12/14/2020 Virtual Office Hours Recap – Mid-CAREER Advancement Solicitation

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on December 14, 2020. We host these office hours from 1-2 pm EST on the 2nd Monday of every month. Each session has a designated theme, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers provided an introduction to the new cross-directorate Mid-Career Advancement (MCA) program (NSF 21-516).

The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 20-1

MCA Solicitation webpage

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

Q:  What are the goals of the MCA?

A: Two of the major goals of the MCA include broadening participation and workforce development. The MCA enables a more diverse STEM workforce by facilitating research productivity and creativity from mid-career scientists and engineers. This targeted career stage is one where researchers typically have fewer institutional resources, higher service and teaching responsibilities, and a need for retooling. Data show that women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities spend more time with service and teaching at the expense of research. This may lower the likelihood of their promotion to the highest academic and leadership ranks. The MCA aims to provide a mechanism to improve broadening participation and will thus contribute to fostering a more diverse, world-class science and engineering workforce. The MCA also aims to enable bold and innovative convergence research by increasing networking and communication within and across fields of science and engineering.

Q: Does the applicant have to be tenured? What about tenure-track associate professors?

A: You do not need to be tenured to apply for the MCA. You must be an Associate Professor or have an Associate Professor Equivalency appointment and have had that rank for at least 3 years. These equivalencies are defined in the solicitation. Additionally, there is no requirement that you stay at that rank for the duration of the award.

Q: Does MCA support collaborations with international Partners?

A: The MCA solicitation does support collaboration with international Partners. However, as described in the PAPPG chapter 1.1.E6, funding is rarely provided for a foreign individual or organization’s involvement.

Q: Does the Partner need to be mid-career as well? Can they be junior? Or from any industry?

A: The Partner can be of any rank. Partners can also be from local, state, tribal or federal government agencies as well as national labs, museums, or other facilities. If industry collaborations are sought, these should be submitted as a GOALI proposal and follow the additional guidance here.

Q: Does the Partner have to be from a different institution or different field of science or engineering?

A:  No, but the partnership is an important component of the MCA and should be well justified. The collaboration between the PI and the Partner(s) should be mutually beneficial and create “added value” beyond that which would occur through a typical collaboration (for example, by opening new avenues of inquiry). Partner(s) from outside the PI’s own subdiscipline or discipline are encouraged, but not required, to enhance interdisciplinary networking and convergence research across science and engineering fields.

Q: What is a typical budget for the MCA?

A: MCA awards provide funds to the PI and include a) a total of 6.5 months of salary support to be spent over the course of the entire award (3 years), and b) $100,000 in direct costs in support of the research and training plan. In addition, a total of one month of summer support for the Partner can be requested (in lieu of summer support for the Partner, other reasonable costs may be considered). The budget should also include funds to cover the cost of attendance of the candidate to a 2-day awardee meeting during the first and final years of the award. Costs for one Partner to accompany the PI could be included during the first or last year, but not both.

Additional answers to questions can be found on the IOS blog where they hosted a virtual office hours on this topic in November, and there will be a FAQ document on the MCA webpage soon.

MCA proposals have a target date of February 1, 2021. If you have any questions, please email MCA.info@nsf.gov.

Our next virtual office hours will be held on January 11, 2020, from 1-2 pm EST and will provide an introduction to the Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) Solicitation (NSF 21-543), which replaces BIO’s Rules of Life track.

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

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

January 11: Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO)

February 10: How to prepare a great budget (note special time 2-3 pm Wednesday Feb. 10) 

March 8: Beginning Investigators 

April 12: How to write a great proposal 

May 10: CAREER Solicitation 

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