Spotlight – Science and Technology Centers

Some scientific ideas are too big for one researcher or one university to tackle alone. To address such innovative and potentially transformative large-scale challenges, NSF periodically solicits proposals under the Science and Technology Centers (STCs): Integrative Partnerships program. Among the largest projects that MCB is involved with, each STC has a different approach to the research. However, they all have one thing in common: they bring together a range of people to work on one research or education project. The centers come from all areas of science, engineering, and education research funded by NSF. MCB assists in funding and managing several of the centers, including the Center for Cellular Construction (CCC) (award DBI 1548297).

The CCC is a partnership which brings together researchers in the San Francisco Bay area, which according to their website, aims to “engineer the physical structure and interactions of living cells, to turn them into living bioreactors and modules of novel self-organizing devices”.  The Center’s goal is to transition the field of cell biology to a quantitative discipline, combining classical cell biology with engineering to develop a design-build-test approach to understanding the rules governing cell behavior. Improving how we manipulate, control, and create cells could have impacts on a wide range of fields, including chemical production, materials engineering, biomedical engineering, basic scientific exploration, as well as various civil and consumer applications.

While the research area is exciting, it’s the partnerships that make this center unique; the center not only brings together university researchers, but also industry. The partnerships, which include the University of California, San Francisco; San Francisco State University; IBM Almaden Research Center; University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; and The Exploratorium, are overseen by Center Director Dr. Wallace Marshall. These partnerships enable an exceptional approach to the research and create a strong and varied environment to train researchers of all ages, particularly important for addressing another of the Center’s goals to increase diversity of participation in research, education, and knowledge transfer.

CCC was one of four STCs funded in 2016 and one of 12 active centers in the U.S. Click here to monitor information about funding opportunities from the Office of Integrative Activities. Follow updates on MCB funding by visiting this page.

Ray Bowman: Supplemental Funding Pays!

Bowman blog photoFeaturing Ray Bowman, Duquesne University, this post is the fourth of a series highlighting the experiences of Ph.D. students who have benefitted from supplemental funding awards that are intended to enhance student readiness to enter the workforce. The supplement that assisted Bowman is tied to MCB award #1553143, Dr. Allyson O’Donnell, principle investigator. Bowman is a student in Dr. O’Donnell’s lab.

What he did:
Bowman attended a course in quantitative fluorescence microscopy to develop his skills in microscopy, including techniques in FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer), FRAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching), three-dimensional imaging of cells and whole tissues, and super resolution microscopy. He also worked with software engineers from Nikon to develop a new platform for automated quantification of cell surface and intracellular fluorescence.

In his own words:
“While this grant did not change my career plans, it did provide me with a new skill set and an opportunity to network and establish contacts in the larger cell biology field. That will undoubtedly help me in attaining my career goals.”

MCB’s commitment to helping students transition from academia to the workforce is formalized via funding announcement NSF 16-067, which describes the opportunity. Although that announcement is now closed, MCB strongly encourages principle investigators to contact their NSF program directors to discuss.Orange Dot


A headshot style photograph of Dr. Tornow, she has short grey hair and is wearing black glasses, a blue suit, and a blue necklace.

MCB extends its warm welcome to Acting Assistant Director for the Biological Sciences (BIO), Dr. Joanne Tornow! Dr. Tornow started as a Program Director here in MCB. She has since gone on to take leadership roles in several directorates throughout the agency, but we look forward to having her back in BIO. Dr. Karen Cone, Genetic Mechanisms Program Director says, “Joanne was the Division Director who hired me back in 2009!  She was a terrific role model and I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with her again.” Take a moment to go check out the BIO BUZZ’s newest blog post, “Q&A: Getting to Know Dr. Joanne Tornow,” to hear more about her.





Rosaline Hsu: Supplemental Funding Pays!

Hsu Rosalindvertical thin lineFeaturing Rosaline Hsu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this post is the third of a series highlighting participants in a supplemental funding opportunity to enhance student readiness to enter the workforce. This supplement is tied to Award #1243372; Dr. Supriya Prasanth, Principal Investigator. Learn more about this funding opportunity by clicking here; contact your program director to initiate your funding request.

In her own words:
“This funding has enabled me to apply both innovative methods and traditional biochemical approaches in my work. This has established my reputation and network for future collaboration. I highly recommend my fellow students and researchers to apply for this funding opportunity.”

Professional development:
Hsu presented her work at the “2017 Telomeres and Telomerase” meeting a Cold Spring Harbor where she met with experts who provided valuable suggestions on her project. She was also able to spend two weeks in the lab of Dr. Taekjip Ha (Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering), using Single Molecule Pull-down (SiMPull) assays to study how ORC (Origin Recognition Complex) regulates ALT-activity (Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres) at ALT-telomeres.Orange Dot

Finding your inner modeler II Workshop: Registration now open

The Finding Your Inner Modeler II workshop, funded by MCB Award #1649160, will be held at the University of Illinois-Chicago this August 16-17, 2018. Although there is no registration fee to attend, organizers request that participants register by May 1. Graduate students, postdocs and under-represented minorities are encouraged to attend, and applicants who register by May 1 may be eligible to receive funding to assist with travel and lodging expenses. Follow the link to register for the workshop. To view the workshop agenda, follow this link and select FYIM II in the upper right corner.

FYIM II Poster 2018


MCB welcomed Dr. Matthias Falk to the Cellular Dynamics and Function (CDF) cluster this past December. Dr. Falk is serving as a rotating program director (PD) under the Visiting Scientist, Engineer, and Educator Program (VSEE), where he will work closely with visiting panelists, other PDs, and the greater scientific community to help shape the direction of science. In his role as program director, Dr. Falk’s expertise will help guide funding recommendations; influence new directions in the fields of science, engineering, and education; and support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research. Keep reading below to learn more about Dr. Falk.

Top five of 2017: Most popular blog posts of the year

Here is a list of the top five most-viewed blog posts of 2017 in descending order. From the shift in no-deadlines to highlighting innovative broader impact activities, this blog features exciting science, news, and opportunities generated or supported by MCB. See what you’ve been missing!


A timeline of the changes to come over the next two yearsRolling MCB proposal submissions to be implemented in 2018.
Published Oct 5 under “Funding and Service.”


2_Most Popular Posts 2017Above and beyond basic science: Dr. Raj designing a science communication tool called Slideboards at UPenn, and Dr. Neiman and Dr. Schoerning creating a Science Booster Club at UIowa.
Published May 12 under “Broader Impacts.”


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Dr. Skop of UW-Madison emphasizes work/life balance, and incorporating your passion into your science.
Published Dec. 12 under “Broader Impacts.”


I headshot style photo of Michael, he is smiling into the camera. He is wearing a blue shirt and glasses and is siting in a library with shelves, a computer, and students strudying in the background.From NSF grantee, then panelist/reviewer, to the inside scoop:  meet Dr. Weinreich as he embarks on his new role at NSF.
Published June 2 under “Getting to Know MCB.”

(NSF 17-589)

5_Most Popular Posts 2017

The 2017 MCB call for grant proposals:  program synopsis.
Published Aug. 18 under “Funding and Service.”

Kyle McElroy: Supplemental Funding Pays!

Featuring Kyle McElroy, this post is the second in a series highlighting participants in a supplemental funding opportunity to enhance students’ readiness to enter the workforce.McElroy_allThis funding was originally announced in DCL NSF 16-067 (Improving Graduate Student Preparedness for Entering the Workforce, Opportunities for Supplemental Support) and is now included in the current solicitation NSF 17-589 (see page 5 of this link). More information about supplemental support on page 81 of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide.

Check in with your students to discover their interests, then call your MCB Program Officer to discuss your supplemental funding request…today!

— MCB staff members Alexis Patullo and David Barley contributed to this post