5/9/22 Virtual Office Hours Recap – CAREER Proposals

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on May 9, 2022. Program Officers provided an overview of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. We host these office hours 1-2pm EST 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, so a wide range of scientific perspectives are represented.

The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 22-1

DEB NSF webpage

Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) – (NSF 22-586)

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

Q: What are the eligibility criteria for the CAREER solicitation?

A: Proposers must meet all the following eligibility requirements as of the deadline (July 27, 2022):

  • Hold a doctoral degree in a field supported by NSF.
  • Be engaged in research in an area of science, engineering, or education supported by NSF.
  • Hold at least a 50% tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title).
  • Be untenured.
  • Have not previously received a CAREER award.

See the new CAREER solicitation for more information (NSF 22-586).

Q: Do we need to have broader impact activities in addition to the education and research activities outlined in the proposal?

A: Yes. As with all proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation, you should describe both Intellectual Merits and Broader Impacts that will result from your project. Additionally, because of the special CAREER requirements, there should be a detailed education plan. Portions of the activities included in the education plan could be included in your Broader Impacts, especially any outreach activities or recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM. However, there will not be complete overlap between Broader Impacts and the education plan. For further guidance on developing a strong Broader Impacts strategy, please consult the resources available at Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS).

Q: Does the educational component need to be undergrad-focused, or should it focus on the graduate level or postdoc training?

A: Education plans should match your institutional context. There is no requirement that specifies the targets for training, education, or outreach. You can include undergraduate and graduate students, K-12 students, and postdoc training. Postdoc training will require submission of a postdoctoral mentoring plan and any postdoctoral salary support should be included in the personnel section of the budget. The education plan should be effective and integrative part of your research.

Q: Is it okay to propose a substantial change to an existing course, or should all courses in a CAREER be brand new?

A: It is reasonable to propose changes to an existing course in your education plan. Make sure to describe and justify your motivations for those changes, and what you anticipate the impact of those changes will be in terms of enrollment and student learning outcomes or skills.

Q: I’m at a research non-profit and considered “tenure track equivalent.” Is it required to make that designation/explanation in the letter of support or somewhere else in the proposal?

A: The solicitation requires the Departmental Letter to assert you are in fact eligible for consideration. Your institution should indicate you have a continuing appointment, and the appointment has substantial research and educational responsibility, and the project relates to your career goals and job responsibilities. The letter must clearly demonstrate how your appointment satisfies the mentioned requirements for tenure track equivalency.

Q: Can sub-awardee collaborators be international?

A: NSF encourages CAREER Principal Investigators to include international/global dimensions in their projects. As appropriate, the CAREER proposal should delineate how its activities fit within the context of expertise, facilities, data, and other resources that are being applied globally in relevant areas of research and education, and how the CAREER award would position the Principal Investigator and his/her organization to take a leadership role. If applicable, the proposal should clearly state how the research and education activities will be enhanced by international engagements and should describe the benefits to participants in the U.S. and abroad. Proposers are encouraged to contact the relevant country Program Officer in the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) listed in https://www.nsf.gov/od/iia/ise/country-list.jsp.

We also encourage you to check out last year’s CAREER virtual office hour recap here where we answered more questions. Additionally, NSF is hosting more CAREER Program webinars this month.

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 June 13, 2022, from 1-2pm Eastern Time and the topic will be: You’ve Been Awarded an NSF Grant, Now What?

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:                   

June 13: You’ve Been Awarded an NSF Grant, Now What?                   

July: No Virtual Office Hour

August 8: International Collaboration

September 12: Postdoc Research Fellowship

October 17*: How to Write a Great Proposal

November 14: Opportunities for Research in Climate Change

December 12: Upcoming Solicitations *date change due to Federal Holiday

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