Meet DEB: Judy Stone

Judy finds a big white pine. 

Name and Cluster: My name is Judy Stone and I’m excited to work with the Evolutionary Process Cluster. 

Education: University of Michigan (BF), Yale University (MSF), Stony Brook University (PhD) 

Home Institution: Colby College 

Tell us about your research:  I’ve focused on the evolution of plant mating, especially the breakdown of self-incompatibility (SI) systems, which permit recognition and rejection of self-pollen.  SI systems are subject to loss-of-function mutations, and I’m curious about the genetic and ecological circumstances that dictate the fate of such mutations.  Breakdown of SI is common across the tree of life, and it radically impacts genomes as ancestrally outcrossing species commence self-fertilization.  The breakdown of SI is also interesting as it entails a conflict between female and male function.  Whereas female function may benefit from choosiness, any mutation that expands access to fertilization by sperm should be favored.  In a nascent project, I’m seeking to discover how often male-side mutations initiate breakdown of SI in Witheringia solanacea, a tropical species with frequent breakdown of SI.  In addition to this core research focus, I’ve enjoyed side projects in conservation genetics, and I’m currently exploring phylogenetic systematics of the genus Witheringia. 

Tell us about your NSF Experience/History:  To me, the NSF represents inspiration.  I vividly remember submitting my first proposal – for a dissertation improvement grant – with my dreams and aspirations contained with that manila envelope (!).  As I’ve progressed through my career, the NSF has allowed me to develop new skills and to support dozens of students in the lab and in fieldwork in Costa Rica.  When I was a newly minted assistant professor, I was lucky enough to be invited to serve on a review panel, which is when my appreciation for the NSF truly began to flourish.  It is thrilling for me to witness the inventiveness of our community of scientists, and it’s heartening to see the care with which their ideas are considered. 

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF?  I’m excited to keep learning about the forefront of science in evolutionary biology, and I’m looking forward to working with such a wonderful collaborative team. 

Meet DEB: Colin Orians, Jeremy Wojdak, and Shannon Fehlberg

Colin taking a break from field work in Costa Rica.

Name and Cluster: My name is Colin Orians and I am excited to join the Population and Community Ecology cluster as a rotating Program Officer.

Education: BA, Earlham College; PhD, The Pennsylvania State University

Home Institution: Tufts University

Tell us about your research: I am a global change biologist and my primary research agenda explores the performance of plants in natural and managed systems in response to climate change and interacting herbivores (native and exotic). The empirical work is guided by theory, and we strive to identify the underlying mechanisms behind plant responses to stressors. We work in both temperate and tropical systems, and our projects span from basic biology to coupled natural human systems.

Why do you want to serve with NSF?  There is so much great science being done, often at the boundaries of different disciplines, and to be part of the funding process within and across fields is exciting. Moreover, I have very much enjoyed serving on panels, meeting colleagues and exploring the frontiers of our fields.  I have learned so much in the process so look forward to creating similar opportunities for others. Lastly, as a recipient of NSF grants, I wanted to give back to the community.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I look forward to working with my cluster mates, interacting with staff and program officers throughout BIO, and connecting with colleagues across the country. 

Jeremy (right) meets a fellow hiker.

Name and Cluster: 

Hello! My name is Jeremy Wojdak (pronounced “whoa-jack”) and I’m a new rotating Program Officer in the Population and Community Ecology Cluster.

Education: 

I received a BS from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a PhD from Michigan State University while working at the Kellogg Biological Station.

Home Institution: 

I’ve been on the Biology faculty at Radford University, a primarily undergraduate institution in Virginia, since 2004.

Tell us about your research: 

I study species interactions in freshwater ecosystems, and specifically predator-prey and host-parasite interactions.  I didn’t consciously plan it this way, but the unifying theme across projects has been looking for context-dependent features of species interactions that emerge with increasing community complexity.  How do alternative hosts mediate parasite transmission through a focal host species?  How do predator assemblages combine to determine prey’s risk of mortality?  These are the kinds of questions that most interest me – questions at the edge of where reductionism as an approach to science starts to break down. 

My other professional focus emerged from spending a lot of time in classrooms – I’ve been creating faculty development experiences and open educational classroom resources to support undergraduate quantitative biology education and equitable and inclusive educational experiences for STEM students.

Why do you want to serve with NSF? 

Every step of my educational and professional life has in some way been supported by the National Science Foundation; countless people invested their time and energy to provide opportunities that I just stepped into.  To say I feel a debt would be an understatement. I look forward to helping NSF identify and support the next waves of scientific discovery and quality STEM education, and the people that make all that happen.

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

I’m excited to interact with the diverse cadre of NSF colleagues, proposers, PIs, and panelists that make the merit review process work so well. There are very few environments so rich with ambitious, creative, and dare I say, transformative, ideas.

Shannon amongst the cacti at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Name and Cluster:

My name is Shannon Fehlberg, and I’m a rotating Program Officer in the Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster.

Education:

I have an M.S. degree in Biology from the University of Colorado, Denver; Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder; and a post-doc from Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Home Institution:

My home institution is the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. I work in the Research, Conservation, and Collections department, which has 20 staff working in a variety of scientific, collections-based, and outreach roles.

Tell us about your research:

My research focuses on observed patterns in and potential mechanisms driving the evolutionary diversification of plants. In particular, I am interested in rapid diversification that results in a number of closely related lineages with varying amounts of similarities and differences in genetics, morphology, geographic distribution, and ecological niche. I use established and emerging genetic tools at the population and species levels and consider the role of mechanisms such as whole genome duplication (polyploidy), hybridization, selection, and range shifts resulting from past climate oscillations. My work primarily examines members of the genus Phlox, several genera in the cactus family, a clonal wetland plant, and invasive Tamarix. As a researcher at a botanical garden, I am often seeking knowledge that will contribute to conservation efforts.

Why do you want to serve with NSF?

Receiving NSF funding early in my career played a critical role in my development as a scientist. I want to help members of my research community experience that same benefit. I’m also eager to learn more about current research across all biological fields and see the most cutting-edge ideas and approaches for advancing scientific knowledge.

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

I’m looking forward to working with the dedicated and talented people in my cluster and division. Furthermore, understanding how the review process works on a deeper level and expanding my knowledge of the numerous programs and initiatives across the Foundation will enrich my perspective for opportunities in science and enable me to share this perspective with others. Finally, I’m excited to experience all the rich historical and cultural activities in the Washington DC area.

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology

Join us Monday, September 13 from 1-2PM Eastern Time for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) Solicitation (NSF 20-602). Representatives from the PRFB program will be available for questions. 

To participate, please register, using the link below. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so we suggest you also sign up for blog notifications

REGISTER HERE

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog afterwards, as we post recaps and the presentation slides of all office hour sessions. You can also visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics. 

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm Eastern Time. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time!  

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics: 

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Programs Solicitation

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

December 13: How to Write a Great Annual Report and Other Post-Award Actions

January 10: TBD

Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are pleased to announce that a call for new proposals for the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program is now open. This cycle will focus on sourcing locally-led research projects from investigators in USAID partner countries that aid in our understanding of how shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, affect key sectors in our partner countries and test approaches to help communities and sectors respond to and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 or similar future shocks. Find the full request for applications here.

For this funding cycle, PEER will make awards of up to $70,000 for one-year research projects. 

Dates

Pre-proposal deadline: October 22, 2021

Full proposal (by invitation only) deadline: January 28, 2022 

Awards announced: April 29, 2022

Eligible applicants must 

  • Hold a research or teaching position at a higher education institution in a PEER eligible country (see eligible country list in RFA)
  • Be citizens or permanent residents of a PEER-eligible country
  • Be living and working in the country from which they are applying  
  • Have a US-based research partner who is funded by an eligible US government agency (USDA Agricultural Research Service, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Forest Service, NASA, NIH, NOAA, NSF, Smithsonian, U.S. Geological Survey)

Applicants with questions are encouraged to consult National Academies for Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (the implementers of PEER) program staff at peer@nas.edu prior to submitting their pre-proposal.

Upcoming Opportunities to Learn about the NSF Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP)

The NSF Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP) program is holding two Virtual Office Hours to answer questions and provide additional insight into the PIPP Phase I: Development Grant (NSF 21-590) solicitation. A team of NSF program directors from CISE, BIO, ENG, and SBE will be present to answer any questions about this planning grant solicitation. 

Virtual Office Hours are: 

  • Thursday, September 2nd, at 2:00 pm EST 
  • Friday, September 10th, at 3:00 pm EST 

Please use this link to join us for the office hours: 

https://nsf.zoomgov.com/j/1616681112?pwd=dzE2bEc3aUYxeUVXT2R0RXA0b3loUT09 

One tap mobile: US: +16692545252,,1616681112# or +16468287666,,1616681112#  

Meeting ID: 161 668 1112 
Passcode: 052311 

A one-page summary of your proposed work can also be sent to the PIPP team (PIPP@NSF.gov) for feedback. With the deadline rapidly approaching, we encourage the community to reach out to us both with your project summaries and questions, and by attending the office hours above. 

Remember, proposals for PIPP phase I: Development Grants, are due on October 1st, 2021!  

The Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, is aimed at better understanding the dynamic nature of pathogen and disease emergence, which poses a continuing risk to our national security, health, and economic stability. The solicitation builds on a series of interdisciplinary workshops held this past year, and provides support for planning activities that identify interdisciplinary grand challenges that can only be overcome through an the integration of computational, biological, engineering, and social/behavioral approaches; propose novel conceptual research and technology developments aimed at overcoming those challenges; and formulate interdisciplinary teams to conduct that work.

Science Assistant Position at NSF

Are you interested in working at the National Science Foundation? Check out this opportunity for a Science Assistant position at NSF. These positions are being filled under an “Application Pool” process. Normally, multiple vacancies are filled depending on an applicant’s educational/work experience background in disciplines such as Education, Biology, Social Science, Math, Computer Science, Physical Science, and Engineering. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) and apply through USAJobs.gov by September 1, 2021.

8/9/2021 Virtual Office Hours Recap – EAGER, RAPID, Conference, & Planning Grants

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on August 9, 2021. Program Officers provided insight on insight on EAGERRAPIDConference, and the new Planning proposals described in the newest Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), which will go into effect on October 4, 2021. Representatives from the DEB core programs were available for questions.  

We host these office hours from 1-2 pm Eastern Time on the 2nd Monday of every month. Each session has a designated theme, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics.

The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 22-1 (effective 10/4/21)

If you were unable to attend, here are a few of the questions asked during the Q&A section. Many of the questions we received were duplicates from past virtual office hours, so we encourage you to check out our Office Hour page, where we have recaps on a variety of topics:

Q: Should the 2-page proposals for EAGER/RAPID grants integrate the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, or focus on the IM?

A: The prospectus should include both but spend most of your two pages on the intellectual merit since that is what the purpose of the two pages is for to determine programmatic fit to receive an invite of proposal.

Q: What are the most important considerations (and/or most common pitfalls) when writing the initial EAGER 2-pager for the Program Officer?

A: It is important to clearly articulate the question you’re hoping to address with your work and then why the method you are going to use high risk-high reward.

Q: What are the budgets for Conference grants? And is the $ just for travel/facility rental?

A: There is no budget cap for conference grants. That being said, grants requesting more than $50k will have to provide more information as outlined in the PAPPG. Think about what resources are needed for the conference. You can request money for keynote speakers or trainers if you need that expertise. You can also request participant support costs for participants from US institutions.

Q: Can a Conference grant fund a part time organizer/project manager who would manage travel, logistics, etc.? Can it fund evaluators/assessment and/or facilitators?

A: Yes, the proposal needs to justify why they are needed and clearly describe what that person will do. For assessment, we need to know how you would use that information and why you would need it.

Q: What does NSF envision Conference proposals will look like in a COVID/post-COVID era? Hybrid in person/virtual, etc.?

A: We will probably see a combination in the future but is completely up to the proposer. We don’t have any specific guidance on which one you should use.

Q: Can a “hackathon” (intensive are brief and intensive community activities) or similar rapid software development event be considered a “Conference” even if done remotely?

A: If the proposal has a viable ecological/evolutionary question at the heart, it could be. We encourage you to reach out to a Program Officer to get more personalized feedback on your idea.

Q: Let’s say there is an EvolBio track within other national/international conferences, and we want to support underrepresented minorities financially to encourage their attendance and participation, would conference talks supplement these or are these meant for only stand-alone grants?

A: We are happy to provide travel for people who would not have funding to promote collaboration nationally and/or internationally. Contact a Program Officer and we can let you know if we are interested in funding those.

Q: Can you give a hypothetical example of a Planning rant? Is that more for getting people together or potentially for simulation/modeling etc. to be done by a postdoc?

A: It is brand new, so we are learning how the community wants to use them. The PAPPG indicates that these could be for larger initiatives and could be used to help start the community thinking about a new solicitation. NSF may potentially release a Dear Colleague Letter to target scientific areas. Contact a Program Officer if you have a specific idea in mind.

Q: For the planning grants, what are the typical items included in the budget, since it’s not for the research costs themselves? Can you please give some examples?

A: These are brand new but looking at PAPPG there isn’t anything specified. Request what you think is necessary for the grant to be successful and be sure to justify those funds.

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in DEB programs. NSF has suggested 5 tips on working with Program Officers as part of the NSF 101 series on our Science Matters blog.

Check out the upcoming office hour topics below and be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register. Our next virtual office hours will be held September 13, 2021, from 1-2pm Eastern Time and will provide information on the BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Program Solicitation

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

December 13: How to Write a Great Annual Report and Other Post Award Actions

Vannevar Bush and Alan T. Waterman Awards: Now Accepting Nominations

NSF is accepting nominations from community members for two prestigious awards; the Vannevar Bush Award and the Alan T. Waterman Award.  This is an excellent opportunity to lift the profile of your research community through public recognition of their research and service.

The Vannevar Bush Award is presented by the National Science Board (NSB) and “honors truly exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the Nation through public service activities in science, technology, and public policy.” The NSB is accepting nominations through September 13, 2021. Visit their website to view eligibility criteria and nomination instructions and view past recipients here.

The Alan T. Waterman Award “recognizes outstanding young researchers in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation” and comes with a $1,000,000 grant for a five year period of research to advance their field. The NSF is accepting nominations through September 20th, 2021. You can learn more about the criteria and nomination process on the Waterman website here and by visiting the FAQ page here.

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: EAGER, RAPID, Conference and new Planning Grant Proposals

Join us Monday, August 9 from 1-2PM Eastern Time for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide insight on the following funding opportunities: EAGER, RAPID, Conference,  and the new Planning proposals described in the newest Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1). Representatives from the  DEB core programs will be available for questions. 

To participate, please register, using the link below. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so we suggest you also sign up for blog notifications

REGISTER HERE

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog afterwards, as we post recaps and the presentation slides of all office hour sessions. You can also visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics. 

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm Eastern Time. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time!  

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics: 

August 9: EAGER, RAPID, Conference, and Planning Grant Proposals

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Programs Solicitation

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

December 13: How to Write a Great Annual Report and Other Post-Award Actions

January 10: TBD

BIO Virtual Drop-In Session for ESA

Please join NSF Program Officers from the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) on Wednesday August 11th anytime from 11 am to 2 pm Eastern time for an informal question and answer session. Be sure and register in advance at the link below.

Registration Link

We are hosting this session to allow for the types of conversations about programs and initiatives that would normally happen at the Annual ESA Meeting, but couldn’t this year because of the virtual format. Program Officers will not be presenting prepared material, so please come prepared to type your questions into the Q&A box and hear them answered. We will have Program Officers representing a variety of different programs and topics throughout the day. They can answer questions about these programs or discuss other topics you may want to raise. As always, feel free to reach us through email as well.  We look forward to seeing you at this session!

Program OfficerProgram OfficerTimeTopics
Betsy von HolleDoug Levey11:00am-12:00pmPopulation and Community Ecology, LTREB, LTER, Coastlines and People, early career advice
Irv ForsethKendra McLauchlan12:00pm- 1:00pmIntegrative Ecological Physiology, Integrative Organismal Systems, Ecosystem Science, Navigating the New Arctic
Elizabeth BloodGary Lamberti1:00pm- 2:00pmDISES, Ecosystem Science, Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science