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;
- NSF Cover Page
- Fastlane application form (this form can only be accessed in FastLane)
- Project Summary (one page, only)
- Project Description (limited to 6 pages, including all figures and tables)
- References Cited (no page limit)
- Biographical Sketch (page limit of 2)
- Current and Pending Support (be sure and include current and planned submissions to other fellowship programs)
- 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 email@example.com and best of luck!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional questions.
Many NSF Systems will be unavailable Friday, June 30th at 8pm EST until Tuesday, July 4th at 6pm as NSF begins relocation to Alexandria, Virginia.
After years of construction, the National Science Foundation will soon begin the relocation process to Alexandria, Virginia. NSF offices will be moving over several months, and BIO staff are scheduled to move the weekend of September 15th, 2017 to start work in the new building on September 18th. The new address will be:
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314
As part of the moving process, the Data Center systems and equipment need to be physically moved to Alexandria, a process we refer to as the “forklift”, because they will actually be using a forklift. Therefore, from 8pm June 30th, through July 4th many of the NSF IT Systems will be unavailable, so please plan accordingly if you were going to work on something that requires NSF systems over the long holiday weekend. This is likely to impact both the public facing systems like the NSF website and FastLane, and the internal systems, such as employee’s access to email. We hope that all will be back to normal on July 5th.
The Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) program in the Division of Environmental Biology has come to an end. This decision was difficult, but the NSF and BIO’s programs are facing many challenges and this is the best course of action at this time.
The first DDIG solicitation was issued nearly 50 years ago and was intended to provide supplemental funds for graduate students doing field work (a largely unfunded area at the time especially when it came to field work off campus). As the needs of graduate students evolved, DDIGs expanded to help cover additional costs such as dissemination of results and expanded research expenditures.
The funds were intended to widen the existing body of dissertation research and act as a capstone to enhance the students’ work. Over time, DDIGs became a prestigious addition to any CV, with many more students submitting proposals. Eventually, the number of DDIG awards mirrored the number of full proposal awards.
*Proposals from core programs only
In the table above, you’ll see the number of DDIG proposals reviewed in the past two years compared to the number of full research proposals reviewed. In the recent past, full proposal awards and DDIG awards are similar in number. What those DDIG numbers also represent are four review panels comprised of nearly eighty panelists whose recruitment, travel, and reimbursement were coordinated by NSF staff. The cost and effort of staging a DDIG panel and processing the decisions are virtually identical to the cost and effort of a standard grant panel. Yes, DDIGs are small budget awards; they are generally less than $20,000, but DDIGs still demand all the same oversight, management, and approval processes as standard grants.
Many of our Program Officers were themselves recipients of DDIG awards and looked forward to reading the innovative and high-risk research ideas being generated by fearless students. DDIGs have catalyzed a culture of independence and risk taking among graduate students within the sciences funded by DEB; we sincerely hope that graduate training programs will strive to find ways to sustain that culture.
The decision by DEB (and IOS) to end the DDIG solicitation was difficult but in the face of high workload it was a necessary course of action. The NSF will continue supporting graduate research through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) and the NSF Research Traineeship Program (NRT). If you have any additional questions after reading the Dear Colleague Letter and FAQ, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
As a Principal Investigator, do you ever wish you could help NSF get informative and insightful ad hoc reviews of your proposals? One way to do this is to take advantage of the “single copy document” option and include a list of eligible reviewers who are the relevant experts in your field when you submit a full proposal.
Think of the process as being similar to contributing to the list of letter writers for a tenure review. Would you ignore a request to provide a list of potential reviewers and leave that solely up to the committee chair? Not likely. Yet during the last full proposal cycle in DEB, only half of the submitted proposals included a list of suggested reviewers. As the Principal Investigator, you are an invaluable resource for NSF for identifying appropriate reviewers.
When you provide a list of suggested expert reviewers along with their contact information, you are increasing the probability of obtaining a knowledgeable review by expanding the universe of potential reviewers beyond those immediately known to Program Officers.
For your next full proposal, please consider including a list of eight or more eligible suggested reviewers. Be sure that none of them have conflicts of interest with your proposal (e.g., spouse or relative, collaborators and co-editors, thesis advisor, institutional conflicts). Think about including newer faculty members and experienced post-doctoral scholars who have a deep and current understanding of the topic; Program Directors probably know the “household names” in the field, but may not be aware of those individuals. And don’t put this task off to the end of proposal preparation when you may be pushing to meet the submission deadline. Think of suggesting reviewers as part of the process of preparing the best proposal you can. If you take advantage of this opportunity to help yourself you will also assist NSF Program Directors in their role of providing the highest quality merit review of your proposal. If you have any additional questions about submitting suggested reviewers please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.