Meet DEB: Stephanie Hampton, Division Director


Stephanie Hampton



Name: Stephanie Hampton

Education: Ph.D. Dartmouth College (Ecology and Evolution), M.S. University of Nevada – Las Vegas (Biology), B.A. University of Kansas (Environmental Studies)

Home Institution: Washington State University

Tell us about your research: My core expertise is in aquatic ecology, particularly using statistical analysis of large data sets. I’m fascinated by the ways shifts in abiotic conditions can disrupt, strengthen, or even reverse the costs and benefits of organisms’ interactions with each other, often with dramatic consequences for ecosystems. Most recently I have been involved in collaborations that examine global patterns of warming temperatures and shorter winter ice cover on lakes, and thinking about how these changes alter relationships among plankton (the microscopic base of aquatic food webs). My interest in these topics mostly stems from 14 years of collaborative research on Lake Baikal in Siberia.


Lake Baikal is covered with ice for 5-6 months each year. Frequently the ice is astonishingly clear, allowing a lot of sunlight to pass through, which can fuel big blooms of endemic algae. (Photo: Sergey Pesterev CC-BY-2.0)


It’s the oldest and most biodiverse lake in the world, with the highest rates of endemism. For example, over half of Baikal’s animal species are found only in Baikal. It’s also the largest lake, by volume, holding 20% of the world’s liquid freshwater – you could pour all of the Laurentian Great Lakes combined into Lake Baikal. As you can guess from the location in Siberia, it’s a very cold adapted ecosystem. A lot of the productivity occurs under ice, and warming temperatures seem to be shifting the balance between the cold-loving endemic species and the “cosmopolitan” species that are starting to find summers more hospitable. Baikal is an amazing place to work, with wonderful people, and I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity.


The top predator in Lake Baikal is the Baikal seal, the world’s only  exclusively freshwater pinniped. (Photo: Sergey Gabdurakhmanov CC-BY-2.0) 


Beyond aquatic biology, I have other broad interests, and have gotten involved in diverse projects where my tools and perspective can be useful. For 7.5 years, I was Deputy Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the first of NSF’s synthesis centers, and also a leader in DataOne, a NSF-funded data confederation initiative for environmental sciences. These programs have offered unique opportunities to use my quantitative tools, as well as my perspective as a biologist, to do interdisciplinary “science of science” research. For example, we’ve analyzed data on productivity in scientific collaboration, community practices in sharing data, contributions of natural history to science and society, and trends in teaching students to work with big data sets.


Ask me about rotifers! The most graceful and fascinating of the zooplankton… here is the tiny beauty Plationus patulus. (Photo: S.E. Hampton)


Why did you want to serve with DEB?: I have been orbiting DEB for most of my career. The breadth of my interests has familiarized me with a variety of NSF directorates and divisions, but clearly DEB is my home, where I know the community and the culture well. My interactions with NSF have included countless proposals and panels, (more easily counted) awards, my role at NCEAS, Chair of the Advisory Committee for the NSF Biology Directorate…

Basically, over the years, I have learned that NSF is chock full of people who are super sharp and care very deeply about our community. From outside NSF, I have done my best to support the health of the scientific endeavor, especially through my work at NCEAS and DataONE, as well as doing a wide variety of professional service. Now I have the opportunity to contribute much more directly to supporting the vitality of science by working within the Foundation, which is exciting. Also, anyone who has served on DEB panels knows that the people in DEB are really nice, smart, and they work hard – it makes the position really attractive!

What are you most looking forward to during your tenure at NSF?: Most importantly, I am hopeful that my energy, perspective, and experience will be useful in enabling our scientific community to achieve its goals. Personally I find it very satisfying to help people and groups who have good ideas and are willing to work hard. Our community is seeing a lot of change right now – not just that NSF BIO programs are moving to a “no deadlinemodel, but bigger, global changes too. Technology has transformed our abilities to do research at scales both finer and larger than previously possible. NEON data are now online after years of planning and preparation. Interdisciplinarity and multi-institutional collaboration are becoming more and more common. Digitization and cyberinfrastructure are increasing access to biological collections. Data stewardship, data sharing, and research reproducibility are also becoming more prominent in investigators’ research planning. I’m very excited to see the creative ways in which researchers will take advantage of the new opportunities afforded by all this change – using, reinforcing, and expanding the scope of the theory, analytical approaches, and natural history knowledge that already have propelled so much success in our fields.


Reminder: CAREER Deadline is July 18th

Just when you thought deadlines were going away, this is a reminder that some programs at NSF still have them.

So, if you are interested in the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), the 2018 deadline for BIO is July 18th. The CAREER Program is NSF-wide and supports early-career faculty. For more information there is an extensive FAQ and a webinar available online. You can also see examples of current DEB CAREER awards through the NSF Award Search.

Questions can be directed to the Program Officers listed as the points of contact for the CAREER program – every Division has one. For DEB-related inquiries, please contact Christopher Schneider at

Project Reports: Updated FAQs

Some background:

Annual and final reports have changed over the years and the purpose of this post is to answer some common questions around NSF project reporting. Reports show how our investments in research are spent. We use them to help show that taxpayer money is being spent on valuable and important work. Program Officers (POs) review each report and request additional information, if needed. In short, reports are a necessary part of the good stewardship of federal funds.

What should I put in my project report?

Follow the template. The amount of text is not an indicator of the quality of the report, or of the research productivity. We want a concise description of what happened/was accomplished during the ANNUAL reporting period (i.e. not cumulative for the entire award duration). Remember that products can include many types of things, from books, to journals, conference presentations, websites, dissertations, techniques, software, and data that has been made publicly available. It’s important to include all types of products in the report.

What are the most common problems that cause POs to return a report for revision?

  • Not listing people in the Participants/Organizations table who are mentioned in the narrative sections.
  • Grammar: lots of typos, incomplete sentences, or paragraphs.
  • Not providing details under “Accomplishments” and “Products” (especially for projects that are beyond their first year).

Who should I list in the Participants section? The other collaborators section?

Between the three sections of “Participants/Organizations,” please list everyone who has been engaged in the project within the previous 12 months. This includes students, volunteers and those paid through other sources. If their activities were related to the objectives (Intellectual or Broader Impact) of your award, they “count”. A rule of thumb in deciding which section to report under is that individual “participants” carried out the work of the objectives, “organizational partners” are any organizations beyond your awardee institution that directly enabled the work done by the participants (e.g., the other institutions involved in a multi-institutional collaborative project), and “other collaborators or contacts” would include indirect supporters or beneficiaries of the work (e.g., schools at which your student conducted a demonstration). Please note that “other collaborators and contacts” are entered into a plain narrative text-box; which doesn’t have any specific structure or data requirements.

I have an RCN or workshop award (or any other type award that may involve dozens of participants). Do you really want them all listed as Participants?

Yes. The list of participants provides an increasingly valuable database that NSF can use to quantify the impact of its investments. We prefer Participants be entered one-by-one in the Participants/Organization table.

I have a collaborative award. How should my reports differ from those of my collaborators?

Some overlap in reports is expected. Your report should focus on the components of the project and the personnel unique to your institution. Be explicit about which participants are affiliated with your part of the project or institution and which ones will be credited to one of your collaborators.

Are Annual Reports cumulative? Is the Final Report cumulative?

No and no. Report only on the previous year of work. Except for “Major Goals” and “Impacts”, there should be little or no overlap from one report to the next. The Final Report should be written as an Annual Report – there’s nothing special about it other than it being the last report on a given project.

What is the Project Outcomes Report and why is it important?

The Project Outcomes Report is due at the same time as your final report. The Project Outcome Report summarizes the overall goal(s) and accomplishments of the project upon its completion. Your Outcome Report acts as a permanent record and justification for our investment of taxpayer dollars in your research. It can be viewed by the public and should be written for the public. NSF can’t edit your Outcome Report so please take extra care to be clear and grammatically correct. Please do not cut-and-paste text from your Annual or Final Reports because you wrote them for a very different audience.

What happens if I don’t submit my report on time?

You and any Co-PIs will not be allowed to receive any new funding (e.g., annual increments, supplements, or new grants) or process any other actions (e.g., no cost extensions, PI changes) until the report is submitted and approved. Your annual report is due starting 90 days before your award anniversary. Waiting until late in the 90-day window risks delaying timely release of annual funds and possibly going overdue before we’ve had a chance to review, receive any needed corrections, and approve the report.

Can I submit a proposal if I have an overdue report?


Why am I being asked to submit my report in May when it’s not overdue until August or September (or later)?

Because that’s how our budget cycle works. You need to submit your annual report when NSF requests it because we don’t want you to miss your annual funding increment and lose your money if you turn it in after the fiscal year it is due.

Additional Reporting Resources

A list of guides, tutorials, templates, and demonstrations related to Project Reports is available here. For any additional questions around project reports, please contact your managing Program Officer. Please be aware that if you would like to request a no-cost extension for this award, you must do so before the final report is over-due. NSF cannot grant a no-cost extension when a final report is over-due, or if a final report has been submitted. Once a no-cost extension has been approved, will be updated with a new final report due date and you can submit your current year’s report.


In Memoriam – Elaine Washington

washingtonMs. Elaine Washington was a devoted, well-known worker and avid contributor to the NSF mission as an employee of the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) for over 14 years from 2001-2015. She passed away on April 18, 2018. She worked at NSF for nearly 35 years, starting at the 1800 G Street headquarters.

Ms. Washington was an experienced professional responsible for cultivating strategic partnerships through outreach activities. She supported numerous activities in DEB, including advisory panels for Evolutionary Processes (EP), Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences (SBS), Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID), Assembling the Tree of Life (ATOL), Dimensions of Biodiversity and a host of others.

She developed relationships and collaborated seamlessly with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Education Directors, Materials Research Society (MRS), American Physical Society (APS), AIP Publishing, Division of Chemistry (CHE), Division of Physics (PHY) and the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI).

She was highly engaged and adept at tasks involving data and information technology. She was also an active participant in working groups, business retreats and office events as an all-around contributor and asset to our agency. Elaine’s can-do attitude, hard work and gentle spirit will be sincerely missed at NSF but remembered fondly in our hearts forever.

Her obituary can be found here.

New System for NSF IDs – everyone’s doing it

Do you have more than one NSF ID? Do you just make yourself a new user profile when you move to a new institution? All of that is about to change. Check out the information below on the migration of all existing users to a new system (and how to register for an NSF ID, if you don’t already have one). This includes PIs and Authorized Organizational Representative (AORs).

Changes to New Registrations and Account Management Systems for FastLane and
• Effective March 26, 2018, the new Account Management system will provide each new user with a single profile and unique identifier (i.e., NSF ID) for proposal and award activities. All existing users will migrate to the new system.

The New Account Management System:
• Allows users to create and self-manage accounts, including personal information and role requests;
• Allows administrators to focus on managing roles for their organizations through a dashboard with functions to approve, disapprove, assign, and remove roles; and
• Enables migration for existing NSF account holders, including and Application Submission Web Service (ASWS) users, to the new system through a simple, one-time operation. When initially signing in to FastLane or, account holders will be required to verify their personal information before it can be transferred it to the new system. Each user will have just one NSF ID per the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (NSF 18-1), Chapter I.G.4.

Helpful Links:
This page has video tutorials and Frequently Asked Questions about the changes.
• Users with existing NSF accounts can access the NSF ID Lookup page for their NSF ID. Forgotten passwords for established NSF accounts may be retrieved here.
• New users will now be able to register directly with NSF through via this link:

Notes About and ASWS (From the info page):
• The Principal Investigator (PI), all co-PIs, and the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) listed on a proposal must all be registered with NSF prior to proposal submission. NSF IDs for the PI, all co-PIs, and the AOR listed will need to be included in the proposal submission.

Registration Requirements for Organizations:
• Organizations new to NSF will also register via the Account Management system in
• New organizations will be able to register directly with NSF through via this link:
• Before a new organization can register with NSF, it must first be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM; and have a data universal numbering system (DUNS) number.
• Organizations not already registered with NSF should be aware that completion of the SAM registration process could take up to two weeks.
• Note that the vast majority of universities are already registered with NSF via FastLane.



Workshops and RCNs: an Explainer

Modern science is characterized by a proliferation of ideas, data, papers, and models. Amid all this research activity, there is an increasing need to synthesize research findings, to bridge ideas, and direct new research around certain important areas. To catalyze these efforts, NSF offers two funding mechanisms: workshops and Research Coordination Networks (RCNs). Some of the most interesting ideas in DEB are emerging out of these workshops and RCNs.

Your research area may benefit from a workshop or RCN if:

*you have reason to believe the research field has become stuck in some way

*you notice different groups are studying the same thing but speaking different languages

*variation in methods seem to be hampering progress

What do POs look for in an RCN or workshop?

A good workshop or RCN proposal starts with a good idea. From there, we like to see a well-articulated need to bring people together around a novel topic and to meet outside of regularly scheduled annual meetings or recurring workshops. The proposal should include a solid plan for accomplishing the integration, and an outline of the products that will benefit the larger research community. Keep in mind that RCNs are for coordination of research, not conducting the research itself.

There is a huge diversity in how workshops and RCNs can function. These awards allow for a lot of creativity and outside-the-box thinking is highly encouraged. A wide range of approaches are suitable for workshop goals, including methods comparisons, database creation, and conceptual synthesis. Sometimes several approaches are necessary to accomplish the research coordination.

How are RCNs similar or different from workshops?

1. Duration and scope.

A single workshop can be a great way to test the waters and gauge community interest, or accomplish a single, focused goal. Another possibility is a recurring workshop that provides a critical piece of training not widely available elsewhere. RCNs are designed for longer-term, multi-year efforts that will take a sustained drive to accomplish. RCNs usually need to have a larger research community in mind, trajectory for the work, and a steering committee who can keep the network on track.

This “larger research community” we’re referring to is what sets RCNs apart from regular workshops. Instead of bringing together the same like-minded colleagues, RCNs usually bring together scientists and scholars from a variety of backgrounds who would not otherwise interact.

2. The review process.

Workshop proposals under $100,000 are not subject to peer-based merit review. RCNs and large workshop proposals are evaluated by the NSF merit review process using ad hoc or panel review, or both. In both RCNs and workshops, the need for intellectual synthesis must be demonstrated and the mechanism for accomplishing this goal must be clearly described. For PIs accustomed to writing research proposals, this is a shift in focus. The proposal may require an organizational chart, a list of initial participants, descriptions of workshop activities, and clear mechanisms for assessment. Successful proposals generally have a plan for recruiting early career or underrepresented scientists. These elements in the proposal indicate if the synthesis effort is likely to be successful or not.

Why is it important to contact your PO BEFORE you submit an idea for an RCN/workshop?

Unlike regular research proposals, only a handful of workshop or RCN proposals are submitted each year to a program. Thus, it is important for the POs to recognize which research areas may be most suitable for synthesis, the depth of support for these areas, and the process behind developing the proposals that are submitted. Additionally, POs can help guide the PI toward “best practices” for these efforts, and help make sure that PIs are prepared for the time and intellectual commitment required for effective leadership of an RCN or workshop. We also suggest broadly reaching out in your research community or to other PIs who have led a workshop or RCN and inviting speakers and primaries who are diverse and representative of the community at large.

Things to think about before contacting the PO:

    • What need in the research community is being addressed by the RCN/workshop?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • What would a successful outcome look like and who would benefit from these outcome(s)?

Take home points: The most important point is that these awards fund synthesis efforts. Our science needs these more than ever right now. DEB is currently accepting both workshop proposals and RCN submissions.