8/10/20 Virtual Office Hours Recap – DISES


The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on August 10th, 2020. We host these office hours 1-2pm EDT on the 2nd Monday of every month. There is a designated theme each time, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers from each of DEB’s clusters are present at each Virtual Office Hour. This month’s topic was Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental System Proposals (DISES) (NSF 20-579). This solicitation is an update of the program previously known as CNH and CNH2.

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:

What are the major differences between the CNH2 solicitation and DISES solicitations?

We have tried to make things easier for PIs. The content and themes are the same, but what we removed was the number of things that caused proposals to be returned without review. There is no longer a requirement to submit a Letter of Intention prior to submission, and the one-page requirement of the project description of DISES was relaxed along with other minor details that were confusing to the community

What is the general expectation for preliminary data for the proposal to DISES, especially given the influence of the pandemic that affects collection of preliminary data?

Preliminary data must indicate feasibility of the proposal and that there are compelling questions that can be answered. We understand getting into the lab can be difficult during these times, but we are understanding in that preliminary data will change given the COVID-19 pandemic. DISES is interested in proposals that are synthetic in nature, which might be an additional way to get data in a creative way to try to answer questions based on your project.

For DISES, can you tell us a bit more about 1. Composition of the review panel (in terms of areas of expertise) and 2. what an ideal balance between the social and biogeophysical sciences might look like in a proposal?

DISES proposals are only reviewed in panel; they are not sent out for ad hoc reviews. In terms of the composition of the panel, we look for a combination of broad thinkers and expertise based on the proposals that come in. We may have multiple panels to ensure that the panels are diverse and have deep expertise and broad thinkers. The balance of disciplines within the proposal depends on the questions that you are asking or the theory/concepts that your proposal is addressing. We want proposals to have enough of the disciplines that we are seeing the integration of sciences and not be skewed toward one discipline or another.

Can PIs submit a proposal as a collaborative proposal from multiple institutions? Could a single investigator submit a proposal?

PIs cannot submit collaborative proposals from multiple institutions. Single PIs can work with PIs at multiple institutions by submitting a proposal with subawards to Co-PIs in other institutes. A single investigator could submit a proposal, but it would be difficult to be competitive given how integrative these projects are. Typically, there are 4 or 5 PIs in different areas that contribute their strengths to the project.

What is the expectation for documentation of support or commitment from community/non-academic partners? Does a simple letter of support suffice, is something else expected?

The DISES solicitation follows guidance laid out in the PAPPG 20-1 for documentation of letters of support, which states: Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating the intent to collaborate and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project. The recommended format for letters of collaboration is as follows:

“If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.”

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 September 14th, 2020 from 1-2pm EDT and will address Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES; NSF 20-506).

Be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

September 14: Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES)

October 19: BIO Postdoc Program

November 9: Intro to DEB

December 14: Supplements

January 11: TBD (Feel free to suggest a topic!)