Letters of Recommendation
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Proceed to requesting your unique ID number and URL
Guidelines for Applicants
Each applicant must arrange for the submittal of three (3) current letters of recommendation on official letterhead. If the applicant has a sponsor or advisor for his/her graduate program, one of these letters of recommendation should come from that individual.
At least two (2) should be from individuals who have knowledge of the applicant’s academic record (the sponsor’s or advisor’s letter should be one of these). The third letter may be from an individual who has supervised the applicant (e.g. a mentor, internship supervisor, or work supervisor). Applicants are advised to seek letters of recommendation from sources other than current EPA employees. Absent extenuating circumstances, EPA will not accept letters of recommendation from EPA employees. However, if the applicant worked for or interned with an EPA employee or studied under an EPA employee, then EPA will accept a letter of recommendation under those circumstances. Letters should not be written by the applicant. Letters of recommendation are critical components of the application. The student is strongly advised to present the guidelines below to the individuals writing the recommendations.
Applicants are advised to start the process early of having Letters of Recommendation composed and submitted by the letter writers. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all Letters of Recommendation are submitted by the letter writers so that they are received by EPA by the due date and time specified below.
Only those letters that are timely submitted will be considered during the review process. Failure to submit three (3) Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect the score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.
Applicants must start the letter of recommendation process by filling out their contact information to receive:
- unique ID number, and
- URL (website link)
Applicants should receive a confirmation email with that same ID number and URL. Applicants must give their newly assigned ID number and the URL to each of their letter writers to be used to electronically submit the recommendation letters.
Guidelines for Letter Writers
- Letters of Recommendations should be written on official letterhead.
- Letter writers should go to the URL sent by the applicant to receive submission instructions using the applicant’s unique ID number. Submission instructions for letter writers are also provided below. Letters of Recommendation must be submitted in PDF format only (no zip files). Both the letter writer and the applicant should receive confirmation emails once the letter has been submitted.
- Letter Writers should include the Funding Opportunity Number (FON), corresponding Topic Title, and applicant's name at the beginning of the letter. The applicant should provide the FON and corresponding topic title to the Letter Writers.
- Letter Writers are advised to use the applicant’s full name (as opposed to nicknames or shortened names).
- Letter Writers should write letters specifically about the applicant. Letters of Recommendation that appear to be mass produced do not generally lead to high rankings by the reviewers. It is always useful if the writer also conveys a sense of who the applicant is as an individual, particularly the applicant’s maturity, responsibility, and integrity.
- Letter Writers should write Letters of Recommendation that speak to elements of the “Criteria for Evaluation for External Peer
Review” and the “Criteria for Evaluation for Internal Programmatic Review” (See Section V “Application Review
Information.”). Letters of Recommendation should provide insights into the applicant’s:
- scientific acumen and creativity,
- motivation for environmentally-related study,
- potential for success, including in a research environment and in trans-disciplinary settings,
- leadership potential, including ability to collaborate,
- communication ability, including ability to disseminate environmental research results and information, and
- potential for broadening investigation and engagement in environmental problems and their solutions.
- Letters must be in PDF format and must be submitted directly to EPA electronically per the instructions above. No zip files will be accepted. All letters of recommendation must be submitted to the EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, in order to be considered during the review process.
- NCER cannot guarantee that Letters of Recommendation that do not denote the applicant’s name, and unique ID number, FON, and corresponding Topic Title will be matched with the appropriate application.
- It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that Letters of Recommendation are submitted by the letter writers in a timely manner. NCER will close the web upload functionality to the public after the solicitation closing date. After that time, NCER will not accept late letters unless the writer can show that he or she attempted to send the letter before the solicitation closing date but was prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond his or her control.
Letters must be submitted through the process described above using the applicant’s unique ID and associated URL. Letters of recommendation cannot be submitted through Grants.gov. Failure to submit three (3) Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect the score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.