NSF 16-067

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

Supplemental Funding Pays!

Attention PIs! Supplemental funding for enhancing students’ readiness to enter the workforce is not only available – it’s been a big hit with participants, too. Read our blog highlights over the next several weeks to hear what they have to say about the positive (more…)

Broadening the Impact of Science

Broader Impacts (BIs) are the contributions to society and advancement of scientific knowledge that result from research. As we previously noted on the MCB blog in this infographic, there are many different ways science can have broader impacts. The BI activities and outcomes spotlighted in this post were submitted by MCB-funded researchers as examples of what they have accomplished with MCB support, not prescriptions for success during the merit review process. If you are: 1) an MCB-funded researcher and 2) would like to share your broader impacts activities with our readers, please fill out this form to be considered in a future post.

The top image shows the Slideboard website homepage which contains pictures of cells tagged with fluorescent markers in green and orange and text that says “Welcome to Slideboards – Explore Slideboards – Learn More.”The bottom image shows an example slideboard. On the bottom left of the slideboard example is a white screen shot of the title “Localization and abundance analysis of human IncRNAs at single cell and single molecule resolution,” authors “Cabili MN*#, Dunagin MC*, McClanahan PD, Biaesch A, Padovan-Merhar O, Regev A*, Rinn JL*#, Raj A*#; *equal contributions, #corresponding authors,” and the reference “Genome Biology 2015, doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0586-4,” followed by the acknowledgement “Great work led by Moran Cabili and Margaret Dunagin. A wonderful collaboration between the Rinn, Regev, and Raj labs!” On the bottom right of the slideboard example is a repeat of the title and author list, a dropdown arrow, twitter symbol, Facebook symbol, and a list of questions with hyperlinks to answers created by the students who made the Slideboard. The questions ask “1. Where can I learn more about IncRNA? 2. How did we choose the IncRNA to screen? 3. Did you test whether any types of stress change localization or abundance? 4. Should I do a two-color validation of my IncRNA FISH? 5. Was there any correlation between whether a probe “failed” and any other factor from RNA-seq? 6. What are these off targets that create the non-specific background? 7. What sorts of inconsistencies did the two color assay reveal? 8. Were these patterns the same across cell types?”

Slideboard website homepage (top) and an example slideboard with title page and Q & A (bottom), which are available at http://slideboard.herokuapp.com/.

Once a scientist makes a discovery, it is off to the presses to publish. The resulting journal article can be lengthy and filled with jargon, because it serves as a how-to guide for other scientists in the field to repeat experiments. Though very informative to experts, scientific publications can be challenging for students and the general public to read quickly and understand. Dr. Arjun Raj, MCB CAREER recipient and Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and his research team came up with a new way to communicate science called “Slideboards.” As shown at the bottom of the image, slideboards contain the title, citation, and authors of journal articles, followed by lists of frequently-asked questions with in-line answers. Teams of graduate and high-school students generate each slideboard by asking and answering their own questions about the paper. Online readers can use a form at the bottom of the slideboard to submit their own questions, which are answered by the students. Creating a slideboard allows the team to practice using web-based technology, and translating complex scientific literature into a summarized question-based format. This outreach project also helped graduate students develop skills necessary to present their own research, while encouraging high-school students to learn about scientific projects at the leading edge of the field. To view the Slideboard website, go to http://slideboard.herokuapp.com/.

This work is partially funded by the Cellular Dynamics and Function Cluster of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Awards #MCB – 1350601.

A group of students and graduate student Laura Bankers stand on a bridge over water in front of trees and grass on a nature hike at the Science Booster Club’s 2016 evolution summer camp (top left). Graduate student Kyle McElroy talks with a group of students in front of trees and grass by water during the 2016 evolution summer camp. He is gesturing with his hand, and wearing a green shirt and orange and black ball cap. One of the students, a young girl is smiling wearing a checkered blouse and green lanyard (middle left). A group of young men who are seated in a classroom at a table smile at the camera and hold up vials of DNA that they learned how to extract during the 2016 evolution summer camp while wearing a blue and orange tee-shirt, grey tee-shirt, blue tee-shirt and blue and white ball cap, or a black tee-shirt. Two are wearing orange lanyards around their neck and one is wearing purple lab gloves. In the background other youth participants are standing in front of a monitor glowing on the wall. (bottom left). Dr. Emily Schoerning is dressed up as Captain Planet in a green wig, red shirt and shorts, and blue nylons. She is standing with her arms up in a superhero pose in front of a window near potted plants (top right). Undergraduate student Jorge Moreno, wearing a black polo shirt and jeans with a yellow badge, and graduate student Laura Bankers in a grey dress. Both are standing in front of a yellow and black wall with a display monitor, and are standing behind a table with candy, flyers, and other materials, talking to off-screen participants (bottom right).

Attendees at the Science Booster Club’s 2016 evolution summer camp enjoyed nature hikes with graduate student Laura Bankers (top left), discussions of the evolution of parasites with graduate student Kyle McElroy (middle left), and gained hands-on experience extracting DNA with Integrated DNA Technologies (bottom left). The Science Booster Club hosted visits with Dr. Emily Schoerning as Captain Planet (top right), and discussions with undergraduate Jorge Moreno and graduate student Laura Bankers at the Iowa State Fair (bottom right).

As you look around the sidelines at a sporting event, you may notice a group of parents enthusiastically raising funds for new team uniforms or sporting equipment (booster club). Taking that concept out of the world of sports and into the world of science, Dr. Maurine Neiman (Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Iowa) and Dr. Emily Schoerning (Director of Research and Community Organizing at the National Center for Science Education) teamed up with students at the University of Iowa to create a Science Booster Club. The Science Booster Club held a summer camp (images on the left) and participated in community-organized events such as the Iowa State Fair (images on the right). At each event, club members facilitated fun, interactive science activities and discussions with the public. The group also raised funds to purchase and donate equipment to local science teachers. Young people attending these events, often from underserved areas that lacked scientific resources, have the chance to see themselves as scientists by learning through a hands-on approach. Graduate and undergraduate booster club members also gained valuable grant writing and proposal review, outreach, communication, education, and event planning experience – skills that are useful in future professional scientific careers. As such, for his work in the science booster club, graduate student Kyle McElroy received a 2017 summer stipend from MCB’s NSF 16-067 supplement to improve graduate student preparedness for entering the workforce. Dr. Schoerning noted, “We worked with over 54,000 Iowans last year during this pilot project at the University of Iowa, and have expanded into a national program in 11 states.” Click here to learn more about the Science Booster Club at the University of Iowa.

This work is partially funded by the Genetic Mechanisms Cluster of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Awards #MCB – 1122176.

EXPLORING NON-ACADEMIC SCIENCE CAREERS: SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT

Although university-driven research projects provide a rich academic research experience for PhD candidates, a variety of recent studies indicate that many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career options for current Ph.D. graduates will be outside academia. Recognizing the impact of these trends in employment opportunities  for Ph.D. holders, NSF has made improving graduate student preparedness a priority for FY 16-17.

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The graph above indicates that the percentage of doctoral candidates in the life sciences with a “definite commitment for employment or a postdoc position” as they approached graduation declined to the lowest point of the previous 20 years. Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2015. Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014. Special Report NSF 16-300. Arlington, VA. Available at https://goo.gl/pb7hMA

Hosting a new supplementary funding opportunity is one way MCB supports this agency priority goal. The “Improving Graduate Student Preparedness for Entering the Workforce, Opportunities for Supplemental Support” (NSF 16-067) supplemental funding opportunity was announced in June 2015.

“There is very little formal training [for graduate students] in even recognizing the diverse career options available” to them, observes Dr. Linda Hyman, Division Director of MCB. “The bio-sciences community needs a change in training that hasn’t happened in many years.” The decision to provide this opportunity for supplemental funding is data-driven, adds Dr. Hyman, based on information in a published by the National Institutes of Health in 2012.

NSF 16-067 was intentionally written in broad terms to encourage junior scientists and senior students confronting the urgency of addressing “what’s next.” The supplement provides PIs with an avenue for encouraging their students to explore careers outside academia. The funding may be used to attend professional development courses, serve in an internship in the private sector, or build specialized skills that could help them be more competitive in the job market in arenas such as public policy, communications, industry, and technology transfer.

“This supplement helps PIs provide professional development opportunities for their students  in areas that may be outside their comfort zone,” says Dr. Hyman. “Our hope is that the community will use the supplement to expand awareness of and increase preparedness for the many career options available to new graduates.”

Principle Investigators who are current MCB awardees are encouraged to explore non-academic career development and NSF 16-067 with their students. Supplemental requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Requests should be made no later than April 3, 2017 for FY 2017 consideration.

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

Photo for PostThe Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) is excited to announce a new funding opportunity designed to help improve graduate student preparedness for entering the workforce. As the accompanying Dear Colleague Letter NSF 16-067 states, “The NSF will consider support for supplements to existing research awards (FY 2016 and FY 2017) to enhance professional development opportunities for students in PhD programs.” Requests should be made no later than May 20, 2016 for FY 2016 consideration, and no later than April 3, 2017 for FY 2017 consideration.

In MCB, this supplemental funding can be used to support either PhD student participation in professional development courses, or PhD student participation in other experiences that extend beyond the student’s discipline or broaden career options. Please review the Dear Colleague Letter for further information about eligibility and submission requirements.

If you have questions, please contact one of the following MCB representatives from the appropriate cluster:

  • Cellular Dynamics and Function (CDF) and Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) Clusters: Charles Cunningham, Program Director, chacunni@nsf.gov
  • Genetic Mechanisms (GM) Cluster: Bill Eggleston, Program Director, wbeggles@nsf.gov
  • Molecular Biophysics (MB) Cluster: Wilson Francisco, Program Director, wfrancis@nsf.gov