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:
- NSF FAQs for Public Access (NSF 10 041); and
- NSF plans for data management and sharing of the products of research (PAPPG – Chapter 2, Section 2 (j), “Special Information and Supplementary Documentation”).
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.
(Image credits: “Tips”: Aha-Soft/Shutterstock.com. Other: smahok/Shutterstock.com)
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, 2019.
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 Description, PD 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 DCL 19-054.
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 solicitation 19-567.
Some important details:
- 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
Questions 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, 2019.
MCB will host a workshop-based webinar on writing competitive proposals for faculty members at HBCU institutions. The webinar will familiarize interested applicants with program directors within the BIO directorate, review the merit review process, provide tips on writing a strong proposal, and encourage prospective PIs to communicate closely with program directors before submitting a Letter of Intent. The deadline to register for this webinar is March 26.
The webinar will focus on the EiR component of NSF solicitation NSF 18-522, the track which supports proposals that enable STEM and STEM education faculty to further develop research capacity at HBCUs and to conduct research. Letters of Intent for the HBCU-UP EiR solicitation are due July 23, 2019. Letters of Intent are required before full proposals (due Oct. 1, 2019) may be submitted.
Valuable information including registration information has been emailed to department heads in departments of biology, life sciences, or related disciplines. If you are a faculty member in a biology-related discipline at an HBCU and have not received this information, please send an email to MCBwebreg@nsf.gov. Interested PIs will indicate their availability from eight possible dates and the webinars will then be scheduled to maximize participation. The registration deadline for the webinar is March 26 to allow MCB time to develop content appropriate to participant interests.
NSF announces an informational webinar, updated deadlines, and new funding opportunities for Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR). HDR is one of the “10 Big Ideas” and represents a national-scale activity to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will allow fundamental questions to be asked and answered at the frontiers of science and engineering. The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of activities and funding opportunities, each designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science.
A webinar will present an overview of the new solicitations and other current HDR funding opportunities.
Event: Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Information Webinar
Date: February 15, 2019 – 1:00pm until 3:00pm Eastern Time
Updated Submission Deadlines
Due to the recent 35-day lapse in appropriations and shutdown of the agency, NSF is extending the submission deadlines for the following two HDR solicitation.
NSF 19-518 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Data Science Corps (DSC)
- Full proposals due February 14, 2019
NSF 19-543 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Institutes for Data- Intensive Research in Science and Engineering – Ideas Labs (I-DIRSE-IL)
- Preliminary proposals (required) due March 4, 2019
- Full proposals due June 19, 2019
New Funding Opportunities
NSF 19-550 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science Phase I
- Letter of intent due March 25, 2019
- Full proposal window April 24, 2019 – May 8, 2019
NSF 19-549 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Institutes for Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering – Frameworks (I-DIRSE-FW)
- Full proposals due May 7, 2019