Are you still searching for answers to questions about our new Core Programs Solicitation? Check out the new FAQ and remember to review our blog’s own solicitation explainer and submission caps explainer. And if you still have questions, please feel free to email your Program Officer or email@example.com.
Name: Andrea Porras-Alfaro, Population and Community Ecology Program Officer
Education: Ph.D. University of New Mexico, M.S. University of Puerto Rico, B.A. Biotech Eng. Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.
Home Institution: Western Illinois University
Tell us about your research: I am a mycologist (study fungi) serving as a visiting Program Officer. I am interested in fungal ecology in general and the interconnections of this field with other areas of ecology. My research has been mainly focused on the diversity and function of mycobiomes and their symbiotic interactions with plant communities in agricultural and natural ecosystems. I am interested in the emergent properties that result from complex microbial interactions and novel fungal consortia with potential to ameliorate the effects of climate change. For example, we are currently studying fungi that can facilitate plant adaptation to extreme conditions including extended periods of drought and high temperatures. In my lab, we use a variety of techniques to study fungi including cultures, bioassays, sequencing, and field experiments. I study root-associated microbial communities in different systems taking advantage of long-term field manipulations in arid systems and grasslands across the US. I am also working on soybean and corn plantations in Illinois, and the symbionts in tropical orchids. I am also very excited about strategies to improve student mentoring and success and increase participation and interactions of students from very different backgrounds.
Why do you want to serve with NSF? The opportunity to serve the broader scientific community, specially, a diverse and talented generation of scientists. I think it is a privilege to be at the forefront of science, innovation, and creativity. I was fortunate early in my career to have mentors who served at NSF and I have always admired their dedication to serve the scientific community in general. Here at NSF, I will be able to see the review process from a different perspective and benefit from training that is already impacting my professional development and career. I am excited to help facilitate the support of high quality science, its impact in society, and a diverse community of researchers and institutions.
What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? As a Program Officer, I am excited about the opportunity to support new initiatives and facilitate the review process focusing on the primary mission of NSF. I hope to continue my mentoring role by opening new doors for researchers in the different stages of their careers, establish new professional relations, and be of service to the community.
Name: Lynn M. Christenson, Ecosystem Science Program Officer
Education: University of Winnipeg, State University of New York of Environmental Science and Forestry, M.S. and PhD
Home Institution: Vassar College
Tell us about your research: I am an ecosystem ecologist with a focus on biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial systems. My research includes how climate change and other human activities (forest fragmentation and urbanization) interact with herbivores, plants, and soils to impact nutrient dynamics.
Why do you want to serve with NSF? I wanted to serve science from the ‘other side’ and to gain a better understanding of how basic science gets funded. Or in other words, I wanted to participate in the potential new directions that science can go by encouraging and developing programs for investigators!
What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I’m looking forward to meeting other people from other directorates and divisions from across NSF. I like to hear how other scientists/programs think about their questions and approaches. This will help me to think differently about how I ask my own questions and the approaches that I use in my own research.
The OPUS (Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis) program enables PIs to create new understanding of their research systems and questions by supporting synthesis activities based on published, peer-reviewed research. The traditional OPUS is now called OPUS: CRS (Core Research Synthesis). This presents an opportunity for a researcher at any career stage to synthesize a significant body of their research to create a new and enhanced understanding of an important topic in DEB science.
The new OPUS: MCS (Mid-Career Synthesis) track targets a specific academic rank (associate professor or equivalent) at a critical career stage. An OPUS: MCS requires the PI to collaborate with a mentor at another institution to acquire needed knowledge or skills to enable a new synthesis of their research interests. Projects should present a compelling case that the planned activities and products will provide new insights to existing problems or identify new, but related, problems that were previously inaccessible without the new methodology or approach. Hopefully, the result will enhance the PI’s productivity, improve their retention as scientists, and promote a diverse scientific workforce, including more minorities and women at high academic ranks.
The two tracks are outlined in detail on the OPUS web site and in the solicitation (NSF 18-582). If you are considering an OPUS submission, we suggest that you email one of the OPUS contacts listed on that web page as well as a program officer in the appropriate DEB cluster for your research area.
|Proposal Type||Caps||Deadline||Submission Guidelines|
|DEB Core (EP, ES, PCE, SBS)||DEB Core Cap: 1
Any submission as a PI or Co-PI to any of these proposal types counts towards the DEB Core cap of 1.
|LTREB||No deadline||New Solicitation TBA|
|BEE Designation||No deadline||18-587|
|Rules of Life||Rules of Life Cap: 1||No deadline||18-587|
|CAREER||Lifetime limit of 3||Deadline||17-537|
|RCN||No cap||No deadline||17-594|
|Conferences||No cap||No deadline||PAPPG|
|EAGER||No cap||No deadline*||PAPPG|
|RAPID||No cap||No deadline*||PAPPG|
|RAISE||No cap||No deadline*||PAPPG|
|EEID||EEID Cap: 2||Deadline||18-581|
|Dimensions of Biodiversity||Dimensions Cap: 1||Deadline||New Solicitation TBA|
Figure 1. Column one lists some of the many types of proposals that come into our core and special programs. The second column shows you which proposals are limited by a cap. The third column tells you which proposal type has a deadline, and the final column points you to where to look for guidance when preparing the proposal.
For example; In a given fiscal year, an investigator may submit 1 proposal to EEID, 1 to CNH, 1 to CAREER, 1 to Rules of Life, and 1 to the DEB Core (ES, EP, PCE, SBS, BEE) but not LTREB because that exceeds the DEB Core cap of 1.
*Unless specified in an accompanying Dear Colleague Letter
DEB’s new core programs solicitation has been published. While many parts of the solicitation remain the same, there are a handful of key differences. This post will outline the new submission mechanism, review the eligibility requirements under the new cap, define the new Bridging Ecology and Evolution designation and Rules of Life, and explain the data storage and accessibility requirements. Our blog posts are not intended to cover all the changes to our solicitation. We encourage you to read the entire solicitation carefully.
DEB’s core programs are no longer on an annual deadline. You can submit your proposal today, tomorrow, next month or next year. Please take the freedom and space to plan and collaborate. This change to no-deadline means we’ll be holding panels throughout the year, but the number and size of our panels may vary. We are still requiring the Personnel List Spreadsheet to be submitted with your proposal. Please use the updated version that can be found in the new solicitation.
When you choose to submit your proposal, it should be a full proposal. We are no longer accepting preliminary proposals. In an earlier post we outlined the pros and cons of the preliminary proposal system.
In sum, you can submit your full proposal any time starting now.
Eligibility for the DEB Core programs under the No-Deadline system
There is one “core program solicitation” that contains two tracks, one a “core track” and one a “Rules of Life” track.
In a given fiscal year, an investigator may be listed as a PI or co-PI on no more than one proposal submitted to the DEB core programs track. Proposals in excess of the PI/co-PI limit for any person will be returned without review in the reverse order received. There is no limit on the number of proposals on which an investigator may be listed as Lead of a Subaward or as Other Senior Personnel.
Within the core program solicitation, there is a second track called Rules of Life for research that spans divisions in the Directorate of Biological Sciences (see below for more details). This track has its own, separate cap of one proposal for the BIO Directorate. This means investigators can be on the cover sheet as a PI or Co-PI on one proposal to our core program and on one proposal to the BIO-wide Rules of Life initiative.
With the end of deadlines and the flexibility in panel configuration that will ensue, DEB has been thinking about ways to encourage more interdisciplinary research. To enable more submissions that cross program boundaries, two new submission options will be available, one for projects that span more than one DEB core program (Ecology and Evolution), and one for projects that cross the BIO divisions (Rules of Life).
The new Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) designation on DEB’s core track seeks to encourage research and training that integrates ecological and evolutionary processes to provide new insights into environmental biology. Projects should span, at minimum, one of the ecology clusters (Ecosystem Sciences, and Population and Community Ecology) and one of the evolution clusters (Evolutionary Processes, and Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences). Projects designated as BEE proposals should focus on the interplay between ecological processes and evolutionary processes, providing insights into the feedbacks and consequences at the interface of these disciplines. PIs are encouraged to include a statement in the Project Description about the conceptual basis and justification for this integration in advancing ecological and evolutionary science. To submit a BEE proposal, simply begin the title with the acronym “BEE:” and submit it to one of the targeted clusters. BEE proposals will be reviewed by a panel of ecologists and evolutionary biologists who will evaluate the quality of the integration and the potential to provide new insights for eco-evolutionary science. A BEE proposal counts as the PIs and co-PIs’ one allowed submission per year to the DEB core programs. More information about BEE is in the DEB solicitation.
The BIO Directorate’s Rules of Life (RoL) Track seeks to support integrative research and training that aims to identify the underlying general principles that operate across hierarchical levels of living systems, from molecules to organisms to ecosystems, and that explain emergent properties, e.g., robustness and adaptability. RoL proposals must address questions of importance to two or more of the BIO Divisions (Environmental Biology, Integrated Organismal Systems, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Biological Infrastructure). Successful projects will advance the understanding and predictive capabilities of key properties of living systems that emerge from the interaction of genomes, phenotypes, and environment acting over space and time. A RoL proposal should be submitted to one of the programs in DBI, DEB, IOS, or MCB. One or more additional programs in a different division should be specified on the cover page and the integration between the programs should be discussed in the Project Summary Overview section. More information about the RoL Track is in the DEB solicitation.
Data Dissemination and Accessibility
DEB is ratcheting up expectations of data archiving and accessibility, as is generally the case across NSF. Our new solicitation makes clear that PIs who have had prior support within the last five years must provide details on how data have been permanently archived and made publicly available. This information should go in the “Results from Prior NSF” section, following the format described in the PAPPG (II.C.2.d.iii). Likewise, when submitting Annual and Final Reports, BIO PIs will be required to “include information about progress made in data management and sharing of research products (e.g., identifier or accession numbers for data sets…and other types of data sharing and dissemination).”
It will be increasingly important to craft thoughtful and thorough Data Management Plans when submitting new proposals. Reviewers and Program Officers will pay particular attention to how data and specimens are stored and when and how they will become publicly assessable. For context and guidance, see http://www.nsf.gov/bio/biodmp.jsp.
Many people in the DEB community work with vertebrate animals, and therefore require approval from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) to conduct their research.
Since NSF does not oversee or regulate animal research, it is important for investigators to know that a project’s IACUC approval must be adequately documented before program officers can recommend an award for funding. In this blog post we offer answers to common questions regarding the NSF documenting procedures for IACUC protocols to help you to efficiently comply with the existing policy.
- Where can I find information on NSF guidelines regarding IACUCs?
The NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) contains the official policy on how to document your IACUC approval in your proposal (Part I, Chapter II Proposal Preparation Instructions, D. Special Guidelines, 4. Proposals Involving Vertebrate Animals).
- Where in the proposal is IACUC approval documented?
On the proposal cover page there is a box that should be checked if the proposal includes research with living vertebrate animals. Immediately following there is a space to provide the IACUC protocol approval date as well as the Public Health Service (PHS) Approved Animal Welfare Assurance number.
- How do I know if my institution already has PHS assurance?
Institutions proposing to use vertebrate animals in an NSF-funded project are required to list their single and unique PHS assurance number on the NSF proposal cover sheet. If there is no PHS assurance number listed, check the NIH/OLAW website for the current list of PHS assured institutions: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/assurance/300index.htm. For the IACUC approval to be accepted by NSF, the organization must have a current PHS Approved Assurance. If your institution doesn’t have a current PHS Approved Animal Welfare Assurance number, please list it as “pending” on submission. If NSF intends to make an award to your institution, it will submit a direct request to NIH/OLAW to start the assurance process.
- What if I have a current IACUC protocol that encompasses the type of work that I am proposing to do in the NSF proposal that I am submitting?
If the box for vertebrate animals is checked, and an IACUC approval date and PHS Assurance number are provided on the proposal cover page then no additional IACUC documentation is required for the proposal to be recommended or an award processed. When the officer from your institution’s Sponsored Research Office (SRO) signs off on the proposal, they are affirming that the approved protocol exists and is congruent with the work outlined in the NSF proposal. It is important to note that this IACUC protocol must still be current at the time of the proposal submission and an approved protocol for the project must be maintained for the duration of the award (most IACUC protocols expire after 3 years).
- What if I do not have an approved IACUC protocol for the proposal I am submitting?
If your IACUC protocol is not yet approved, you can indicate that the IACUC approval is “pending” on the cover page. If you fall in this category, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- IACUC committee tend to meet at a pre-set schedule throughout the year. If you have not yet started the IACUC approval process, please be aware of these timelines and recognize that awards cannot be processed at NSF without IACUC approval.
- Once granted, NSF must receive a signed IACUC approval from your institution, that must explicitly reference the proposer’s name, the title and number of the NSF proposal, and the date of IACUC approval.
- What if the research I am proposing to do will take place outside of the United States?
Projects involving the care or use of vertebrate animals at an international organization or international field site also requires approval of research protocols by the US grantee’s IACUC. Often, local approval from an international institution will also be necessary. Always ask the IACUC at your institution about how they handle international projects that involve living vertebrates.
- If the NSF proposal is for a fellowship or for an individual (e.g. postdoc), how is the documentation for the IACUC different?
For fellowships and proposals to individuals, a signed letter from the institution must still be submitted to NSF prior to an award action even if there is an IACUC approval date and PHS Assurance number documented on the proposal cover page at the time of submission. The letter must include the IACUC approval date, the institution’s PHS Assurance number, and it must specifically reference the proposer’s name, the title and number of the NSF proposal, and the date of IACUC approval.
- What if I am applying for a fellowship or award to an individual and I plan to conduct this work outside of the United States?
If the proposal is to fund an individual (not an institution) and the proposed work is to take place outside of the U.S., then a signed letter from the appropriate official at the foreign institution must be submitted to NSF that confirms that the work will comply with applicable laws in that foreign country and that it will adhere to the International Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals.
- If I am applying for an REU (or any other award supplement) will I need to submit IACUC documentation?
Supplements to existing awards generally do not require a separate IACUC approval letter unless the IACUC approval on the parent award is more than three years old or the scope of the project has changed substantially.
If the scope of the work has changed, in lieu of resubmitting an entirely new IACUC protocol an amendment to your existing IACUC protocol may suffice. An amendment is typically much easier to prepare than a new protocol. Check your institution’s IACUC policies to see what types of revisions are recognized as appropriate for a protocol amendment.
- If I am submitting a collaborative proposal with multiple institutions will each institution need a separate approved IACUC protocol?
Each institution that proposes to conduct research with living vertebrates must have their own current and approved IACUC documentation – this includes work conducted by a non-lead collaborative institution and work conducted under a subaward.
- My proposed research entails using multiple species of living vertebrates, and/or multiple locations. Will one IACUC protocol be sufficient?
Depending on the nature of the work, one IACUC may not be sufficient to cover the entire scope of your work. Please confirm with your institution’s IACUC that all of the work is being covered.
- I am submitting a proposal to NSF, but I am not sure if the vertebrate animal work in the proposal requires IACUC approval (e.g., the research involves only observations of vertebrates in the field).
Ask your institution’s IACUC whether the proposed work warrants IACUC approval. If the IACUC does not think one is needed, we recommend that you procure an email from the chair of the IACUC committee (using their institution email) stating that IACUC approval is not necessary for the scope of the proposed work. It is always safer to have the committee make this decision rather than making the decision on your own. Usually, such email can be obtained ad hoc, outside of your institutions regular IACUC meeting and review schedule.
- What about preserved specimens — will I need an IACUC to work with non-living vertebrate animals from a natural history collection?
IACUC approvals are only necessary for research with living vertebrate animals.
- My proposal doesn’t include vertebrate animals in a research capacity, but my broader impacts and/or outreach activities do involve vertebrate animals. Will I still need IACUC approval?
Most likely IACUC approval is still necessary in this circumstance. Please contact the NSF animal welfare officer for additional information.
The National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC ERE) invites your input on possible environmental research and education directions to further advance national security and economic competitiveness.
The AC ERE has been interested broadly in fundamental environmental research and education that also has societal utility, and is particularly interested in approaches that promote convergent research across disciplines and sectors to address economic competitiveness and economic security.
To identify emerging research questions in these areas, the AC ERE is reaching out to interested and knowledgeable members of the scientific community in all disciplines and interdisciplinary areas for their views. The AC ERE is also interested in the views of professionals who are directly involved in decision-making or operational activities in these areas, and who therefore can provide a very practical perspective on high-priority research and education topics.
The AC ERE invites individuals and groups of individuals to provide input on one or both of the topics described above via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ACERE-RFI-2018
The online submission form requires the following information:
- Author name(s) and affiliation(s);
- Valid contact email address;
- Title of the response;
- An abstract (200 words or less) summarizing the response; and
- Checkbox to consent to allow the AC ERE to display the submitted information, consistent with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode).
You will also be asked to identify whether your response focuses on questions in environmental research and education that are pertinent to a) economic growth and competitiveness, b) national and human security, or c) both topics. The submission form includes the following question prompts. Respondents may respond to all or any subset of these questions.
- What are the major environmental research priorities with the greatest potential to contribute to economic growth and competitiveness and/or national or human security/wellbeing? Priorities could, for example, include empirical, theoretical, or qualitative analyses, establishing baselines, and/or experimental studies. (500 words or less)
- What methodologies should be used for conducting such studies? Methodological recommendations could include the prospects for interdisciplinary and/or convergent research approaches, including modeling, theory, empirical, qualitative, and/or experimental studies. Methodological recommendations could also discuss the scope of studies, e.g. the balance between single-investigator studies and large teams. (500 words or less)
- What education (including formal and informal), research, and training opportunities – for students, postdoctoral researchers, and mid-career scientists – are needed? Opportunities might include interdisciplinary, team-based, or other innovative, value-added strategies for realizing higher levels of depth and breadth at the individual level, and/or expansion of the current environmental research community through inclusion of currently under-represented groups. (500 words or less)
- Beyond economic competitiveness and national security, what other high priority drivers of environmental science and education need attention? (200 words or less)
Submissions must be received by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on August 20, 2018. Respondents may edit their responses while completing the survey, but will not be able to save work in progress to complete later. Respondents will see a confirmation screen upon successful submission responses.
The committee and associated staff will read and analyze all responses received, and use them, in addition to its own background work, to develop a report on these topics to inform NSF and the community. It intends to publish this report by the end of 2018.
The AC ERE also anticipates making submissions publicly accessible through its website (https://www.nsf.gov/ere/ereweb/advisory.jsp). Authors who do not wish to have their full responses posted online may restrict access to the AC ERE and associated staff. However, the author(s) name and affiliation, submission title, and abstract will be included in the publicly accessible list of responses regardless.
The AC ERE invites you to step outside of the immediate demands of your current research and to think boldly about the opportunities for advancing environmental research and education into its next stage through a lens focused on economic competitiveness and/or national security. The Committee looks forward to your contributions.
For questions concerning this effort and submission of input, please contact Leah Nichols, Executive Secretary for the AC ERE, at firstname.lastname@example.org.