The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences wants to hear what you think!
Although registration for participating in one of two Virtual Town Halls will soon close, there’s still time to make your voice heard in the discussion about the directions you’d like to see funded by the National Science Foundation.
For more information, read the post, “Integrating Biology” at BioBuzz, the blog of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Biological Sciences, Office of the Assistant Director.
Learn about this exciting new initiative and register for town hall discussions from the Office of the Assistant Director’s blog here or below.
“Biology has the goal of understanding the processes that generate and sustain life. Despite this unifying principle, the actual practice of modern biology has become increasingly fragmented into subdisciplines due, in part, to specialized approaches required for deep study of narrowly defined problems. BIO aims to encourage a unification of biology. Our goal is to stimulate creative integration of diverse biological disciplines using innovative experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches to discover underlying principles operating across all hierarchical levels of life, from biomolecules to organisms, species, ecosystems, and biomes.
Earlier this year we asked you, as members of the biological sciences community, for high-level ideas on the research questions and topics that would benefit from NSF investment in a truly integrated research environment. The responses from across the country offered a broad range of fundamental biological questions spanning the scales of biological organization. BIO now wants to grow and enrich the conversation with a view to priming the formation of new NSF-supported research teams around these questions.
To that end, we invite you to register for one of several Virtual Town Hall discussions, which will take place the week of September 16, 2019. These events will help identify themes for more focused, in-person discussions that will take place later in the fall – fertile soil for germination of new, foundational cross-disciplinary ideas that will unify and advance the biological sciences.
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) became fully operational this year, and public sources of data are now freely available. Additionally, a recent Dear Colleague Letter announced an intent to compete management of future operation and maintenance of the network. Read more about it on Bio Buzz, BIO’s blog from the office of the Assistant Director.
Whether you are a first-time investigator or a seasoned NSF-funded researcher, a correctly prepared award budget can help you prevent delays in starting your research. We asked MCB program directors to tell us their top tips on completing a proposal budget. While these tips are helpful, MCB reminds PIs to always refer to the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedure Guide (PAPPG) for guidance on proposal submission. In addition, follow any specific instructions or restrictions included in the program announcement or program solicitation to which you are applying.
Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) 19-069 was recently issued to highlight two key practices of effective data management and two tools to produce a data management plan (DMP) that meets NSF requirements.
Two key practices:
1. Persistent IDs for Data: Make your data discoverable, citable, and linkable by assigning a persistent identifier, often available through your home institution.
2. Machine-readable DMP: Ensure that the plan for managing, disseminating, and sharing your data and associated resources is in a format that can be read by a computer. Using a standardized template is a good way to make the elements of the plan clear and easily modifiable as needs of the project evolve over time.
Two key tools:
DCL 19-069 cites two free tools for creating machine-readable DMPs. Neither is required to be used.
1. ezDMP: This tool was developed to ensure that proposals submitted to NSF include clearly organized DMPs. Funded through an EAGER grant, (NSF award 1649703), ezDMP includes links to updates from the Directorate of Biology on DMPs as well as a list of biology-specific repositories.
2. DMPTool: This tool provides a click-through wizard for creating a well-organized DMP based on templates from over 250 institutions and nearly 40 funding agencies, including NSF.
Other sources of information about NSF’s data management policy include:
All proposals submitted to NSF must include a data management plan regardless of the amount of data the project is expected to produce. The DMP requirement supports NSF’s policy on data sharing, which in turn, complies with a memorandum issued in 2013 requiring public availability of federally funded research and digital scientific data.
The Center for High Resolution Neutron Scattering (CHRNS) is holding a week-long course from July 22-26 at the Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Gaithersburg, MD. Registration for the class, titled, “CHRNS Summer School on Methods and Applications of Neutron Spectroscopy,”and other information about the course is available on line.
To assist the research community in accessing NIST instrumentation for conducting fundamental research, NSF has created Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) 11-066. Titled “NSF-NIST Interaction in Basic and Applied Scientific Research in BIO, ENG & MPS,” the DCL provides supplemental funding to enable investigators holding active awards from NSF to conduct relevant portions of their work on-site at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Funding requests may include travel expenses and per diem as well as collaboration by principle investigators (PIs), co-PIs, post-doctoral scholars and both undergraduate and graduate students.
The DCL facilitates collaborative research and educational activities between NSF-funded investigators and science and engineering staff at NIST. In practical terms, this means that NIST provides not only access to its laboratories, but also instrument specialists. “This frees the biologist to focus on the research rather than on learning new technology,” notes Engin Serpersu, program director in the Molecular Biophysics cluster of MCB.
NIST’s half-dozen laboratories and user facilities included in the DCL align with MCB’s goal to support research that incorporates theories and concepts from physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering and computer science. For example, says Serpersu, “The opportunity to conduct research using neutron scattering technology is extremely useful for discerning the structural and dynamic properties of biological systems.”
Read the DCL for more information and contact your program director to discuss your request.
NSF CAREER proposals submitted to BIO are due July 17, 2019 by 5PM submitter’s local time. The CAREER program (NSF 17-537) is an NSF-wide solicitation offering the agency’s most prestigious award for early career faculty. CAREER awards are intended to be the foundation of a lifetime of leadership, research, and education, and in MCB are awarded in any research area supported by MCB core programs. CAREER awardees are also eligible to receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Applicants with questions can read these FAQs
or contact the relevant division
representative. All proposals should be submitted in accordance with
the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 19-1),
which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after February 25,
NSF BIO researchers can now submit collaborative proposals with British institutions in four new topic areas, Bioinformatics, Microbiome, Quantum Biology, and Synthetic Biology/Synthetic Cell. This opportunity to submit collaborative projects that are reviewed only once, either at NSF BIO or BBSRC, is highlighted in the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF 19-058, which explains the process for preparation of the letter of intent and proposal submission to this funding opportunity.
There is a 2-stage application process: a letter of intent
(due July 2, 2019) after which full proposals will be invited to their
appropriate programs in both the UKRI/BBSRC (due 2nd October 2019) and NSF/BIO (full
proposals accepted anytime).
Projects must be a collaboration between at least one investigator
in the US and one in the UK and must address the priorities of both UKRI/BBSRC
and appropriate NSF/BIO Divisions. Additionally, proposers must provide a clear
rationale for the need for a US-UK collaboration, including the unique
expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.
For full details on submission guidelines, program priorities, and contact information see DCL NSF 19-058.
Funding opportunities are available in fiscal years FY 2019
and FY 2020 to provide support for proposals from interdisciplinary teams
comprised of mathematical, computational, and biological scientists to develop MODels for Uncovering Rules and Unexpected Phenomena in Biological Systems (MODULUS). The divisions of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
and Mathematical Sciences (DMS) are seeking to cultivate innovative modes of
collaboration among researchers working at the interface of mathematics and
molecular and cellular biology. The MODULUS DCL encourages the formation of
nascent collaborative teams that use novel mechanistic mathematical models to
guide systems-scale exploration and discovery of new biological phenomena,
rules, and theories that govern molecular interactions and emergent behaviors
in living systems.
Proposals in response to this DCL may be submitted to the
current core solicitations, either in DMS via the Mathematical Biology Program
18-7334, or the MCB solicitation NSF
18-585 and directed to the Systems and Synthetic Biology program. Full
details on program priorities, submission requirements, and important dates are
available via the
The Science and Technology
Centers (STC): Integrative Partnershipsprogram has released an updated solicitation
calling for preliminary proposals that would ultimately lead to the awarding of
five new research STCs. Science and Technology Centers support innovative,
potentially transformative, complex research and education projects that
require large-scale, long-term awards. They provide a means to undertake
potentially groundbreaking investigations at the interfaces of disciplines
and/or highly innovative approaches within disciplines. These centers can cover
research in any topic that is funded by NSF including all areas of biology, and
education. They usually include partnerships among academic institutions, national
laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private entities,
and international collaborations, as appropriate, to accomplish their research.
More information on eligibility and other program specifics can be found in the
Submissions of preliminary proposals are limited to 3 proposals per institution
Submissions limited to 1 proposal per PI or co-PI
Preliminary Proposal Due June 25, 2019
Full Proposal Due January 27, 2020
can be answered by reaching out to the cognizant program officer. All proposals
submitted in response to this STC solicitation should be submitted in
accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures
Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 19-1),
which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after February 25,