The New DEB Core Programs Solicitation is Here!- (Archived)

This post is no longer accurate as of November 15, 2018. Please visit this post for current information.

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.

Submission Mechanism

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

If you have not already, we encourage you to thoroughly read the new solicitation, subscribe to the blog, and sign up for email alerts at to stay current on all NSF news and updates.