Division of Environmental Biology

Types of Submissions

The Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) comprises documents relating to the Foundation’s proposal and award process.

In this ongoing segment of our blog, we will provide a series of infographic snapshots to highlight some of the important information found in the PAPPG. This in no way replaces the need to read the PAPPG before submitting a proposal.  The goal of this ongoing blog theme is to make the information in the PAPPG more accessible to our readers by providing clear, concise, colorful, and informative graphics.

For complete and official information about type of submissions, please refer to the PAPPG (effective January 25, 2016).


* Preliminary proposals are part of the proposal process in the Division of Environmental Biology and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems in the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

Welcome to MCB Megan Lewis!

Hear from Program Assistant Megan Lewis

What is your educational background?

I recently graduated from Fairfield University’s College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Currently, I am attending The George Washington University where I am pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Resource Policy and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I am the Program Assistant for the Cellular Dynamics and Function cluster as well as the Molecular Biophysics cluster. I started working with the National Science Foundation in the Directorate for Biological Sciences in December 2015 and moved from the Division of Environmental Biology to the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in January 2016.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

I had just finished interning with an online public forum that focused on engaging the public in environmental issues, and I was really interested in learning how federal agencies are dealing with these types of problems. With my background in biology, I wanted to find an agency that was working towards solutions to these environmental issues through science rather than strictly policy. The National Science Foundation allows me to learn what scientists across the country are trying to do to better understand these problems and find scientific solutions. In addition, I learn how the federal government decides to fund certain research proposals and what goes into that process.

What have you learned so far from your position?

As I’ve only been at the NSF for a little over two months, I come to work each day and leave learning something new. I never realized how much behind the scenes work there is to manage awards and proposals. Overall, I’d say that the most invaluable thing I’ve learned is that even when we think we have a full understanding of a concept, a principle investigator submits a proposal and opens a new door to a way of thinking about an issue or topic. I was taught in school that science is always evolving and growing, and as a college student I would nod and continue taking notes for a lecture.  But, at the NSF I’ve actually been able to really see the science evolving.

Welcome to MCB Philip Andrew Helig!

Hear from Science Assistant Philip Andrew Helig

What is your educational background?

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a Bachelor’s of Science. While there, I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I started working as a Science Assistant in June of 2015. As a Science Assistant, I do special projects for the division, assist Principal Investigators during proposal submission, translate some of the more complicated science into plain language, and assist with the MCB Blog posts.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

Last year, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in the Division of Environmental Biology and MCB. This prior experience at NSF led me to apply for the position of Science Assistant. I knew this job was perfect for me because of my science background and my love for the subject. I also knew that this would be an amazing networking opportunity, with an abundance of science professionals available for me to talk to about a possible future in science. I really liked the people that I worked with at NSF.

What have you learned so far from your position?

In my previous appointments at NSF, I was in charge of organizing and retiring files. That experience greatly strengthened my organizational skills.

Though I was somewhat comfortable with my writing abilities when at school, it wasn’t until I started working here as a Science Assistant that I really started to feel confident. Being surrounded by people who are so passionate about science has reinforced my love for science. My interest in biology and biochemistry has grown significantly since I started working in MCB.



Program Directors in MCB regularly attend scientific meetings and workshops in an effort to garner input from the community, spread the word about funding opportunities, recruit panelists, and encourage submissions to our division. Last July, Dr. Pamela Morris and Dr. Susanne von Bodman, Program Directors for Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) cluster traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Computational Advances in Microbiome Research (CAMR) Workshop hosted by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). NIMBioS is an NSF-supported institute that seeks to strengthen interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology fields.

The CAMR workshop focused on identifying state-of-the-art computational approaches and integrating novel bioinformatics techniques from numerous areas of microbiome research. Attendees represented research in the human, soil, plant, and marine microbiomes (just to name a few!). The workshop was co-chaired by Drs. Curtis Huttenhower (Harvard University) and Jill Banfield (University of California-Berkeley) and brought together top leaders in the microbiome community and computational fields to discuss the present state of the science, current techniques across fields, current gaps in capability, and future directions. Dr. Morris was the Program Director managing the NIMBioS supplement that funded the CAMR workshop. The workshop was well attended, with various federal agencies (NIFA/USDA, NIH) and national laboratories (Joint Genome Institute/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), participating either in-person or virtually.

Dr. Morris and Dr. von Bodman felt this workshop was a unique opportunity to showcase research/training opportunities in MCB with the goal of inspiring scientists to integrate strong and novel computational approaches into their research. They both interacted with prospective PIs, University of Tennessee faculty, postdocs, and graduate students about opportunities at NSF. The eight presentations at the workshop have been archived and can be viewed online. After the workshop concluded, Dr. Matthew D. Kane, Program Director for the Ecosystem Science Cluster in the Division of Environmental Biology gave a talk on the breadth of opportunities at NSF available to researchers. Events like this provides a perfect setting to encourage new collaborations, cultivate new ideas, and move the exciting field of microbiome science forward.