5/18/20 Virtual Office Hours Recap

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its sixth Virtual Office Hour on May 18th, 2020. We will be hosting these office hours 1-2pm EDT on the 2nd Monday of every month. There will be a designated theme each time, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers from each of DEB’s clusters will be present at every Virtual Office Hour.

This month’s topic was Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) (NSF 20-525).

The presentation and other documents are available here:

If you were unable to attend, here are some of the questions asked during the Q & A section. Due to the high volume of questions, the full list of questions can be found in the link above:

Q: Is the education component focused just on higher education?

A: Reviewers want to see that part of the education plan is in line with the institutional goals and that you have the appropriate resources to conduct the proposed activities. However, that does not preclude you from engaging in broader impacts activities away from your home institution. We encourage investigators to do things that they want to do, and that create educational opportunities.

Q: How much preliminary data would be appropriate for a successful proposal? How critical is preliminary data in a successful CAREER proposal?

A: Reviewers like to see that you can accomplish the methods you say you are going to use. This includes a combination of your publication record, relevant citations, and enough preliminary data to show the work can be conducted.

Q: Does the CAREER solicitation support interdisciplinary projects, and if so, are there any suggestions on which program to choose given the interdisciplinary nature of a research project?

A: Investigators will submit proposals to the CAREER solicitation but indicate the core program to which they’re submitting. This is the primary program of interest, but investigators can also indicate another program that may be relevant.

As with other proposals, CAREER proposals can be co-reviewed by multiple programs. For more information on what this entails check out our blog post on demystifying the co-review process, as well as our November Office Hour recap on the same topic. The CAREER solicitation also includes additional details on Cross-Disciplinary Opportunities.

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in DEB programs.

Our next virtual office hours will be held on June 8th, 2020 from 1-2pm EDT and will address Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) (NSF 20-564). Be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register.


DEB: Business as Usual


photo credit: Javier Brosch

DEB Program Officers and staff are as available as ever to serve our community. Like many of you, we are concerned for all our friends and family, and are working from home in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. We are entirely accessible via email and phone, though, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us (contact us with questions about current awards, proposal preparation and submission, NSF policies and procedures, or anything else).

NSF is continuing to accept and review proposals, host virtual panels, and make awards. We are happy to discuss your research ideas and help you manage your awards during this stressful time.

For questions about how NSF is responding to the pandemic and its impact on research, please visit https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/coronavirus/.

Stay safe, be well.



Upcoming Virtual Office Hour: CAREER Proposals

Join us May 18th from 1pm-2pm EDT for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) (NSF 20-525). Please note that this is a different date than our normally scheduled office hour.

Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs will be available for questions. Questions can be on any DEB topic.

Please use the registration link below to participate. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders.


If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog, as we will be posting a recap and the presentation slides. In the future, our Virtual Office Hours will happen on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm EST. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics, so be sure to add them to your calendars!

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

May 18: CAREERs

June 8: OPUS

July: TBD

August 10: CNH2: Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems

September 14: Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES)

October 12: BIO Postdoc Program

November 9: Intro to DEB

December 14: Supplements

January 11: TBD



Recap: BIO-wide Office Hours

Our friends over at BIO BUZZ posted a recap of the BIO-wide COVID-19 Office Hours. You can read the entire post below;

The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) held a series of four virtual office hours during the week of March 30 to provide an opportunity for researchers from across the biological sciences to ask concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on NSF efforts, solicitations, and awards, and to hear ideas from the community about how NSF might respond to those impacts in the long-term. Representatives from each of the four Divisions within BIO were present during each session.

During these difficult times, the health and safety of our community remains our utmost concern. NSF is working to provide researchers with the highest level of flexibility to support your health and safety as well as your work.

Slides from the sessions are linked here. For information on how NSF is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the answers to frequently asked questions about the impact on awards and panels, please visit https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/coronavirus/. If you have questions specific to an award or solicitation, please contact the Program Officer; all contact information for BIO Program Officers is available at https://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=BIO

BIO-wide Virtual Office Hours

As you may have seen, Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) Assistant Director Joanne Tornow, PhD, wrote to the biological sciences community to share information about NSF’s current operations in light of COVID-19 and provide guidance to current awardees.

In that letter, Dr. Tornow noted that BIO staff are interested in hearing how BIO and NSF can mitigate the longer-term harm of COVID-19 on U.S. research and training. We will be holding a series of four BIO-wide virtual office hours next week during which the biological science community can share concerns, ask questions, or offer suggestions on how we can do more to address this national emergency.

Sessions dates and times are as follows and registration and log-in information will be available here shortly. Please feel free to attend the session that best fits your schedule; representatives from across BIO will be in attendance during each session.

  • Monday, March 30, 4-5 pm EDT
  • Tuesday, March 31, 3-4 pm EDT
  • Wednesday, April 1, 2-3 pm EDT
  • Thursday, April 2, 1-2 pm EDT

For more information on NSF’s activities and response to COVID-19, please visit our coronavirus information page; this site is updated regularly.

Remembering Our Friend and Colleague, George Gilchrist


It is with great sadness that we relay news of the recent passing of our friend and long-time colleague, George Gilchrist. George joined NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology in 2009, and he was a stalwart and beloved member of the Evolutionary Processes cluster since that time. George made many valuable contributions to the NSF, the Biological Sciences Directorate, and the scientific community writ large.

George earned a B.S. at Arizona State University, an M.S. at Brown University and then followed his advisor, Joel Kingsolver, to the University of Washington, where he got his PhD in 1993 working on the evolution of thermal sensitivity. His most famous paper, which has been cited over 400 times, came from that dissertation (Gilchrist, G. W. 1995. Specialists and generalists in changing environments. I. Fitness landscapes of thermal sensitivity. The American Naturalist, 146(2), 252-270).

Following his post-doc at the University of Washington with Ray Huey, George took a faculty position at Clarkson University for 4 years, before moving on to the College of William & Mary for an additional 7 years. He then came to NSF. As a program officer in the Evolutionary Processes cluster, George played an important role in establishing the Dimensions of Biodiversity program with co-funding partners in Brazil, China and South Africa, as well as in managing the BEACON Science and Technology Center. George’s career reflected a keen interest in understanding the relationship between genetic mechanisms and ecological complexity as well as improvement of the teaching of Evolution. He became an elected AAAS Fellow in 2013.

George will be missed for his dedication to science and the scientific community, for his generosity and love of friends and family, and for his wit and charm that made him such a beloved member of DEB. He took a special interest in guiding early-career scientists through the process of writing proposals and managing awards. With his wife Katy, George was generous in welcoming and entertaining many members of the NSF community and introducing new program officers and staff to the DC region and to each other. He loved cooking outstanding meals, keeping a wonderful wine cellar, and preparing delicious cocktails. He also loved opera, and a wide variety of music, attending many concerts in the area. The Robert Burns night parties he organized with haggis, single malt scotch and poetry readings were the stuff of legend. His warmth as a host and close connections with local restaurants made for many memorable panel dinners and gatherings that extended beyond the workday.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Katy Gilchrist, son David Gilchrist and David’s fiancé, Brittany Moore, both from St. Paul, MN.

You may learn more about his life in his obituary in the Washington Post here.

We invite George’s many friends and colleagues to offer their thoughts and memories of him in response to this blog post in the comment section below. There will be a slight delay before your comment becomes visible.


Now Hiring: Permanent Program Directors in Ecosystem Science, Evolutionary Processes and Population & Community Ecology!

The Directorate for Biological Sciences, Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation has initiated searches for three permanent Program Directors, one each in Ecosystem Science, Evolutionary Processes, and Population and Community Ecology, all of which close on March 5, 2020.

These are full-time positions within the Federal Government. The responsibilities of Program Directors include program planning and management; representation of the program, Division, and the Foundation within the scientific community; communication within and outside of NSF; and scientific and programmatic leadership. Additionally, these positions involve professional development, including active participation in professional activities, as well as pursuing individual research, as workload and travel funds permit.

For more details and how to apply, please visit the job announcement: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/558925200.