The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology

Last updated July 2015

See Present and Past Lewis and Clark Field Scholars in Astrobiology
Frequently Asked Questions


In 2006 the American Philosophical Society and the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) partnered to promote the continued exploration of the world around us through a program of research grants in support of astrobiological field studies. The NAI-supported Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology has awarded $350,555 to 81 Lewis and Clark in Astrobiology Field Scholars in its first ten years of existence.

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life on Earth and in the universe. It encompasses research in, among others, the fields of astronomy, chemistry, evolutionary biology, field and population biology, geology, microbiology, molecular biology, oceanography, paleontology, and planetary science. Astrobiology includes investigations of the geologic and fossil record to understand the conditions of the early Earth when life arose. Its scope also includes research of contemporary locations on Earth that might be similar to early earth and to environments elsewhere in our Solar System (such as on Mars, Europa, and Titan), which may be, or have been in the past, suitable for life. Astrobiology is also about understanding the characteristics of life, which requires investigations into extreme natural environments on Earth and, eventually, elsewhere.

The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology is open to field studies in any area of interest to astrobiology. Applications will be reviewed by a committee that includes members of the NAI, the APS, and the wider science community as needed. Recipients will be designated as Lewis and Clark Field Scholars in Astrobiology.

Ph.D. candidates wishing to pursue projects in disciplines with a large dependence on field studies, such as archeology, anthropology, biology, ecology, geography, geology, linguistics, paleontology, population genetics, and other fields, should consult the program description and forms for the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research.


Grants will be available to graduate students and post-doctoral and junior scientists who wish to participate in field studies for their theses or for other purposes. Eligibility for applicants with doctorates is limited to those five years or fewer beyond their Ph.D. or equivalent degree, although, rarely, exceptions may be made. A graduate student applicant should ask his or her academic supervisor or field trip leader to write one of the two letters of recommendation, specifying the role of the student in the field trip and the educational contribution of the trip.

Budgets should be limited to travel and related expenses, including personal field equipment.
The competition is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and foreign nationals formally affiliated with a U.S.-based institution, who may carry out research anywhere in the world. Applicants from outside of the United States and U.S citizens affiliated with foreign institutions may not apply. Both members and non-members of NAI are eligible.

When appropriate, applicants should provide assurances that safety measures will be taken for potentially hazardous projects. When necessary, the applicant and his or her supervisor should describe the field training that will be provided and the provisions for experienced supervision. The applicant should reference the connection of his or her project to astrobiology via the Astrobiology Roadmap, found at This information should be included in the Statement of Purpose.


Amounts will depend on travel costs, but will ordinarily be in the range of several hundred dollars up to about $5,000. Grants are payable to the individual applicant. Lewis and Clark Fund grants are taxable income, but the Society is not required to report payments. It is recommended that grant recipients discuss their reporting obligations with their tax advisors. Grant funds are not to be used to pay income tax on the award.


The deadline for applications and two letters of support is February 1, with notification in May, for work in June and beyond


Each grant recipient will submit brief reports on his or her trip for archiving in the APS Library (where the Lewis and Clark and other early reports of exploration are also stored) and for distribution by the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The project and financial reports are due one month after completion of the funded portion of the work, per the time frame indicated on the proposal.

How to Apply

Retrieve the 4-page application form below. Questions concerning the eligibility of a project, applicant, or use of funds should be sent to Linda Musumeci, Director of Grants and Fellowships at LMusumeci [at] amphilsoc [dot] org.

Maintain the specified 4-page format; do not add extra pages. Type all information; use nothing smaller than 11 pt. Respond to every section in the space provided. The completed application should be submitted as an e-mail attachment to applications [at] amphilsoc [dot] org.


Application Form

Download the referee letter below, forward it to your letter writers, notify them of the deadline, and instruct them to send the completed form to lettersofsupport [at] amphilsoc [dot] org; confirm with them that the letters have been sent in time.

Referee Letter

For further information, contact Linda Musumeci at LMusumeci [at] amphilsoc [dot] org.

Additional information about the NASA Astrobiology Institute, its members, and the scope of its research can be found at: