MCB is back open and resuming normal duties after a lapse in appropriations. For details on submissions, reviews, and more check out the newest letter from Assistant Director Joanne Tornow on the BIO BUZZ blog.
The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences has published a Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information seeking ideas from the community on Integration Institutes for cross-cutting biology. These institutes would support collaborative teams of researchers to address questions that span multiple levels of organization in living systems and require expertise from diverse biological subdisciplines.
For more information, please visit the BIO Buzz article posted at this link.
The NSF Career Compass Challenge is a two-part, cash-prize competition seeking innovative solutions to modernize the American workforce. The Challenge addresses the changing nature of work with the goal of improving the workforce capacity to adapt to changing technologies and meet evolving workforce needs. Solvers are asked to go beyond the traditional “career path” thinking and “strategic workforce planning” methodology and to focus on concurrent learning and re-skilling for adults currently in the workforce. Solvers must beat least 14 years old; teachers are encouraged to enter on behalf of their classes.
In Part 1 of this challenge, solvers are asked to submit a concept white paper describing a solution to the challenges of continuous workforce re-skilling and the desire for increased mobility within and between NSF and other Federal agencies (and perhaps even the private sector) as an example. Between one and five papers will be selected, with a one-time cash prize of $5,000 per team. Winning concept papers will be posted on the challenge.gov site. The deadline for Part 1 is Dec. 31, 2018.
In Part 2 of the challenge, solvers are invited to develop a working prototype for government testing and evaluation. The prototype will be based on the winning concepts submitted in Part 1. The team submitting the selected prototype will be awarded a one-time cash prize of $75,000.
Full details and information on how to submit your ideas are available by clicking the “How to enter” tab on the Career Compass Challenge site.
The Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) invites PhD candidates at U.S. universities and colleges and small- to medium-sized biotechnology companies to apply for a four-month-long paid internship program to take place this summer (May-Sept). The goal of the program is to better prepare students to enter the “next generation biotech workforce.”
Interns will work on company-designed research projects and professional development activities to build stronger laboratory/analysis skills. Applications are due January 14, 2019.
EBRC is a non-profit, public-private partnership formed to advance the field of synthetic biology, connecting industrial and research communities to catalyze leading-edge research and education programs. EBRC is co-funded by the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and by the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems under NSF award #1818248.
The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is seeking proposals that address the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training.
Letters of Intent, which are required, may be submitted between Nov. 25-Dec. 6 and annually thereafter.
Full proposals are due Feb. 6, 2019 and annually thereafter.
Proposals are requested in any interdisciplinary or convergent research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on the research areas in NSF’s 10 Big Ideas. The10 Big Ideas include Understanding the Rules of Life, an area of interest to the Directorate of Biology and the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences.
The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broadening participation and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. Strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged.
NRT especially welcomes proposals that pair well with the efforts of NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES). INCLUDES aims to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society. Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.
Read the solicitation (NSF 19-522) for details.
In August, the BIO directorate released new solicitations to its proposal submission process to eliminate deadlines and limit the number of proposals that could be submitted to a given division annually by a PI or co-PI. As BIO was receiving far more worthy proposals than it has money to support, this submission cap was established with a view to ensuring that BIO’s merit review process would not be overwhelmed with the move to no deadlines.
In the ensuing three months, the community expressed serious concern that this new policy would hinder collaboration as well as limit funding prospects for new investigators. BIO places a high value on collaboration and on fostering careers of new investigators; thus, we held internal discussions to consider ways to address these concerns. In addition, relatively few proposals have been submitted to BIO since the release of the solicitations.
Having listened to community concern and tracked the current low rate of submission, and following extensive internal consultation, BIO is lifting all PI or co-PI restrictions on proposal submission for FY 2019, effective immediately.
BIO recognizes that it is important to track the effects of the no-deadline policy on proposal submission patterns, to ensure that a high-quality review process is sustained. Therefore, we are seeking approval from the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee to establish a subcommittee to assist in developing the evidence base for any future policy changes that may be needed.
Solicitations for proposals will be amended and released over the next few weeks to reflect these changes.
A recent update from the BIO OAD Blog: “The BIO advisory committee will hold a special meeting on Friday, November 16th from 2:30-4:30 PM to discuss immediately establishing a subcommittee to consider different options for addressing community concerns with the BIO proposal submission limits.
This meeting will be held via teleconference among the Advisory Committee members. Public visitors will be able to attend the meeting in person at NSF headquarters; please contact Alexis Patullo at email@example.com to request a visitor badge.
For more information on this meeting, please visit the NSF BIO Advisory Committee page.”
MCB warmly congratulates Dr. Devaki Bhaya, Program Director in the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster, for being recently named a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. The honor was extended to a total of 14 researchers this year for their significant contributions to science or science education and communication. Fellows are nominated by their peers and selected by the Academy’s board as individuals whose research aligns with the Academy’s mission to “explore, explain, and sustain life”.
Dr. Bhaya is a research staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA, and holds a courtesy appointment as a Professor of Biology at Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Dr. Bhaya says, “I am thrilled to be elected a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, an organization that couples a remarkable natural history museum with a lively research institute. My innumerable visits to the California Academy with friends, students, and family, have always been memorable and now I hope to participate more actively.”
Dr. Bhaya was selected for the Academy in part due to her work using molecular tools to understand how photosynthetic bacteria interact with their environment. More about the Academy and its newest group of Fellows is available via their website; more information about Dr. Bhaya and her research can be found on her lab web page.
AccelNet is a new solicitation that invites proposals creating international networks-of-networks in research areas aligned with either one of NSF’s Big Ideas or a community-identified scientific challenge with international dimensions. The networks-of-networks is intended to develop strategic links between U.S. research networks and complementary networks abroad. These networks could help address scientific challenges through the broader research and educational resources made available through international collaboration.
The program seeks to foster high-impact science and engineering by providing opportunities to create new collaborations and new combinations of resources and ideas among linked global networks. The goals of the AccelNet program are to:
- accelerate the process of scientific discovery; and
- prepare the next generation of U.S. researchers for multiteam international collaborations.
Letters of Intent are due December 21, 2018. For more information, read the solicitation.