Environmental Lab Proposal Information

Note: It is strongly advised that you be familiar with the X-ray fluorescence experiment before attempting the experimental part of this investigation.


You will investigate the possibility of heavy metals contamination in this region. To that end, you will gather environmental samples from some area in this region and perform XRF to analyze these samples and determine the presence or absence of the metals which are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in Title 42, Chapter 82, Subchapter 3, Section 6924, Paragraph 2B.

We shall assume for the sake of this exercise that ANY detection indicates presence of that metal. Counting times for each sample will not exceed 30 minutes.

Your proposal should have sufficient detail on the method of sample collection and the reason for sampling a specific site (school, playground, reservoir, etc). Water samples may be collected using filter paper. However, the method of sample preparation must be explained in the proposal. You will collect approximately 15 samples.

WARNING! Since sample collection is a destructive process, this lab does NOT give you the right to deface or vandalize property.

Prepare your proposal in accordance with the National Science Foundation Proposal Guide (especially Section II.c.2) Not all categories will apply to your experiment.


Be sure to give a firm scientific justification of your experiment. In this exercise, A team of your professors are your reviewers and you must convince me that your experiment will work. The NSF has another home page where they give tips on proposal writing.

In proposal writing, ALWAYS EMPHASIZE the SCIENCE. If you cannot do that, then your proposal is probably worthless.


In order to complete the realism, only 25% of the submissions will be selected. If your team is not awarded, you will have to negotiate working with another team.

Once negotiations are completed, the winning team MUST submit a revised budget and work plan to me. No experimental write-ups will be accepted until this revised budget is submitted.

Each team member should be responsible for some part of the work plan. It is suggested that the team assess individual strengths and assign tasks accordingly (experimental work to the strongest experimentalist, etc.)

Budget Exercise—

In order to make this more realistic, use the Form 1030 to prepare a budget for your project. In this exercise, assume that you must purchase all equipment that is necessary.

Your overhead (we will use WKU’s 52%) will cover infrastructure (power, telephone, building space, etc.) The Overhead is calculated on salaries and wages NOT salaries + fringe.

You will use Western’s Fringe rate of 32.45% to estimate fringe benefits.

You will decide your own salary and estimate the number of hours for preparation, performing and writing a paper on the experiment. If you have a lab partner, you must pay that person a wage. Please provide a letter from that person with the number of hours that they will work and their salary/wage.

Travel Expenses will be as per WKU Policy. Please see the FAQ of the Office of Sponsored Programs at WKU at WKU for further details.

As part of your equipment, you may budget funds for the purchase of the equipment, lease the equipment, or out-source the laboratory work to WKU, it is your choice.

Equipment lease rate is $1000/month. Laboratory service rate is $100/sample.

Project Planning—

You must make a Gantt chart of your project and submit it with your budget information.

Cover Page—

Fill out and submit Form 1207 as your cover page. The program announcement is “Broad Agency Announcement for the Environmental Investigations” by the NSF Physics Division with a closing date of October 10, 2005.

DUNS and TINS numbers for WKU Research Foundation can be found at the website of the Office of Sponsored Programs at WKU.

Research Assignments—

This is a group project and the work plan must plainly designate responsible individuals. This work plan will be compared to the final work assignments shown in the final report.

Reporting the results—

The team will submit a group lab report discussing the entire lab from sampling to analysis and conclusions from those analyses. In addition, the PI will prepare a worksheet detailing the efforts of every individual on the team. Each team member will sign the worksheet to indicate that they performed the work described in the final report.


The PI is the de-facto leader of the project. It is PI’s responsibility that work is performed and that each individual is treated fairly.

Every worker has the right to see me if they believe that they are being treated unfairly. The PI has the right to see me if a worker is slacking off. In either case, I will take appropriate draconian action. It is highly recommended that you work these issues out between yourselves.