As the Assistant Director of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) at the National Science Foundation, it is my pleasure to welcome you to BIO Buzz, the blog for BIO’s Office of the Assistant Director. This blog will be a platform for disseminating information about policies, procedures, activities and initiatives that extend across BIO Divisions and affect the biological sciences community as a whole.
Our vision for the Directorate requires that the shared core values of the BIO Divisions—transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness—are reflected in the activities of the BIO Front Office. One step toward realizing this vision is to advance our existing communications strategy and enhance engagement within the Directorate and between BIO, the scientific community, and the general public. Effective communication is essential to fulfilling the missions of NSF and BIO. We hope you find the information here informative. Welcome to BIO Buzz!
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.
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:
STEM undergraduates at community and technical colleges;
STEM undergraduates at four-year institutions;
STEM graduate students and postdoctoral researchers; and
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.
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.
You can find more information and apply for this challenge on Challenge.gov.
The last year-and-a-half has shown NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) the need for ongoing and new efforts to broaden participation and enhance diversity in the biological sciences given the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals in historically under-represented groups, those at historically under-served institutions, and on those institutions themselves. Of course, these issues did not arise during the pandemic. They are historic and COVID-19 has only heightened them.
To achieve greater diversity across the biological workforce, BIO has released two new solicitations, highlighted below.
Details of these funding opportunities will be featured in the upcoming VOH on November 18, at 1pm ET. Register for that session here.
Awards will provide the means for new faculty (i.e., those at the Assistant Professor rank (or equivalent) with service at that rank for no more than 3 years by the proposal submission date) — primarily at MSIs, PUIs, and other universities and colleges that are not among the nation’s most research-intensive institutions — to initiate and build independent research programs by enhancing their research capacity. These projects might also include biology-focused research collaborations among faculty within the same institution, across peer-, or research-intensive institutions, or partnerships with industry or other non-academic partners that advance the candidate’s research program.
Full proposal windows: January 3-31, 2022 and June 1-30, 2022
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.
Full proposal deadline: January 20, 2022
To help the community become acquainted with these new efforts focused on broadening participation, Program Directors from across the Directorate for Biological Sciences will hold a Virtual Office Hour on November 18 at 1pm ET.
Next week, recent NSF applicants and reviewers will be emailed a survey link to provide feedback on their experience with the merit review process. Eligible individuals will be those who have submitted and/or reviewed proposals between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2020. Results from this survey will help NSF understand critical elements of the merit review process, including perceptions of fairness, quality, satisfaction, and burden for individual directorates and NSF as a whole. In the past, survey findings led to improvements, such as revisions to reviewer training to enhance the quality of reviews used to make funding decisions.
If you have submitted or reviewed a proposal within the past two years, check your inbox on October 19 for your personal link to the survey. Your feedback is a crucial to the ongoing improvement of the merit review process. If you do not see the email in your inbox, check you spam folder. Please reach out to MeritReviewSurvey@nsf.gov with questions.
This survey is sponsored by the Office of Integrative Activities, and survey invitations will come from Insight Policy Research, an independent contractor conducting the survey. PI and reviewer participation is voluntary and confidential. This survey should take no more than 20 minutes.
Thank you in advance for helping us continually improve the NSF merit review process.
As a reminder, the PAPPG is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation’s proposal and award process for the assistance programs of NSF. The PAPPG, in conjunction with the applicable standard award conditions incorporated by reference in the award, serve as the Foundation’s implementation of 2 CFR §200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.
Predicting and preventing pandemics that have not yet happened is the focus of a new funding opportunity from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Researchers from a broad range of scientific disciplines — including those across the biological sciences — are invited to submit proposals to develop multidisciplinary research centers that can address the complex challenges involved in forecasting and avoiding future pandemic-scale outbreaks.
The Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention initiative, is aimed at better understanding the dynamic nature of pathogen and disease emergence, which poses a continuing risk to our national security, health, and economic stability. The solicitation builds on a series of interdisciplinary workshops held this past year, and provides support for planning activities that identify interdisciplinary grand challenges that can only be overcome through the integration of computational, biological, engineering, and social/behavioral approaches; propose novel conceptual research and technology developments aimed at overcoming those challenges; and formulate interdisciplinary teams to conduct that work.
Phase I proposals are due on Oct. 1, 2021. A solicitation for Phase II Center Grants is expected to be released in FY 2022.
The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) recognizes the importance of early-career research experiences and that the COVID-19 pandemic has denied many undergraduates – especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM – such a research experience, whether it was to be supported by a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site, REU supplements, or individual arrangements with faculty mentors.
BIO has issued a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), Research Experience for Post-Baccalaureate Students (REPS), which invites Principal Investigators (PI) of active awards to submit a supplemental funding request to support the research training of post-baccalaureate students. These supplements will support research experiences for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree but who are not currently enrolled in another degree program and who were denied an undergraduate research experience – whether it was to be supported by a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site, REU supplements or individual arrangements with faculty mentors – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through this DCL opportunity, we expect that PIs will provide the REPS participants with an independent but guided research project and professional development to better prepare them for graduate education or entry into the workforce. Ideally, the REPS participants will be involved in the development of their research project.
REPS supplemental funding requests will be reviewed for funding consideration upon receipt. To receive full funding consideration for FY2021, requests should be submitted by July 2, 2021. Supplemental funding requests submitted after that date will be considered if funds are available.
More information on BIO’s efforts to support the research community in recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in an earlier post on this blog “Update on COVID-19 Recovery Efforts” or on NSF.gov.
As noted previously on this blog, NSF has recently launched a new opportunity for professional societies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion — LEAPS (LEAding cultural change through Professional Societies) for Biology. NSF is offering a webinar for the LEAPS program on March 24th at 2 p.m. EST. We encourage representatives from societies across the biological sciences and those societies focused on broadening participation (SACNAS, AISES, ABRCMS) and/or from the NSF INCLUDES National Network to participate. Individuals from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other organizations/institutions serving diverse populations are also encouraged to attend.
The Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO); Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE); Engineering (ENG); Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE); and the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) have jointly supported a series of interdisciplinary workshops to engage research communities around the topic of Predictive Intelligence forPandemic Prevention.
The fourth and concluding workshop will be held on March 22-23, 2021 and examine how human attitudes, social behavior, and the drivers underlying both contribute to disease transmission through their determination of policy and behavioral obstacles and supports. We encourage investigators across the biological sciences involved in infectious disease-related research to participate as the workshop will provide an opportunity to network with researchers in akin areas across the sciences and engineering. You can register at https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_p3YtA1RwQPCV6z1wWZAx7g.
The goal of the series is to bring together interdisciplinary experts in the biological, engineering, computer, and social and behavioral sciences to start conversations and catalyze ideas on how to advance scientific understanding beyond state-of-the-art in pre-emergence and emergence forecasting, real-time monitoring, and detection of inflection point events in order to prevent and mitigate the occurrence of future pandemics. As per our mission, these NSF supported workshops will focus on the foundational knowledge and capabilities needed to inform future infectious disease outbreak prediction and pandemic prevention.
Each of these workshops is expected to have up to 50 invited active participants. The community can participate in a listen-only mode and interact through chat and Q&A functions.
The National Science Foundation has recently released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) encouraging professional societies to work together to form networks to promote cultural change in biology to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. The DCL, called LEAPS (LEAding cultural change through Professional Societies) of Biology, intends to fund conference proposals, planning proposals, and Research Coordination Network (RCN) proposals that will facilitate collaboration among biology professional societies with the goal of broadening participation of the STEM workforce at scale.
This DCL encourages submissions from societies focused on broadening participation (SACNAS, AISES, ABRCMS) and/or from the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Professional societies are uniquely positioned to lead cultural, structural, and social change through appointing or electing society leaders, convening meetings, publishing, issuing awards, providing training, and creating career support networks. They can shape the culture at the scale of the (sub-) discipline and have the potential to influence other disciplines, institutions, and departments.
Potential partnerships could also include Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other organizations/institutions serving diverse populations. The participation of multiple societies from more than one biological discipline and/or of multiple societies from the same discipline that range in membership size is also encouraged.
For more information, please read the full DCL. To be considered for funding in fiscal year 2021, proposals should be submitted by May 14, 2021. Proposals submitted after that date will be considered for fiscal year 2022 funding.
For questions concerning the DCL, please contact one of the following Program Directors: