Announcement: PAST Special Call for Proposals 2021

Announcement: PAST Special Call for Proposals 2021

Special Call for Proposals: The PAST All from One Research Grant Award

PAST is trialing a special call for funding proposals for African-based field, laboratory or museum collections research in all fields of African palaeontology[1] that are innovative and show exceptional promise in providing new information directly relevant to the three core themes of PAST’s All from One movement:

  • The shared African origins of humankind, extending from our Late Miocene ape antecedents to the emergence of modern human behaviour, and their relevance to an improved understanding of humanity today.
  • Palaeo-climatic and palaeoecological change and its relevance to an improved understanding of the modern climatic and environmental crises.
  • Prehistoric extinctions and their relevance to an improved understanding of the modern biodiversity crisis.

How to Apply

 Project leaders interested in applying should send a pre-application not exceeding 500 words that specifies the following:

  1. Provisional project title
  2. Brief description of the research problem, goals, location, methods and expected results.
  3. Provisional list of collaborators (if any), and a brief description of the nature of student involvement in the project and/or its contribution to African palaeontological infrastructure or technical capacity development.
  4. Potential for public outreach on the relevance of the research to improving understanding of human diversity, environmental change and biodiversity among youth, the general public and/or policymakers.
  5. In addition to the above 500-word plan, the pre-application should include a preliminary budget that shows costs for major categories of items that will be requested from PAST, and, in separate column(s), those pending with or to be requested from other sources. The other sources can include ones from overseas. PAST will provide funding only for African-based project participants. PAST does not fund permanent equipment except in cases where it can be donated to improve the technical capacity of an African institution after completion of the research award period. A formal letter of agreement with the institution on how the stated use of the donated equipment will be ensured must be obtained and submitted with an invited full application.

Award Amounts

 In 2021, PAST will allocate up to U.S.$ 50,000 to the programme, and will award a maximum of two grants. These grants are in addition to the standard research grants programme PAST has offered since 1994. Assuming the success of the first-year trial, grants are renewable for up to three years pending submission of a) a satisfactory and detailed progress report, b) a new application specifying the need for and goals of additional funding, and c) availability of PAST funds.


Eligibility is limited to African-based post-doctoral and senior researchers, or African nationals based overseas who maintain a formal affiliation and demonstrably well-established collaborative relationship with an African institution. Overseas applicants working as leaders of a team may include overseas collaborators but must ensure significant participation by other African-based researchers. Funding will be provided only in support of the team leader and African-based researchers and support staff. The project must make a substantial contribution to African undergraduate or postgraduate student training and/or to sustainable infrastructural or technical capacity development. Salaries and institutional overhead are not allowed.

Research must be located in Africa and based at an African institution through which funds can be awarded and disbursed. Any material collected or produced in the course of research must be done so under the auspices of the relevant government institution(s) and must be curated at an African institution following national and institutional protocols and in such a way that they are readily available for future study by other researchers. For collections curated in South Africa, applicants must follow the DSI/NRF National Science Collections Facility protocols. Specialised analysis of collected samples may occur overseas only when appropriate facilities are demonstrated to be unavailable in Africa.


Pre-applications must be submitted by October 1, 2021. PAST will inform applicants of its decision on whether a formal proposal is invited within two weeks of the pre-application deadline. The deadline for an invited full application is February 1, 2022, with final decisions announced by April 15, 2022. The primary research described in the proposals must be scheduled for completion within 12 months of the award date, and funds must be sought for and expended during this period. Unexpended funds must be returned to PAST, and PAST may request a full accounting of expenses.

A detailed report on preliminary results of the project and a summary of expenditure of funds must be submitted to PAST no later than 15 months after the award date.


[1] Including, among others, palaeoanthropology, Stone Age archaeology, palaeobotany, palaeoecological and palaeoclimatic studies and allied disciplines.