Excellence in Research

HBCU – EiR Informational Webinars: April 14 and 22

HBCU-Excellence in Research informational webinars will be held April 14 , 10-11 am EST, and April 22, 2-3 pm EST.

In April, the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) will offer an informational webinar reviewing relevant highlights of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Excellence in Research (HBCU – EiR) solicitation (NSF 20-542). The webinar will introduce program directors from MCB, provide an overview of the solicitation, and provide tips and best practices for submitting competitive proposals. The webinar will also include an introduction to each of the four divisions of NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO):

  • MCB – Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
  • DBI – Division of Biological Infrastructure
  • DEB – Division of Environmental Biology
  • IOS – Integrative and Organismal Systems

Faculty from eligible institutions are encouraged to attend the webinar. Registration is required; to register, click on the link that corresponds to the date you plan to attend.


In June, MCB will provide webinar-based, interactive workshops featuring the merit review process. The workshops are open to faculty and staff at HBCU institutions who have completed a required pre-work assignment and registered to participate.

***Data indicates that participants who attend the webinar-based workshop tend to submit stronger proposals that are funded at higher rates than non-participants.***

A series of emails about the June workshops is currently being sent to department chairs or grants offices at HBCUs. If you work at an HBCU and wish to receive these emails directly, send your request to webreg@nsf.gov. Please share this information with appropriate faculty and staff.

MCB Workshop-based Webinars are Making a Difference

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences will host a series of workshop-based webinars on proposal writing for researchers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) this June. While most of the information presented is applicable to any potential proposal-writer, the webinars focus on the Research Initiation Awards (RIA) and the Excellence in Research (EiR) tracks of the HBCU-Undergraduate Programs (HBCU-UP) solicitation NSF 20-542. The goal of the webinars is to foster relationships with principal investigators (PIs) at HBCU institutions and to increase the number and competitiveness of proposals submitted to the EiR track of the HBCU-UP solicitation (NSF 20-542). An invitation to participate will be emailed to every HBCU that lists a life-sciences department contact on its website.

A total of 79 unique participants from 32 unique HBCU institutions have participated in the two previous webinars, held in 2018 and 2019. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the merit review process, participate in a mock proposal review, discuss tips for writing strong proposals, and interact with program directors from all divisions in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO). 

Initially launched in 2018 by Dr. Casonya Johnson, a former program director in the Genetic Mechanisms cluster, the webinar has been well-received. Over 94% of the participants in last year’s workshop said they would recommend the workshop to a colleague. As a whole, the respondents agreed that they felt well prepared to develop a competitive proposal for submission to the National Science Foundation after completing the webinar. A preliminary analysis of proposal submissions from 2018 to 2019 finds that the percentage of proposals submitted by participating institutions rose from 7% in 2018 to 14% in 2019.

MCB continues to seek opportunities to help faculty and staff at under-represented institutions to increase the competitiveness of proposal submissions for all solicitations offered by MCB. Interested faculty are encouraged to contact their respective department chairs for registration details if they have not received information by April 8 or email mcbwebreg@nsf.gov. Details and registration information will also be posted here on the MCB blog.

HBCU-UP EiR: Webinar on Writing Competitive Proposals

MCB will host a workshop-based webinar on writing competitive proposals for faculty members at HBCU institutions. The webinar will familiarize interested applicants with program directors within the BIO directorate, review the merit review process, provide tips on writing a strong proposal, and encourage prospective PIs to communicate closely with program directors before submitting a Letter of Intent. The deadline to register for this webinar is March 26.

The webinar will focus on the EiR component of NSF solicitation NSF 18-522, the track which supports proposals that enable STEM and STEM education faculty to further develop research capacity at HBCUs and to conduct research. Letters of Intent for the HBCU-UP EiR solicitation are due July 23, 2019. Letters of Intent are required before full proposals (due Oct. 1, 2019) may be submitted.

Valuable information including registration information has been emailed to department heads in departments of biology, life sciences, or related disciplines. If you are a faculty member in a biology-related discipline at an HBCU and have not received this information, please send an email to MCBwebreg@nsf.gov. Interested PIs will indicate their availability from eight possible dates and the webinars will then be scheduled to maximize participation. The registration deadline for the webinar is March 26 to allow MCB time to develop content appropriate to participant interests.

HBCU-UP: Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program

HBCU EiR announcement expected to be released in December

Dear Colleague Letter DCL 17-138 was released Sept. 19 to introduce a new program expected to be announced next month. The program, titled, “HBCU Excellence in Research” (EiR), will be open to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). (more…)