How to write the Prior NSF Support section of your DEB proposal?

The Results from Prior NSF Support section of your proposal is intended to help reviewers evaluate the quality and outcomes of work conducted with prior or current NSF funding. This is included in the Project Description of any proposal as required by the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). As with all proposal submissions, be sure you follow any solicitation-specific instructions that may deviate from the PAPPG.

Results of Prior Support is commonly a short section but must be included for all PIs or co-PIs who have received prior NSF support regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal. Reportable support includes:

  1. NSF awards with an end date in the past 5 years
  2. current NSF funding, including no-cost extensions
  3. salary funded by NSF
  4. Graduate Research Fellowship, Major Research Instrumentation, conference, equipment, travel, and center awards, etc.

If you or any co-PIs have received more than one award, only include the award that is most closely related to the proposal for each person.

What kind of information should be included in the Results from Prior Support section?

  1. NSF award number, amount, and period of support.
  2. Title of the project.
  3. Summary of the results of the completed work, including accomplishments supported by the award. The results must be separately described under two distinct headings: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. Do not describe the project’s goals; jump right to describing its results.
  4. List of the publications from the NSF award (a complete bibliographic citation for each publication must be provided either in this section or in the References Cited section of the proposal).
  5. If this is a new award and/or no published results exist, then simply, state “No publications have been produced under this award to date.”
  6. Evidence of research products and their public availability, including, but not limited to, data, publications, samples, physical collections, software, and models as described in the Data Management Plan associated with the award. Deposition of samples, data and/or data products must be done in recognized, accessible, and community-accepted repositories.

1/10/22 Virtual Office Hours Recap – Mid-Career Advancement Program

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on January 10, 2022. We host these office hours 1-2pm EST on the 2nd Monday of every month. There is a designated theme each time, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers discussed the Mid-Career Advancement Program (MCA). The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 22-1

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

Q: The MCA has a “Target Date” of February 7  vs a Deadline. Can you explain this in more detail?

A: A target date is not a strict deadline. It allows a bit of flexibility around that date. Contact a cognizant program officer for more information.

Q: Could an Associate Professor apply in their 2nd year post-tenure for support in year 3?

A: No. The eligibility requirements state that you must be at the Associate rank for at least 3 years before applying. This is a solicitation-specific requirement and not flexible.

Q: What are the expectations for broader impacts in this solicitation? Should there be significant outreach as seems often expected in a CAREER or ‘normal’ NSF proposal?

A: Broader impacts for the MCA may be more narrowly circumscribed in comparison to a normal core program proposal because the MCA is an award that will provide protected time so that you can concentrate on research and training. This is a program created to help scientists and engineers who have had constraints on their time or resources due to extensive service, teaching, administrative duties, or other activities.

Q: In the budget information in the proposal guidelines, it seems like the direct costs of $100,000 in the budget are separate from a couple things including: (a) the financial/summer salary for the PI, (b) the 1-month support for the person or people who are mentoring the PI, and (c) travel support for the in-person meeting for the PI and one mentor. Is that correct that (a), (b), and (c) are all separate from the $100,000 budget? And that indirect costs to the university are not included at all in the budget?

A: Yes. You can ask for $100K in direct costs. The indirect costs will be added on top by your institution. The one-month summer support for the partner, travel support for an in-person meeting, and 6.5-months of salary support are in addition to the $100K direct costs allotment. Note these costs are for the entire 3-year award (not yearly amounts).

Q: Can the MCA budget include student/postdoc support?

A: Yes. This would be included in the $100K direct costs allotment.

Q: With a February 7 target date on MCA proposals, is a start date for the proposed work of August 2022 too early or possible?

A:  NSF proposals are typically reviewed and returned within 6 months. Start dates can be discussed with the cognizant program officer should the proposal be recommended for an award.

Q: Do MCA proposals go through the typical peer review process or are they reviewed by program officers?

A: MCA proposals are reviewed by the participating program to which they were submitted. The exact review process may differ slightly depending on the program/division/directorate. They are typically reviewed by a panel alongside other MCA proposals and may have ad hoc reviews for disciplinary expertise as needed.

Q: Is it a positive/negative/neutral for this grant to support a sabbatical?

A: An MCA award can result in a sabbatical-like experience (given the protected time made possible from the salary allotment), depending on how you structure that 6.5-months of support. In other words, you could take a semester off (~4.5 months) plus 2 months of the summer (6.5 total months’ salary) in one year, or you could use 2 months of summer support for each of three years for a total of 6-months of support. It is up to you and your department how you structure your protected time.

Q: How does previous and/or current NSF support impact the likelihood of an award? After a very long interval of writing unsuccessful NSF grants, I recently received a couple of awards. Does this recent success decrease the competitiveness of my proposal?

A: Whether you have current funds or not, the key is for you to demonstrate that there will be substantial enhancement to your research and career trajectory, enabling scientific and academic advancement not likely without the MCA support.

Q: In choosing a partner, how would a senior or junior partner with similar expertise be viewed in terms of intellectual merit? How about a partner who has expertise of the same discipline as the PI?

A: When you choose a partner, it doesn’t matter if they are senior or junior. It matters if the partnership is mutually beneficial and how that partnership will benefit you in terms of training, networking, etc. You should seek a partner who will be most beneficial for your future and then justify that choice.

Q: Is it a positive or a negative to have previously worked with the proposed partner?

A: We want to enable partnerships with people who would positively and significantly change the trajectory of your career. If you could put in a normal collaborative proposal to a core program (not the MCA) then you should do that; the MCA is a special solicitation, and the proposal should demonstrate how the award will enable scientific and academic advancement not likely to occur without MCA support.

Q: Can I apply for an MCA if I have an active CAREER award?

A: Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

Q: Community college professors have less opportunities to do research.  Can they apply with not many publications?

A: Yes, please do.

Q: If my proposed project is interdisciplinary and could fall in the BIO and GEO Directorate, should we reach out to multiple program officers to find the best fit?

A: It’s a good idea to reach out to program officers to find the best home for your proposal, especially if it is interdisciplinary.

Q: I was not able to find the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) division in the participating programs in the NSF MCA website. So, other programs not listed on the website do not participate in this solicitation?

A: The list of participating programs is found here. It will be updated each year to include, we hope, more programs across all directorates of the NSF.

Q: What are the topics emphasized within engineering research?  Are there any restrictions?

A: The Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) in the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) is the only participating program in that directorate this year. IIP is seeking to support career advancement through projects that are aligned with the Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)  program. The expectation is that projects will involve use-inspired applied research, technology development towards commercialization, and a significant industrial partnership component. Innovation and entrepreneurship have classically played a very small or no role in the professional development of mid-career faculty; the problem is further compounded by the lack of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in innovation, entrepreneurship, and access to capital markets. This is the overall challenge IIP is trying to address through its focused participation in the MCA program. For additional questions please contact a cognizant program officer.

If you have other questions about MCA, please read the FAQ document for more information or contact a Program Officer at mca.info@nsf.gov and they will be happy to answer any questions.

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in DEB programs. NSF has suggested 5 tips on working with Program Officers as part of the NSF 101 series on our Science Matters blog.

Check out the upcoming office hour topics below and be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register. Our next virtual office hour, held February 14, 2021 from 1-2pm Eastern Time, will cover how to write a great review report.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:   

February 14: How to Write a Great Review                           

March 14: Crossing Divisions in Biology – Opportunities in other NSF/BIO Programs (IOS, MCB, DBI)  

April 11: Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions                       

May 9: CAREER Solicitation                 

June 13: You’ve Been Awarded an NSF Grant, Now What?                 

July: No Virtual Office Hour 

Learn More about the PIRE Competition! 

NSF is gearing up for the 2022 Partnership for International Science and Engineering (PIRE) competition, managed by the Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering, and there are some upcoming chances for you to learn more! 

This year’s theme is “Use Inspired Climate Change and Clean Energy Research Challenges.” The PIRE competition invites visionary, ambitious, interdisciplinary, use-inspired research proposals that address scientific challenges related to climate change and/or clean energy. The projects will utilize multi-stakeholder and international partnerships that are essential to address these challenges of critical societal importance at a regional or global scale. The research areas may include any combination of the natural and physical sciences, engineering, and the social sciences. Proposals that advance understanding of the human and behavioral aspects of climate change and/or clean energy challenges are encouraged.  Educational activities should be integral to the project. 

More information about the competition and the complete solicitation and submission guidelines can be found on the PIRE program page. OISE staff will be holding Virtual Office Hours 2:30 PM –to 3:30 PM every Monday between January 10 and March 21, 2022 except for January 17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). You can also learn more during a webinar on January 19, 2022, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

If you have specific questions, please reach out to the cognizant program officers at PIRE-info@nsf.gov.  

Meet DEB: Emily Mellicant

What is your name and role here at DEB? Emily Mellicant, Biologist

How did you find out about NSF? I did an NSF-funded REU back in undergrad and got to spend the summer in Minnesota studying lakes. Afterwards, I presented a poster on my research at a conference, and I remember the NSF logo didn’t print properly on my poster. I ended up drawing my own out of fear that some program officer would come by and make a comment. It was a great introduction! Since then, I’ve been working on and off either as an NSF employee or on NSF-funded research projects. The last couple years, I’ve supported National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) in producing their Science and Engineering Indicators reports. My pride and joy are creating the data visualizations for the STEM workforce.

Tell us a little about what you studied in school. I studied marine science and geology, then later environmental chemistry (under the guise of a geography degree). I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and studying fresh and saltwater environments has always been my passion.

Cats or Dogs? Cats!

What fictional family would you most like to join? The Roses from Schitt’s Creek? Or maybe the Bennets from Pride and Prejudice. Love those quirky families that are there for each other when the chips are down.

New Year – New Core Programs Solicitation

DEB’s new core programs solicitation (NSF 22-541) has been published. Many parts of the solicitation remain the same, but here we highlight some of the updates. This post serves primarily as an alert to important changes to the solicitation.  As always, we encourage you to read the entire solicitation carefully.

Removal of the Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE) Special Category

The BEE special category is no longer part of this solicitation. Proposals that combine ecological and evolutionary approaches to better understand the functional role of biodiversity can be submitted to the new “Biodiversity on a Changing Planet” solicitation (NSF 22-508).

Data Management Plan Revisions

In addition to previous requirements, the Data Management Plan must include two sections: (1) Data Plans, and (2) Intellectual Property Plans. Data and digital products should be identified, and the following described for each of them:

  • Format and standard of primary data;
  • Metadata to be collected and disseminated with the primary data; Timetable of release of ALL data, consistent with privacy and other concerns regarding sensitive information;
  • Public repository to be used;
  • License for use, with an emphasis on open source licenses such as MIT and GPL;
  • Any constraints on release, which must be clearly justified; and Person(s) responsible for the release.

All software and code must be in a versioned code repository. We strongly encourage release of ready-to-use software and code through integration with computing resources, in Virtual Machines, and/or in Containers. Published results should always include information on how to access the supporting data.

If you have any questions, please reach out to a Program Officer or contact us at debquestions@nsf.gov.

DBI Program Director Employment Opportunities

Our friends over in the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) are recruiting two rotator Program Directors to support BIO programs focusing on broadening participation, including:

One position will be focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with a goal of broadening participation in biology at the multiple career stages and institution types supported by BIO, and one position will be focused on education and training in biology at the undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral levels. You can learn more about rotator programs at NSF here.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, please see the Dear Colleague Letter (DBI-2021-24748).

Applications will begin to be reviewed on February 17, 2022 and the opportunity will remain open until filled.

12/13/21 Virtual Office Hours Recap – How to Write a Great Annual Report

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) hosts office hours 1-2pm EST on the 2nd Monday of every month. There is a designated theme each time, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics.

DEB held its latest Virtual Office Hour on December 13, 2021. Program Officers provided tips and tricks on how to write a great annual report. The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 22-1

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

Q: I have had many delays this past year due to COVID and ensuing visa delays. How should I address that, knowing that it has dramatically impacted my deliverables’ timelines?

A: Please add a brief statement to the Changes/Problems section of the annual report describing the COVID impacts. Your managing Program Officer will keep this in mind during review of annual reports of projects. We expect many projects will request No Cost Extensions as a result of COVID delays. Additionally, some PIs might request COVID supplements to help address issues that arose due to the pandemic.

Q: Should we report persons that work on the grant but were not financially supported by the grant (especially if they were international)?

A: Yes, please include that information. Generally, there could be many types of participants associated with an award who are not directly financially supported. For example, students who receive credit or foreign collaborators who are not supported by the grant. The program is interested in everyone who participated in the project, even if not financially supported by the grant

Q: For collaborative grants with multiple institutions, should each institution have a very different report focused on what they did, similar reports with some differences, or all the exact same report? For example, one institution did a Broader Impact that the others weren’t involved in or had an undergraduate that only worked with one PI and not the whole team.

A: Annual reports are very similar across all institutions; however, each collaborator will have specific individuals that worked with them, and each collaborator should include information on their specific participants. Some broader impacts and products will only show up on a subset of the annual report. There will be sections of the annual report that is the same across all institutions while other sections are unique to each institution.

Q: Should we report outcomes (paper, research etc.) that weren’t funded by the grant, but are part of the grant aims (e.g., pilot data) if it happened within the funding reporting period and is relevant to grant aims?

A: We would suggest not including this since the annual report is more of a progress report on the funded project. However, if someone was using data collected in a previous award to create a product reported in this award, we would accept it if that person was funded on this award to complete this product. Please remember to include an acknowledgement of NSF support (i.e., the specific 7-digit NSF grant number) in all published papers and outcomes.

Q: Is there a guidance on how to determine what goes where in the report? For example, should publications be reported in both “Dissemination” and “Publications” sections? Broader Impacts and publications can be considered an “Accomplishment;” should they both be reported in both places?

A: Yes, there is guidance. On Research.gov, there is a page title “About Project Reports” with information on a variety of report types. There are handout and templates as well as videos and demo sites.

Q: Should we include manuscripts in prep?

A: Yes. You can indicate the status of each product in the Products section. Additionally, we suggest you reach out to your program officer to let them know when papers are submitted and/or accepted.

Q: If publications or other work come out after the final report is submitted, is there a mechanism to report that?

A: There is still not a mechanism to add to reports, but you are encouraged to let your PO know about these types of outcomes. They can add that information to the award file.

Q: How many pages do you generally see in the reports?

A: This depends on the scale of the project, but in general, the report should be written based on how much information you need to convey to the program.

Q: For a postdoc supported by the grant, is career development considered part of the broader impacts?

A: Yes, absolutely. This is the same for graduate students and undergraduate students as well. Please note there is no separate section to report Broader Impacts outcomes, so they will need to be added at various places throughout the report.

Q: Should we expect feedback from program officers on annual reports, or is “no news, good news” so to speak?

A: If there is a problem, you will definitely get feedback. A program officer will return the report and ask you to edit it. When the managing PO approves the annual report, you will receive an email that may include a highlight of your annual report. In either case, you will receive some type of communication.

Q: What are some common reasons for reports to be returned?

A: Don’t worry if it is returned because we’re just asking for clarification, and it is common. Some reasons for returning a report include inconsistencies between sections or incompleteness of sections. One specific example is reporting that a number of people participated in some part of the project but not including the names of those participants in the report.

Q: Should internal department seminars (e.g., from department-level seminars given by the PI to grad students/ postdocs talking in a smaller university groups) be reported?

A: It is okay to include that.

Q: What happens if my report is late or overdue?

A: If your report is late or overdue, there are several negative consequences. First, you won’t be able to receive the next increment of your award. Additionally, your overdue report can hold up all of your collaborators on the project with the overdue report from receiving a new award. One new development is that overdue reports will be submitted to the Federal Awardee Performance Information and Integrity System, which can have negative impacts on your institution and their ability to receive funds in the future.

Please reach out to a Program Officer if you have any questions about the proposal submission and review process in DEB programs. NSF has suggested 5 tips on working with Program Officers as part of the NSF 101 series on our Science Matters blog.

Be sure to check back here, the upcoming office hour topics below, or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register. Our next virtual office hours will be held January 10, 2021, from 1-2pm Eastern Time, and will cover the Mid-Career Advancement solicitation.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

January 10:  Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation

February 14: How to Write a Great Review

March 14: Crossing Divisions in Biology – Opportunities in other NSF/BIO Programs (IOS, MCB, DBI)

April 11: Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions

May 9: CAREER Solicitation

June 13: You’ve Been Awarded an NSF Grant, Now What?

July: No Virtual Office Hour

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation

Join us  Monday, January 10th, 1pm-2pm ET for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will discuss the Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation. To participate, please register, using the link below. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so we suggest you also sign up for blog notifications.  

REGISTER HERE 

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog afterwards, as we post recaps and the presentation slides of all office hour sessions. Alternatively, visit our Office Hours homepage for slideshows and recaps of past topics.  

Virtual Office Hours are on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm ET. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars and register ahead of time!     

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:    

January 10:  Mid-Career Advancement Solicitation    

February 14: How to Write a Great Review                            

March 14: Crossing Divisions in Biology – Opportunities in other NSF/BIO Programs (IOS, MCB, DBI)   

April 11: Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions                        

May 9: CAREER Solicitation                  

June 13: You’ve Been Awarded an NSF Grant, Now What?                  

July: No Virtual Office Hour