NSF

DON’T MISS IT! VIRTUAL OFFICE HOUR FEATURING THE NEW SAFE AND INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS PLAN REQUIREMENT FOR OFF-CAMPUS OR OFF-SITE RESEARCH

Tuesday Feb. 7, 2023 3:30- 4:30 ET

Several solicitations from the Directorates for Biosciences (BIO) and Geological Sciences (GEO) will soon require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan (list of those solicitations below) that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. An upcoming Virtual Office Hour listening session will occur on February 7, 2023. Program Officers from BIO and GEO will provide an overview of the new requirement and take your questions and comments.

This 2-page supplementary document must address the following four sections:

  1. a brief description of the field setting and unique challenges for the team; 
  2. the steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, including processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct, trainings, mentor/mentee mechanisms and field support that might include regular check-ins, and/or developmental events;  
  3. communication processes within the off-site team and to the organization(s) that minimize singular points within the communication pathway (e.g., there should not be a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); and  
  4. the organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise.   

If you are planning a submission that will involve off-campus or off-site research, defined as data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site including via fieldwork and research activities on vessels and aircraft, we encourage you to join this webinar.

Register for the webinar HERE

The solicitations that currently include this requirement are:

  • BIO Core Solicitations:
    • Division of Environmental Biology (NSF 23-549)
    • Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (NSF 23-547)
    • Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (NSF 23-548 )
  • Biodiversity on a Changing Planet (BoCP, NSF 23-542)
  • Pathways into the Geosciences (GEOPAths NSF 23-540)
  • Cultural Transformation in the Geosciences Community (CTGC NSF 23-539)

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR HELIUM RECOVERY VIA MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION (MRI) PROGRAM, TRACK 3

The Dear Colleague Letter: NSF Options to Address Helium Supply Short Concerns (NSF 22-088) has been archived and replaced by Track 3 in the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) solicitation  (23-519).  In 2023, MRI will have two submission windows:  January 16-February 21 and October 16-November 15.

The MRI Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in our Nation’s institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations.  An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. 

The Tracks for MRI proposals have been revised and now include:

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than $100,000 and less than $1,400,000.
  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,400,000 up to and including $4,000,000.
  • Track 3: Track 3 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000 and less than or equal to $4,000,000 that include the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of equipment and instrumentation to conserve or reduce the consumption of helium.

Please note that each performing organization may submit up to four MRI proposals:  no more than two submissions in Track 1, no more than one submission in Track 2, and no more than one submission in Track 3. 

ANNOUNCEMENT OF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY AND WEBINAR: “ACCELERATING INNOVATIONS IN BIOMANUFACTURING APPROACHES THROUGH COLLABORATION BETWEEN NSF AND THE DOE BETO FUNDED AGILE BIOFOUNDRY (NSF-DOE/ABF COLLABORATION)”

A webinar will be co-hosted on Wednesday January 25th, 2023 by teams from the NSF, BETO, and ABF.  The webinar will describe the objectives of this funding opportunity, discuss key considerations, as spelled out in the solicitation, lay out steps for submitting, and emphasize key dates.

To register for this webinar – Click Here.

The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (DOE BETO) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in the Biological Sciences Directorate and Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems in the Engineering Directorate announce a collaborative funding opportunity, “Accelerating Innovations in Biomanufacturing Approaches through Collaboration Between NSF and the DOE BETO funded Agile BioFoundry (NSF-DOE/ABF Collaboration)”,  NSF 22-549

To help advance the U.S. bioeconomy, this funding opportunity will provide support for synthetic and engineering biology research projects that have the potential to leverage the unique capabilities at the Agile BioFoundry to further the development of the fundamental research towards eventual translation. The topical areas of interest should align with the broad interests of both NSF and DOE BETO.

Thematic areas of particular interest include: 1) expansion of the range of host organisms amenable to the tools of synthetic and engineering biology; 2) development of novel biotechnology approaches to mitigate climate change; 3) projects that advance a circular bioeconomy; and 4) development of affordable, bio-based, sustainable aviation fuel or other products of interest to NSF and DOE BETO that can demonstrate significant climate change mitigation and/or greenhouse gas reductions over a petroleum baseline. The potential economic and environment impact of the project is also a consideration.

Researchers from institutions of higher education and nonprofits are eligible to apply.  Prior to submission of the NSF proposals, project ideas must be evaluated by ABF for feasibility (see below).  Full proposals will be submitted to and reviewed by NSF, and projects selected for support will be confirmed for suitability by ABF.  Successful projects will include funding from NSF for the work performed at the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) institution and funding from BETO to support the part of the project to be completed by the ABF. DOE BETO will support the work at ABF through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Visit ABF’s Work-With-Us page for more details, including the current CRADA document. 

The deadline for proposal submission is Tuesday, April 18th, 2023.  Proposed projects entail close collaboration with the ABF team. Therefore, prior to submission, PIs are required to request a feasibility review of the project for which ABF collaboration is desired, using the template located here. Once a project has been deemed feasible by the ABF, PIs will coordinate with ABF investigators and refine scope and budget details. PIs will be provided a feasibility evaluation document to submit with their NSF proposals. The proposal timeline is as follows:

  • February 15th, 2023 – PIs submit outline of proposed work to ABF for feasibility review. Prior to submission deadline, PIs are encouraged to review ABF capabilities.
  • March 1st, 2023 – ABF provides feedback to PIs and NSF on the feasibility of the proposed work. PIs with a positive feasibility review will coordinate with the ABF team to refine scope and budget for the full proposal.
  • April 18th, 2023 – PIs submit full proposal along with feasibility review documentation from ABF.

NSF will review proposals according to the standard merit review criteria along with specific criteria that are detailed in the solicitation.  Proposers are encouraged to review ABF capabilities and intellectual property provisions of the CRADA prior to submission. 

For full details on submission instructions, solicitation requirements, and contact information, see NSF 22-549.

IS YOUR RESEARCH CLOSE TO THE EDGE (PROGRAM)?

LEARN MORE AT IOS’ FIRST VIRTUAL OFFICE HOUR OF THE NEW YEAR

Office Hour: January 19, 2023, 1:00pm ET

EDGE Proposal Deadline: February 16, 2023

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS), together with the Divisions of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), Environmental Biology (DEB), and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) in the Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host a virtual office hour about the Enabling Discovery through GEnomics (EDGE) program and solicitation (NSF 21-546), which has an upcoming deadline of February 16, 2023 for proposal submission.

Following a brief presentation, program directors from all the Divisions and agencies will be available to answer questions from participants.

Through the EDGE program, NSF and NIH support research to deepen understanding of comparative and functional genomics. The program supports development of innovative tools, technologies, resources, and infrastructure that advance research on mechanisms connecting genes and phenotypes. EDGE also supports functional genomic research on the mechanistic basis of complex traits in diverse organisms within the context (environmental, developmental, social, and/or genomic) in which they function.  

Registration information for the virtual office hour is given below. The slides and transcript of the webinar will be posted here on the IOS blog and on the EDGE program website after the event.

All are welcome to join and ask questions!

Register for this VOH here and be sure to choose January 19, 2023

New Opportunity: Using the Rules of Life to Address Societal Challenges (URoL:ASC) 

Building on knowledge from previous investments in the NSF “Big Ideas,” Using the Rules of Life to Address Societal Challenges (URoL:ASC) (NSF 23-512) will support use-inspired research across a broad range of living systems to tackle pressing societal concerns.  

Examples of some societal challenges that may be addressed by URoL:ASC proposals are: climate change and associated risks, including geohazards, extreme events, and loss of biodiversity; environmental degradation, including impacts on land and water resources; inequalities in availability of and access to essential natural assets; lack of sustainability, including for food, energy, and waste production; and threats from pandemic disease,  

As in previous Big Idea solicitations, this new activity,   is a cross-directorate NSF program and will bring together interdisciplinary teams that span two or more NSF Directorates (BIO, CISE, EDU, ENG, GEO, MPS, SBE, and TIP).  

This solicitation differs in key respects from previous solicitations associated with the Understanding the Rules of Life Big Idea: 

  • It focuses on how rules of life can be used rather than discovered 
  • Proposals should begin with a description of broader impacts, articulating the expected outcomes of the research; 
  • Proposers must adopt a co-production strategy that involves both producers and users of the research outcomes in all phases of the research; 
  • Projects must integrate innovative education and training activities aimed at fostering convergent research;  
  • Projects should actively promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in all activities by involving members of underrepresented groups as PIs, co-PIs, postdoctoral researchers, students, and other personnel.  

FFull proposals are due February 15, 2023.  

Opportunities to Learn More 
NSF Program Directors representing the URoL:ASC program will hold a Virtual Office Hour on December 14th, 2022 from 2:00 PM ET to 3:00 PM ET

Please register for the webinar here: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_rcG95iI9QOOed-VfarsHFQ  

Contact: URoL-ASC@nsf.gov  

DESIGNER CELLS WELCOMES PROPOSALS FOR THE THIRD YEAR 

In 2020, NSF’s Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences together with the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transports Systems (CBET) in the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) and the Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES) in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) launched a new solicitation, Designing Synthetic Cells Beyond the Bounds of Evolution (Designer Cells) NSF 21-531.  With this solicitation, NSF hoped to continue to support advances in building synthetic cells and leverage the success of programs like Understanding the Rules of Life: Building a Synthetic Cell. Projects submitted to the Designer Cells solicitation used synthetic biology to address at least one of the following research areas: 

  • identifying the minimal requirements for the processes of life; 
  • addressing fundamental questions in the evolution of life or exploring biological diversity beyond that which currently exists in nature; 
  • leveraging synthetic systems for innovative biotechnology applications.  

The program is now accepting proposals for its third cohort. The due date for proposals for the third year is February 1, 2023.  After this date, proposals will be accepted as core-program submissions to the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster in MCB.  

In its first and second cohorts, the program made a total of 20 awards. These awards explored several exciting themes, including building synthetic organelles, synthetic approaches to information storage and decoding, strategies for genome transplantation, creating cells with new tunable properties, and studying the dark matter of the epitranscriptome. A full list of the Designer Cells awards can be found here.   

In the third year of the solicitation, Program Director Anthony Garza says that he “hopes to see proposals that continue to push to boundaries of what cells can do, either by adding in new functionality or minimizing cell components, while maintaining high function in synthetic cells.” 

BIO METAPROGRAM

The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO)– and other directorates at NSF–have a long history of funding basic research that can be used address all sorts of societal challenges. For example, molecular-scale research that identified heat-tolerant enzymes from microbes in hot springs proved critical to the discovery of PCR, which is now widely applied for medical testing (like for COVID-19).  Another example, at the ecosystem scale, is research on fire regimes that is helping us learn how to mitigate the impacts of wildland fire on home, life, and the economy. 

NSF has now launched new webpages to help the research community connect our funding opportunities with three societally-relevant challenges the research might help address:  Biotechnology to Advance the U.S. Bioeconomy, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Life on a Warming Planet.  

The webpages can serve as a kind lens to envision how basic research could be applied or translated.  Also, because some of the research funding opportunities featured on the webpages cut across divisions in BIO and across other directorates, the information also provides a view of connections across the Foundation.  

For MCB PIs, we note that all four the MCB clusters–Cellular Dynamics and Function (CDF), Genetic Mechanisms (GM), Molecular Biophysics (MB), and Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB)–welcome proposals addressing at least one aspect the three societal challenge areas. For example, CDF would support research advancing the understanding of how cells act and react as a dynamic machine to inform cell-based biotechnology; GM would be interested in research on causal relationships between genome structure and function to enable technological interventions aimed at controlling cellular responses to changing environments; MB would support research to develop new tools that enable, and demonstrate the limits of, prediction of viral evolution; and SSB would be interested in projects to engineer plant symbionts or plant microbiomes to enhance plant performance traits (e.g., growth, yield, and drought resistance).  

We invite you to explore the webpages to learn more about the topics and view funding opportunities, organized by directorate.  

As always, if you have a specific question about where your research might fit, we encourage you to reach out to a program director. If your research doesn’t fit under a program they manage, they can help you find the right program.

NSF BRC-BIO UPCOMING SUBMISSION DEADLINE

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) would like to bring your attention to the upcoming deadline for an NSF program designed to support pre-tenure faculty, Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO). The next submission window opens on December 1 and closes on December 31, 2022.

BRC-BIO (current solicitation NSF 22-500) is a BIO wide program that supports early career faculty in the development of a sustainable research program. Eligibility is limited to faculty at the Assistant Professor rank within 3-years of employment at an institution that is not among the nation’s most research intensive, which includes minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs).

Proposed projects are expected to focus on research from any area of biology that is supported by the BIO directorate at NSF. MCB focused projects encompass content that falls within one of the four cluster areas: Cellular Dynamics and Function, Molecular Biophysics, Genetic Mechanisms, and Systems and Synthetic Biology.

Research applications require a six-page research plan, which includes both intellectual merit and broader impacts, a two-page Impact statement, and a letter from the Department Chair (or more senior organizational official). Projects should be presented in sufficient detail to enable evaluation based on the potential to: a) provide valuable new scientific insights that will enable future research, and b) integrate the research into an educational training environment that engages undergraduates in authentic research experiences. An additional expectation is that the broader impacts activities of these projects, including training, have a focus on inclusion and broadening participation in biological research.

Budget awards are for a maximum of 36 months and up to $450,000 plus $50,000 for equipment, for a total of $500,000 (including both direct and indirect funds). You are encouraged to reach out to program officers with any questions at BRC-BIO@nsf.gov.

Additional information, including past webinars and links to funded BRC-BIO awards, can be found here.

France/US Lead Agency Funding Opportunity at Interface of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and Physics

The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division of Physics in the (NSF/BIO/MCB and NSF/MPS/PHY) recently released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) entitled “ANR – NSF/MCB/PHY Lead Agency Opportunity at the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences – Physics Interface” (NSF 22-129). This DCL announces the continued collaboration between the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) and NSF MCB and PHY divisions to support projects that use multidisciplinary approaches to examine mechanisms underlying essential life processes at the molecular, subcellular, and cellular scales. Proposals that use physics-based experimental and theoretical approaches are encouraged. Priority will be given to proposals that leverage unique resources and capabilities of partners in the U.S. and France.

For FY23, proposals should be submitted to ANR, and ANR will share proposal and review information with NSF.  To apply, a registration file (dossier) must be submitted by November 7, 2022. For full details on submission guidelines, program priorities, and contact information, see NSF DCL NSF 22-129 and ANR’s AAPG Generic Call 2023.

NSF issues a new funding opportunity on Quantum Sensing 

Through a new solicitation entitled Quantum Sensing Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems (QuSeC-TAQS; NSF 22-630), NSF seeks to support interdisciplinary teams of three or more investigators to explore highly innovative, original, and potentially transformative research on quantum sensing.  The QuSeC-TAQS program aligns with recommendations articulated in the strategic plan, Bringing Quantum Sensors to Fruition, that was produced by the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science, under the auspices of the National Quantum Initiative

QuSeC-TAQS is a cross-cutting NSF funding opportunity for which the Biological Sciences Directorate is a key partner.  Research involving biological systems and/or participation of scientists from different fields of biology is encouraged. Research topics might include:  investigation of quantum phenomena in biological systems; use of quantum devices and approaches in the investigation of biological problems; or creation of new biocompatible quantum probes and sensing protocols to gain insights into complex biological systems that fundamentally cannot be accessed through classical measurements. Outcomes from such studies are expected to advance knowledge of biological functions and dynamics within cells and could potentially provide new platforms for biotechnology. 

Preliminary proposals are required and due December 16, 2022; and full proposals are due April 3, 2023. 

Additional questions should be directed to qusec@nsf.gov