Upcoming Virtual Office Hour: BEE and Co-Review

Join us January 13th from 1pm-2pm EST for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) special category (NSF 20-502) and describe the co-review process. Representatives from each of the four core DEB 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 listed here and below, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders. Also, follow us on the NSF Biology Twitter account (@NSF_BIO) for same day alerts about the DEB Virtual Office Hours.


If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back here, as we will be posting a recap and presentation slides to our blog. As always, 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

January 13: Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) and Co-review

February 10: Rules of Life vs. Understanding Rules of Life

March 9: RAPID/EAGER/Workshops

April 13: Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS)

May 11: CAREERs

June 8: BIO Postdoc Program


12/9/19 Virtual Office Hours Recap

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its first Virtual Office Hour on December 9th, 2019. We’ll be hosting these office hours monthly on 2nd Mondays at 1-2pm EST. There will be a different theme each time, but visitors 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.

We were pleased that 95 participants joined us last week. This month’s topic was introducing DEB and outlining the submission and review process under our current solicitation (NSF 20-502). We provided information on each cluster’s thematic focus, and explained which programs still have deadlines, given the NSF BIO Directorate’s transition to no-deadline solicitations.

The presentation is available here:
Presentation Slides (PDF)

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

Q: How many panels are being held per year with core programs now that there isn’t a deadline? When should I submit my proposal?
A: We are holding panels year-round. There is no “best” time of year to submit a proposal, so our advice is to submit when you feel your proposal is ready.

Q: How many proposals can an investigator submit as a PI and/or Co-PI? Can an investigator submit a proposal to one cluster and another proposal to a different cluster/program?
A: There are no limits to the number of proposals a PI and/or Co-PI can submit. However, the aims of the different proposed projects must not substantially overlap.

Q: What is the timeline for the review process of proposals under the no deadline solicitation?
A: We strive to notify PIs of our decisions within 6 months of receiving a proposal. For many years we’ve been successful in doing so for the vast majority of proposals.

Q: Do I need to include prior support from a project that ended more than 5 years ago?
A: No, the PAPPG requires that only prior support from any current funding or an award with an end date in the last 5 years should be included. If there was more than one award for a PI/co-PI, reporting should be on the one most closely related to the proposal. However, if you have an older project that was very productive, you are not penalized for including that information.

Q: What are the similarities and differences between Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) and Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) proposals?
A: EAGER is a type of proposal used to support exploratory work on potentially transformative ideas or approaches. This work is typically “high risk-high payoff” in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.

RAISE is a type of proposal that supports bold, interdisciplinary projects whose: 1. scientific advances lie in great part outside the scope of a single program or discipline, such that substantial funding support from more than one program or discipline is necessary; 2. lines of research promise transformational advances; and 3. prospective discoveries reside at the interfaces of disciplinary boundaries that may not be recognized through traditional review or co-review. All three criteria must be met to be considered a RAISE.

Both types of proposals are reviewed internally rather than by a panel and require Program Officer approval for submission. If you are thinking of submitting an EAGER or RAISE, please contact a Program Officer for more guidance, and review the PAPPG II.E for more information.

Q: Is there a list of programs that DEB co-reviews with? What does co-review mean and how does it work?
A: There is no list of programs with which DEB co-reviews proposals. Depending on the aims and proposed activities, we could co-review with any program in NSF. Because of synergies, however, most of our co-reviews are between clusters in DEB, with other divisions in the Biological Sciences (BIO) directorate, and with divisions in the Geosciences (GEO) Directorate. Check out our blog post for information on how co-reviews work, and attend our Jan. 13, 2020 office hours for more information.

Q: For the Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) category, is it necessary for the proposal to be split equally between ecology and evolution? If not, what fraction would you expect to see?
A: There is no set fraction of ecology and evolution required in a BEE proposal. Tune in for the BEE office hours on January 13, 2020 for more information or contact a Program Officer with specific questions.

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

Our next virtual office hours will be held on January 13, 2020 from 1-2pm EST and will discuss the BEE category and co-review. Please bring any questions on the topic or NSF/DEB at large. All questions are welcome. Be sure to check back here or follow the BIO Twitter (@NSF_BIO) for information on how to register.

Join Us for DEB Virtual Office Hours

Join us December 9th from 1pm-2pm EST for the Division of Environmental Biology’s (DEB) first Virtual Office Hour. We will provide an introduction to DEB and the Core Program solicitation (NSF 20-502 ). Representatives from each of the four clusters will be available to introduce their program, followed by a brief discussion on the proposal submission and review process. There will then be an open question and answer period – questions can be on any NSF or DEB topic.

Join us remotely and bring your questions! Please use the registration link below to set up your participation in our Virtual Office Hour. Future DEB Virtual Office Hours will be communicated through DEBrief, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders. Also, follow us on the NSF Biology Twitter account (@NSF_BIO) for alerts about the DEB Virtual Office Hours.


If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Simply revisit the DEB Blog as we will be posting a recap of our discussion and frequently asked questions. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics, so be sure to add them to your calendars!

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics

December 9: Intro to DEB/Submission and Review process

January 13: Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) and Co-Review

February 10: Rules of Life vs. Understanding Rules of Life

March 9: RAPID/EAGER/workshops

April 13: OPUS

May 11: CAREERs

June 8: BIO Postdoc Program


Upcoming Biology Integration Institutes Webinar

Please join us for the upcoming webinar about the Biology Integration Institutes (BII) on November 18th, 2019 at 2pm EST!

During this webinar, program directors from the BIO BII Team will address questions about the recently released solicitation (NSF 20-508).

Use the registration link below to register for our November 18th webinar.

Click here to register

The BII is a new funding opportunity to strengthen the connections between biological subdisciplines and encourage a reintegration of biology. This funding opportunity is a part of BIO’s larger efforts to stimulate integrative thinking in the biological research community.

To learn more about the Biology Integration Institutes, visit the solicitation and program website.

Letters of Intent for Implementation Proposals are due December 20, 2019. The deadline for full proposals, in both the Design and Implementation tracks, is February 6, 2020.

Who’s Afraid of Co-reviews?

Co-review is a common practice in DEB (and across NSF), but questions from the community suggest that having a proposal co-reviewed makes some of you apprehensive. In fact, you may ask yourself whether co-review will decrease the likelihood of getting funded. Not to worry – here are the basics:

Which proposals are co-reviewed? Projects that stand to advance the science funded by multiple programs are most commonly co-reviewed. Almost always, these are integrative or interdisciplinary studies.

How does co-review work? Typically, the program to which the proposal was submitted (i.e., the primary program) determines that there is significant overlap with other program(s) and invites the relevant program(s) to participate in the review process. This participation may range from simply suggesting ad hoc reviewers to taking the proposal to their own panel.

Can I decide where my proposal gets co-reviewed? At submission, you are welcome (but not required) to suggest other programs you believe to be relevant for co-review; you do so in the Cover Sheet portion of the proposal. We encourage you to discuss your research idea prior to submission with a Program Officer from each program that you regard as relevant for a potential co-review. Often, they can provide explicit guidance as to whether co-review is warranted, and with which programs. After submission, the (primary) program then decides whether to request a co-review from the programs that you’ve suggested.

The only exception to this process is the Rules of Life track, which requires that you specify a co-reviewing program in a BIO Division other than DEB and that you explain how your proposed work bridges the two programs.

What happens after co-review? If the proposal is favorably reviewed by one or both programs, either or both programs may choose to fund the project. Thus, one of the advantages of co-review is that multiple programs might be willing to help fund the proposal. Funding contributions can vary, but co-funding often allows DEB to support more principal investigators and more individual projects.

But, isn’t it risky to expose my proposal to scrutiny by so many reviewers? As we all know, an important aspect of promoting the progress of science is getting fair, constructive feedback. For a subset of the proposals we receive this can really only be achieved by expert input and discussion reflecting the breadth of topics covered in the proposal (hence the co-review).

But, what about the funding rates of co-reviewed proposals? As part of our award recommendation process, we regularly monitor funding rates of co-reviews, and we have no indication that co-reviewed proposals fare less well than non-co-reviewed proposals.

If the science truly does straddle multiple programs, projects may be more likely to be completely and fairly evaluated if experts from multiple disciplines can offer feedback. Even if the proposal is not funded, the advice from a diverse array of reviewers should help you strengthen any resubmissions.

More questions about co-review? Contact a Program Officer! We’re happy to talk about your proposal.


Next Steps for NEON

Check out the latest NEON news from the Office of the Assistant Director’s blog here or below.

“One of BIO’s highlights from this current fiscal year is the movement of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from construction into full operations. 179 data products are now freely available to the scientific community and the public on the NEON Data Portal, and we are pleased to note that downloads of the data are rapidly increasing as is use of NEON data in publications. NEON data is also transforming ecological education at a diverse range of institutions.

NSF recently announced (NSF 19-080) its intent to launch an open competition for the management of NEON’s future operations and maintenance. NSF’s major facilities routinely undergo such a merit-based, peer-reviewed process, thus the announcement signals that NEON has matured into a fully-functioning Observatory.  The review process will take roughly two years, with the new award expected to commence in late 2021.  As always, NSF will be relying on community expertise in the merit review process, which will ensure that NEON is an effective resource for ecology for years to come.

We recognize that members of the scientific community may have questions and input for NSF as we embark on this process. We welcome community input, and to that end, we will host a NEON Information Session and Question and Answer Period on Monday, August 12, at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual meeting in Louisville, KY. For those who won’t be at ESA, questions and input can be directed to the cognizant program officer, Dr. Roland Roberts (neon-bot@nsf.gov).

We hope to see many of you at ESA.”

New Functions in Research.gov

New Features

  • You can now submit full, research collaborative proposals with subawards in Research.gov
  • Sponsored Project Office (SPO)/Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) can now receive email notifications when PIs enable proposal access to SPOs/AORs

While proposers can still prepare and submit collaborative proposals with subawards as well as full, research non-collaborative proposals in FastLane, NSF encourages the research community to use the new Research.gov proposal system because as NSF continues to enhance the new system incrementally, your vital feedback is being incorporated during the development process.

For example, Research.gov has real-time compliance checks and feedback for each section, specific checks on the budget screens and for Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) uploads, and embedded relevant sections of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and video job aids, so you don’t have to go to multiple sites to look up guidance.

Initiating a Proposal in Research.gov

If you have not done so already, we invite you to initiate a proposal in Research.gov by following the steps outlined below:

  • Open Research.gov and click “Sign In” located at the top right of the screen;
  • Enter your NSF ID and password and click “Sign In;”
  • From the Research.gov “My Desktop” page, click “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types)” in the “Prepare & Submit Proposals tile” or go to this option from the top navigation bar by selecting the “Prepare & Submit Proposals” tab and clicking on “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types);”
  • Select the “Prepare Proposal” option in the “Prepare New Proposal” tile on the left side of the Proposal Preparation page; and
  • Follow the five-step proposal wizard to set up the proposal.  

Submitting Feedback

NSF wants to hear from you! To submit feedback about the new Research.gov Proposal Preparation and Submission Site:

  • Go to the Research.gov Feedback page;
  • Choose “Other” under the Site Area dropdown menu;
  • Include your feedback in the Comments or Suggestions field; and
  • Click Submit when you are ready to send your feedback to NSF.

Training Resources and Additional Information

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.