How does the NSF proposal merit review process work? NSF has an interactive diagram of the general process here http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/merit_animation.jsp.
What is NSF’s definition of “interdisciplinary”? Start here for an overview of the definition and application of the concept in merit review: http://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/additional_resources/interdisciplinary_research/index.jsp.
What constitutes “transformative research”? Start here for an overview of the definition and application of the concept in merit review: http://www.nsf.gov/about/transformative_research/index.jsp.
What is “convergence research”? Start here for an overview of the definition and application of the concept in merit review: https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/convergence/index.jsp
How do I find out what research has been previously funded? Information on all NSF awards can be searched, viewed, and downloaded from http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/. The “Advanced Search” options are useful for narrowing search criteria.
Where can I find funding rates and historical budget data? NSF’s Budget Division maintains a public interface for accessing these data at http://dellweb.bfa.nsf.gov/starth.asp. This is the source for official NSF data.
DEB-Relevant Funding Opportunity Quick Links
This is just a sample of NSF funding opportunities which could support DEB researchers. For a complete list of DEB-relevant opportunities check out the list on DEB’s nsf.gov site.
Ecosystem Science Cluster– The Ecosystem Studies Program supports investigations of ecosystem structure and function across a diversity of spatial and temporal (including paleo) scales to advance understanding of: 1) material and energy fluxes and transformations within and among ecosystems; 2) roles and relationships of ecosystem components in whole-system structure and function; 3) ecosystem dynamics, resilience, and trajectories of ecosystem change through time; and 4) linkages among ecosystems in space, time, and across spatial & temporal scales.
Evolutionary Processes Cluster– The Evolutionary Processes Cluster supports research on microevolutionary processes and their macroevolutionary consequences. Topics include mutation, gene flow, recombination, natural selection, genetic drift, assortative mating acting within species, speciation, and long-term features of evolution.
Population and Community Ecology Cluster– The Population and Community Ecology Cluster supports research that advances the conceptual or theoretical understanding of population ecology, species interactions and community dynamics in terrestrial, wetland and freshwater habitats.
Systematics and Biodiversity Science– The Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster supports research that advances our understanding of the diversity, systematics, and evolutionary history of organisms in natural systems. Includes Poorly Sampled and Unknown Taxa and Advancing Revisionary Taxonomy and Systematics.
Proposals submitted to the following solicitations are generally reviewed alongside core program proposals in DEB but have unique submission and review criteria.
Bridging Ecology and Evolution (BEE): The BEE category is intended 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 or 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.
NERC and BSF International Collaborative Proposals: The core programs will accept proposals for international collaborative research under two separate agreements for joint review between: 1) NSF and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and 2) NSF and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). International collaborative proposals are expected to adhere to the eligibility requirements, remit, funding limits, and grant durations for the agency from which funding is sought (NSF, BSF or NERC) and must represent an integrated collaborative effort. Questions regarding these activities can be directed to NSFDEB-NERC@nsf.gov or NSFDEB-BSF@nsf.gov respectively. These agreements do not preclude other international collaborations.
Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB): Researchers must have collected at least six years of data to qualify for funding, and these data must motivate the proposed research. The proposal must present a cohesive conceptual rationale or framework for an additional ten years of research (an initial 5-year proposal and subsequent renewal) utilizing the extended time series of biological and environmental data to address ecological and evolutionary processes and to resolve important issues in organismal and environmental biology.
All proposals submitted to the LTREB program are reviewed by appropriate clusters or programs. Proposals must address topics supported by these programs. Researchers who are uncertain about the suitability of their project for the LTREB Program are encouraged to contact the cognizant program director.
Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS): All four clusters within the Division of Environmental Biology (see above) encourage submission of proposals aimed at synthesizing a body of related research projects conducted by a single individual or a group of investigators over an extended period. OPUS proposals will often be appropriately submitted in mid-to-late career but will also be appropriate early enough in a career to produce unique, integrated insight useful both to the scientific community and to the development of the investigator’s future work. In cases where multiple scientists have worked collaboratively, an OPUS award will provide support for collaboration on a synthesis. OPUS proposals are not intended as an opportunity to summarize a body of work but rather to create a product greater than the sum of its parts.
Research Coordination Networks (RCN): The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education. Groups of investigators will be supported to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries.
Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program: The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity for awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI): The Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) activity supports research by faculty members of predominantly undergraduate institutions. RUI proposals are evaluated and funded by the NSF programs in the disciplinary areas of the proposed research. Eligible “predominantly undergraduate” institutions include U.S. two-year, four-year, masters-level, and small doctoral colleges and universities that (1) grant baccalaureate degrees in NSF-supported fields, or provide programs of instruction for students pursuing such degrees with institutional transfers (e.g., two-year schools), (2) have undergraduate enrollment exceeding graduate enrollment, and (3) award an average of no more than 10 Ph.D. or D.Sc. degrees per year in all NSF-supportable disciplines.
Other Funding Requests
Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER): The EAGER funding mechanism can be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work could be considered especially “high risk-high payoff” in the sense that it, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.
Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID): PI(s) must contact the NSF program officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic before submitting a RAPID proposal. RAPID is a type of proposal used when there is a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events.
Conference/Symposia/Workshop Support: PI(s) should contact the NSF program officer(s) whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic prior to submission of a request. NSF supports conferences in special areas of science and engineering that bring experts together to discuss recent research or education findings or to expose other researchers or students to new research and education techniques.
Supplements For Current Awardees
See BIO’s “Supplements and Other Opportunities” page for additional opportunities.
Research Opportunity Award Supplements (ROA): These supplements to support collaboration with faculty at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions are described within the RUI solicitation. NSF/BIO has a HYPERLINK “http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07041/nsf07041.jsp”Dear Colleague Letter emphasizing this opportunity..
Research Experiences for Teachers (RET):These supplements to support extension of research experiences to K-12 teachers are described in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates solicitation. NSF/BIO has a Dear Colleague Letter emphasizing this opportunity.
Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS):These supplements are intended to provide research experiences for talented high school students who are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in BIO sub-fields. NSF/BIO provides instructions for this opportunity via a Dear Colleague Letter.
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): The REU solicitation supports supplements to new or active research awards or as independent proposals for REU Sites that engage a number of students in research.
Career-Life Balance (CLB): These supplements support additional personnel to sustain research when the PI, co-PI, other Senior Personnel, or a postdoctoral researcher or graduate student being supported by NSF on the award is on family leave for primary dependent care responsibilities and other direct family considerations. NSF/BIO provides instructions for this opportunity via a Dear Colleague Letter.
Special Programs Most Relevant to DEB Community
Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER): Research at LTER sites provides experiments, databases, and research programs for use by other scientists. It tests important ecological or ecosystem theories including, but not limited to, ecosystem stability, biodiversity, community structure, and energy flow. LTER currently supports 28 active sites, representing major biotic regions of the continental US , the marine environment, and the Antarctic continent. Opportunities to establish new LTER sites are rare and always announced via a solicitation.
Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID): The focus of this program is the understanding of disease transmission dynamics through both ecological and evolutionary processes. Proposals without substantial ecological and evolutionary components will not be considered. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH, and the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) participate in the EEID program. Additional information and NIH contacts can be found at: http://www.fic.nih.gov/Programs/Pages/ecology-infectious-diseases.aspx.
Dimensions of Biodiversity: The Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign seeks to transform how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. This activity complements several core NSF programs and differs by requiring the integration of genetic, taxonomic/phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity in innovative or novel ways, to understand their synergistic roles in critical ecological and evolutionary processes. It includes support for collaborative research in Brazil, China, and South Africa. NASA has also added support for projects that incorporate substantive use of satellite remote sensing technologies.
Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (DISES): Formerly known as CNH and CNH2, the DISES Program supports research projects that advance basic scientific understanding of integrated socio-environmental systems and the complex interactions (dynamics, processes, and feedbacks) within and among the environmental (biological, physical and chemical) and human (“socio”) (economic, social, political, or behavioral) components of such a system. The program seeks proposals that emphasize the truly integrated nature of a socio-environmental system versus two discrete systems (a natural one and a human one) that are coupled. DISES projects must explore a connected and integrated socio-environmental system that includes explicit analysis of the processes and dynamics between the environmental and human components of the system.
Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES): This program supports quantitative, interdisciplinary, systems-oriented research on biosphere processes and their complex interactions with climate, land use, and changes in species distribution at regional to continental scales as well as training activities to broaden participation of researchers in Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science.
Selected Cross-Cutting Special Programs of DEB Relevance
Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps): The goals of the I-Corps Program are to spur translation of fundamental research to the marketplace, to encourage collaboration between academia and industry, and to train NSF-funded faculty, students and other researchers in innovation and entrepreneurship skills. ￼￼
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER): The PEER program was established under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NSF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). PEER is a USAID-funded competitive grants program that provides an opportunity to support scientists in developing countries who work with NSF-funded scientists at U.S. institutions.
Biology Integration Institutes (BII): The aim of this solicitation is to bring researchers together around the common goal of understanding how the processes that sustain life and enable biological innovation to operate and interact within and across different scales of organization, from molecules to cells, tissues to organisms, species, ecosystems, biomes and the entire Earth. The Biology Integration Institutes (BII) program supports collaborative teams of researchers investigating questions that span multiple disciplines within and beyond biology.
Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO): This solicitation invites submission of collaborative proposals that tackle bold questions in biology and require an integrated approach to make substantive progress. Integrative biological research spans subdisciplines and incorporates cutting-edge methods, tools, and concepts from each to produce groundbreaking biological discovery. The research should be synergistic and produce novel, holistic understanding of how biological systems function and interact across different scales of organization, e.g., from molecules to cells, tissues to organisms, species to ecosystems and the entire Earth.