2/10/20 Virtual Office Hours Recap


The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its third Virtual Office Hour on February 10th , 2020. We’ll be hosting these office hours monthly on 2nd Mondays at 1-2pm EST. There will be a different theme each time, but visitors are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers from each of DEB’s clusters will be present at every Virtual Office Hour.

This month’s topic was NSF BIO’s Rules of Life (NSF 20-502) track and the NSF-wide Understanding the Rules of Life ( NSF 20-513) opportunities. Rules of Life is a track within BIO’s core solicitations that encourages projects that integrate approaches across biological scales. The topic of this track is entirely up to the PI. Alternatively, Understanding the Rules of Life is one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas that encourages projects that integrate approaches from more than one discipline. These topics are solicitation-specific. For more information on what specific topics are encouraged, please visit the link above.

The presentation and other documents are available here:

If you were unable to attend, here are some of the questions asked during the Q & A section:

Q: Are there any details that should be considered when developing a CAREER grant for the BIO Rules of Life track?

A: There is no Rules of Life track in the CAREER solicitation (NSF 20-525). CAREERs are submitted under a separate solicitation independent from the other BIO divisions’ solicitations. CAREER proposals will be the topic of an upcoming office hours.

Q: Does the Rules of Life track call ask for broader interdisciplinarity? E.g., engineering, math, …

A: Rules of Life (RoL) proposals involve collaboration that integrates across biological disciplines, and specifically crosses at least two divisions within BIO (e.g., DEB and IOS). Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL) targets cross-directorate research (e.g., BIO and GEO, BIO and ENG). For more information see the slides that differentiate between the BIO Rules of Life track and Understanding the Rules of Life.

Q: Should we identify the two Divisions of interest in a BIO Rules of Life proposal or wait for feedback from the program prior to submission?

A: It’s never a bad idea to send a one-page description of your hypotheses and research plans to a program officer for feedback. The program officer can then advise you about which programs may be appropriate to target. You can always suggest that particular programs review your proposals, but program officers will ultimately decide how proposals are reviewed, with the goal of giving each proposal the greatest opportunity to be considered for funding.

Q: Would the BIO Rules of Life track support large scale interdisciplinary projects involving many PIs, and if so, are there upper funding limits?

A: BIO Rules of Life can support up to five PIs, as well as additional senior personnel. If a project calls for a large collaboration and is expensive, contact your Program Officer and discuss your idea. Budget limits apply to Understanding the Rules of Life solicitations, not BIO Rules of Life.

Q: In the Understanding the Rules of Life program, to what extent should the other discipline(s) be connected to BIO?

A: The other discipline(s) should be tightly integrated with the biological questions.

Q: Does the BIO Rules of Life track or the Understanding the Rules of Life program support funding for international collaborations with labs outside the U.S.?

A: Programs will fund projects for PIs from U.S. institutions to conduct research internationally, but international institutions are expected to cover costs for their scientists. Rare exceptions have been made in the past and you should contact a Program Officer if you have additional questions.

Q: Can you submit to the BIO Rules of Life track as well as under the special category NERC? The solicitation says the special categories are included in the core track.

A: NSFDEB-NERC proposals cannot be submitted to the BIO RoL Track.

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in DEB programs.

Our next virtual office hours will be held on March 9th, 2020 from 1-2pm EST and will address EAGERs, RAPIDs, and Conferences. Be sure to check back here or follow the BIO Twitter (@NSF_BIO) for information on how to register.