Reintegrating Biology Town Halls


Learn about this exciting new initiative and register for town hall discussions from the Office of the Assistant Director’s blog here or below.

“Biology has the goal of understanding the processes that generate and sustain life.  Despite this unifying principle, the actual practice of modern biology has become increasingly fragmented into subdisciplines due, in part, to specialized approaches required for deep study of narrowly defined problems.  BIO aims to encourage a unification of biology. Our goal is to stimulate creative integration of diverse biological disciplines using innovative experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches to discover underlying principles operating across all hierarchical levels of life, from biomolecules to organisms, species, ecosystems, and biomes.

Earlier this year we asked you, as members of the biological sciences community, for high-level ideas on the research questions and topics that would benefit from NSF investment in a truly integrated research environment. The responses from across the country offered a broad range of fundamental biological questions spanning the scales of biological organization. BIO now wants to grow and enrich the conversation with a view to priming the formation of new NSF-supported research teams around these questions.

To that end, we invite you to register for one of several Virtual Town Hall discussions, which will take place the week of September 16, 2019. These events will help identify themes for more focused, in-person discussions that will take place later in the fall – fertile soil for germination of new, foundational cross-disciplinary ideas that will unify and advance the biological sciences.

More details can be found at https://reintegratingbiology.org/.”

Next Steps for NEON


Check out the latest NEON news from the Office of the Assistant Director’s blog here or below.

“One of BIO’s highlights from this current fiscal year is the movement of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from construction into full operations. 179 data products are now freely available to the scientific community and the public on the NEON Data Portal, and we are pleased to note that downloads of the data are rapidly increasing as is use of NEON data in publications. NEON data is also transforming ecological education at a diverse range of institutions.

NSF recently announced (NSF 19-080) its intent to launch an open competition for the management of NEON’s future operations and maintenance. NSF’s major facilities routinely undergo such a merit-based, peer-reviewed process, thus the announcement signals that NEON has matured into a fully-functioning Observatory.  The review process will take roughly two years, with the new award expected to commence in late 2021.  As always, NSF will be relying on community expertise in the merit review process, which will ensure that NEON is an effective resource for ecology for years to come.

We recognize that members of the scientific community may have questions and input for NSF as we embark on this process. We welcome community input, and to that end, we will host a NEON Information Session and Question and Answer Period on Monday, August 12, at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual meeting in Louisville, KY. For those who won’t be at ESA, questions and input can be directed to the cognizant program officer, Dr. Roland Roberts (neon-bot@nsf.gov).

We hope to see many of you at ESA.”

Meet DEB: Amanda Ingram


 

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Amanda Ingram

What’s your name and role here at DEB?

My name is Amanda Ingram and I’m a rotating Program Officer in the Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster.

Where did you go to school?

I earned a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA and my Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Cornell University

Where is your home institution?

Wabash College, a small liberal arts college in Indiana.

Tell us about your research.

My main line of research involves understanding the evolutionary relationships among species of Eragrostis, commonly known as the lovegrasses. This is a fascinating and diverse group of C4 grasses—many species are polyploids, morphological and anatomical diversity abounds, and they grow in (and therefore must be collected in!) all sorts of interesting places. The genus also contains a cereal crop, tef, which is incredibly important in Ethiopian agriculture and is the grain of choice for making injera. I also dabble in educational and science communication research and mentor undergraduate research projects investigating mycorrhizal associations in orchids native to Indiana.

Why do you want to serve with NSF?

NSF has supported me at every key stage of my career, so I’m excited to give back to the Foundation and to help support our research community. I’ve also loved the time I’ve spent serving on panels over the years. Finally, I’m thrilled to be fully immersed in systematics research again—at my home institution, I spend a lot of time thinking and teaching broadly about a wide range of biological topics, so I’m looking forward to the time to focus on my true scientific passions while working closely with my colleagues in SBS.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF?

I’m looking forward to getting an insider’s perspective on how science policy is shaped, learning more about how funding decisions are made, and experiencing first-hand the wonderful NSF culture I’ve heard so much about. Plus, I’m excited to have a break from small-town life to enjoy lovely Alexandria.

 

Meet DEB: Matt Olson


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Merry with her human, Matt Olson.

What’s your name and role here at DEB?

My name is Matt Olson and I am a rotating Program Officer with the Evolutionary Processes Cluster.

Where did you go to school?

I earned a B.S. University of Texas, Austin, M.S. Louisiana State University, and my Ph.D. at Duke University.

Where is your home institution?       

Texas Tech University.

Tell us about your research.

I am an evolutionary ecologist, which means that I study how genetic and ecological factors influence how a species will change over time. My current scientific interests aim to understand how sex chromosomes (like the male Y chromosome) evolve in plants. Sex chromosomes are found in less than 5% of all plants, and in most cases, they have evolved very recently. Because they are young, we can study the formative stages of sex chromosome evolution including how they move around the genome and how ecological factors may influence their development. My work leverages a mix of ecology, genomics, bioinformatics, and molecular biology, so it is always very exciting and integrative. I often must collaborate with colleagues in other disciplines. One of my current collaborations is with colleagues in Chengdu and Nanjing, China, which has provided some great opportunities for both scientific and cultural exchange.

Why do you want to serve with NSF? 

Since I served on my first grant review panel, I have been impressed with the efficient, transparent, and ethical character of the NSF. I am keen to learn more about how the foundation functions, so that I can apply these ideals more broadly to other aspects of my work and personal life. I also have been fortunate to have several of my proposals funded by the NSF, and I would like to give back to the organization by serving in a more administrative role. Finally, I hope to draw on my experience as a scientist and teacher to help steer the foundation as we move into the future.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? 

I love working and exchanging ideas with other scientists. The National Science Foundation not only helps scientists to realize their goals via funding, but also serves as a nexus for interaction during panel reviews, site visits, and outreach. I am looking forward to meeting the large number of scientists that will be coming to the NSF during my rotation here and talking with them about their research and our common scientific interests. Who knows? Maybe we will come up with a new collaborative research idea that will solve some of the worlds’ great challenges!

Meet DEB: Megan Lewis and Michelle Bonilla


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Megan at the circular terraces at Moray in Peru

 

 

What is your name and role here at DEB?

I’m Megan Lewis and I’m a Program Analyst, which means I provide data analytics for the division as well as provide in-panel support.

How did you find out about NSF?

I’ve been working at NSF for over 3 years at this point, but prior to that I didn’t know much about it. I was looking for an internship with the federal government that focused on environmental biology and solving environmental issues through science rather than policy. NSF allowed me to learn what PIs were doing to understand these issues and how to solve them.

Tell us a little about what you studied in school.

I studied Biology at my undergraduate university with a minor in Environmental Studies. My focus was on ecology and biodiversity conservation. After which, I obtained my master’s in Environmental Resource Policy as well as a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems. My capstone project was an in-depth review of global shark conservation policies for a global non-profit.

Cats or dogs?

Doggos. I have a slightly neurotic mutt named Marshall whom I adopted almost 3 years ago.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

My first job at NSF was working for DEB as a Winter Student in the Arlington, VA building. Due to the limited appointment type, I transferred over to MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biosciences) as a Program Assistant and finally a Program Specialist. I’m excited to come back to DEB after some time away.

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Michelle visiting her family in Honduras.

What is your name and role here at DEB?

I’m Michelle Bonilla and I am a Program Assistant (PA) and I am learning all about the process of setting up panels, handling travel, logistics, and all the other tasks PAs are responsible for.

How did you find out about NSF?

I found out about the NSF through USAJobs.gov and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to learn and grow, professionally. Thank you, NSF, for this opportunity!

Tell us a little about what you’re studying in school.

I am currently working towards finishing my undergrad in Psychology with a minor in Forensic Psychology at Marymount University.

Cats or dogs?

Both! They both have different traits that make them unique and special.

Which member of the Scooby-Doo gang do you most identify with?

Daphne! I love fashion and anything that involves solving a crime or case. Who says you can’t be fashion forward and solve mysteries at the same time?

 

New Functions in Research.gov


New Features

  • You can now submit full, research collaborative proposals with subawards in Research.gov
  • Sponsored Project Office (SPO)/Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) can now receive email notifications when PIs enable proposal access to SPOs/AORs

While proposers can still prepare and submit collaborative proposals with subawards as well as full, research non-collaborative proposals in FastLane, NSF encourages the research community to use the new Research.gov proposal system because as NSF continues to enhance the new system incrementally, your vital feedback is being incorporated during the development process.

For example, Research.gov has real-time compliance checks and feedback for each section, specific checks on the budget screens and for Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) uploads, and embedded relevant sections of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and video job aids, so you don’t have to go to multiple sites to look up guidance.

Initiating a Proposal in Research.gov

If you have not done so already, we invite you to initiate a proposal in Research.gov by following the steps outlined below:

  • Open Research.gov and click “Sign In” located at the top right of the screen;
  • Enter your NSF ID and password and click “Sign In;”
  • From the Research.gov “My Desktop” page, click “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types)” in the “Prepare & Submit Proposals tile” or go to this option from the top navigation bar by selecting the “Prepare & Submit Proposals” tab and clicking on “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types);”
  • Select the “Prepare Proposal” option in the “Prepare New Proposal” tile on the left side of the Proposal Preparation page; and
  • Follow the five-step proposal wizard to set up the proposal.  

Submitting Feedback

NSF wants to hear from you! To submit feedback about the new Research.gov Proposal Preparation and Submission Site:

  • Go to the Research.gov Feedback page;
  • Choose “Other” under the Site Area dropdown menu;
  • Include your feedback in the Comments or Suggestions field; and
  • Click Submit when you are ready to send your feedback to NSF.

Training Resources and Additional Information

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

 

 

Now Hiring: Deputy Division Director!


The Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation is seeking a Deputy Division Director for the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB). This is a Senior Executive Service (SES) position within the Federal government, which can be filled as either a Federal employee, or as a rotator (Intergovernmental Personnel Act, 1-3 years), as described here:  https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/536933400

The Deputy Division Director plays a key role in the Division’s senior management, contributing to science planning, management, and program budget allocation and commitment for the Division. The Deputy Division Director advises and aids the Division Director, and is a member of the broader senior management team in the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

The Division of Environmental Biology supports research and training on evolutionary and ecological processes acting at the level of populations, species, communities, and ecosystems.

You can read more about DEB’s structure and mission here: https://www.nsf.gov/bio/deb/about.jsp

For details on how to apply, please visit the job announcement. You may email the Division Director Stephanie Hampton (shampton@nsf.gov) with any additional questions.