Meet DEB: Kaitlin McDonald


Kaitlin

Kaitlin McDonald

 

Where are you attending school?

I’m finishing up my MS in environmental science and policy at Johns Hopkins.

What’s your role here at DEB?

I’m a Science Assistant and looking forward to learning more about this role and assisting in program and proposal management.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I really enjoy hiking (my most recent, favorite hike), reading, and complementing strangers’ dogs. I recently started rock-climbing and have a new appreciation for the Earth’s surface.

Would you rather be a fish or a bird?

Owls are the greatest but I think it would be really interesting to live as a species of deep sea fish, like the lantern fish or the cookiecutter shark.

Shutdown. Here’s What That Means.


As you probably know from the news, Congress failed to pass a budget to fund government operations. That means federal agencies must now begin the process of shutting down all operations until further notice. We have 4 hours today to conduct an “orderly shutdown” which allows us to set our email ‘away’ messages and post this information to our blog before we are required to cease all government activities.

Program Officers and administrators will be prohibited from performing any government work including reading and/or responding to any phone calls or emails. Additionally, you will not have access to government systems like Fastlane or Research.gov. The building will be closed to all visitors and we won’t be able to communicate with you again until the shutdown has ended.

Cyberinfrastructure Follow-Up


In January, NSF issued a Dear Colleague Letter requesting information on emerging cyberinfrastructure needs. The Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) is leading the effort to refresh NSF’s strategy and vision for future cyberinfrastructure investments as NSF’s five-year initiative, “Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21)” comes to a close.

Hundreds of scientists and engineers answered the call. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in their thoughts. Of those who responded, half wrote as individuals and half represented a group.  All the responses are publically available here.  Most came from those affiliated with academic institutions and the rest were from non-profits, NSF-operated facilities, and industry professionals.

DEB-related responses from fields such as biodiversity, biogeography, ecology, and evolution focused on challenges dealing with the exponential growth of data from remote sensors, images, and other digital collections. Additionally, getting those collections to “talk to you each other” and share data sets represents a huge challenge. Another component centered on enabling the integration and analysis of data across disciplines, species, and metadata. In addition to requests for consistent, reusable, open access data sets, many responses focused on the need for workforce training and development to help process, curate, and archive new datasets.

What’s next for NSF’s cyberinfrastructure planning? OAC is working with NSF’s Directorates and Divisions and NSF’s Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, to assess the responses to the Request for Information (RFI). These RFI responses are being considered together with other relevant community input such as the 2016 National Academies report on NSF Advanced Computational Infrastructure, the 2017 Data Building Blocks (DIBBs) PI Workshop, 2017 NSF Cybersecurity Summit, and upcoming 2017 NSF Large Facilities Cyberinfrastructure Workshop (September 6-7). Guided by these community contributions, NSF will develop a refreshed cyberinfrastructure plan that takes us from 2017 into 2030 with all relevant information being posted on the NSF CI 2030 website.

 

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.

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 Fastlane.nsf.gov 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.

trends

 

 

What do you want to see in 2017?


We want to make sure this blog is serving the needs of the DEB community so please take a minute and tell us what you’d like to see more of in the coming year.

Share Your Ideas on Cyberinfrastructure


A new NSF Dear Colleague Letter (DCL; NSF 17-031) has been posted: Request for Information on Future Needs for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Support Science and Engineering Research (NSF CI 2030).

From the DCL:

“NSF Directorates and Offices are jointly requesting input from the research community on science challenges and associated cyberinfrastructure needs over the next decade and beyond. Contributions to this Request for Information will be used during the coming year to inform the Foundation’s strategy and plans for advanced cyberinfrastructure investments. We invite bold, forward-looking ideas that will provide opportunities to advance the frontiers of science and engineering well into the future.”

We encourage DEB to weigh in- what do you see as the cyberinfrastructure that will be needed to advance ecology, evolution, and systematics?

The DCL points to an external submission website (http://www.nsfci2030.org). Please note that the deadline for submissions is April 5, 2017 5:00 PM ET.  Questions about this effort and the submission process should be sent to Dr. William Miller, Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, at this email address: nsfci2030rfi@nsf.gov.