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:

A banner noting the title of the challenge and sponsoring NSF programs. The banner includes a simulation-derived image of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.
  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), ADVANCE, Historically 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.

BIO Releases New Solicitations Aimed at Broadening Participation

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.

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

  • 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

Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP)

  • 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.

Register at https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_QJdSn2DFQUOpIFOu_oW-Cg.