BIO Virtual Drop-In Session for ESA

Please join NSF Program Officers from the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) on Wednesday August 11th anytime from 11 am to 2 pm Eastern time for an informal question and answer session. Be sure and register in advance at the link below.

Registration Link

We are hosting this session to allow for the types of conversations about programs and initiatives that would normally happen at the Annual ESA Meeting, but couldn’t this year because of the virtual format. Program Officers will not be presenting prepared material, so please come prepared to type your questions into the Q&A box and hear them answered. We will have Program Officers representing a variety of different programs and topics throughout the day. They can answer questions about these programs or discuss other topics you may want to raise. As always, feel free to reach us through email as well.  We look forward to seeing you at this session!

Program OfficerProgram OfficerTimeTopics
Betsy von HolleDoug Levey11:00am-12:00pmPopulation and Community Ecology, LTREB, LTER, Coastlines and People, early career advice
Irv ForsethKendra McLauchlan12:00pm- 1:00pmIntegrative Ecological Physiology, Integrative Organismal Systems, Ecosystem Science, Navigating the New Arctic
Elizabeth BloodGary Lamberti1:00pm- 2:00pmDISES, Ecosystem Science, Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science

Student Trainee Positions at NSF – Pathways Program

Attention students! Are you interested in working at the  National Science Foundation? If you are a U.S. citizen, at least 16 years old, and a student (undergraduate or graduate) currently enrolled at least part-time for the Fall 2021 academic term, check out this opportunity for Data Scientists and apply through USAJobs.gov by July 12th.

If you’re a current student (or know a student) who is interested in public service, be sure and check out the Pathways Program to see opportunities at various federal agencies and check out our blog’s overview of the program here.

6/14/2021 Virtual Office Hours Recap – How to Write a Great Proposal

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on June 14, 2021. Program Officers provided insight on how to write a great proposal. Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs 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 20-1

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: How do you know if the ‘big idea’ is a good idea?  What makes a good idea for a proposal?  Does it have to be one of the Big Questions in Biology, e.g., classic things like speciation mechanism, etc.?

A: The idea does not have to be one of the Big Questions but it should be something that would resonate well with people in the field. It could be an important question for your specific group, for instance.  Look at what’s been awarded using the NSF Awards Search and that will be a good way of getting a sense of this.

Q: What is the best way to get feedback on a proposal summary from a Program Officer? What kinds of feedback are appropriate/could be expected? For example, if they think a question is exciting or if methods are feasible.

A: When you send us a 1-2 pager, we can provide general advice about which program might be the best fit for your idea. We also look for red flags such as whether the project is out of scope for NSF mission (e.g. primarily human health). Depending on your project we may also help figure out a specific solicitation, if applicable.

Q: I’ve gotten reviews that vary widely about reviewers’ preferred introduction styles. I prefer to start with an overall impact statement, but is it better to start with a repeat of the overview, or background material?

A: It is more important to hook the reviewer, so we advise against a “paper style” introduction, instead paint a picture of the gap in knowledge and how your research is going to fill the gap.

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. We’re taking July off but will be back on August 9th to talk about the different funding opportunities available in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) including EAGERs, RAPIDs, and workshops.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

July: No Office Hour. See you in August!

August 9: PAPPG Funding Opportunities: EAGER, RAPID, workshop, etc.

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Program Solicitation

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

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

6/8/2021 BIO Virtual Office Hour: Primarily Undergraduate Institutions

The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on June 8, 2021. We discussed a variety of topics to help scientists and staff at Primary Undergraduate Institutions be successful with the NSF process, including submission and review of proposals in BIO and the Facilitating Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions Solicitation (NSF 14-579).  

The presentation and other documents are available here: 

Slides (PDF) 

Webinar Transcript 

PAPPG 20-1 

If you were unable to attend, there is a recording of the office hour here: 

https://www.nsf.gov/bio/deb/PUI_Webinar.mp4

The recording and the transcript include the lengthy Q&A session, but here are a few highlights: 

Q: How do ROAs (Research Opportunity Awards) work? Does the host lab have to have NSF funding? 

A: ROAs can be initiated in two ways. One common approach is for a faculty member at a PUI to identify a host lab that already has an NSF award. If the award is from a participating program, the host lab’s PI can request an ROA supplement to enable the PUI researcher to participate in research. Alternatively, an ROA can be built into a new proposal submission. Either way, the host lab will need to have an NSF award. 

Q: Can RUI or ROA awards provide salary support for a sabbatical? My institution only supports a partial sabbatical. 

A: It depends. NSF awards typically support no more than two months of faculty salary per year. However, some solicitations specifically allow sabbatical salary (e.g., OPUSMCA), and some programs are open to funding more than two months’ salary in special cases. Additionally, it’s not unusual for ROA awards to provide more than two months’ salary (though perhaps not a full semester of salary). You should reach out to your Program Officer to inquire about your situation. 

Q: As a faculty member at a PUI, I have a heavy teaching load and often can only get research done in the summer. Do you have any advice about how to put together a competitive proposal under these constraints? 

A: This is a challenge, but there are many ways to overcome it. First, you should always design a project of a scope that is feasible whatever your constraints. Second, consider how budgeting for some staff (e.g., technician, postdoctoral fellow) might help you maintain momentum during the academic year. Third, consider whether something like a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) that could contribute to your project might be a viable solution for you. Another strategy might be to work in a collaborative team with partners whose schedules are more flexible. 

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in Division of Environmental Biology (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. DEB hosts regular 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. 

Upcoming DEB Office Hours and Topics: 

July: No Office Hour. See you in August! 

August 9: PAPPG Funding Opportunities: EAGER, RAPID, workshop, etc. 

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program 

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Program Solicitation 

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research 

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

New Funding Opportunity: Predicting future pandemics to protect our health, communities, and economy

Predicting and preventing pandemics that have not yet happened is the focus of a new funding opportunity from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Researchers from a broad range of scientific disciplines — including those across the biological sciences — are invited to submit proposals to develop multidisciplinary research centers that can address the complex challenges involved in forecasting and avoiding future pandemic-scale outbreaks.

The Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, is aimed at better understanding the dynamic nature of pathogen and disease emergence, which poses a continuing risk to our national security, health, and economic stability. The solicitation builds on a series of interdisciplinary workshops held this past year, and provides support for planning activities that identify interdisciplinary grand challenges that can only be overcome through an the integration of computational, biological, engineering, and social/behavioral approaches; propose novel conceptual research and technology developments aimed at overcoming those challenges; and formulate interdisciplinary teams to conduct that work.

Phase I proposals are due on Oct. 1, 2021. A solicitation for Phase II Center Grants is expected to be released in 2023.

An informational webinar will be held on July 13. Visit NSF Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention webinar for log-in information.

For additional information and the full proposal solicitation, visit Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Phase I: Development Grants (PIPP Phase I).

If you have questions, please contact the cognizant Program Officers at PIPP@nsf.gov.

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: How to Write a Great Proposal

Join us Monday, June 14 from 1-2PM Eastern Time for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide insight on how to write a great proposal. Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs will be available for questions. To participate, please use the registration link below. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so we suggest you also sign up for blog notifications

REGISTER HERE

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog afterwards, as we post recaps and the presentation slides of all office hour sessions. You can also visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics. 

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm Eastern Time. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time!  

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics: 

June 8: Primarily Undergraduate Institutions from 2-3pm Eastern Time (BIO-wide)

June 14: How to Write a Great Proposal

July: No Office Hour. See you in August!

August 9: PAPPG Funding Opportunities: EAGER/RAPID/workshop etc.

September 13: BIO Postdoc Fellowship Program

October 18: Intro to DEB and the DEB Core Program Solicitation

November 8: Updates on Dimensions of Biodiversity Research

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

January 10: TBD

2021 Summer and Fall Meeting Schedule

DEB Program Officers will be present at several upcoming virtual and hybrid meetings this year. If you can’t make it to any of the meetings listed below, as always, feel free to reach out to us directly.

We’re also available to virtually meet with your institution or society to discuss our programs and funding opportunities. The virtual format of meetings this year makes it easy for us to visit with you, so we are hoping to get around to a greater variety of meetings than ever! Feel free to drop us a line at debquestions@nsf.gov or reach out to a Program Officer directly if you’re interested in scheduling something.

MeetingDateProgram Officer
Digital Data 2021: Digital Data’s Grand Challenge: Expanding Discovery Across Multiple DomainsJune 7-9Matt Kane
Ecology & Evolution of Infectious DiseasesJune 14-17Sam Scheiner
ASM World Microbe ForumJune 20-24Katharina Dittmar
EvolutionJune 21-25Chris Schneider, Bruce Lieberman, Maureen Kearney, Leslie Rissler, Sam Scheiner, Matt Herron, Diana Pilson
Phycological SocietyJuly 13-22Matt Herron
BotanyJuly 18-23Amanda Ingram
JMIH (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists)July 21-25Chris Schneider
Ecological Society of America (ESA)August 2-6Doug Levey, Gary Lamberti, Matt Kane, Liz Blood
SACNASOctober 25-29Maureen Kearney, Leslie Rissler
Entomological Society of AmericaOctober 31-November 3Katharina Dittmar
AGUDecember 13-17Matt Kane

Research Opportunities for Post-Baccalaureate Students in Biology

As noted on BIO Buzz, the blog of the Assistant Director for Biological Sciences (BIO), BIO has released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to provide supplementary funding in support of recent college graduates who were not able to get research experience due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Experiences for Post-baccalaureate Students (REPS) supplemental funding requests will be reviewed for funding consideration upon receipt. To receive full funding consideration for FY2021, requests should be submitted by July 2, 2021. Supplemental funding requests submitted after that date will be considered if funds are available.

Below we provide answers to some pertinent questions regarding this opportunity. Full information on this invitation can be found on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2021/nsf21085/nsf21085.jsp?org=NSF.

What is the eligibility requirement for PIs requesting a REPS supplement?

PIs with active awards from BIO (funded through DBI, DEB, EF, IOS, or MCB) are eligible to request supplements. Awards in no-cost extension are eligible, but if more time is needed to enable completion of the post-baccalaureate research, then another extension may need to be requested. Recipients of fellowship awards (GRFP or Postdoc fellowships) are not eligible to apply.

What is the eligibility requirement for participation in REPS?

The student must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree and must not currently be enrolled in another degree program. The goal of this DCL is to ameliorate effects of the pandemic on the ability for undergraduates to engage in research experiences. Priority should be placed on students who are from underrepresented groups or students who have not participated in any type of research experience. Proposers are also strongly encouraged to consider involving veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Do participants have to be US citizens or permanent residents?

Yes.

Does the supplement request have to include the student’s identity at the time of submission? 

Yes, please include information about the individual to be trained, for example, a biosketch or resumé, including their date or expected date of graduation. This information should be included in the “Justification for Supplement.” This opportunity is not intended to provide funds to PIs who would then advertise for a student to support. Rather, the student should have been identified before requesting the supplement. 

For additional information please reach out to the cognizant Program Officer on your award or one of the below REPS Program contacts:

·       Dr. Sally O’Connor, Program Director, Division of Biological Infrastructure, soconnor@nsf.gov

·       Dr. Paulyn Cartwright, Program Director, Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, pcartwri@nsf.gov

·       Dr. Marcia Newcomer, Program Director, Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, mnewcome@nsf.gov

·       Dr. Chris Balakrishnan, Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology, cbalakri@nsf.gov