9/13/2021 Virtual Office Hours Recap – Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on September 13, 2021. Program Officers provided an introduction to the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) Solicitation (NSF 21-614).  Representatives from the PRFB program 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: What are the major changes from this year’s solicitation?

A: There are two major changes compared to last year’s solicitation. This year, applicants are not eligible for this fellowship if they have worked in any position that requires the doctoral degree for a combined total of more than 15 full time months prior to the deadline. This is a change from last year’s 12 full months criterion. Additionally, this year, you are not required to have a reference letter from the applicant’s doctoral advisor but are still required to have 2 total letters of reference.

Q: Are postdoctoral fellowships available to other doctorate degrees not just Ph.Ds?

A: Yes. Holders of a MD or DVM are eligible to apply. However, this is entirely dependent on the question the applicant is trying to answer. These fellowships are for researchers focusing on questions that are grounded in basic science and not medical or biomedical.

Q: What postdoctoral opportunities are available to non-US citizens?

A: We suggest you reach out to the postdoctoral affairs office in your home institution. They have a lot of great resources available. We also suggest you check out the National Postdoctoral Association’s webpage as they also have a lot of resources.  

Q: For Areas 1 & 2, does a significant amount of international field work qualify for a 3-year fellowship, if the sponsoring lab is in the US? Or does the sponsoring lab need to be abroad to qualify?

A: Yes, if you have international field work that will be the equivalent of a year in a foreign county you could qualify for a 3-year fellowship. You do not need to have a sponsor lab in the host country. Additionally, you can have more than one mentor, one of which could be internationally located.

Q: If awarded, could I defer in any capacity?

A: If awarded, you can defer up to June first of the following year to start the award. Additionally, you can defer for medical/military reasons or for paid teaching. It would be best to contact a Program Officer if you are thinking of deferring the award.

Q: Are there examples of past awards that were funded on the website anywhere?

A: You can do an awards search using the key term “PRFB” to find out what types of awards have been made in the past. Please keep in mind this does not provide you with the complete proposal but the award abstract and other information.

Q: Are these fellowships available for study at international universities for the entire fellowship?

A: Yes.

Q: For Area 1, would it count if the applicant is an underrepresented group within Biology?

A: You do not need to be an underrepresented group within biology to apply under Area 1. That being said, Area 1 really focuses on activities to promote broadening participation of underrepresented groups explicitly at the postdoctoral level. Please reach out to a Program Officer about your specific idea if you have more questions.  

We also encourage you to check out last year’s PRFB virtual office hour recap here where we answered more questions. Remember that there is a new solicitation this year, so any solicitation specific questions from last year’s office hours could be out of date.

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 October 18, 2021, from 1-2pm Eastern Time and will provide an introduction to the Division of Environmental Biology.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

October 18: Intro to DEB

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

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

January 10: Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation

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