Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN) Webinar Announced

As noted previously on BIO Buzz, NSF has recently released a revised solicitation under the Understanding the Rules of Life: Emerging Networks (URoL:EN) program. To help inform the community of the changes in and particulars of the new solicitation, the program team will be holding a webinar on Friday, January 7, 2022 from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET.

Program Officers will provide an introduction of the revised cross-Directorate solicitation and will be available for questions.

REGISTER HERE

As a reminder, the new solicitation is part of the Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype, one of ten “Big Ideas” NSF-wide, and builds on previous URoL programs to help increase knowledge and the ability to predict an organism’s observable characteristics—its phenotype—from its genotype.

Proposals under the solicitation should be submitted by March 1, 2022.

For more information, see the previous BIO Buzz post.

For full details and guidance on award types, amounts and other questions, see Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN).

Should responses to prior reviews be included in a proposal?

NSF Program Officers are often asked whether it’s a good idea to include a section in a proposal they’re writing that explains how the current version differs from a previous version that was declined. There’s no easy answer. In this post we discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of providing a section on responses to prior reviews.

Potential advantages of including a section addressing prior reviews:

  • It suggests that you were open-minded about weaknesses identified by reviewers and that you’ll take to heart reviewers’ opinions of the current proposal.
  • It gives you the opportunity to quote text from the Panel Summary about the proposal’s strength(s).
  • It seems to document that the current proposal is stronger than a previous version.
  • If you mention that the proposal was rated at High Priority, Medium Priority, or Low Priority, most reviewers will recognize that the previous version must have been competitive, and they may view the current proposal in a more positive light.

Potential disadvantages of including a section addressing prior reviews:

  • Given the strict limit of 15 pages for your Project Description, it takes up valuable space.
  • Even if you think you’ve successfully addressed key weaknesses, reviewers’ attention will be drawn to them. That’s problematic if they’re unconvinced by one or more of your responses.
  • If you mention that the proposal was rated at High Priority, Medium Priority, or Low Priority, most reviewers will recognize that the previous version must have been competitive, and they may have higher expectations of the proposal.

Our advice:

  • Consider including a section that addresses prior reviews if you can start from a position of strength – i.e., if your prior submission was rated High, Medium or Low Priority. Conversely, if your prior submission was rated Not Competitive, the disadvantages of adding that section are more likely to outweigh the advantages.
  • Keep it short and focused on the key point(s). One paragraph should do the trick.
  • Don’t sound defensive. If reviewers missed a key detail or were confused about something, take responsibility for not being clearer.
  • If reviewers were generally uninspired by your previous submission(s) – for example, no or few scores of Excellent or Very Good – an effective revision is likely to be so major that the changes can’t be concisely conveyed. Focus on looking ahead, not behind.

Check out the new Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL) Solicitation

NSF has just released a revision to the new Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN) solicitation that builds on previous solicitations and awards under NSF’s Understanding the Rules of Life Big Idea. The solicitation (22-532) also supports BIO’s efforts to integrate within and across the biological sciences, as well as support interdisciplinary science.

The program supports research to understand “rules of emergence” for networks of living systems and their environments. These emergent networks are made up of the interactions among organismal, environmental, social, and human-engineered systems that are complex and often unexpected given the behaviors of these systems when observed in isolation. The often-unanticipated outcomes of these interactions can be both wide-ranging and enormously impactful.

URoL:EN projects will use convergent scientific approaches to explore these interactions and contribute to understanding rules of life through new theories and reliable predictions about the impact of specific environmental changes on behaviors of complex living systems, or engineerable interventions and technologies based on a rule of life to address associated outcomes for societal benefit.

Submissions must be made by March 1, 2022.

We encourage you to monitor the BIO homepage on NSF.gov and the URoL:EN program page for further information and opportunities to connect with the cognizant program officers.

Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP) Webinar

Please join the Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP) program for a webinar on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST. There will be a short presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with cognizant Program Officers.

Awards will establish networks to support full-time research, mentoring, and training for recent college graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by the Directorate of Biological Sciences.

The full proposal deadline is January 20, 2022 and you can learn more about the program in the solicitation.

Please register in advance for the webinar below, and share this invitation with anyone you think may be interested:

https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_NBuCmYe5QnilXXmEuAhOVw

Immediately prior to this webinar, NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences will be hosting a webinar for the Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO) program. Learn more about the webinar and join us if you can.

Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO) Webinar

Please join the Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO) program for a webinar on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST. There will be a short presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with cognizant Program Officers.

BRC-BIO is a new NSF program intended to enhance research capacity and broaden participation of new faculty of biology at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), and other universities and colleges that are not among the nation’s most research-intensive and resourced institutions.

Some key information from the solicitation:

  • Primary investigators must be at the Assistant Professor rank (or tenure-track equivalent) with service for no more than 3 years by the submission date.
  • Proposed projects should help enable the establishment of research programs that will be competitive for future research proposals to the NSF (e.g., CAREER) or other agencies. Projects should enrich undergraduate research experiences and thereby grow the STEM workforce.
  • Projects can include biology-focused research collaborations among those in academia, or partnerships with industry or other non-academic partners that advance the PI’s research program. 
  • First submission window:  January 03 – January 31, 2022

Please register in advance for the webinar below, and share this invitation with anyone you think may be interested:

https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN__wI_CKm5QB-Z2ku5L-0BHg

Immediately following this webinar, NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences  will be hosting a webinar for the Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP) program. Learn more about the webinar and join us if you can.

Upcoming Virtual Office Hours: How to Write a Great Annual Report 

Join us Monday, December 13th, 1pm-2pm ET for DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour. Program Officers will provide tips and tricks on how to write a great annual report. 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:   

December 13: How to Write a Great Annual Report and Other Post-Award Actions  

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 

DEB Division Director Search Open

DEB is searching for the next Division Director (DD), an important leadership position. The Division Director manages the Division, coordinates Division activities with the BIO Assistant Director, and serves as the Foundation’s principal spokesperson in the field of environmental biosciences. The advertisement for the DEB DD position was recently posted and is scheduled to remain open until January 3, 2022.

You can view the announcement here: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/622969500

The Division Director is an appointment at the Senior Executive Service (SES) level. A primer on the SES can be found here: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/senior-executive-service/.

Please consider applying if you meet the qualifications, and feel free to distribute this broadly to qualified candidates. Thank you!

NSF Issues New Challenge to Identify Systemic Strategies to Address Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 on DEI in STEM

NSF has announced the “Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge,” an ideas challenge for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). The challenge is designed to highlight the need for institutional solutions to mitigate the long-term, negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). 

Because the issues impacting STEM undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty vary, the challenge is divided into four categories:

  1. STEM undergraduates at community and technical colleges;
  2. STEM undergraduates at four-year institutions;
  3. STEM graduate students and postdoctoral researchers; and
  4. STEM faculty. 

Each category will have first-, second-, and third-place cash winners and may include up to 10 honorable mention designees.

Winners will be announced in March 2022 and will be invited to present their ideas with the community at a future NSF event. All prize-winning and honorable mention submissions will be added to a repository and made available to the public. 

The NSF programs sponsoring the challenge include: Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP)ADVANCEHistorically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP)Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES), Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program (HSI)Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP), and Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP)

Eligibility

All eligible IHEs are encouraged and invited to submit descriptions of institutional actions that have been implemented, or will be implemented, such as new and revised policies, procedures, and practices to ensure continued progress toward more diverse, equitable, and inclusive STEM higher education programs and institutions. Submissions from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and community and technical colleges are particularly encouraged in all challenge categories for which they are eligible. IHEs do not need to have a grant from NSF to submit to this challenge. 

More information

You can find more information and apply for this challenge on Challenge.gov.

Biology Integration Institutes (BII) Webinar

Please join the Biology Integration Institutes (BII) program for a webinar on December 2nd, 2021 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST. There will be a short presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with cognizant Program Officers.

The aim of the BII program is to bring researchers across biology’s many subdisciplines together around the common goal of understanding how the processes that sustain life and enable biological innovation 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 next deadline is January 12, 2022. To see more information about previously funded awards under this program, please see here.

Please register in advance for the webinar below, and share this invitation with anyone you think may be interested:

Register Here