Blog

Cross-Disciplinary Workshops on Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention

The directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO); Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE); Engineering (ENG); Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE); and the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) at NSF are jointly supporting a series of interdisciplinary workshops (Feb. 16-17; Feb. 22-23; Feb 25-26; additional workshops planned) to engage research communities around the topic of Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention.

The workshops will bring together experts in the biological, engineering, computer, and social and behavioral sciences to start conversations and catalyze ideas on

  • how to advance scientific understanding beyond state-of-the-art in pre-emergence and emergence forecasting; and
  • real-time monitoring, and detection of inflection point events in order to prevent and mitigate the occurrence of future pandemics.

Each workshop is expected to have up to 50 invited active participants. The community can participate in a listen-only mode and interact through chat and Q&A functions. Individuals are encouraged to participate in as many workshops as possible, as each will cover a different aspect of the topic and all will be interdisciplinary in nature.

Registration info and agendas for each workshop are available at https://www.nsf.gov/events/event_summ.jsp?cntn_id=302023&org=CISE

Workshop 1 (Feb. 16-17, 2021): Rapidly detect and assess the threat of emerging pathogens through advanced biosensing, surveillance, and the tracking of human and non-human populations for risk modeling and pandemic preparedness. Agenda

Workshop 2 (Feb. 22-23, 2021): Understanding of how the global behavior of an organism emerges from the interactions that begin occurring between components at the molecular, cellular, and physiological scales. Agenda

Workshop 3 (Feb. 25-26, 2021): Description: Identification of pre-emergence and the predictions of rare events in multiscale, complex, dynamical systems. Agenda

Additional workshops are currently being planned. Stay tuned.

Coloring Outside the Lines with Broader Impacts

This is a depiction of the cover of the coloring book.

While collaboration in science is essential, the good news is that potential collaborators aren’t required to be in the form of other principal investigators. In fact, collaborators from outside one’s field often have skills and perspectives that can bring broader impact ideas to life.


Dr. Ahna Skop’s (MCB 1716298) recently published book, “Genetic Reflections: A coloring book” is the result of such a collaboration – involving Dr. Skop and two undergraduates, Elif Kurt and Caitlin Marks. Kurt and Marks developed the illustrations for the coloring book as part of their independent project for a Life Sciences Communication class. The coloring book is an extension of an earlier broader impact activity achieved through a collaboration with artist Angela Johnson. That project, also titled “Genetic Reflections,” is a 40-foot-long science art installation on display at the Biotech Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is open to the public.

The aim of the coloring book is to inspire children and other members of the public as they discover the natural beauty of science and genetics. Within the coloring book are 26 illustrations of basic biological concepts – one for every letter of the alphabet. For example, the letter A goes with the illustration Arabidopsis thaliana (pictured below), a small flowering plant frequently used as a model organism in plant biology studies.

Nearly 400 copies of the book have been sold since its release in October 2020. A preview of the book is available online at the Skop Lab’s web page. The preview page has proven popular, receiving almost 1,500 unique visits since its inception. 

The broader impacts do not stop at the book itself; it has also spawned a variety of other outreach events. Most recently, Skop’s team introduced the book to a Girl Scout troop in Madison, Wisconsin to introduce troop members to the beauty of science and genetics.

Working on the coloring book has given Kurt a great appreciation for how science communication can be used in her career. As a future doctor, she has a passion for bridging the communication barrier between health care providers and their patients and believes that her experiences working on this book will help her to “bring a human touch back to medicine.”

Image for coloring, titled "A is for Arabidopsis thaliana"

Some of the proceeds of the book are donated to charities and programs that support historically marginalized students and programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).


NSF Announces Call for Center for Advancement and Synthesis of Open Environmental Data and Sciences

Reposted from our friends at the BioBuzz Blog.

NSF has released a new solicitation for a Center for Advancement and Synthesis of Open Environmental Data and Sciences (NSF 21-549). Letters of Intent for the solicitation are due on April 1, 2021

Exemplifying open and team science, the Center will be fueled by open and freely available biological and other environmental data to catalyze novel scientific questions in environmental biology through the use of data-intensive approaches, research networks, and training in the accession, management, analysis, visualization, and synthesis of large data sets.

The Center will provide vision for speeding discovery through the increased use of large, publicly accessible datasets – such as those provided by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio), the LTER network, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and others – to address biological research questions through collaborations with scientists in other related disciplines, as well as key questions that emerge at interfaces between biology, informatics, and a breadth of environmental sciences.

It also will foster the development of generalizable cyberinfrastructure solutions and community-driven standards for software, data, and metadata that support open and team science, and role-modeling best practices.

The Center will be a leader in diversifying the data-intensive environmental science workforce across demographic, geographic, institutional, and disciplinary dimensions and will further enable data-driven discovery through immersive education and training experiences to provide the advanced skills needed to maximize the scientific potential of large volumes of available open data.

For more information on the solicitation, including a list of cognizant Program Officers, please visit the program page.

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

Two Mid-CAREER solicitations: Transitions and MCA

MCB offers two special opportunities for mid-to-late-career scientists looking to enhance their research programs. A brief comparative overview is provided below.

Transitions to Excellence in
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
Research (Transitions)
Mid-Career Advancement (MCA)
NSF 21-508NSF 21-516
MCB-specific solicitationNSF-wide solicitation
Open to all mid-career scientists, typically at Associate or Full Professor rank (or equivalent).Open to Associate Professor rank, 4th year onward (or equivalent).
Enables mid-career or later-stage scientists to pursue exciting new avenues of inquiry and expand or transition their research toward greater impact.Supports mid-career scientists to reinvest in their research amid high service and teaching responsibilities, through collaborative partnerships.
Offers PI salary for a sabbatical or similar professional development mechanism and additional 2 years of funding to continue building the research program.Offers PI and mentor salary, and funding to support associated research and training activities.
Priority is given to proposals built on a strong record of prior accomplishment and a compelling plan for moving the research in new directions. Projects that explore cross-disciplinary dimensions are encouraged.Priority is given to proposals demonstrating a substantive benefit to the PI’s research and career trajectory. Projects that explore cross-disciplinary dimensions are encouraged.
Deadline: Proposals are accepted at any time.Target Date: February 01, 2021 and the first Monday in February, annually thereafter.
Budget: $750,000 total over 3 years, including PI salary (6 mo)Budget: PI salary (6.5 mo), mentor salary (1 mo), and $100,000 total for research over 3 years.
Full list of requirements and funding priorities is in the solicitation, including Program Officer contacts, additional information can be found in the FAQsFull list of requirements and funding priorities is in the solicitation, including Program Officer contacts.

MCA will be hosting a webinar for more information and to answer any questions on Friday January 15 12PM EST. Register in advance here, a confirmation email will be sent which includes instructions on how to join.

Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) Solicitation NSF 21-543

A new solicitation has been issued by the Directorate for Biological Sciences that is relevant to MCB Investigators, Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO; NSF 21-543). The program replaces the Rules of Life track, which was previously a part of the core program solicitations in the four Divisions of the Directorate for Biological Sciences. The new program refines and expands the former submission track.

The IntBIO solicitation invites submission of collaborative proposals that tackle bold questions in biology and require an integrated approach to make substantive progress. Integrative biological research spans subdisciplines and incorporates cutting-edge methods, tools, and concepts from each to produce groundbreaking biological discovery.

Note that proposal submissions to IntBIO have a deadline of March 16, 2021. Also note that, as BIO progresses in migrating proposal submissions to Research.gov, submissions to IntBIO must be made through Research.gov or Grants.gov.

Join MCB’s next Virtual Office Hours on Wednesday, January 13th from 2pm-3pm where we will discuss the IntBIO solicitation. Program Officers will introduce the solicitation, highlighting key aspects, and representatives from each of the program will be available for questions.

REGISTER FOR MCB’s VOH HERE

DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour on Monday, January 11th from 1pm-2pm EST will also cover the solicitation.

REGISTER FOR DEB’s VOH HERE