COA Grants to Malacology

Since the inception of the program in June 1985, COA has awarded over $200,000 US in grants toward research in malacology. Individual grants range between $1,000 and $2,500. In 2017, the total amount of awarded funding was approximately $25,000.

Richard Forbush was the first chairman of the Grants Program, awarding 2 grants totaling $2000 that year. The chair passed to Dr. R. Tucker Abbott in July, 1988. Dr. Abbott, assisted by Dr. Henry Chaney and Walter E. Sage, III, began a series of increases in grants that had brought the annual giving to $6,000 per year by 1993. Funding for these grants came mainly from the proceeds of the COA Annual Auction. In June, 1995, Dr. Gary Rosenberg (Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia) took over COA Grants Committee chairmanship. In 2003, the chair was passed to Dr. José H. Leal (Director, The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum) with Dr. Gary Rosenberg and Dr. Henry Chaney (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History) remaining as committee members.

Besides the annual auction income, we now also source from other convention income for grants. Due to the wide fluctuation of our annual convention/auction income, we find it necessary to pay more attention to enlarging our endowment donations as well as direct donations to our annual grant budget.

Grants of up to $2,500 each are given to qualified parties undertaking field or laboratory research on recent or fossil mollusks, and other molluscan related projects. Up to 2004, most of the awardees have been citizens or permanent residents of the Americas or students attending graduate schools in the United States. Awards are not made to high school students and rarely are made to undergraduate college students.

Elsewhere on this web site, you will see a list of Grantees and their grant projects giving you an idea of the scope of our program.


With the 2018 round of competitions for the Academic Grants offered by the Conchologists of America, some significant changes are being implemented. Please read the new instructions carefully. If you have any questions, please feel free to inquire with the chairman, Dr. Jann Vendetti. The application is restricted to five single-spaced pages in 12 point font for the proposal, including illustrations. A one-page CV accompanies the application, structured as follows:

  • title of project;
  • summary of project, not to exceed 150 words;
  • body of the proposal including background information necessary to understand the project and its significance, materials and methods, and proposed plan of research;
  • itemized budget of estimated expenses;
  • literature cited; and a one page biography or resume including address, phone number and other means of contacting the applicant. (US citizens and residents must provide their social security number if given award.)
  • Student applicants should also submit a letter of recommendation from an academic or professional source.
  • Degree-seeking students must have a letter of recommendations by their advisor sent by the deadline.
  • All submissions are done electronically in widely readable file formats (.doc, .pdf). Keep file size under 3 MB.
  • The application must focus on a malacological topic; e.g., parasite studies should focus on the molluscan side of the interaction. All disciplines from autecology to zoogeography, including paleontological disciplines, are covered.
  • Permanent equipment is not allowed in the application. If in doubt, please inquire with the Chair before submitting the application.
  • Institutional overhead is not permitted.
  • All recipients are expected to submit an account of their work to American Conchologist.
  • All applications are evaluated by the Academic Grants Committee composed of three professional malacologists appointed by the Chair of the COA Academic Grants program.
  • The decision of the Committee is final.
  • The total funding for the academic grants program has increased from previously $20,000 to $25,000.
  • The maximum award is increased from previously $1500 to $2500. Smaller amounts can be requested and those applications tend to fare better. Partial funding is an option and at the sole discretion of the Academic Grants Committee.
  • The project of the application must be self-contained. With the funding requested it must be possible to answer the question posed. The proposal may only be a sub-component of the overall research. If some other funding has already been secured by the applicant (not applied for), this may be taken into account.
  • An example of a non-compliant application would be field work and cost intensive analysis of those field-collected samples (e.g., DNA sequencing, mass spectroscopy, EM), where COA funds of $2,500 for analysis only are requested, but field work is not firmly covered.
  • award winners will be issued a personal check (in US dollars) for their requested funding (or a portion of it). COA will not issue checks to research institutions and/or universities. Please consider this when applying for this grant and handling this award if your grant proposal is funded. ).
  • Many educational and non-profit organizations manage such grants; please inquire with such entities.
  • COA and/or its representatives are not liable for any tax consequences of the award.
Some hints.

Keep the introduction short and relevant; consider that all committee members are broadly trained invertebrate zoologists; e.g., we know that mollusks are Bilateria. Avoid hyperbole (e.g., solving global warming). Focus on what YOU want to do. Do provide justifications and details of analytical procedures including statistical analysis (which tests will be used and why those tests?). Evidence that techniques are reasonably mastered is advantageous, as are any sort of preliminary data. You do not need to fill all five pages of the proposal.

Applications are judged by the COA Grants Committee. Awards will be announced at COA's annual convention.

IF A GRANT IS AWARDED, the recipient must submit a summary of the completed phase of the project to the chairman of the grant committee within one year of receipt of the award. This summary need not be longer than one page, and should report negative as well as positive results. Those who do not comply will be asked to return the award.

Grant recipients are encouraged to submit a popular account of their research to the editor of COA's magazine, American Conchologist.


All application material must be sent as electronic documents by e-mail to:

Dr. Jann Vendetti
Twila Bratcher Endowed Chair in Malacological Research
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA

Use common file types such as .doc, .rtf or .pdf files, with the entire student portion of the application in a single file. Keep file size < 3MB.