Recording Available: Inclusive Wildland Fire Science Planning Proposals Webinar

NSF held its first Inclusive Wildland Fire Science Planning Proposals Webinar on Tuesday, October 18th. The webinar provides information about NSF Dear Colleague Letter 22-122. Recording for the webinar is now available here with a transcript available here. Please note that the webinar starts at the 2:05 mark. The next webinar will be held on November 30th from 11am-12pm ET.

Medano Fire in Sand Dunes National Park Credit: David Hosansky, Head of Media Relations, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Meet DEB: Catherine O’Reilly, Cathie Aime, and Nochienna Agubuzo 

Name and Cluster: Catherine O’Reilly, Ecosystem Science Cluster 

Education: Earned a B.A. from Carleton College and Ph.D. from University of Arizona 

Home Institution: Illinois State University 

Tell us about your research: Broadly, I’m interested in how human activities influence aquatic ecosystems. A large part of my work has focused on the impacts of climate on lakes, including Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. This deep tropical lake is particularly susceptible to warming, leading to changes in mixing and nutrient availability. This has consequences for fish populations, most of which are endemic. Fish are already under threat by intensive harvesting pressure from a growing human population and the adoption of new technologies. Our transdisciplinary research has shown that traditional knowledge is consistent with scientific studies. However, fishermen subvert efforts to manage catches, and developing sustainable fishing practices is further complicated by the lack of alternative livelihoods.  

I also explore the role of climate through global-scale studies, which have included lake warming, ice cover, and water color. While global scale research is useful for examining the influence of climate and lake geomorphometry, it remains challenging to resolve the role of local factors and cross-scale interactions. 

Why do you want to serve with NSF? NSF has such a prominent place in funding science and a plays key role in establishing career pathways for scientists, it’s an honor to be here. It seemed like this was a good opportunity to learn more about how the agency works while also giving back. I’m looking forward to helping scientists in the community connect to these resources, while also learning more about their challenges.  

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? Across the agency, there is an incredibly high level of diverse projects being funded, along with real efforts to broaden participation. I’m excited to be part of these conversations, and to contribute to encouraging careers in science and supporting cutting edge research. My colleagues in DEB are fantastic and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from them.  

Name and Cluster: Mary Catherine (Cathie) Aime, Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster 

Education: Earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech  

Home Institution: Purdue University 

Tell us about your research: I’m a mycologist and I’m most interested in fungal biodiversity at all levels, especially from lineages and habitats that are little explored.  Understanding how these fungi are adapted for their environment is especially interesting – every fungus has a unique story to tell. 

Why do you want to serve with NSF? It is a good time in my career to give back to my science and to NSF, which has done so much to support my science. 

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? Learning more about the other types of science in the U.S.; learning how others approach systematics, especially within better documented groups, and hopefully becoming a better-rounded scientist in the process. Working with and learning from people who are as passionate about systematics as I am! 

What is your name and role here at DEB? Hello! My name is Nochienna Agubuzo, and I am a new Program Specialist (PS) in DEB. I am learning my role in support of OM with financial tracking, award processing, and other operations activities. I currently work with two clusters: Evolutionary Processes and Systematic and Biodiversity Science. 

How did you learn about NSF? I first learned about NSF at Pointer Ridge Elementary School in Bowie, Maryland! I was in the 1st grade when my teacher turned on a VHS of the Magic School Bus during an early childhood introduction to science. The National Science Foundation was recognized in the beginning credits for major funding for the Magic School Bus in the 90’s. Over two decades later, I rediscovered NSF through a former colleague who started to work at NSF through a pathways program.  

What did you study in school? I received my Bachelor of Science in Business Management and minored in Management Information Systems at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. 

Which cartoon world would you want to live in? I have never really thought about living in a cartoon world, but if I had to choose, I would live in Pandora – The World of Avatar. That movie was very captivating to me, and I recall wishing I was an Avatar living in their world.  

Upcoming Webinars: Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) 

The divisions of Biological Infrastructure, Integrative Organismal Systems, and Molecular and Cellular Biology will present informational webinars about the Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) Program in October and early November. Program Officers will introduce the IntBIO Program and discuss recent updates to the solicitation. They will also provide tips on how to write a great IntBIO proposal.  There will be a 30-minute presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with Program Officers. 

If you are planning to apply to the IntBIO program, please consider participating in one of these events.  For PIs in DEB, we especially recommend the DBI webinar on October 25th

IOS: Oct. 20, 1pm ET, https://iosblog.nsfbio.com/virtual-office-hours/ 

DBI: Oct. 25, 1pm ET, https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_xeFm-X73Sp-_f-sHUbt_Uw  

MCB: Nov. 9, 2 pm ET, https://mcbblog.nsfbio.com/office-hours/  

DEB Welcomes New Division Director

Be sure and check out our new Division Director’s introduction over at the OAD Blog or directly below.

Dr. Allen J. Moore

“BIO is pleased to welcome Dr. Allen J. Moore as the new Division Director for the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB). Dr. Moore comes to NSF from the University of Georgia where he serves as a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Entomology and was Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

His research interests focus on the evolution and genetics of traits expressed in and influencing social interactions and the genetics, development and evolution of differences between the sexes within a species. This work integrates statistical, genetic, and behavioral approaches to studying various species of burying beetle (Nicrophorus spp.). Dr. Moore’s lab also collaborates on work involving the milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and the white fly (Bemisia tabaci).

In his new role, Dr. Moore will lead DEB to advance our knowledge of evolution, ecology, systematics, and ecosystem science and in supporting the array of researchers working in those fields.

BIO wants to thank Dr. Leslie Rissler for stepping up as Acting Division Director for the past several months. Her work in ensuring a smooth transition is truly appreciated.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Moore.”

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: How to Write a Great Proposal 

Join us Monday, October 17th, 1 – 2pm ET for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide insight on how to write a great proposal. Representatives from DEB 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 TO PARTICIPATE 

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. Visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics.  

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1 – 2pm ET. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change). Be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time.        

Upcoming Office Hour Topics:                       

  • October 17: How to Write a Great Proposal  
  • November 14: Opportunities for Research in Climate Change  
  • December 12: Mid – Career Advancement Solicitation    

DCL: Planning Proposals to Catalyze Innovative and Inclusive Wildland Fire Science through Diverse Collaborations

To begin to address the complex issues posed by wildland fires, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently published a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL). This DCL calls for proposals that engage diverse stakeholders and rights holders in innovative and inclusive wildland fire science.

A planning proposal is a type of proposal used to support initial conceptualization, planning and collaboration activities that aim to formulate new and sound plans for large-scale projects in current and emerging research areas for future submission to an NSF program.

Proposals are encouraged to address themes that are relevant to a variety of communities interacting with wildland fire. The Project Description of a planning proposal must articulate the desired outcomes of the proposal describing creative strategies and new collaborations aimed at bringing together diverse perspectives for building fire science research capacity and improving understanding of the use, causes, and consequences of future wildland fires. Planning proposals must draw participants from diverse sectors, describing activities that bring together an appropriate group of researchers, engineers, educators, and practitioners from academia, industry, government (e.g., Tribal, federal, state, local), and/or nonprofit organizations.

Planning proposals can be submitted at any time following the detailed instructions in the DCL, but should be submitted no later than May 31, 2023, for consideration during Fiscal Year 2023. Please note that PIs must obtain prior written approval before submitting a proposal in response to this DCL Inquiries can be sent to wildlandfire@nsf.gov.

Two webinars will be hosted by NSF Program Officers about the DCL and to answer questions;

  1. Tuesday, October 18 from 1-2 pm Eastern and
  2. Wednesday, November 30 from 11 am- 12 pm Eastern.

You can register for either session at this link. A summary of the presentation will be available after the second webinar concludes.

9/12/22 Virtual Office Hours Recap –Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Biology

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on September 12, 2022. Program Officers from the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) provided information on the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) 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)

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) solicitation (NSF-623)

PAPPG 22-1

DEB NSF webpage

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

Q: Can you provide some examples of what NSF wants to see in terms of *how* proposed research specifically targets diversity at the postdoc level? E.g., workshops, collaboration with other PhDs?

A: Workshops, collaborations with other programs or societies focused on increasing diversity are all okay. As long as the activities proposed are focused explicitly on broadening participation at the postdoctoral level.

Q: Can you expand on the differences between a “proposal” and an “application”? Are PRFB applications like the Graduate Research Fellowship Program?

A: To some degree, proposals communicate the “what” and “how”, while applications focus a bit more on the “who”. Proposals describe the science and how you plan to implement the research strategy and accomplish the broader impacts. Applications capture your research, but also your career goals and why you selected the sponsoring scientist. But, better than any rule of thumb, pay close attention to the solicitation instructions and you will stay on track.

Q: Is the PRFB strictly for basic research? For example, if one’s research focuses on ecological restoration, would that be considered a broader impact?

A: The proposal must address a basic research question in biology. Broader impacts for your proposal can include ecological restoration, disease, biomedical outcomes, or other applications of fundamental biology, but the underlying research question of the proposal must be basic research to fit the program.

Q: If your research fits under the purview of NSF BIO but not specifically under one of the three competitive areas, can you still apply?

A: Research that does not fit one of the Competitive Areas described in the solicitation would not be eligible for support. If you have questions about whether your research fits one of the competitive areas, we recommend that you contact a Program Director associated with the program to help decide the best fit for your project.

Q: Can you have two faculty sponsors at the same institution? For example, the potential lab is unusual in that there are multiple PIs in the lab (rather than a single PI). Alternatively, can one advisor support multiple applications?

A: Yes, you can have co-sponsorships at the same institution. There is only one sponsoring scientist statement allowed. Both must work together to provide description of how they will mentor and train you. And yes, an advisor can support multiple applications.

Q: Can the PRFB apply towards research outside of the US? Do fellows need to have an academic advisor within the US?

A: Fellowships are awarded to the PI, not the institutions, and can be applied to research outside of the United States. An academic advisor within the US is not required. Location of fellowship depends on the research you plan to conduct, the training needed, and who would be the best mentor.

Q: What can the $20,000 fellowship allowance portion be used for? Is it for specific supplies, conference, or fieldwork travel, or?

A: Yes. The fellowship allowance can cover costs related to supplies, travel, and conferences, as well as fringe benefits. Please refer to the Administrative Guide for a complete list of allowable costs for the research stipend. 

Q: If awarded, is there room to push back the start date? If so, how long?

A: Yes. Start dates can be adjusted. Please reach out the program officer managing the award to work out the details.

Q: If someone is not awarded PRFB this year, could they submit a similar/revised application next year?

A: Yes, if you are still eligible (i.e., not in a position which requires a PhD for more than 15 months) Applicants can only submit one fellowship application to BIO per fiscal year and can’t apply in more than two successive years.

Q: “Predictive” in Competitive Area 2: is finding support or rejecting a hypothesis ruling broad-scale relationships between environments/phenotypes/genotypes considered predictive, or do we need to propose developing an explicit model/simulation/etc.?

A: You don’t need to propose developing an explicit model/simulation per se. You will want to describe how your work goes beyond your particular model or would be applicable other more generalizable biological processes.

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 17, 2022, from 1-2pm Eastern Time and the topic will be: How to Write a Great Proposal.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:                   

October 17*: How to Write a Great Proposal

November 14: Opportunities for Research in Climate Change

December 12: Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation

*date change due to Federal Holiday

Meet DEB: Kari Segraves, Matthew Fujita, and Kirsten Schwarz

Name and Cluster: Kari Segraves, Population and Community Ecology

Education: Earned a B.S. and M.S. from Washington State University and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University

Home Institution: Syracuse University

Tell us about your research: I am an evolutionary ecologist, and my interests focus on understanding how interactions between different species affect their ecology and evolution. In my lab group, we have been studying mutually beneficial interactions between species because they are critical to the formation and structure of ecological communities. Species that participate in mutualisms trade resources or services in exchange for commodities that are difficult for them to obtain on their own. We have been using both lab studies of synthetic mutualisms and field experiments in natural systems to understand how mutualisms persist and evolve in species rich communities. This work is revealing that the community context of a mutualism is important and it can affect how these interactions persist ecologically, particularly in the presence of species that take advantage of the rewards offered by mutualists. Our other major area of research examines how whole genome duplication in plants impacts their interactions with herbivorous insects, pollinators, and belowground mutualisms with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. This research is showing that whole genome duplication can affect aspects of a plant’s physiology and ecology that alters its interactions with other species, suggesting that this common mode of plant species may have far reaching effects in communities.

Why do you want to serve with NSF? NSF has made a huge difference in my career by supporting me as a graduate student, postdoc, and professor. I certainly would not be where I am today without having received this support. Serving at NSF is my chance to give back to this wonderful community and (hopefully!) make a positive, lasting impact on the careers of up and coming scientists.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I am excited to work at NSF because I will get to learn about novel research at the forefront of science. I have also been looking forward to working with the awesome team at NSF to help PIs do their best possible work and to foster inclusion and diversity in STEM.

Name and Cluster: Matthew Fujita, Systematics and Biodiversity Science

Education: Earned a B.S. from University of California, Davis and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley

Home Institution: The University of Texas at Arlington

Tell us about your research: My lab studies the evolutionary genomics and systematics of reptiles and amphibians. Advances in genome sequencing technologies and analytical approaches are providing ever-increasing power to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape the distributions of individual populations within species but also the branching processes between species. By leveraging these tools, we investigate the phylogeography and speciation dynamics in a multiple of lizards, snakes, frogs, and toads. We also have NSF-funded projects to look at the evolution of sensory systems in frogs and lizards – an exciting new trajectory for the lab! We can also leverage the incredible organismal diversity of reptiles and amphibians to help us understand genome evolution in ways that are intractable with mammal and bird systems. For instance, my lab is very interested in the genomic consequences of parthenogenesis, which is a mode of unisexual reproduction that naturally exists in squamates, but not in mammals and rarely in birds. Herps are just too cool!

Why do you want to serve with NSF? I have been on several panels, and every single one (even when virtual) was an extremely enjoyable and educational experience. I was able to see the great research happening across the country but also hear all the different perspectives on so many aspects of science from our panel discussions. Panel service also showed me the deep commitment that DEB has in supporting researchers. As a Program Officer, I want to dive deeper into the process of facilitating research across the country and to learn the policies that make that happen. Also, DEB is such a welcoming place!

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF?I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in DEB and absorbing their wisdom! I am also looking forward to learning about all of the amazing research that is happening around the country.

Name and Cluster: Kirsten Schwarz, Ecosystem Science Cluster

Education: Earned a B.A. from College of the Atlantic and a PhD from Rutgers University

Home Institution:UCLA

Tell us about your research:I’m an interdisciplinary researcher that studies social-ecological systems in cities. My research aims to understand how the ways in which we build and shape cities impacts environment, health, and justice. I study environmental hazards (like lead-contaminated soils) and amenities (like trees), what drives their distribution, and how their distribution interfaces with issues of equity and justice. Community engagement and science communication are important aspects of my work that have influenced my current research on understanding how designed solutions can maximize desired ecosystem services (like stormwater retention and extreme heat mitigation).

Why do you want to serve with NSF? Of course, I’m curious to learn more about how the NSF works, but my main motivation for serving was to dig a little deeper into how the co-production of science is, and can be, funded. In my experience, the ways in which we fund and support co-produced research can have a major impact on its success. I’m intrigued by NSF’s ongoing work on co-production and am excited to learn more about how we can support pathways towards equitably funded co-produced research. Finally, the NSF has supported my career at critical times of transition, and I look forward to paying it forward.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I’m looking forward to connecting scientists doing great ecosystem science to the resources they need. I’m especially looking forward to connecting with new PIs and sharing the programs that can support and expand their work and career. Most of all, I’m looking forward to learning from new colleagues and playing a small part in supporting great science with the broadest possible impacts.   

Did you miss it? The Partnership to Advance Conservation Science and Practice (PACSP) Webinar Highlights 

Check out this repost from our friends at IOS here or below:

PACSP hosted a program Webinar on 22 Aug 2022.  The webinar featured some highlights of the program solicitation followed by Program Directors answering questions from the audience.  A recording of the slide presentation shown at the webinar is available from the PACSP Program page. Some of the questions posed via email are answered below.  

  1. Will the program/solicitation be offered in future years? 
    This solicitation is currently a one-time offering associated with the new partnership between the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (the foundation) and the NSF.  We are certainly hopeful there will be future offerings, but we simply do not know yet. 
     
  2. Partnerships – who can serve as a research partner [e.g., non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profit research institutions]? Who should submit the proposal to NSF (the research partner)? 
    Generally speaking, we expect the submitting organization will be the research partner. If you are an organization that regularly submits proposals to the NSF, then you are very likely eligible to apply to this solicitation. 
  3. Partnerships – who can serve as a conservation practitioner/action partner? Federal and State agencies? University extension offices? Private organizations? 
    The solicitation is very specific about this: the conservation action partner must meet the following requirement (quoted from the solicitation):  
    “Eligible entities who can serve as conservation action partners and receive an award from the foundation include: Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; Units of state or local government; State colleges or universities; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes. All supported organizations must review and agree to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Grantee Code of Conduct found here: https://pgafamilyfoundation.org/_ui/img/pgafoundation/Grantee_Code_of_Conduct.pdf. Eligible institutions do not include foreign organizations.” 
     
  4. Partnerships – can an organization serve as both research and conservation action partner (e.g., a museum, zoo, or botanical garden with a research department)? 
    An organization that meets both eligibility criteria and supports both research and conservation action can act in both roles in the proposal.  Please note that they should still follow the specific guidance regarding the submission of the research and conservation action budgets. 
     
  5. What is meant by support for “conservation science and science-informed conservation practice in the United States”? 
    The solicitation can only support research and conservation action activities that take place in the U.S. or associated Territories. 
     
  6. Should the research component of the project be ecology/evolution-focused research? What about research focused on the socio-economic, decision-making, marine, etc.? 
    The program seeks to support biological conservation research primarily. If the project goals are enhanced by complementary research in socio-economics or decision-making, then the proposal should make clear why those additions strengthen the project.  Studies in any biome can be supported, including marine research and conservation. 
     
  7. Given that much of the applied aspects of the conservation implementation and evaluation would fall under “Broader Impacts”, how extensively would you advise PIs to develop other aspects of the Broader Impacts plan? 
    These projects are unusual in that the lines between Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts are blurred.  Both sections must be present, and the solicitation is specific about what content should be included in each.  The project will be evaluated as a whole, but certainly one criterion is that the project should “describe an integrated approach in which the outcomes of basic research directly inform the design or implementation of science-focused conservation activities and that those activities are assessed or evaluated to track their success.” 
     
  8. How best can the project’s third component (a plan for on-going evaluation or assessment of the success of the conservation action) be implemented? Funding is for 3 years but assessing conservation action results could take much longer; what is expected? 
    While we appreciate that the longer-range effects of any conservation action may take years to manifest, we expect that some useful metrics can be identified which will inform conservation science and efficacy within the 3-year tenure of the award. 
     
  9. Budget and Timeline – Is there a minimum or maximum budget? What is the expected range of funding for each project? What is the expected division of funding between research and conservation action partners? What are the anticipated start dates?  
    There is no budget cap. However, the total program budget is $8 million (shared equally between the NSF and the foundation). There is no fixed division of costs between the research and conservation action partners; however, successful projects will certainly be those where an equal partnership between these two components is reflected in the proposal. 
     
  10. How will money be awarded for the research and conservation partners (e.g., separately to each partner? Through a subaward?)? 
    The funds will be awarded separately to each partner; the NSF will support the research budget and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will support the conservation action budget. The conservation action partner budget should be submitted as a supplementary document, as stipulated in the solicitation. 
     
  11. Review and evaluation process – how will proposals be reviewed? Through the normal NSF peer review/ panel review process? 
    The proposals will be reviewed according to the NSF’s Merit Review principles and criteria by a program-specific panel of experts with expertise relevant to the projects proposed. 

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Biology  

Join us Monday, September 12th, 1 – 2pm ET for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an overview on the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) program (NSF 22-623). Representatives from DEB and the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) 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 TO PARTICIPATE

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. Visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics. 

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1 – 2pm ET. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change). Be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time.       

Upcoming Office Hour Topics:                      

  • October 17: How to Write a Great Proposal 
  • November 14: Opportunities for Research in Climate Change 
  • December 12: Mid – Career Advancement Solicitation