Getting to Know MCB

MCB BIDS FAREWELL TO BRIDGET JOHNSON

Bridget Johnson joined MCB in March 2018 as a program assistant. She became a program specialist in July 2019.

Former NSF employee, Bridget Johnson, standing in front of a National Science Foundation banner.

What is next for you after your time at NSF?

I have accepted a position as a life scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency in northern California. I will also continue to work part-time on my Master of Natural Resources degree from Virginia Tech. Although it’s sad to be leaving NSF, I’m grateful for the experience and look forward to this next step in my career.

What was working at MCB like?

MCB has been a great place to work. It’s a very collaborative, congenial environment with a dedicated staff. During these difficult times, the team has been particularly supportive of each other while adeptly continuing the agency’s mission. Another benefit of working in MCB is the snacks! When we were working physically in the office, there were always goodies shared at staff meetings and potlucks. I can only hope my future workplaces are as welcoming of sweet tooths.

What did you learn from your position?

I’m thankful that MCB gave me the chance to work at NSF, which has provided me a great transition into federal service. I gained experience in administration, event coordination, finance, and data analysis. I had the chance to work on a number of interesting projects, including the Synthetic Cell Ideas Lab, the webinar series for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Excellence in Research (HBCU – EiR) program, and NSF’s research collaboration with the United Kingdom Research Institute (NSF/BIO – UKRI/BBSRC). This year in particular has driven home the vital importance of funding science, and it was an honor to play a small role in support of that goal. I’m especially grateful for the professional relationships and friendships that I developed with NSF colleagues over the years.

Proposal submissions, Step One: Call a Program Officer and … say What?

Many researchers report that they are intimidated by the thought of calling a program officer (PO) to discuss their project proposal because they don’t how to initiate the conversation or what questions to ask. Program officers in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) recommend that principal investigators start by conducting background research on their project idea and send a one-page summary (see pp 10-13) before scheduling a call with a PO. An early conversation can help a researcher identify the most appropriate program and PO for a proposal. Below are some considerations for each step.

Some items you may wish to research before a phone call:

  • The current research portfolio of the program
  • Abstracts of funded projects related to yours
  • Award size, duration, and limitations of the solicitation
  • Any program specific requirements of the solicitation

A one-page summary should include: (be prepared to discuss these topics in depth during a phone call)

  • Your questions and specific aims
  • The big picture of your research area and knowledge gaps you are addressing
  • Key preliminary data and rationale
  • Overall intellectual merits and broader impacts
  • Any visuals that may be helpful

Possible topics and questions to bring up in a phone call:
Program fit:

  • Does my project fit this program?
  • What other programs or solicitations may be appropriate for my project?

Broader impacts:

  • Do my broader impacts fit NSF expectations?
  • What is the difference between broader impacts and broadening participation?
  • Do broader impacts and intellectual merits need to be integrated? Are mine sufficiently integrated?
  • Should I structure broader impacts and intellectual merit plans in the same way?

Specifics of proposal preparation:

  • Are my preliminary data in line with what the program expects?
  • To what extent should I describe results from prior support?
  • What kinds of equipment costs can be requested?
  • How much salary can I ask for myself, postdoc, or graduate student?
  • Do I have to include undergraduates in participant support costs?
  • What is the best way to fund a collaboration?
  • Can I submit the same proposal to another funding agency?
  • How long does the review process take?
  • Can I be funded by the same NSF program for two different projects?
  • What kinds of direct costs are allowable in budget line G6 Other?

NSF’s review process:

  • When is a good time to submit a proposal, given that there is no deadline?
  • Will the reviewers be experts in my field?
  • When should I expect a decision?
  • What are my options if my proposal is declined?
  • Will my declined proposal be evaluated by the same reviewers in the next round?

Did you know?

MCB holds virtual office hours on topics specific to the MCB research community once each month. Visit this page to register for upcoming events and to access past presentations. For more information on working with Program Officers, read this NSF 101 post on NSF’s Science Matters blog.



WELCOME AND FAREWELL: DIVISION LEADERSHIP CHANGES

The division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) welcomes Dr. Theresa Good as its new, permanent, division director. Dr. Good replaces Dr. Basil Nikolau, who ended a three-year term as a rotating division director on March 28. Dr. Brent Miller will serve a three-month term as MCB’s deputy division director.

Dr. Theresa Good, Division Director, completed a doctoral degree in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her career as an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, where she was tenured. She then worked as a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research focus was on using bioengineering tools to understand the role of protein aggregation in disease.

Dr. Good began her service with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program director in the Directorate for Engineering from 2010-2012 and then in MCB from 2012-2015, where she managed programs in biotechnology, biochemical engineering, and systems and synthetic biology. In 2015, she assumed the role of deputy division director. In this role she managed all aspects of division performance, including both operations and the division’s role in funding the leading edges of fundamental research in biology.

Asked what she hopes to focus on in her first year as MCB division director, Dr. Good said “I’d like to see us find a way to encourage more bold science in the submissions MCB receives from the science community. I want to see us working on opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. I think there is a need for more two-way communication between MCB and the science community.”

Dr. Brent Miller, acting division director, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Dr. Brent Miller, Acting Deputy Division Director, earned a doctoral degree in cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Davis. He served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at NSF through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from 2006-2008 before working as a science advisor at Wellcome Trust, where he managed the human physiology portfolio.

After Wellcome, Brent worked as a research staff member at IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, where he worked with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop the Obama administration’s National Bioeconomy Blueprint. He worked most recently as a health science policy analyst at the National Institute of Mental Health leading the effort to develop the institution’s strategic plan. He returned to NSF/BIO in 2015 to work as a science advisor in the Office of the Assistant Director, where he developed the directorate’s capabilities in strategic portfolio analysis. 

Dr. Miller’s experience in developing science vision and strategic planning, as well as his expertise in data analytics, will help ensure MCB’s contribution to NSF’s mission of building the future via investments in discovery and innovation.

Dr. Basil Nikolau, former division director for the division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Dr. Basil Nikolau, outgoing Division Director, joined MCB as a division director in 2018, ably leading MCB during his three-year term. His love of science was a hallmark of his leadership, as well as his empathy and compassion for others. These qualities helped Dr. Nikolau keep morale high during both the 2019 lapse in appropriations and the current pandemic. He helped channel the division’s energy and concern during periods of social unrest into development of new diversity, equity, and inclusion activities. Dr. Nikolau’s commitment to both science and people was unwavering; as a result, MCB has thrived. MCB wishes Dr. Nikolau a warm farewell and wishes him much success in his next adventure

Top Five: Most Viewed Posts Published in 2020

Since the launch of the MCB blog in 2015, the total number of annual views has increased by nearly 60%. Readership has been driven by continued promotion as well as the addition of two new pages useful to the research community. The Funding Opportunities page, with over 1,100 views, highlights MCB-specific funding opportunities; the Office Hours page (nearly 1,900 views) provides links to past presentations and registration links to upcoming events

1. HBCU-EIR WEBINARS: VIDEO RECORDING AND SLIDES AVAILABLE

This post provided a link to a slide presentation on NSF 20-542 (Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Excellence in Research (HBCU-EiR).
Published June 22

2. LETTERS OF COLLABORATION AND SUPPORT: KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

Details on the differences between the two, along with a table of comparison.
Published April 30

3. LIFE AFTER PROPOSAL DECLINE: CALL YOUR PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Dr. Karl Thompson discusses the benefits of talking to a program director — especially if your proposal has been declined.
Published Dec 16


4. IMPORTANT UPDATES TO THE CAREER SOLICITATION

Synopsis of changes to NSF-525 (Faculty Early Career Development Program) (CAREER) solicitation.
Published Mar 12

5. MCB WELCOMES ANTHONY GARZA AND MARIAM TAHIR, BIDS FAREWELL TO VALERIE MAIZEL

Human interest update on staff changes.
Published June 25

MCB Welcomes Rosetta Rhine and Bianca Garner

Rosetta Rhine became the operations manager of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) in September 2020. Previously, she served as the program support manager in the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS).

What is your educational background?

I’m currently a student at the University of Maryland Global Campus pursuing a Master of Science degree in human resources management, expecting to graduate next month.   

What were you doing before you came to NSF? 

This is my 32nd year of federal service. I worked for the Department of the Navy and the National Institutes of Health before arriving at NSF 11 years ago.

What was your first impression of NSF? Has this impression changed since you began? 

My first impression of NSF was about how collaborative the environment was ; I had never worked in an organization where all levels interacted so much, where everyone seemed to have a seat at the table. The impression is still the same. There is a true learning culture in BIO, and the agency does a lot to support employee development. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?

Getting acclimated to a new position in a virtual world. It helps that I’m not new to BIO, but I definitely would prefer to be onsite with the entire team.

Bianca Garner joined MCB as a program director in the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster in October 2020.

What is your educational background?

I received a BS degree in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana, a MS degree in microbiology from the University of South Florida, and a PhD in microbiology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I have postgraduate training in infectious diseases, translational research, and higher education leadership.

What were you doing before you came to NSF?

I am a full professor of biology at Tougaloo College. A small liberal arts HBCU in Mississippi, Tougaloo has produced a large percentage of the medical doctors and teachers in Mississippi. As a biology professor, I teach numerous classes, including biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology. I serve as the pre-medical advisor for the early identification programs with Brown University, Boston University, University of Buffalo, and Mississippi State University. I have the pleasure of working with some incredible Hispanic and African-American students, many of whom enter into the STEM workforce. In addition, I serve as the principal investigator of the institution’s Career Pathways grant from the United Negro College Fund. This grant works to address the underemployment of students by ensuring career readiness is integrated into the liberal arts curriculum. Finally, I have an undergraduate research laboratory that examines microbial physiology in response to environmental conditions.

What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?

I began work during the pandemic, so onboarding has been virtual. This process has actually been very efficient, and I am very comfortable with the technological tools used by NSF. I do, however, consider connectivity to be one of the great mysteries of life, as you never know when you will be dropped from Zoom.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about serving as a program director at NSF?

Working at NSF is an incredible opportunity. You will gain insight into scientific and workforce advancement from a national perspective. I encourage individuals to review the NSF website and reach out to program directors to learn more about the various directorates within the agency. In addition, I direct interested individuals to the NSF Beta website for employment opportunities. I have several colleagues who are being reviewed for program director positions using this process and I wish them the best of luck!

When friends or colleagues find out that you work at NSF, what do they say or ask?

The most common question that I receive is always, do I like working for the Federal Government? I tell everyone, emphatically, yes! I enjoy the collaborative nature, the procedures used to ensure a fair and effective system, and the comradery that creates a good working environment.  

MCB Welcomes Sonam Ahluwalia, Matthew Buechner, and Adrienne Cheng

Sonam Ahluwalia joined the division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) as a program assistant in August 2020.

What is your educational background?

I have an undergraduate degree in biology and a minor in conservation studies. I enjoy teaching the relevance of biological mechanisms in sustainable agriculture, which led me to join the Peace Corps in Madagascar before joining NSF.

What was your first week in MCB like?

My first week was exciting meeting all the amazing staff members. The entire staff shared their warm welcomes and made it easier to onboard completely virtually.  

How has your relocation to the area gone?

This is an interesting question because I have not relocated since NSF staff will be working remotely until further notice. Starting a new position virtually has been an interesting journey! It is a little odd meeting coworkers two-dimensionally. However, it has been pleasant working from home without the stress of moving just yet.

Matthew Buechner joined MCB as a program officer in the Cellular Dynamics and Function (CDF) cluster in September 2020.

What were you doing before you came to NSF?

I am an associate professor at the University of Kansas in the beautiful historic college town of Lawrence, where I taught Microbiology and Cell & Developmental Biology. Micro is fun to teach; there’s a unique sound when 350 voices gasp in unison when you show a slide of some horrible infection, kind of like “the wave” in a stadium.

My research looks at how a single cell changes its shape from a round ball (more or less) to form long hollow tubes, by looking at the genes involved in the tiny (1 mm long) roundworm C. elegans. The results tell us how genes and proteins work together to move parts of the cell around (vesicles and cytoskeleton) to create the wide variety of cells in animals, including the tiny blood vessels and kidney tubules in our bodies.

What attracted you to work for NSF?  

After being on panels, I served at NSF as a Visiting Scientist, Engineer and Educator (VSEE) program officer in the Developmental Biology program in the division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) from 2015 to 2017, and it was a blast! The excitement of reading so many imaginative ideas was thrilling, and they invigorated my own lab’s research. It was also great to work as a team with so many dedicated staff members at all levels to fund as much of that thrilling research as we could.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about serving as a program director at NSF?

Do it! You’ll learn a lot about your field and on writing grants, get to have fun while working with bright colleagues…and avoid the departmental squabbles over space, funding, and getting grad students, which are inherent to academia.  Running a panel is a thrill like little else:  exhausting, intellectually challenging, and rewarding.

Adrienne Cheng joined MCB as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in September 2020.

What is your educational background?

I completed my bachelor’s in environmental studies and biology in 2011, followed by an MPH in environmental health sciences, and I received my PhD in nutritional sciences in 2019.

What was your first week in MCB like?

So far it has been great! I spent the majority of my first week in meetings as well as meeting people in the division.

What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?

Getting to know the office culture and learning all of the software in a virtual manner has been a little difficult, but everyone has been accommodating and understanding. It’s also going to take me a while to remember all of the acronyms….

How has your relocation to the area gone?

As good as it can be! Roads are a little busier than I’m used to, but other than that things couldn’t have gone smoother.

MCB BIDS FAREWELL TO MYESHIA SHELBY AND DR. REYDA GONZALEZ-NIEVES

photo of Myeshia Shelby, summer intern

Myeshia Shelby joined the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) in June as an intern through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Summer Scholars Internship Program and the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network.

How did your time at NSF influence how you will go forward with your research?
This virtual experience at NSF has allowed me to demonstrate a flexibility in my productivity. The resources and contacts I obtained during my time here will be a part of my professional growth as I pursue my doctoral degree.

What did you learn from your position?
Initially, my position as a student intern was described as an opportunity to discover areas for professional development. As the program continued, I began to realize that my unique perspective as a student researcher could be pivotal in giving NSF staff an idea of how their funding decisions could possibly impact students, especially minorities at minority-serving institutions. 

What personal goals did you accomplish while at NSF?
In the beginning of the program, I constructed an Individual Development Plan that outlined the areas I wanted to grow in. Of those, the most important area where I experienced growth was in my networking abilities and my ability to succinctly communicate across multiple disciplines.

As a Summer Scholars Intern, what was your project and were there any challenges?
The title of my SSIP project is “NSF-Funded Discoveries and Innovations that Impact the Bioeconomy.” This project focused on principal investigators who received NSF funds for basic/fundamental research as well as application development awards through the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP). The biggest challenge for me was being able to capture the impact that research findings have had on the bioeconomy and on advancements in basic research.

Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves joined MCB as a biologist under the Presidential Management Fellows Program in April, 2014, and transitioned to the role of division operations manager in July, 2016. She now serves as directorate operations officer for the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

What was working at MCB like?
MCB opened the door for me to start my professional career. When I completed my Ph.D., I decided to pursue a non-academic career in science. I wanted to use the skills I gained in graduate school in a different way. More importantly, I wanted to still be involved in science and contribute to it. MCB offered the perfect place to fulfill my goal. The staff in MCB is simply amazing – everyone is warm, fun, smart, dedicated, loyal, respectful, and ambitious. They work diligently to move the mission of NSF forward. I can say without a doubt that MCB has been one of the greatest places I have ever worked. During my time in MCB, we worked hard to create an environment of camaraderie, mutual respect, and positivity. It has been of the best professional experiences in my life. My time in MCB showed me what teamwork looks like and shaped my professional career journey.

What personal goals did you accomplish while at the NSF?
I started my journey at NSF as a Presidential Management Fellow. My first job in MCB was serving as a biologist. My long-term goal was to utilize my skills at a larger scale. I wanted to create a culture in the office where staff felt comfortable and appreciated as well as serve as a resource for senior leadership. I wanted to supervise staff and help them grow in their professional career.

I transitioned from the biologist role to the operations manager (OM) in MCB. That gave me the opportunity to supervise a group of amazing administrative professionals and understand how to run the operations in a division. As the OM, I worked directly with MCB’s senior leadership and my counterparts in the other BIO divisions. It was a unique opportunity that helped me decide what I wanted to do next. After being in the role for a few years, I was ready to take the next step in my career. I am now the operations officer for the Directorate for Biological Sciences. My journey to this point was not easy, but it was well worth it. For everyone who is reading this: set a goal and work on it little by little every day. The goal can be short or long term. Even if it seems impossible, work on it. Seek advice and ask for help. More importantly, do what is right for you.

MCB thanks Myeshia Shelby and Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves for their service and wishes them all the best in their future endeavors.

MCB WELCOMES MYESHIA SHELBY AND BIDS FAREWELL TO ALIAS SMITH AND ALEXIS PATULLO

Myeshia Shelby – Myeshia joined MCB in June as an intern through the NSF Summer Scholars Internship Program and the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network.

What is your educational background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in genetics and human genetics.

What were you doing before you came to NSF?
Before being accepted as a summer intern at NSF, I was completing the fall semester of my PhD program at Howard University where I am part of a translational neuroscience research team.

What was your first impression of NSF? Has this impression changed since you began?
I honestly had no idea what took place at NSF, to the point that I asked if research was conducted on premises. After orientation, it was made clear that NSF is a funding entity for research in science and engineering.

What personal goals would you like to accomplish while at NSF?
I plan to use this opportunity to make new professional connections and gain insight as to how NSF fulfills its mission to support scientific research.


Alias Smith – Alias joined MCB in August 2017 as a Fellow sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He transitioned to the role of science associate in April 2019.

What was the highlight of your time at NSF?
The highlight of working at NSF, specifically within MCB, was being able to work collaboratively with great colleagues on a wide array of projects. I have had the pleasure of working with MCB’s division leadership, program directors, and administrative staff, and in all cases I have learned a lot and had the opportunities to have a lasting impact at NSF and in the community we serve.

What is next for you after your time at NSF?
For the next chapter of my career I will remain at NSF, moving from BIO/MCB to the Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA) office in the Directorate for Engineering, where I will serve as an associate program director.

What personal goals did you accomplish while at NSF?
My time at NSF began as an AAAS Fellow. At that time, I was exploring career options, primarily deciding whether to stay in academia or move on to federal or private sector work. After working as an AAAS Fellow and subsequently as a science associate in MCB, I decided that remaining in a federal agency would be best for me with respect to personal growth and the lasting impact I could have on the community. For example, I have been able to develop outreach methods that have the potential to reach a diverse set of faculty members from around the country, directly impacting their understanding of opportunities at NSF.

Would you have done anything differently looking back at you time at NSF?
Looking back at my time at NSF, the main thing I would do differently is reach out to more people across the Foundation to learn about their interests and projects. There is a wide range of expertise represented at NSF and I now know there are many mechanisms to tap into that collective consciousness. I am looking forward to the fact that I am remaining at NSF, and I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as I can from the people around me.


Alexis Patullo – Alexis started as a program assistant in June 2016; she transitioned to program specialist in 2017 and is now a management and program analyst.

What was working at MCB like?
MCB was my first “big kid” job right out of college and I could not have asked for a better place to start. Everyone was always supportive and continually challenged me to be the best I could be. MCB is great team environment and I am going to miss working there. I have learned a lot about NSF these past few years, and hope to use my skills as I transition to my new position.

What is next for you after your time at NSF?
I will be staying at NSF as a management and program analyst in the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

MCB Rotator Dr. Lostroh Wins Award for New Textbook

A textbook written by Dr. Phoebe Lostroh, program director (rotator) in the Genetic Mechanisms cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, has been awarded a 2019 Taylor & Francis Outstanding Book and Digital Product Award in the Outstanding New Textbook Category.

Although Dr. Lostroh wrote the book, titled “Molecular and Cellular Biology of Viruses,” for an audience of upper level undergraduates and beginning graduate students, she’s been surprised to observe purchases by academics from other disciplines.

“I wrote this book because, as a reviewer of other books on virology, I felt that there was a gap in books at this level focusing across the molecular and cellular scale,” says Dr. Lostroh. As to why she thinks the book is a success, Dr. Lostroh says that she worked hard to write the book in a very readable style and to include diagrams targeted to reach today’s students. “I tried to convey how virologists know things instead of just what they know,” she says.

Her next project? Dr. Lostroh has just agreed to write “The Pocket Guide to SARS-CoV-2.” Expected to be released this fall, the goal of this book is to convey basic information to a college-educated audience with citations for more experienced readers.

MCB WELCOMES ANTHONY GARZA AND MARIAM TAHIR, BIDS FAREWELL TO VALERIE MAIZEL

Anthony GarzaAnthony served as an expert in the Genetic Mechanisms cluster, joining the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) in 2013. He is now a permanent program director in the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster.

Head shot of Dr. Anthony Garza, program  director in the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster.

What is your educational background?
I received a Ph.D. in microbiology from Texas A&M University, although my primary training was in molecular biology. I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University. While in Dale Kaiser’s laboratory at Stanford, I studied the gene regulatory networks associated with bacterial biofilm formation. As an independent researcher, I continued studying bacterial gene regulatory networks using systems-level approaches and started new projects on bacterial natural products (secondary metabolites).

What attracted you to work for NSF?
I have been working in MCB for seven years as an expert. What originally attracted me to NSF was the recommendation of my Syracuse University colleague, who had just completed a two-year rotation with MCB. Since starting in MCB, I have been a program director in the Genetic Mechanisms cluster and the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster. I enjoyed learning about a variety of research areas, funding exciting science, interacting with the research community and interacting with my colleagues in MCB. I would say that all these things attracted me to the permanent program director position in Systems and Synthetic Biology.

When friends or colleagues find out that you work at NSF, what do they say or ask?
For the most part, my colleagues ask about the funding process at NSF and whether they should contact a program director. Of course, the answer to this question is always yes.

How has your relocation to the area gone?
I haven’t relocated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m looking forward to it. 


Mariam TahirMariam joined MCB as a program assistant in March.

Head shot of Mariam Tahir, who recently joined the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences as program assistant.

What were you doing before you came to NSF?
I returned from Peace Corps service in June 2019. I served in Costa Rica for two years as a Community Economic Development volunteer. Some of my projects included working in the local high school giving STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) courses to an empowerment group for girls, and running workshops in art and creative critical thinking painting murals for community service after school (which was a blast!). I also worked at the local bean factory training my host sister in bookkeeping, taught several English classes, and started a bird-watching club in the area. I miss my beautiful community and its people. Pura Vida!

Since I’ve returned to the US, I worked part time at Junior Achievement, teaching financial literacy and professional development to elementary school and high school students.

What has surprised you most about working at the NSF?
The culture! I was a little hesitant about how my background would fit, but the NSF and MCB culture has made me feel super welcome and shown me that everyone is very open to always learning different ways of doing things. The culture is super inclusive, academic, and full of healthy competition. It’s a perfect blend. Our team is always willing to help me learn but also find new ways of doing something new/better.

How has your relocation to the area gone?
DC is SO lovely – I am happy being here in this new adventure. I get to indulge in hiking, a great salsa dancing scene, awesome food and incredible history. I cannot wait to check out the museums when they reopen. Although I do miss living 30 minutes from the Jersey Shore, my family, and being super close to NYC, I know I can always visit on the weekends.


Valerie MaizelValerie joined MCB in 2011 as an administrative support assistant. She started her new role as program specialist in the Division of Chemistry in April.

Head shot of Valerie Maizel, former administrative support assistant in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences.

What are you most looking forward to next?
In my job, I worked hard and learned new skills that helped me to qualify for a detail as a program specialist in MPS/CHE (the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences’ Division of Chemistry). I was very pleased to be selected to become an official program specialist. I look forward to working with my new team and working with their exciting programs.

What was working at MCB like?
The staff was very positive and caring. I felt welcome there and everyone was receptive to my ideas.

What did you learn from your position?
I acquired new skills in the financial aspect of NSF.