption

These are brilliant microbiology project topics. However, you need time and effort to research any of these topics and come up with an awesome paper.

Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology

Maybe you want to research and write about current topics in microbiology and immunology. That means you’re looking for topics that will enable you to explore recent information in this area. In that case, consider these microbiology topics in the news.

  • Virus-like particle vaccines for protozoan parasites and respiratory viruses
  • Quorum sensing and campylobacter biofilm formation in molecular mechanisms
  • Campylobacter horizontal gene and natural competence transfer
  • Murine investigation models for innate immune response and colonization resistance in campylobacter jejuni infections
  • iBALT role in respiratory immunity
  • Antiviral immunity for pyroptosis
  • Damage to the sensing tissue by Myeloid c-Type Lectin receptors
  • How antifungal drugs modify the cell wall
  • Host cell’s death pathways manipulation by the Herpes Simplex virus
  • Type II Secretion system structures in needle filaments
  • RIP Kinase signaling outcomes during neuro-invasive infection by virus
  • Innate immune system pathological and physiological functions of CARD 9 signaling
  • The genetics of the Lassa virus
  • Genital immunity’s memory lymphocyte- Tissue-resident memory T cells’ role
  • Delivery and formulation technologies for the mRNA vaccines
  • Peptide and protein nanocluster vaccines
  • Reovirus’ cell killing- Consequences and mechanisms
  • Leptospirosis reference lab’s role
  • Hypoxia-inducible and hypoxia factors in stem cell maintenance among cancer patients
  • Development of dengue vaccine

Pick any of these new research topics in microbiology if your goal is to work on recent information. Nevertheless, take your time reading recent literature in this field to come up with an awesome paper.

Interesting Topics in Microbiology

Perhaps, you’re looking for microbiology projects topics that most people will find interesting to read about. In that case, consider these interesting microbiology topics.

  • Techniques and methodologies for future research about the virus
  • Redox-active metabolite’s roles in microbial signaling
  • The role and emergence of yeast as a baking industry’s preservative
  • Host-pathogenic interactions study with a focus on redox and cellular metals
  • Yeast non-conventional use in the wine-making industry
  • Microbiota- What is the bifidobacterila’s role in the human gut?
  • Virus role in vaccines development and improvement in third world countries
  • Heath- Microbiology role in addressing antibiotic resistance
  • Human microbial ecosystems study- Microbe interactions
  • Impact and role of viruses in large animals’ health
  • How bacteria in complex organisms respond to stress
  • Cell to cell interaction and social behavior in bacteria interactions
  • Norovirus cross-contamination investigation during service procedures in the food industry in fresh produce preparation
  • Transfer rate determination in Salmonella sp. From nut butter to food materials
  • Listeria monacytogenes comparative genomic analysis for survival within a food processing situation
  • Thermal resistance and survival of desiccated Salmonella in dry and moist food processing environments
  • Effective cleaning products for removing food matrix with B. Thuringiensis spores and B. Cereus
  • Analysis of cleaning procedures’ effects on Bacillus spores
  • How temperature affects viruses survival in vegetables and fruits
  • How temperature and time combine to stimulate C. botulinum spores to germinate or produce a toxin

This category has some of the most interesting and easy microbiology research topics. However, take your time to research the topic you choose to write a paper that will impress your educator to award you the top grade.

Medical Microbiology Research Topics

Maybe you want to explore microbiology and human health topics. In that case, consider these medical-related microbiology paper topics.

  • Probiotics- A study of their preparation
  • How to prevent sickle cell anemia
  • The growth of mold
  • How fertilizes, polythene and manure affect the hypocotyl’s elongation rate
  • How cinnamon and curry inhibit the growth of bacteria
  • How oil spills affect microorganisms in the oceans
  • Reproducing yeast in sugar substitutes
  • Why vitamin c affects the rotting rate for fruits
  • Effective toothbrush disinfecting methods
  • Describe the spread of Ebola

Consider any of these microbiology research topics research paper if interested in something to do with medicine. However, take your time to identify good and authentic information sources before you start writing your paper. That’s because your educator will be interested in unique and relevant content.

Microbiology Research Topics for Undergraduates

Are you pursuing undergraduate studies in microbiology? If yes, you will find these microbiology research topics for college students interesting.

  • Using polymerase chain reaction to diagnose infectious diseases
  • Preliminary antimicrobial and phytochemical screening of coat and seed of citrus sinensis
  • Microbiology effect on mining
  • Human skin colonization by bacteria
  • Sweet orange’s antibacterial activity on Escherichia coli and staphylococcus aureus isolated from wound infection
  • The susceptibility pattern of bacteria to antibiotics
  • Bush pear analysis and the oil project
  • Spoilt avocado microbial examination- What it reveals
  • Characterization and isolation of microorganisms from a stored pap
  • CryoEM use in understanding pathogen resistance and transport
  • Additive manufacture of skin-facing antimicrobial devices for surgery
  • Oral bacteria’s role in cardiovascular disease
  • Nutrient-mediated ‘Dual warhead’ antimicrobials’ delivery
  • Induction mechanisms of the protective lung tissue memory cells in influenza
  • The activity of eukaryotic, elucidating topoisomerase in homologous recombination
  • Oral bacteria involvement in chronic periodontitis- Metabolomics investigation
  • Effect of metal nanoparticles on the multi-species biofilm consortia- A metabolomics investigation
  • How vaping or smoking affects the risk of CoV-2, SARS, and COVID-19 outcomes
  • Soil contaminants risks on below and above ground eco-systems in urban areas
  • Protective microbes- How to rebuild microbiota when treating AMR infection

This category also has some of the best microbiology topics for presentation. However, get ready to research any of these topics to write an impressive paper.

Hot Topics in Microbiology

Perhaps, you’re looking for the most interesting microbiology essay topics to research and write about. In that case, consider some of the ideas in this category.

  • Shea butter’s microbiological analysis
  • Research of tapeworms and their dangers
  • Influenza spread in the world and its impact on the war
  • Restriction-modification cellular microbiology
  • Applied microbiology- Biofuels generation using microorganisms
  • Microscope invention and its effect on microbiology knowledge
  • Microbiology role in food industries and pharmaceutical
  • How microbiology has helped in preventing life-threatening illnesses
  • Bacterial polymer- A study of cyanophycin
  • A study of the functionalities and properties of wetland bacteria
  • Microbiological study of a commercial preparation of yogurts
  • A study of bacteria that withstand antibiotics
  • Human immunodeficiency virus diagnosis- How it’s done
  • A study of plasmodium species correlation
  • A study of onions’ microorganisms
  • An investigation of starch fermentation, specificities, and activities of its enzymes
  • Listeria growth and survival in freshly cut vegetables
  • Low moisture food inoculation protocols
  • Survival and growth of Salmonella during partially sprouted products processing and chia powders
  • Environmental organisms’ risk assessment and the importance of better control and knowledge

This category also has some of the best food microbiology topics. Nevertheless, students should be ready to spend time and effort researching any of these ideas before writing. That’s because educators expect them to present fresh and relevant information in their papers.

Learners have many topics or ideas to consider when researching and writing academic papers. However, every student should look for an interesting topic they are comfortable researching and writing about. That’s because writing a research paper or essay takes time. Choosing a boring topic means a learner will spend their time working on something they’re not interested in. And this can reflect on the quality of their paper. Thus, their grade will suffer.

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Doctoral Preliminary Exam

As a condition for doctoral candidacy, all students must pass a Preliminary Examination (Prelim). The exam consists of two parts, the written research proposal and an oral defense before the members of a student’s Advisory Committee . Students must complete both components of the preliminary exam before the first day of class during their third year in the Ph.D. program. Both parts of the doctoral preliminary exam are detailed below.

Written Preliminary Examination: Research Proposal

The preliminary examination process begins with the written component – a research proposal – at the end of a student’s second year in the program.

Doctoral students must write and submit two or more pre-proposals to their advisory committee that include a background, significance statement and list of specific research aims. The written proposal should focus on student’s doctoral research or a closely related topic. The advisory committee will then have two weeks to select one of the pre-proposals to be developed into a proposal; changes in aims can be made by the committee at this time.

Next, students must prepare their written research proposal independently, following the National Institutes of Health (NIH) formatting guide . Proposals must be approximately 15 single-spaced pages in length, including figures (but not the literature cited/reference section).

See our formatting guidelines for the written proposal .

At least six weeks before their oral defense date, students must submit their proposal to their advisory committee. The committee will have two weeks to evaluate the proposal, at which time they will provide a written evaluation of the proposal to the student, to other members of the advisory committee and to the DGP.

Summary of written preliminary examination outcomes:

  • Pass:  the student has satisfactorily completed the written examination and can schedule the oral exam (within two to three weeks).
  • Conditional Pass:  the student provides written responses to concerns from each committee member, meeting with each member as needed (two weeks to complete). Each response is distributed to all advisory committee members and to the DGP. Committee members have two weeks to respond with a pass, conditional or fail to the DGP.
  • Fail:  the DGP alerts all committee members that a fail on the written exam evaluation was submitted. The advisory committee determines the opportunity for the student to repeat the written examination (within one week).

The Oral Preliminary Examination: Defense of the Proposal

The oral preliminary examination is scheduled within two to three weeks of satisfactorily passing the written potion of the exam. Students must provide any appropriate slides and handouts to their committee members two days before their oral exam date. The oral exam itself with consist of a (20-30 minute) oral presentation by the student describing their research proposal. Following their presentation, students will answer questions from their committee. Questions will focus on the research proposal itself, but may include any relevant questions or questions about the expected proficiencies in microbiology.

Following the examination, the advisory committee will decide whether the student:

  • Passes the exam unconditionally and proceeds to candidacy
  • Passes the exam conditionally – the student must complete additional work to satisfy a perceived deficiency
  • Fails the exam

After students pass both portions of their preliminary examination, their advisory committee and the DPG will sign the Graduate School documents certifying candidacy for the Ph.D.

Procedure for Appeal

Students may appeal the decision of their advisory committee. Appeals must be made to the Microbiology Graduate Programs (MGP) within two weeks of their committees decision or the decision will be final. Any student who has not satisfied the preliminary examination requirement within 3 years of entering our Ph.D. program will be dropped from the program, except by appeal in writing to the MGP. The MGP makes the final decision on all appeals.

Sponsored Programs Proposal Deadline and Fiscal Year End Reminders

Please review important upcoming dates and deadlines below, and reach out to your   pre- or post-award officer   with questions.

Summer deadlines   for National Insitutes of Health proposals (June 5, 12, and 16;  July 5, 12, and 16; August 8, etc.) are upon us. Proposal volume is always high this time of year.

If you intend to submit a proposal for an upcoming deadline, please notify Sponsored Programs immediately and submit according to BU’s   Proposal Submission Policy :

  • 5 days before deadline:   All administrative components must be finalized
  • 3 days before deadline:   Final, complete proposal, including all technical components, must be submitted to Sponsored Programs

For example, to meet the June 5 deadline, Sponsored Programs should receive all finalized administrative components by Wednesday, May 29, and the final, complete proposal by Friday, May 31.

Adherence to this timeframe allows us to conduct a thorough review of your proposal and submit it with enough time to address any system issues on grants.gov in advance of the deadline (e.g., delays in submission confirmation and system-wide crashes due to nationwide volume).   Proposals that are not completed until the day of the sponsor deadline are at risk of not being successfully submitted given high volumes and system pressures. 

We will review and submit proposals submitted according to this guidance before turning to proposals received after these deadlines. While we will make every effort to submit each proposal, we cannot guarantee a successful, on-time submission for proposals that do not adhere to the Proposal Submission Policy.

For all NIH proposals, please use  ASSIST  to develop your application.

Thank you for your assistance and please feel free to reach out to your Sponsored Programs   pre-award officer   to notify them of any planned submissions or if you have any questions.

Award Set-Up

Beginning June 1, in preparation for fiscal year-end, the award maintenance team will be prioritizing reportable transactions until June 30. Reportable transactions include New, Renewals, Continuations, Increments, and Supplements. Non-reportable transactions such as NCEs and Rebudgets will be addressed as time permits but completion in June is not guaranteed.

All transactions will return to a first-in, first-out basis beginning July 1. If you would like to track the status of your award at any time, you can use the   Award Setup Tracker .

While sponsored accounts don’t necessarily fall within the standard BU fiscal date range of July 2023 to June 2024, you should still try to account for the following as we approach the end of the fiscal year:

  • Do all salaries and non-salary expenditures look appropriate? Are there charges on your University cost center that should be on sponsored awards?
  • Do you have an over expenditure that you need to move to your University cost center?
  • Non-student salary adjustment deadline:   Friday, June 14, 5 pm
  • Student salary adjustment deadline (May or prior entries):   Friday, May 31, 5 pm
  • Student salary adjustment deadline (June entries):   Wednesday, June 12, 5 pm
  • Non-salary journal entry deadline:   Friday, July 5, noon

The Sponsored Programs post-award team must either approve or reject all journal entries by   Friday, July 5, at 5 pm . No journal entries can roll over from FY24 to FY25.

Please see the   fiscal year-end webinar   for a complete listing of due dates.

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