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 ( with any additional questions.

NSF Systems offline June 30-July 4

NSF Systems offline June 30-July 4

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


credit: Maxx-Studio/

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.



DDIGs Come to a Close

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





Remember: Include a List of Eligible Reviewers

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

Spring 2017: DEB Preliminary Proposal Results

This past week, DEB completed processing all preliminary proposals submitted to the January 23rd 2017 deadline. Below is a summary of the outcomes for this year.

Panel Recommendations

The “Invite” column in the chart above reflects the panels’ recommendations while the “Total Invited” column reflects the programs’ recommendations. Each program’s final invite decision was based not only on the panel recommendation but also the availability of funds and portfolio balance.

The four DEB clusters convened 10 preliminary-proposal panels. Panelists reviewed 1,384 preliminary proposals and recommended 346 be invited for full proposal submission. We are very thankful to panelists who traveled from all over the country to participate in our merit review process. DEB program officers subsequently made adjustments for portfolio balance and invited 373 (27%) for full proposal submission.

By this time, all PIs who submitted a 2017 preliminary proposal should have heard back from DEB about the program’s recommendation (“Invite” or “Do Not Invite”). If you have not, please visit and select the “proposal functions” option then click on “proposal status.” If you were a Co-PI, please follow-up with your lead PI.

The chart below shows long-term trends in the numbers of preliminary proposals DEB has received since 2012, as well as the total invite numbers and percentages. As you can see, the numbers submitted have been decreasing and the overall invite rate has been increasing.




2017 Summer Meeting Schedule

Our DEB Program Officers will be attending various conferences and professional meetings this summer and would be happy to chat with you.  Below are the dates and locations of where to find Program Officers ready to talk about the latest NSF news and funding opportunities.  Be sure and say, “Hi!”

Who? Where? When?
Sam Scheiner (EP) Evolution June 23-27
Leslie Rissler (EP) Evolution June 23-27
  European Society for Evolutionary Biology (Netherlands) Aug 20-25
George Gilchrist (EP) Evolution June 23-27
Paco Moore (EP) The Astrobiology Science Conference April 24-28
  Evolution June 23-27
  The Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Population Biology July 9-14
  European Society for Evolutionary Biology (Netherlands) Aug 20-15
Colette St. Mary (EP) Evolution and Animal Behavior June 12-16
  American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists July 12-16
Janice Bossart (EP) Evolution June 23-27
Prosanta Chakrabarty (SBS) American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists July 12-16
Katharina Dittmar (SBS) Evolution June 23-27
Matt Kane (ES) ASM Microbe Meeting June 1-5
  Ecological Society of America Aug 5-11
Karina Schafer (ES) Ecological Society of America Aug 5-11
Liz Blood (ES) Ecological Society of America Aug 6-11
  Society of Freshwater Scientists June 5-9
John Shade (ES) Society of Freshwater Science June 8
  LTER Science Council Meeting May 16-19
Susanna Remold (PCE) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease (EEID) June 24-27
  The Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Population Biology July 9-14
Doug Levey (PCE) Ecological Society of America Aug 6-11
Betsy von Holle (PCE) Ecological Society of America Aug 5-11
Maria Gonzalez (PCE) Ecological Society of America Aug 5-11
Alan Tessier (Deputy Division Director) Ecological Society of America Aug 5-11
Paula Mabee (Division Director) Evolution June 23-27

Thanks for Your Feedback!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our poll! We tallied the results and wanted to share the feedback we received as of March 10th. Thanks for giving us a clearer understanding of the types of content you enjoy and what roles you hold within the DEB community.  We look forward to continuing to serve the DEB community and posting content that is informative and helpful.