Big Ideas

NSF Calls for Examinations of Emergent Networks as Part of Understanding the Rules of Life “Big Idea”

Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Reposted from Bio Buzz, the blog of the Assistant Director of Biology.

The biological world is interconnected by complex networks. What are the rules that control these networks? How are the interactions altered by environments? Are the rules similar across all biological scales? How can an understanding of such roles be harnessed to benefit society?

The new Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN) solicitation encourages convergent, cross-disciplinary research – including the biological sciences – to examine such rules, the outcomes of these interactions, and to aid in the prediction of emergent properties. The program also seeks to train STEM practitioners to contribute to this area of convergent research. Proposals under the solicitation should be submitted by May 10, 2021.

As part of the Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype, one of ten “Big Ideas” NSF-wide, this new solicitation builds on previous URoL programs to help increase knowledge and the ability to predict an organism’s observable characteristics—its phenotype—from its genotype.

Understanding the mechanisms at play in the interconnections between living organisms and their environments, across every biological scale, will provide vital insight into grand biological challenges, help advance biotechnology to spur the US bioeconomy, and aid in solving some of society’s issues, including the growing impacts of infectious disease and climate change.

Investigators from across the biological sciences are encouraged to submit proposals in concert with researchers in other disciplines, including the mathematical and physical sciences, geosciences, computer and information sciences, engineering, and behavioral and social sciences.

Directorates from across NSF will be holding a virtual office hour on March 11 beginning at 2:00pm Eastern to answer questions on the solicitation. Register in advance for this webinar: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_kP23L5ymTFKw5EVCqBFcCQ.

For full details and guidance on award types, amounts and other questions, see Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN).

Convergence Accelerator DCL

Graphic of NSF Convergence Accelerator

The Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel) has released DCL 20-061 – Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information on Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator and Call for Future Topics Conference Proposals. The DCL seeks input on potential tracks for FY 2021, which can be related to Industries of the Future (IotF)NSF’s Big Ideas, or other topics with the potential for significant national impact. “Because of the connection to Industries of the Future, this is an intriguing opportunity for researchers in the field of synthetic biology, as well as other plant and microbial systems and other research related to biotechnology,” says Dr. David Rockcliffe, cluster lead in Systems and Synthetic Biology.

Note that this RFI does not invite research proposals; however, respondents are highly encouraged to submit conference proposals to develop and refine the ideas they submit to this DCL. Conference proposals should aim to better understand the scientific and community needs and challenges for the suggested topic over the next 2-5 years. Carefully read the DCL for submission details and complete the first step by April 30. For more information on the Convergence Accelerator program, visit the website.