Applicants for research opportunities should first discuss their plans and statements with their current research mentors.
The Fellowships Office can help frame your essay, but disciplinary faculty members should provide necessary input on the technical approach, the feasibility of the research plan, and the role that the award would play in your career.
The purpose of a research proposal is to demonstrate to a scientifically literate, but non-expert, audience that your work deserves funding. Readers will want to evaluate your ability to define and approach a fundamental problem that is unresolved in your field. Once you contextualize the importance of what you study, demonstrate that you have a sound methodology and adequate time to answer the questions you have posed. If there are individuals or facilities that are critical to accomplishing your research, mention them and the role they will play. Be sure to make clear that you possess, or will learn quickly, all skills necessary to complete the proposed project.