Research funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and other directorates at NSF have a long history of helping to address societal challenges. From the basic science that identified the enzymes critical to PCR to increased understanding of fire regimes that has helped mitigate the impacts of wildland fire on home, life, and the economy.
NSF has now launched new webpages to help the research community connect our funding opportunities with the societal challenge the research they support can help address — something like a translational lens through which to view solicitations and Dear Colleague Letters.
You can learn more about the topics and view funding opportunities from across NSF that support research on the pages, organized by directorate.
As always, if you have a specific question about where your research might fit we encourage you to reach out to a program officer. If your research doesn’t fit under a program they manage, they can help you find the right program.
The NSF Convergence Accelerator program addresses national-scale societal challenges through use-inspired convergence research. Using a convergence approach and innovation processes like human-centered design, user discovery, and team science and integration of multidisciplinary research, the program seeks to transition basic research and discovery into practice—to solve high-impact societal challenges aligned with specific research themes (tracks). The program recently released the tracks for the FY 2022 cohort, which hold significant potential for the biological sciences:
Track H: Enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities: Serves as a platform to bring together researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders from a wide range of disciplines and sectors to work on use-inspired solutions to enhance quality of life and employment access and opportunities for PWDs.
Track I: Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges: Aims to converge advances in fundamental materials science with materials design and manufacturing methods in an effort to couple their end-use and full life-cycle considerations for environmentally- and economically-sustainable materials and products.
Track J: Food & Nutrition Security: Accelerates convergence across food and nutrition sectors to address intertwined challenges in supporting population health, combating climate change, and addressing the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable by empowering youth, women, and disadvantaged communities.
For more information on the Convergence Accelerator and its phased model, and to read the full solicitation and broad agency announcement, please visit the Convergence Accelerator program page.
NSF has funded myriad research projects that resulted in publicly accessible, modifiable, and distributable open-source software, hardware, or data platforms. Now we are looking to support the development of these and other widely-used open-source products into open-source “ecosystems” (OSEs), each comprising a distributed community of developers and a broad base of users in academia, industry and government through a new program: Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE)
These OSE’s will aid in developing new technology solutions to problems of national, societal, and economic importance, such as mitigating climate change, combating biodiversity loss, feeding the planet sustainably, and limiting the spread of infectious diseases. All of which engage the biological sciences and support BIO priorities.
You can read all about POSE, including proposal requirements, deadlines, and phases, and find contact information for the cognizant Program Directors on the program page.
Opportunities to Learn More NSF Program Directors representing the POSE program will hold an informational webinar on March 23, 2022 from 3:30 PM ET to 4:30 PM ET.
The program aims to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in biology at scale through culture change by leveraging the leadership, broad reach, and unique ability of professional societies. Professional societies are uniquely positioned to help facilitate culture change in their disciplines through: publishing journals, fostering scientific discussion and debate, broad membership (including membership from academia, government agencies, and private businesses), hosting large scientific meetings that can serve as networking and professional development opportunities for people at many professional levels, and electing leaders that greatly influence views and norms within a discipline.
As we recognize that disciplines and societies may be at different points in assessing and addressing their culture, the program has three tracks — Evaluation, Design and Plan, and Implementation. The Evaluation Track is for projects focused on assessment and research of the values, norms, priorities, and practices associated with the culture of the discipline or sub-discipline. The Design Track is for projects to develop an evidence-based plan to address broad-scale culture change within a discipline or sub-discipline. The Implementation Track is for projects to implement evidence-based cultural change strategies that leverage the influence of biological professional societies.
Two webinars (March 21, 2022 from 2-3 EST and April 22, 2022 from 3-4 EST) are being planned to provide the community the opportunity to learn more about the program and ask questions of cognizant program officers. Please monitor the BIO-LEAPS program page for registration links.
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.
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.
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.
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:
The biological world is interconnected by complex networks. What are the rules that control these networks? How are the interactions altered by environments? Are the rules similar across all biological scales? How can an understanding of such roles be harnessed to benefit society?
The new Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN) solicitation encourages convergent, cross-disciplinary research – including the biological sciences – to examine such rules, the outcomes of these interactions, and to aid in the prediction of emergent properties. The program also seeks to train STEM practitioners to contribute to this area of convergent research. Proposals under the solicitation should be submitted by May 10, 2021.
Understanding the mechanisms at play in the interconnections between living organisms and their environments, across every biological scale, will provide vital insight into grand biological challenges, help advance biotechnology to spur the US bioeconomy, and aid in solving some of society’s issues, including the growing impacts of infectious disease and climate change.
Investigators from across the biological sciences are encouraged to submit proposals in concert with researchers in other disciplines, including the mathematical and physical sciences, geosciences, computer and information sciences, engineering, and behavioral and social sciences.