10/19/20 Virtual Office Hours Recap – Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology


The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on October 19th, 2020. We host these office hours 1-2pm ET on the second Monday of every month. There is a designated theme each time, but attendees are welcome to ask about other NSF-related topics. Program Officers from each of DEB’s clusters are present at each Virtual Office Hour, so a wide range of scientific perspectives are represented. This month’s topic was the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) Solicitation (NSF 20-602).

The presentation and other documents are available here:

Slides (PDF)

PAPPG 20-1

PRFB Program Page

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), which manages the PRFB program, will also be holding additional virtual office hours on Monday, November 2nd at 4 p.m. EST and Thursday, November 5th at 4 p.m. EST. Please use this link to join the webinar: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/j/1602272511?pwd=RVdGUjdmZzBWWkJUblZNQ3YxSGdpZz09
(Passcode: ?^9=Z6;  Webinar ID: 160 227 2511; International numbers available: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/u/acgXzjoni)

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

Q: Is there a number of years that qualify you as “early” in your career?

A: Yes, applicants are not eligible for this award if they have worked in any position that requires the doctoral degree for a combined total of more than 12 full time months prior to the deadline.

Q: Can you expand upon what the solicitation meant by broadening participation in underrepresented groups specifically at the post-doc level?

A: You should propose activities that would diversify the scientific workforce at the post-doc level. How you accomplish that is up to you to determine. If you are from an underrepresented group, you could also highlight your own scientific journey and goals.

Q: Is it possible to have more than two collaborating mentors? Are there cons to having more than two?

A: Under the Competitive Area 2, Integrative Research Investigating the Rules of Life Governing Interactions Between Genomes, Environment and Phenotypes, it is very reasonable to have multiple mentors/sponsors because those projects involve multiple subdisciplines and different approaches. On the other hand, reviewers might worry if you have four or more mentors as it may be difficult to coordinate and communicate. The number of sponsors/mentors should be consistent with the aims and activities of the proposed project. The plan for how they intend to work effectively as a team can be described in the sponsoring scientist plan.

Q: Is it okay to submit a PRFB application if the mentor is also submitting a standard NSF proposal with funds to pay a postdoc to do largely the same work? And if so, what happens if you receive both?

A: The PRFB application should contain (be based on) your own research ideas. You should be the intellectual force behind the project. Also, NSF would not fund the same research through two programs, so one would be returned without review.

Q: Can I submit the same research project to a private foundation? And if so, can I accept both awards and redirect my NSF award to lab supplies and other project-related costs?

A: Yes, you can apply the same project to NSF and a private foundation.  If you receive both, you will have to choose one or the other. The NSF fellowship requires a 100% effort allocation, and costs – such as the research funds – cannot be redirected.

Q: Could we apply for multiple PRFBs under different projects/sponsors? Could I apply to a DEB PRFB with one potential project and sponsor and?? apply for IOS with a different potential project and sponsor the same year?

A: While there are three Competitive Areas within the solicitation, there is only one solicitation for postdoctoral fellowships for the Directorate for Biological Sciences. Therefore, you can only submit one project to Solicitation NSF 20-602. However, you could apply to other fellowship programs within the agency, as long as each application/proposal is for a different research project.

Q: Can you re-apply for PRFB after getting rejected, assuming you do not have 12 months of postdoc work by then? If we are re-applying with the same application as previous year, will the application be sent to the same reviewers?

A: Yes, you can submit a revised application. There is no guarantee that the same reviewers will see the proposal again. Reviewers will not see any old comments or old reviews if it’s a resubmission. All submissions are considered new applications, independent of prior submissions. Program Officers are always happy to discuss reviews from your declined application(s).

Q: Where can we find formatting rules for our proposals?

A: These rules can be found within the solicitation as well as on the program page, which includes a “How to Apply for Fellowship Applicants” document.

Q: Where can we find information about the intent and content of the sponsor letter?

A: This can be also be found on the program page within a document called Sponsoring Scientist Statement Instructions.

Q: If awarded, can you defer for a year or two if, for instance, you were committed to a separate post-doc position?

A: You cannot defer the start of the project if awarded. However, there is a long starting window which spans from June 2021 to March 2022. We expect this fellowship to be your first post-doc position.

Q: Can you talk a bit about the review process?

A: There are some solicitation-specific review criteria that we ask the panel to comment on, including the appropriateness of the research, intellectual merit, and broader impacts. All of the review criteria are described in detail in the solicitation in Section A, including those solicitation-specific criteria. Generally, the proposal will be read by several reviewers serving on a panel. The applicant will receive the reviews and a panel summary. There may be a separate review panel for each of the three different competitive areas.

Q: How much do fellows usually have remaining after health insurance for the yearly research stipend? Is there an avenue that fellows have to alleviate this cost?

A: You should investigate what health insurance programs are available at your host institution as this varies. There may be group programs for health insurance that you could join and this will reduce costs.

Q: Can you elaborate a bit more on the length of the fellowship (two years vs. three years) when research includes an international component? Would the three years of funding be for projects that include an international data collection component?

A: The three-year term is for applicants who are doing research in two different locations because the applicant has to relocate and get up to speed at the second international site. What you do at the international site would be determined by your research goals. 

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

Our next virtual office hour will be held on November 9th, 2020 from 1-2pm EDT and will provide an introduction to DEB and the review process.

Be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

November 9: Intro to DEB

December 14: Mid-Career Opportunities

January 11: TBD (Feel free to suggest a topic!)

NSF Wants Your Ideas! Requesting Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator


The NSF Convergence Accelerator issued a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF-21-012): Request for Information (RFI) on Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator program to capture national-scale societal impact ideas from the global community for fiscal year 2022. The RFI is the kickoff of the Convergence Accelerator’s ideation process. Selected ideas will be asked to submit a conference proposal to further develop the proposed idea and to gather insights into a final report to assist NSF in determining convergence research topics for 2022.   

Participants from academia, industry, government, non-profit, and other sectors are encouraged to submit their ideas at http://bit.ly/NSF-21-012Responses to the RFI are due by November 9, 2020.   

Upcoming Webinars for RFI 

Interested individuals can join the Convergence Accelerator on October 21 or 27, 2020 to learn about the program’s ideation process, specifically focusing on the FY 2022 RFI on future topics. Attendees will learn about the Convergence Accelerator’s model and fundamentals, designed to leverage a convergence approach to transition basic research and discovery into practice. The goal of this webinar is to bring awareness of this exciting opportunity to accelerate NSF-funded research and discovery to further societal impact. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2-3:30 p.m. (ET) 

To register, visit https://bit.ly/NSFCA_Oct21_RFIWebinar 

Tuesday, October 27, 2-3:30 p.m. (ET)  

To register, visit https://bit.ly/NSFCA_Oct27_RFIWebinar  

After registering a confirmation email containing the meeting information, including how to join will be provided.  

For additional information on the NSF Convergence Accelerator program, visit https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/convergence-accelerator/ or email C-Accel@nsf.gov

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What’s New in the Division of Environmental Biology’s Core Solicitation?


DEB’s new core programs solicitation (NSF 21-504) 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.

Submission Mechanism – We’re moving to Research.gov

There will be a grace period of 90-days from the date on which the new solicitations were published during which proposals can still be submitted through FastLane. After the 90-day period, the new solicitations will no longer be available in FastLane and any new proposals must be submitted through Research.gov (or Grants.gov). The 90-day period for the DEB core programs solicitation ends at 11:59pm on January 7, 2021. More information from our Assistant Director, Dr. Joanne Tornow, can be found here and you can sign up for next week’s BIO-wide virtual office hours.

Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE)

The language describing the BEE category has been updated to support research that innovatively integrates the fields of Ecology and Evolution, including, but not limited to, questions in eco-evolutionary dynamics, historical community ecology, macroecology, macroevolution, biogeography, and ecosystem-level consequences of evolution. Proposals that seek to understand feedbacks between ecological and evolutionary processes, or that use concepts in one field to motivate novel questions and analyses in the other are particularly encouraged. Studies should aim to address questions that integrate across the ecological and evolutionary core programs in DEB. 

Removal of the Rules of Life Track 

The Rules of Life (RoL) track is no longer a part of this solicitation. A new separate opportunity centered on The Rules of Life (RoL) is forthcoming. Sign up for NSF Updates to be notified when it is released.

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

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB)


Join us Monday, October 19th from 1pm-2pm EDT for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) Solicitation (NSF 20-602). Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs will be available for questions, which can be on any DEB or NSF topic. 

Please use the registration link below to participate. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders. 

REGISTER HERE 

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog, as we will be posting a recap and the presentation slides. As always, our Virtual Office Hours will happen on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm EDT. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars! 

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:  

October 19: BIO Postdoc Research Fellowship Program 

November 9: Welcome to DEB 

December 14: Mid-Career Opportunities 

January 11: TBD 

From the AD: BIO “No-Deadline” Solicitations Migrating to Research.gov


As part of NSF’s ongoing efforts to innovate and migrate proposal preparation and submission capabilities from FastLane to Research.gov (see Important Notice No. 147), the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) has announced that proposal submissions for our “no-deadline” programs will migrate to Research.gov beginning with revised solicitations to be released in the near future. This change was announced in a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 20-129) released today and is the first phase of a migration of all NSF solicitations to Research.gov.

Specifically, the following programs will have new solicitations published in the coming weeks at which point investigators should begin submitting proposals through Research.gov. There will be a grace period of 90-days from the date on which the new solicitations are published during which proposals can still be submitted through FastLane. After the 90-day period, the new solicitations will no longer be available in FastLane and any new proposals must be submitted through Research.Gov (or Grants.Gov).

The programs whose solicitations will migrate from FastLane to Research.gov are:

Research.gov improves the user experience while also reducing administrative burden. The system is also flexible enough to meet both users’ changing needs and emerging government requirements. A significant fraction of proposals is already being submitted through Research.gov and investigators report it to be intuitive to use. We do not anticipate that the change to Research.gov will have significant impacts on the submission process. This migration will not affect the merit review process in any way.

To support the community through this migration, technical support and FAQs and videos on proposal submission through Research.gov are available. In addition, we are offering a series of BIO-wide virtual office hours during which you can ask questions of BIO Program Officers.

The virtual office hours will occur on Monday, October 5 at 11 a.m. EDT; Tuesday October 6 at 10 a.m. EDT; Wednesday, October 7 at 1 p.m. EDT; and Thursday, October 8 at 3 p.m. EDT. Members of the community can register for these sessions via NSF.gov.

Finally, if you have any immediate questions please reach out to BIOnodeadline@nsf.gov, which is monitored by Program Officers from across BIO.

Sincerely,

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Joanne S. Tornow, Ph.D.

Assistant Director

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Meet DEB: Priscilla Tucker


Priscilla showing off a fresh almond croissant at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market

Name and Cluster: My name is Priscilla Tucker and I have joined the Evolutionary Processes cluster as a rotating Program Officer.

Education: BA, Colgate University; MS and PhD, Texas A&M University

Home Institution: University of Michigan

Tell us about your research: I am interested in mammalian diversification and the evolutionary processes that give rise to it. My recent research includes the study of gene and genome dynamics in naturally occurring hybrid populations of house mice to explore the genetic underpinnings of the species boundary. Using genetic and genomic tools, recent graduate students in my lab have studied hybridization in New World monkeys, dispersal dynamics of small mammals in tropical agroecosystems, and range expansion of a North American mesopredator.

Why do you want to serve with NSF?  Throughout my career I have served on NSF panels. I found the review process a collective enterprise among colleagues. I greatly appreciated the thoughtful and intellectually stimulating discussion of research proposals, and I always came away from the experience a better scientist and mentor. I hope to facilitate this experience for others. NSF has also provided funding for my research in a variety of ways over many years.  My term as a Program Officer is an opportunity to give back.

What are you looking forward to in your tenure here at NSF? I certainly look forward to working with my colleagues in the Evolutionary Processes cluster and across DEB more generally.  It is a chance to help push the frontiers of evolutionary and ecological research in exciting directions and to promote the important contributions of ecologists and evolutionary biologists to the scientific community and to society, more generally.

9/14/20 Virtual Office Hours Recap – MSB-NES


The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) held its latest Virtual Office Hour on September 14th, 2020. We host these office hours 1-2pm EDT 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 from each of DEB’s clusters are present at each Virtual Office Hour, so a wide range of scientific perspectives are represented. This month’s topic was the Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES) Solicitation (NSF 20-506).

The presentation and other documents are available here:

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

Q: For the macrosystem small awards (MSA) it was mentioned that proposals to develop NEON tools would be considered. Can you elaborate on the types of tools you are interested in?

A: The development of tools that will explicitly enhance the processing, use, and/or analysis of NEON data or collections within the context of Macrosystems Biology research questions is encouraged in the solicitation.  Here is one example of a project recently funded which proposes to develop a tool to produce a higher-level data product from NEON data:

DEB-2017860/2017829 Collaborative Research: MSA: Development and Validation of a Continuous Soil Respiration Product at Core Terrestrial NEON Site

Proposals strictly for tool or model development or for tools/models that are only indirectly applicable to NEON may be more appropriate for core programs in the Division of Biological Infrastructure that support informatics research and cyberinfrastructure development.

Q: Will proposals that have the option to send samples to NEON biorepositories be looked on more favorably if such efforts are written into the proposal? Will it be more valuable to NSF NEON if your project has the opportunity to contribute a taxonomic group that is currently underrepresented in NEON biorepositories?

A: Projects do not have the option to submit samples to the NEON Biorepository – so plans to do that would neither make sense nor make your proposal more competitive. The NEON Biorepository exists to house samples collected as part the Observatory’s activities. NEON field scientists collect a variety of specific, targeted specimens and samples at terrestrial and aquatic field sites at regular intervals throughout the year. They collect the samples in a prescribed manner using published protocols to ensure quality control. If you are interested in using samples or specimens from the NEON Biorepository, please reach out to biorepo@asu.edu and they will be able to help you.

It is worth noting that programs in DEB and other BIO divisions do encourage proposals for studies that will advance our knowledge of understudied groups of organisms. An example of this is in the Systematics and Biodiversity Cluster, which offers a special category of funding for studies of Poorly Sampled and Unknown Taxa (PurSUiT). PurSUiT focuses on the projects that fill significant gaps in biodiversity knowledge.  

Q: Could you say a bit more about the difference in NSF’s view between the cross-site comparison studies that have regional or continental scale frameworks and those that lack regional or continental scale frameworks? In the solicitation it says, “proposals that lack a regional or continental scale framework (i.e., proposals that are inter-site comparisons or multi-site analyses of general ecosystem concepts or theories) will not be considered.” How should we understand this difference?

A: First, to help assess program fit we encourage you to email a 1-page summary of your project to an MSB-NES Program Officer. Then we can give you feedback as to whether the proposal should be submitted to MSB-NES or we may direct you to another NSF program area. The MSB-NES program supports research to understand biological phenomena at very large (regional to continental) spatial scales.  Supported projects may or may not use NEON infrastructure and/or data; those that do are given priority. Projects that propose to use one or more NEON sites for comparative purposes (such as altitudinal or climatic comparisons), but do not propose to detect, explain, and/or predict biological phenomena at and across regional to continental scales will not be suitable for MSB-NES.  Other programs in DEB and other BIO divisions will often be appropriate for such proposals.

Q: I’m part of a large number of CoPI’s at various institutions on a collaborative grant. With whom am I in conflict, i.e. which names go on the CoA form?

A: For this specific situation, you’re in conflict with anyone you have collaborated with on a grant within the last 48 months. The NSF provided template gives guidance on all of the other requirements for inclusion on the CoA form.  Primary investigators should fill out the template using the guidance provided.

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

Our next virtual office hours will be held on October 19th, 2020 from 1-2pm EDT and will address the BIO Postdoc Program (NSF 20-602).

Be sure to check back here or on the NSF Events Page for information on how to register.

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics:

October 19: BIO Postdoc Program

November 9: Intro to DEB

December 14: Supplements

January 11: TBD (Feel free to suggest a topic!)

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science Proposals


Join us Monday, September 14th from 1pm-2pm EDT for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES) Solicitation (NSF 20-506). Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs will be available for questions, which can be on any DEB or NSF topic.

Please use the registration link below to participate. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders.

REGISTER HERE

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog, as we will be posting a recap and the presentation slides. As always, our Virtual Office Hours will happen on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm EDT. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars!

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics: 

September 14: Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES)

October 19: BIO Postdoc Research Fellowship Program

November 9: Intro to DEB

December 14: Supplements to existing awards

January 11: TBD

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: OPUS Proposals 


Join us June 8th from 1pm-2pm EDT for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide an introduction to the Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) Solicitation (NSF 20-564). 

Representatives from each of the four DEB core programs will be available for questions, which can be on any DEB or NSF topic. 

Please use the registration link below to participate. Upcoming DEB Virtual Office Hours are announced ahead of time on DEBrief, so sign up for blog notifications for reminders.  

REGISTER HERE 

If you can’t make it to this or any future office hours, don’t worry! Come back to the blog, as we will be posting a recap and the presentation slides. As always, our Virtual Office Hours will happen on the second Monday of every month from 1pm-2pm EDT. Below is a list of upcoming dates and topics (subject to change), so be sure to add them to your calendars! 

 

Upcoming Office Hours and Topics: 

June 8: OPUS 

July: No Office Hours 

August 10: CNH2: Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems 

September 14: Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES) 

October TBD: BIO Postdoc Program 

November 9: Intro to DEB 

December 14: Supplements 

January 11: TBD