I am pleased to welcome Dr. Denise Dearing to BIO as the new Division Director in our Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS). Dr. Dearing joins us from the University of Utah where she is a Distinguished Professor and was previously the Inaugural Director of the School of Biological Sciences, and Chair of the Department of Biology before that.
Dr. Dearing’s research focuses on the ecology and evolution of dietary specialization in mammalian herbivores. In that work, she has trained dozens of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates. She and her lab seek to understand the physiological, microbial and behavioral mechanisms used by herbivores to metabolize or circumvent dietary toxins. Her past NSF funding includes a postdoctoral fellowship; awards from IOS, including a CAREER award and other grants for work in nutritional ecology and disease ecology from multiple BIO divisions.
In her new role, Dr. Dearing will lead IOS in supporting the research community in advancing our understanding of organisms as integrated units, including in how they behave, develop, and interact with a changing environment.
I want to personally thank Dr. Michelle Elekonich for her service as Acting Division Director for IOS over the past year and more, and both Dr. Charles Cunningham and Dr. Edda “Floh” Thiels for serving as Acting Deputy Division Director while Dr. Elekonich took on her interim role. All of their work in guiding IOS during this transition is greatly valued and appreciated.
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.