Upcoming Deadlines for DEB Supplements

It’s that time of year again when we remind our active grantees about the education and broadening participation supplements available to DEB awards.

Additional details on the components to include in each type of supplement request and information on budgets can be found on-line at http://www.nsf.gov/bio/deb/suppopp.jsp


Requests for this set of DEB supplements should be submitted by Tuesday December 5th, 2017. DEB treats our December date as a deadline in the sense that later requests are considered only if there are remaining funds and sufficient time to process the request before the intended start date. All requests must be submitted through FastLane.

Supplement Types:

  • Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)
  • Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS)
  • Research Opportunity Awards (ROA)
  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Additional REU Options for Dimensions of Biodiversity PIs only:

  • Dimensions Broadening Participation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (D-BP-REU)

Other types of supplement requests should be discussed with your program officer. If you have any additional questions, please contact the relevant DEB Program (check the DEB staff listings on the NSF website).


Supplements are only available to PIs and co-PIs with active DEB awards. Please note that some of the special programs accept supplement requests, and others do not. If your program is not listed here, and/or if you have questions about supplement eligibility for your current award, please contact your cognizant Program Officer.

Core DEB Y Y Y Y N
Dimensions of Biodiversity N N N N Y
Genealogy of Life Y Y Y Y N

Before submitting a supplement request, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • no supplements can be awarded if there are any overdue project reports associated with anyone on the award including co-PIs and all members of a collaborative project
  • supplemental funds must be expended by the expiration date of the original award
  • the IRB/IACUC documentation must be up-to-date and include the time frame of the supplement
  • if the award budget already included Participant Support funds to support students or teachers, you must clearly explain the extenuating circumstances leading to the request for more such funding
  • as budgets allow, DEB typically provides funds for one REU student per year, but will consider supporting two REU students if the PI can demonstrate a unique opportunity for broadening participation from traditionally underrepresented groups in the biological sciences.

Supplement Descriptions:

Additional details on the components to include in each type of supplement request and information on budgets can be found on-line at http://www.nsf.gov/bio/deb/suppopp.jsp

  • RET – The Dear Colleague Letter: “Research Experience for Teachers (RET): Funding Opportunity in the Biological Sciences” (NSF 12-075) describes how NSF awardees can provide integrated research and education experience for K-12 teachers by including the active participation of these teachers in funded research projects. The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) enthusiastically supports these supplemental awards. The intent of this endeavor is to facilitate professional development of K-12 science teachers through research experience at the cutting edge of science.
  • RAHSS – The Dear Colleague Letter: “Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS): Funding to Broaden Participation in the Biological Sciences” (NSF 12-078) describes how NSF awardees can foster interest in the pursuit of studies in the Biological Sciences; and broaden participation of high school students, particularly those who are underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and women in sub-disciplines where they are underrepresented. The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) enthusiastically supports these supplemental awards.
  • ROA – The goal of a “Research Opportunity Award (ROA)” (NSF 14-579) opportunities is to enhance the research productivity and professional development of science faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions (including community colleges) through research activities that enable them to explore the emerging frontiers of science. Such research not only contributes to basic knowledge in science but also provides an opportunity to integrate research and undergraduate education. The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) enthusiastically supports this activity.
  • REU – The “Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)” supplements (NSF 13-542) support NSF awardees in providing integrated research experiences for undergraduates. The intent of the REU supplement is to help undergraduates participate fully in a research enterprise, from inception and design of the project, to completion and dissemination of results. REU projects should involve students in meaningful ways in research projects, and provide opportunities for high-quality interaction of students with faculty and/or other research mentors, and access to appropriate facilities and professional development opportunities. Hence, the request should emphasize expected student involvement and mentoring.
  • D-BP-REU – The Dimensions of Biodiversity (DoB) Program encourages requests for supplemental funding to broaden participation in the biodiversity—related workforce. These supplements are funded through the “Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)” solicitation (NSF 13-542) and are intended to support students from underrepresented groups and enhance cooperative efforts between PIs with active Dimensions of Biodiversity research awards and faculty at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) or Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This two-mentor model allows the REU student the opportunity to work with a DoB investigator and provides continued mentorship from the faculty member at the PUI or MSI after the student’s research experience with the DoB investigator is completed. The BP-REU is only available as a supplement to Dimensions of Biodiversity awards.

Meet DEB: Andrea Weeks and Thomas Turner


Andrea Weeks


Name: Andrea Weeks, Systematics and Biodiversity Science Program Officer

Education: B.S., Cornell University, PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Home Institution: George Mason University

Tell us about your research,

I am a visiting Program Officer and I am a plant systematist, which means I describe new species, discover how different species are related, and test hypotheses related to their evolution and historical biogeography. I have studied the tropical tree family Burseraceae, which is also known as the Frankincense and Myrrh Family, in particular the myrrh genus, Commiphora.  My research has more recently branched out to include plant groups native to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States near my home institution of George Mason University. People who are not biologists are typically surprised to learn that we still have much to discover about the species in our own backyards.

What made you want to serve NSF?

I have been fortunate to receive several awards from the National Science Foundation in the last decade, and I want to give back to the National Science Foundation and the community of my peers who supported my research and that of my students. The team-based approach of NSF was also very compelling to me, as was the opportunity to learn about new frontiers in biology.

What are you most looking forward to during your tenure at NSF?

The merit-review process at the National Science Foundation is widely regarded as the gold-standard among scientific agencies world-wide.  I am looking forward to both learning how we engage the community to push science forward as well as contributing to this effort.


Thomas Turner


Name: Thomas Turner, Population and Community Ecology Program Officer

Education: B.S., Ohio University, PhD Florida International University

Home Institution: University of New Mexico

Tell us about your research,

I am a visiting Program Officer and I am an ecologist and evolutionary biologist who studies the distribution and abundance of aquatic organisms in desert rivers and streams. I am most interested in discovering how short- and long-term changes to river flows affect aquatic biodiversity.  Desert rivers are dynamic environments that pose special challenges.  Organisms must cope with rapid changes in resource availability and fluctuations in the intensity of interactions with other organisms.  Desert ecosystems also challenge scientists because we must devise experiments and make observations that capture and illuminate key biological processes against a backdrop of rapid and sometimes radical change.  In my research, I involve students at all levels to help prepare them for careers in environmental science and conservation.

What made you want to serve NSF?

The prospect of working at NSF was exciting to me for many reasons.  As a scientist, I wanted to learn about new areas of research and work creatively to find ways to advance science in general.  I am a research administrator at my home institution so I wanted to learn more about opportunities that would fit the research expertise of the faculty and students at the University of New Mexico.

What are you most looking forward to during your tenure at NSF?

I most look forward to meeting and working with colleagues from diverse backgrounds that share a common goal of making science more integrative and inclusive, and advancing the best research in the country.  I am also grateful to live near the coast and the opportunity to spend some time in streams, rivers, and estuaries here.


Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology Deadline

The annual deadline for the next round of Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) is November 7th, 2017. There’s a great “How to Apply” guide on the PRFB website that walks you through each step of the application process. You must be affiliated with an institution the entire tenure of the fellowship. You must also register as an Independent Researcher through https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/ before you can submit to the Program.

Applicants submit to one of three categories called “competitive areas.” These categories differ in award duration, research scope, and eligibility requirements. The competitive areas are: 1) Broadening Participation in Biology, 2) Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections, 3) National Plant Genome Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.

To qualify for the first two competitive areas, Broadening Participation and Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections, postdocs cannot have served in any full-time position that requires a doctoral degree for more than 6 months prior to the deadline. For the third competitive area, National Plant Genome Initiative, it’s less than 12 months. In sum, these fellowships are for postdocs who very recently received a PhD.

A completed PRFB application will contain the following sections and each is outlined and described in more detail in the solicitation;

  1. NSF Cover Page
  2. Fastlane application form (this form can only be accessed in FastLane)
  3. Project Summary (one page, only)
  4. Project Description (limited to 6 pages, including all figures and tables)
  5. References Cited (no page limit)
  6. Biographical Sketch (page limit of 2)
  7. Current and Pending Support (be sure and include current and planned submissions to other fellowship programs)
  8. Two letters of reference (submitted directly to FastLane by the letters’ authors)

The duration of the fellowship for the first two competitive areas is 24-36 continuous months, while that of the third competitive area is 36 continuous months. As for the award amounts, please see the solicitation. For additional questions about the PRFB, please email bio-dbi-prfb@nsf.gov and best of luck!

Announcing the Switch to No-Deadline

As per the newly issued Dear Colleague Letter, the core programs in the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) are discontinuing the use of the preliminary proposal mechanism.  We are enacting a “no-deadline”, full proposal mechanism for proposals submitted to the core programs, including the DEB LTREB program. There will be no call for preliminary proposals in January 2018. Instead, new solicitations describing funding opportunities will be released in 2018, for awards starting in fiscal year 2019.

Why did DEB make the decision to switch to a “no-deadline” model and what does that mean for submitting proposals?

After a three year pilot of the preliminary proposal system, DEB contracted an outside agency, Abt, to conduct an evaluation of the pilot program. You can read about the results of that report, and get a link to the full report on a previous blog post here.  In sum, the assessment found the switch to preliminary proposals produced mixed results.

With respect to the scientific community, the preliminary proposal system achieved our objective of reducing demands on the reviewers, PIs, and institutions. Yet, the system also produced a frustrated PI community who found the “one date deadline” model too restrictive.

DEB staff largely viewed the preliminary proposal system positively, yet noted significant drawbacks. On the positive side, the system was efficient at filtering out proposals at the preliminary proposal stage, thus improving the quality of full proposals. It also simplified program budget management as all of the full proposals were funded at the same time of year.  However, it exacerbated workload in the winter and spring, making those very stressful times of the year. Concerns were also expressed about the fact that preliminary proposals were not subject to (ad hoc) review, and further, that interdisciplinary preliminary proposals could not be co-reviewed across programs. This latter issue was a decisive factor for BIO senior managers. They felt that the preliminary proposal system worked against efforts to encourage more integrative and interdisciplinary research; i.e., proposals that crossed BIO divisions and spanned levels of biological organization.

DEB will release new solicitations, in spring/summer 2018, with guidelines for submitting full proposals at any time of the year, to any of the DEB core programs. The first awards from those proposals would be made in FY 2019 (FY19 begins on October 1, 2018). These upcoming solicitations will also announce and provide guidelines for writing proposals related to the BIO initiative: Understanding the Rules of Life with the goal of promoting research that crosses BIO divisional, disciplinary boundaries (i.e. DBI, EF, IOS, and MCB).

What are the additional benefits of the no-deadline model to the investigator?

If you’ve been hindered in the past by ill-timed teaching loads, health or personal issues, field work, or other career commitments, consider the burden lifted. You now have the power to determine when and how your project ideas are written and submitted. Investigators can write and submit proposals during times of the year best suited to their schedules. By removing the annual deadline, you and your collaborators have more time and flexibility to coordinate on proposals. The no-deadline model also makes space for planning your submission around major life events.

What’s next?

For the next 6 months, we will be completing review of the full proposals already received in response to the CAREER and August 2nd core program submission deadlines, and making award recommendations.  We then anticipate finalizing our new solicitations and planning for how to handle a review process designed around no-deadline submissions.  We hope investigators will take the extra time to carefully craft proposals and submit them only when they are ready. From our side, we anticipate creating more integrative and dynamic panels that better accommodate the interdisciplinary science we see bubbling up in all of our core programs. But truly, there’s a great deal we can’t predict; we’re taking a risk in moving back to full proposals. Managing funding programs when you don’t know how many or when proposals will be submitted, is a bit scary. We are willing to take this risk in the hopes that this new model will result in better proposals and more integrative science while at the same time providing greater flexibility to the community.

We encourage you to check out the FAQ sheet around the new announcement, subscribe to the blog, sign up for email alerts at nsf.gov, and stay tuned for more details to follow.

Remembering Our Friend and Colleague Henry Gholz

Henry Gholz.PNG

Henry Gholz


Dr. Henry Gholz, a former Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) died on Saturday, September 30, 2017 while rock climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park. He was a wonderful friend and revered colleague to many at NSF and in the ecology research community.

Henry received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Forest Science & Ecology from Oregon State University. He then joined the faculty of the University of Florida, where he worked for twenty-two years, becoming a leader in research on the ecology of forest ecosystems.  Henry joined DEB as a Program Director in 2000, and beginning in 2002 he led the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites program for a ten-year period.  He was recognized with a standing ovation, and was presented with a special plaque for his service at the 2012 LTER All Scientists Meeting (http://news.lternet.edu/images/henry-gholz-honored-lter-all-scientists-meeting). Following a 1-year sabbatical, Henry returned to DEB as a Program Director in the Ecosystem Science Cluster, and for the Macrosystems Biology program in Emerging Frontiers until his retirement last year.

While at NSF, Henry was known as an enthusiastic and collaborative advocate for ecology, who worked tirelessly to create new opportunities for the environmental biology research community. He made many friends during his sixteen years at the NSF as a result of his warm and caring personality.  Following retirement from NSF, Henry lived with his wife, Dr. Jan Engert, in Ft. Collins, CO.  At the time of his death, he was serving as a Visiting Scientist at Batelle Ecology, working with the National Ecological Observatory Network.  Henry is survived by his wife Jan, his children Nate, Sophie, and Sean, and several grandchildren.

The above is just a brief of sketch of a leading scientist and wonderful individual who impacted many people’s lives. With that in mind, we invite Henry’s many friends and colleagues to offer your thoughts and memories of him in response to this blog post.

Meet DEB: Daniel Gruner and Kathryn Cottingham


Daniel Gruner










Name: Daniel Gruner, Population and Community Ecology & Macrosystems Biology

Education: A.B. in Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, Ph.D. in Zoology, University of Hawai‘i, Mânoa, HI

Home Institution: University of Maryland

Tell us about your research,

I am a rotating Program Officer and an entomologist and ecologist interested in species interactions in food webs, the maintenance of biodiversity in ecological communities, and the biogeography of both, particularly on islands. Generally, I seek to test fundamental ecological theory in empirical systems and, using synthetic approaches such as meta-analysis, to apply basic principles to understanding and mitigating the impacts of global climate change and the spread of invasive species. In recent years, my projects have focused on mangrove-marsh ecotones in Florida and the Caribbean; evo-ecological community assembly and biogeography on Pacific Islands, primarily Hawaii; experimental manipulations of herbaceous plant communities in the global Nutrient Network; and on the ecology and integrative biology of invasive forest insects, such as the European Sirex woodwasp and the emerald ash borer.

What made you want to serve NSF?

The National Science Foundation has provided support for my research at every career stage, enabling numerous projects that would have been impossible otherwise. In the scientific tradition, we rely on peer review and public financial support to advance scientific progress, and we commit to serve our peers and institutions in kind. Foremost, I came to NSF to serve the scientific community and the greater population who rely upon science and support it with their tax dollars. I also expect to learn a great deal from colleagues at NSF and from the PI community that will help me better communicate my ideas and broaden participation in science.

What are you most looking forward to during your tenure at NSF?

When serving on review panels, I enjoyed diverse colleagues coming together to debate the merits of proposals at NSF. It is a privilege to read a broad array of interesting proposals, to meet new colleagues, and hear new perspectives while gleaning lessons for best practices in writing grants. Although we cannot fund all projects that come to NSF, the objectivity and fairness of the NSF review process has always been striking. As a rotating Program Officer, I look forward to diving deeper into this process behind the scenes and learning to hold this standard. At the very top of my list, I can’t wait to make those phone calls to early career scientists to announce their first major NSF award.


Kathryn Cottingham


Name: Kathryn Cottingham, Population and Community Ecology

Education: B.A. Drew University, M.S. University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin at Madison

Home Institution: Dartmouth College

Tell us about your research,

I am a rotating Program Officer and an aquatic ecologist with a strong side interest in the applications of ecological principles to problems in both environmental and human health. I typically approach problems using a mix of modeling, experiments, and field observations, as appropriate for the research question, and because my undergraduate training was in both mathematics and biology, I have a strong quantitative bent (although I can’t pretend to keep up with all the new, exciting techniques being developed in both modeling and statistics!).  Right now, I am particularly interested in the cyanobacterial taxa that have not read the limnology textbooks and are blooming in economically-valuable, low-nutrient, clear-water lakes located within mostly forested watersheds.  I want to understand what is causing those blooms, both within a summer and on longer time scales, and to evaluate whether there are management strategies that might keep the blooms from getting any worse in the future.

What made you want to serve NSF?

Being a rotator is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I see this position as an opportunity to give back to the broader ecological research community while also learning from the experience in ways that I hope will enrich my research and that of my trainees, collaborators, and institutional colleagues.  The seed was planted nearly 20 years ago, when my postdoc mentor, Tom Frost, rotated through DEB.  Tom spoke so highly of the experience – both professionally and personally – that I put it on the bucket list early in my time as a faculty member.  Since then, I have been eagerly awaiting the time when my kids would be old enough to take advantage of the many opportunities available in the DC-area that are not available in rural Hanover, New Hampshire.

What are you most looking forward to during your tenure at NSF?

I am particularly excited to learn more about the full breadth of research that is being done across the country and around the world, especially in the DEB fields with which I have little firsthand experience, and to help make that research possible.


Officially in Alexandria!



DEB has officially moved to our new office building in Alexandria! Our new address is 2415 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria, VA 22314. As you can see in the photo above, we’re just a few steps away from the Eisenhower Avenue metro stop and only a few stops down from Washington National Airport (DCA). Above is the exterior of our new NSF headquarters and below is the mural that greets people arriving at the Directorate for Biological Sciences.


All future panelists will be welcomed and registered at our visitor’s lobby. Below is an example of what a typical panel room looks like but some panels will be hosted off-site and some rooms may vary.


panel room

All future NSF visitors and on-site panelists should carefully read any instructions and documents sent out prior to your visit. Also, if your home institution is enrolled in eduroam you can now access an eduroam hotspot when visiting NSF.  Most importantly, please be sure you have a valid ID that is compliant with the REAL ID Act; if your state issued ID is not compliant, bring your passport. We hope to see you soon!