LTER Site Management Updates


DEB recently made a change in how the Biological Sciences Directorate’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites are managed. We’d like to tell you about it.

First, some background. The LTER program is financially supported by three Directorates: Biological Sciences (BIO), Geosciences (GEO), and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), and the Office of Polar Programs. Most LTER sites are supported and managed by BIO — more specifically by DEB. The rest reside in the Biological Oceanography and Office of Polar Programs in GEO. Within NSF, an LTER Working Group comprised of staff and Program Officers in BIO and GEO meet regularly to coordinate management activities such as site reviews, renewal panels, and budgets. Outside of NSF, the LTER National Communications Office is a hub for research synthesis, communication, outreach, education and training across all sites.

That organizational scheme for LTER has been in place for many years, albeit with various tweaks. What’s changed is how BIO’s LTER sites are managed at the level that PIs tend to care about most: their own site. Historically, one permanent Program Officer (PO) was given primary oversight for all LTER sites funded by BIO. Henry Gholz did it for many years, followed by Nancy Huntly and then by Saran Twombly. Thus, PIs grew accustomed to seeing just one PO at LTER sites and events — and they knew pretty much immediately whom to contact about challenges and opportunities.

Roughly a year ago, DEB switched to a Working Group model of managing BIO’s LTER sites. The DEB Working Group consists of three Program Officers, representing Ecosystem Sciences, Population and Community Ecology, and Evolutionary Processes, who collectively manage the program. Sites will each have a single PO who will act as their Point of Contact. POs have been assigned a portfolio of sites that generally correspond to their interests or expertise. At least one member of DEB’s LTER Working Group is a permanent PO at NSF. Management and budgetary decisions are made by consensus, except for minor stuff. The group meets bi-weekly.

We’d like to emphasize that this is not a divide-and-conquer approach to the many and diverse issues of LTER award management (e.g., site visits and renewal proposals). Quite the opposite. We enjoy discussing those issues and are usually able to reach consensus based on our collective wisdom (and perhaps missteps in our individual pasts). It’s a shared management model in which, for example, concerns about a particular site are considered in the context of all sites and everyone on the DEB LTER Working Group has a voice in decision making.

Additionally, this arrangement provides a more balanced perspective of LTER science, helping sites realize opportunities for new interdisciplinary work. And, we hope it will provide more continuity in management style and substance, since it’s extremely unlikely that there will ever by an abrupt and complete turnover of the Working Group.

Institute for Broadening Participation


Have you heard of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP)? IBP’s mission is to increase diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields by connecting students with relevant resources and opportunities. IBP can connect undergraduate students, graduate students, and post docs to scholarships, fellowships, and full time positions.

You can filter your search for opportunities by state or geographic region, as seen below.

map

The site also offers resources and tools for faculty and administrators on how to promote their programs and reach a wide range of students. This is a popular platform faculty and administrators use to recruit students from underrepresented groups and you can find numerous scholarships and fellowships specifically for women and minorities in STEM.

chart

So, whether you’re an undergraduate looking for an REU-type summer research opportunity or an investigator seeking students from underrepresented groups, check out IBP’s website. Click around, be mindful of the deadlines, and apply!

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology Deadline


The annual deadline for the next round of Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) is November 7th, 2017. There’s a great “How to Apply” guide on the PRFB website that walks you through each step of the application process. You must be affiliated with an institution the entire tenure of the fellowship. You must also register as an Independent Researcher through https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/ before you can submit to the Program.

Applicants submit to one of three categories called “competitive areas.” These categories differ in award duration, research scope, and eligibility requirements. The competitive areas are: 1) Broadening Participation in Biology, 2) Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections, 3) National Plant Genome Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.

To qualify for the first two competitive areas, Broadening Participation and Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections, postdocs cannot have served in any full-time position that requires a doctoral degree for more than 6 months prior to the deadline. For the third competitive area, National Plant Genome Initiative, it’s less than 12 months. In sum, these fellowships are for postdocs who very recently received a PhD.

A completed PRFB application will contain the following sections and each is outlined and described in more detail in the solicitation;

  1. NSF Cover Page
  2. Fastlane application form (this form can only be accessed in FastLane)
  3. Project Summary (one page, only)
  4. Project Description (limited to 6 pages, including all figures and tables)
  5. References Cited (no page limit)
  6. Biographical Sketch (page limit of 2)
  7. Current and Pending Support (be sure and include current and planned submissions to other fellowship programs)
  8. Two letters of reference (submitted directly to FastLane by the letters’ authors)

The duration of the fellowship for the first two competitive areas is 24-36 continuous months, while that of the third competitive area is 36 continuous months. As for the award amounts, please see the solicitation. For additional questions about the PRFB, please email bio-dbi-prfb@nsf.gov and best of luck!

Remembering Our Friend and Colleague Henry Gholz


Henry Gholz.PNG

Henry Gholz

 

Dr. Henry Gholz, a former Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) died on Saturday, September 30, 2017 while rock climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park. He was a wonderful friend and revered colleague to many at NSF and in the ecology research community.

Henry received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Forest Science & Ecology from Oregon State University. He then joined the faculty of the University of Florida, where he worked for twenty-two years, becoming a leader in research on the ecology of forest ecosystems.  Henry joined DEB as a Program Director in 2000, and beginning in 2002 he led the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites program for a ten-year period.  He was recognized with a standing ovation, and was presented with a special plaque for his service at the 2012 LTER All Scientists Meeting (http://news.lternet.edu/images/henry-gholz-honored-lter-all-scientists-meeting). Following a 1-year sabbatical, Henry returned to DEB as a Program Director in the Ecosystem Science Cluster, and for the Macrosystems Biology program in Emerging Frontiers until his retirement last year.

While at NSF, Henry was known as an enthusiastic and collaborative advocate for ecology, who worked tirelessly to create new opportunities for the environmental biology research community. He made many friends during his sixteen years at the NSF as a result of his warm and caring personality.  Following retirement from NSF, Henry lived with his wife, Dr. Jan Engert, in Ft. Collins, CO.  At the time of his death, he was serving as a Visiting Scientist at Batelle Ecology, working with the National Ecological Observatory Network.  Henry is survived by his wife Jan, his children Nate, Sophie, and Sean, and several grandchildren.

The above is just a brief of sketch of a leading scientist and wonderful individual who impacted many people’s lives. With that in mind, we invite Henry’s many friends and colleagues to offer your thoughts and memories of him in response to this blog post.

Officially in Alexandria!


Building

metro

DEB has officially moved to our new office building in Alexandria! Our new address is 2415 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria, VA 22314. As you can see in the photo above, we’re just a few steps away from the Eisenhower Avenue metro stop and only a few stops down from Washington National Airport (DCA). Above is the exterior of our new NSF headquarters and below is the mural that greets people arriving at the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

OAD

All future panelists will be welcomed and registered at our visitor’s lobby. Below is an example of what a typical panel room looks like but some panels will be hosted off-site and some rooms may vary.

checkIN

panel room

All future NSF visitors and on-site panelists should carefully read any instructions and documents sent out prior to your visit. Also, if your home institution is enrolled in eduroam you can now access an eduroam hotspot when visiting NSF.  Most importantly, please be sure you have a valid ID that is compliant with the REAL ID Act; if your state issued ID is not compliant, bring your passport. We hope to see you soon!

 

 

Now Hiring: New Division Director


Dr. Paula Mabee’s rotation as DEB Division Director is coming to a close and the search for a new Division Director has publically begun. This is a 1-3 year Limited Term Appointment and is open to visiting scientists from universities, colleges or other institutions. The position is within the Senior Executive Service of the Federal government.

A brief position description is as follows: The Division Director provides vision and leadership, and works jointly with the Deputy Division Director in oversight of all activities of the Division of Environmental Biology. The Division Director also serves as a member of the senior leadership team of the Directorate for Biological Sciences, working cooperatively with other Division and Deputy Division Directors, in advising and aiding the Assistant Director, the Deputy Assistant Director and senior staff in the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

The Division Director’s responsibilities include providing guidance to program officers, administrative and support personnel, recruitment of scientific staff, assessing needs and trends, developing breakthrough opportunities, implementing overall strategic planning, and policy setting. The Division Director ensures the effective use of division staff and resources in meeting organizational goals and objectives. The Division Director supervises professional staff within the Division. The Division Director determines funding requirements, prepares and justifies budget estimates, balances program needs, allocates resources, and oversees the evaluation of proposals and recommendations for awards and declinations. The Division Director represents NSF to relevant external groups and fosters partnerships with other Divisions, Directorates, Federal agencies, scientific organizations, and the academic community.

For details on how to apply, please visit the job announcement and email Deputy Division Director Alan Tessier (atessier@nsf.gov) with any additional questions.