dear colleague letter

Dear Colleague Letter: Fundamental Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) Focused on Undergraduate and Graduate STEM Education within the EHR Core Research (ECR) Program

Thursday, March 14, 2019

NSF 19-044

Dear Colleagues:

The EHR Core Research (ECR) program of National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) wishes to notify the community of its intention to support, through EHR Core Research (ECR) program solicitation NSF 19-508, fundamental discipline-based education research (DBER) focused on undergraduate and graduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. The NSF intends to foster DBER to develop foundational knowledge in STEM education at the undergraduate and graduate levels in each of ECR's three tracks: STEM Learning and Learning Environments, Broadening Participation in STEM, and STEM Workforce Development.

DBER is defined as "an empirical approach to investigating learning and teaching that is informed by an expert understanding of [STEM] disciplinary knowledge and practice".[1] DBER addresses complex problems in STEM education by integrating expert knowledge of particular STEM disciplines' models, theories, culture and educational challenges with relevant models, theories and research methodologies from a variety of fields such as education, the learning sciences, psychology, and many more. With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), NSF invites proposals that request support to conduct fundamental DBER (basic or use-inspired) focused on developing and testing models or theories in undergraduate or graduate STEM education, including all areas of STEM supported by NSF including interdisciplinary or convergent topics.

As described in ECR solicitation NSF 19-508, the program will support a wide range of fundamental research activities in STEM education. As outlined by the National Research Council (NRC) DBER report, some key goals of DBER include, but are not limited to, understanding how people learn the concepts, practices, and ways of thinking in particular STEM disciplines; understanding the nature and development of expertise in a discipline; identifying and measuring appropriate learning objectives and instructional approaches for a particular STEM discipline; contributing to the knowledge base in a way that guides the translation of DBER findings to classroom practice; and identifying approaches to make STEM education and the STEM workforce broad and inclusive. With respect to broadening participation in STEM, DBER research is needed to develop and test theories that contribute to the understanding of the effects of discipline-based education strategies on the culture of STEM classrooms, student affect, persistence, graduation, and learning outcomes of women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities within and across different STEM disciplines. In addition, the 2018 report on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century recommends research to better understand graduate STEM education including, but not limited to, the effects of the several models of graduate education on student knowledge, competencies, mind-sets, and career outcomes; and studies on how the various STEM disciplines can integrate the changing scientific enterprise into graduate education.[2] ECR is also interested in supporting synthesis projects and conference proposals related to DBER focused on undergraduate or graduate STEM education.

For information on how to develop a strong ECR proposal, please refer to the guidance in the ECR program solicitation, NSF 19-508. Note that the ECR program places emphasis on the rigorous development of theory, and therefore proposers must clearly articulate theoretical underpinnings and how the proposed research would advance fundamental knowledge of STEM education at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The deadline for submission of proposals to NSF 19-508 is October 3, 2019, and the first Thursday in October annually thereafter. When responding to this DCL, please begin your proposal title with "ECR DBER DCL: ". Submissions should follow the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and the guidelines in ECR solicitation NSF 19-508.

Principal investigators with questions pertaining to this DCL may contact:

  • STEM Learning & Learning Environments: Dawn Rickey, Program Director, drickey [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Broadening Participation in STEM: Jessie Dearo, Program Director, jdearo [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • STEM Workforce Development: Earnestine Easter, Program Director, eeaster [at] nsf [dot] gov

Sincerely,

Karen Marrongelle 
Assistant Director, EHR

References

[1] National Research Council. 2012. Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13362.

[2] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25038.

Dear Colleague Letter: Expanding the NSF INCLUDES National Network

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Dear Colleague:

Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES) is a comprehensive effort to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering discovery and innovation by developing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent from all sectors and groups in our society. NSF INCLUDES is one of the 10 "Big Ideas" for Future NSF Investments.

The vision of NSF INCLUDES is to catalyze the STEM enterprise to work collaboratively for inclusive change, which will result in a STEM workforce that reflects the population of the Nation. The initiative is developing a National Network composed of NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilots (DDLP), NSF INCLUDES Alliances, an NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub, NSF-funded broadening participation projects, other relevant NSF-funded projects, scholars engaged in broadening participation research, and organizations that support the development of talent from all sectors of society to build an inclusive STEM workforce. The Design and Development Launch Pilots explore new ways to solve a complex broadening participation challenge in STEM over a two-year period. The Alliances leverage the Launch Pilots to solve collectively a specific set of objectives. The Coordination Hub facilitates communication and networking, network assistance and reinforcement, and visibility and expansion of the NSF INCLUDES National Network.

NSF is interested in funding the best approaches to increasing diversity in STEM1. NSF INCLUDES' goals include but are not limited to: increasing the percentage of women and girls participating in fields where they are currently underrepresented (e.g., Engineering, Economics, Computer Science, Physics); developing and expanding strategies proven to enhance student persistence among underrepresented minority groups across all STEM degree areas; increasing the representation in NSF directorate research portfolios of principal investigators from minority-serving institutions (e.g., Hispanic Serving Institutions2, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Predominantly Black Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities) and community colleges; increasing the number of faculty from underrepresented groups in stable, tenure-track positions and STEM career professionals in informal institutions and organizations who support research and education; and furthering evidence-based research that tests the efficacy of various approaches, especially collective impact-style approaches. This DCL encourages the submission of funding requests for supplements to NSF grants to connect with the NSF INCLUDES Network and supplemental funding requests for DDLPs to continue to participate in network activities.

NSF welcomes supplemental funding requests from:

And

  1. Active NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot awards to maintain linkages to the NSF INCLUDES National Network by supporting DDLP efforts to collect data, communicate and participate in activities with the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub and NSF INCLUDES Network. The amount of supplemental funding requested must: (1) be less than 20% of the original award amount; and (b) not exceed $15,000 in direct costs.
  2. Any active NSF awards outside of the NSF INCLUDES National Network to develop:
    • Opportunities among currently funded NSF projects, including NSF broadening participation projects and projects from the other Ten Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments or other major Foundation investments, with the goal to build a collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation in NSF-funded research activities;
    • Linkages between current activities including working with the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub, Alliances, and Design and Development Launch Pilots to adopt common goals, shared measures, and mutually reinforcing activities;
    • New ideas to bring a community of NSF-funded projects into the NSF INCLUDES National Network.

The amount of supplemental funding requested must: (a) be less than 20% of the original award amount; and (b) not exceed $200,000 in direct costs.

PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION OF SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING REQUESTS

Supplemental funding requests must be received by 5 p.m., submitter's local time on May 6, 2019.

Awardees of NSF grants from any directorate with an end date beyond September 15, 2019 may request supplemental funding. To be competitive, the supplemental funding must have the potential to enhance both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts of the existing project.

Eligible Principal Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact both their cognizant NSF Program Director(s) and the nsfincludes [at] nsf [dot] gov (NSF INCLUDES team) at NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov by April 22, 2019 to discuss their request for supplemental support prior to submitting to NSF.

Funding is dependent on the availability of funds. Supplemental funding requests should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidance in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

Each supplemental funding request must include "NSF INCLUDES DCL NSF 19-042 Supplement" in the first sentence of the summary section of the proposal.

REVIEW INFORMATION

Requests for funding submitted in response to this Dear Colleague Letter will be reviewed externally by expert reviewers and/or internally by NSF Program Directors. All supplemental funding requests are subject to the availability of funds and the quality of the requests received as determined by review.

Competitive supplemental funding requests will explicitly describe and demonstrate their alignment and/or connections to the mission and goals of NSF INCLUDES. Failure to sufficiently demonstrate relevancy to NSF INCLUDES will result in the supplemental funding request being declined.

Sincerely,

Karen Marrongelle, Assistant Director
Directorate for Education and Human Resources

Participating NSF Directorates and Offices

Directorate for Biological Sciences
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Directorate for Engineering
Directorate for Geosciences
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Office of Integrative Activities
Office of International Science and Engineering


Footnotes

1 The NSF INCLUDES National Network consists of Design and Development Launch Pilots, Alliances and the Coordination Hub (see list here). These entities provide an important base of activity for effective expansion of the NSF INCLUDES National Network.

2 For the purposes of this Dear Colleague Letter, a Hispanic Serving Institution will be defined as any institution that has 25 percent or more undergraduate full-time equivalent Hispanic enrollment.

Dear Colleague Letter: STEM Workforce Development Utilizing Flexible Personal Learning Environments

Thursday, December 13, 2018

December 4, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks new proposals and supplemental funding requests to existing awards that support flexible personalized learning to prepare the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce of the future. NSF envisions projects that collectively apply to all learners, from young children to those already in the workforce. In particular, we would like to support research that complements an anticipated future funding opportunity made possible by a gift from the Boeing Corporation, which was announced on September 24, 2018 (https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=296700).

The Boeing gift established a partnership between NSF and Boeing to accelerate training in crucial skill areas for the future U.S. workforce. It will be used to support design, development, implementation, and analysis of online courses in model-based engineering, model-based systems engineering, mechatronics, robotics, data science and sensor analytics, program management, and artificial intelligence. These courses will use personalized learning systems to maximize their effectiveness for diverse learners.

There will be two parallel funding opportunities to support STEM workforce preparation. One will be made possible by the Boeing gift and the other involves the efforts funded in response to this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL). For the opportunities in response to this DCL, NSF seeks proposals that will broadly inform development of personalized learning systems or generalize the research results generated during the deployment of online courses. This could be accomplished either by using the data generated by those systems or by studying the systems themselves. NSF encourages innovative educational research and development proposals that will help the nation educate the STEM workforce of the future.

NSF invites proposals to existing programs listed below and requests for supplemental funding to existing awards that engage a convergent science approach (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/convergent.jsp). Such an approach often benefits from interdisciplinary teams representing multiple fields. Such teams can make learning a convergent experience and accomplish learning goals that are not otherwise achievable.

The outcomes of successful proposals responding to this DCL will advance evidence-based understanding of STEM workforce development at any level. Successful proposals will include a well-developed research plan that specifies how the project will strengthen the research base that informs investments in STEM workforce preparation and development. For example, proposals may address topics including, but not limited to:

  • effective design of personalized learning systems for STEM education at any level;
  • factors that increase persistence, motivation, self-efficacy, and retention of learners;
  • the influence of public/private partnerships on workforce preparation;
  • the design of educational interventions that meet workplace expectations for knowledge and competencies; and
  • measuring the effectiveness of these interventions for different audiences.

Proposers are encouraged to leverage current and anticipated future NSF investments (e.g., interdisciplinary research centers, large facilities, funded workforce development projects) as research bases. NSF anticipates that coordinated synergistic efforts are likely to be more fruitful than fragmented individual contributions.

RESPONDING TO THIS DCL

Proposals responding to this DCL should be made through one of the existing NSF programs listed below. Supplemental funding requests responding to this DCL for existing awards in the programs listed below are also welcome. To determine whether a research topic is within the scope of this DCL, principal investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the managing NSF Program Officer(s) of the participating program(s) to which they plan to submit their proposal. These programs include:

For new proposals to ensure proper consideration, principal investigators must refer to this DCL in the overview statement of the Project Summary and in the Project Description. Requests for supplemental funding to existing awards must also include a reference to this DCL. The Project Description or supplemental funding request should also include a brief description about how the project supports flexible personalized learning, thus complementing the work funded by the Boeing gift.

In summary, proposals responding to this DCL:

  1. could be high-risk, but have the potential for high reward;
  2. should include multidisciplinary leadership teams;
  3. will advance evidence-based understanding of STEM workforce development at any level (K-12 through workplace);
  4. must inform development of personalized learning systems or generalize the research results generated during the deployment of those systems;
  5. must include a research plan that will contribute new knowledge about STEM workforce preparation and development;
  6. must be submitted to one of the programs listed in this DCL; and
  7. must comply with the relevant program/solicitation-specific requirements.

CONTACTS

For questions about any of the programs listed above, please contact one of the programs officers listed in the respective solicitation. General questions about this Dear Colleague Letter may be addressed to:

  • R. Steven Turley, rturley [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-2207
  • John C. Cherniavsky, jchernia [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-5136
  • David Haury, dhaury [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-5102
  • Ann Rivet, arivet [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-4764
  • Heather Watson, hwatson [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-7091

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Supplemental Funding

Monday, October 22, 2018

NSF DCL 19-014

October 18, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

The NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) invites grantees with active CISE awards to submit requests for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Supplemental funding, following the guidelines in the NSF REU program solicitation [see Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Sites and Supplements; NSF 13-542]. To be eligible for this opportunity, a student must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US. The duration for new requests is typically one year. The proposed start date for a supplemental funding request must be after the conclusion of all existing REU supplements on the corresponding active CISE award. Priority will be given to supplemental funding requests submitted before March 30, 2019; the potential for funding requests after this date will be limited. If requests for REU supplemental support exceed funds available in CISE, requests will be considered in the order received. REU supplemental funds can be used at any time during the year.

Annual and final project reports for an award that receives an REU supplement should provide brief descriptions of activities, impacts, and outcomes (including the number of support-months for each student) associated with the REU supplemental support.

REU stipend support helps encourage talented students to pursue research-based careers, while providing meaningful research experiences. The participation of students from groups underrepresented in computing - underrepresented minorities, women, and persons with disabilities - is strongly encouraged. To this end, principal investigators (PIs) submitting REU supplemental funding requests are directed to the CISE Dear Colleague Letter encouraging meaningful actions in support of broadening participation in computing [see Pursuing Meaningful Actions in Support of Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC); NSF 17-110]. In addition, CISE encourages submission of REU supplemental funding requests that specifically afford US veterans an opportunity to engage in meaningful research experiences.

Nature of support

For single-investigator projects, CISE REU supplemental funding requests should be for no more than two students for one year. Support for additional students can be requested as part of these supplemental funding requests if these students are from underrepresented groups, and the selected students are identified in the supplemental funding request. Research teams funded through multi-investigator projects may request support for a larger number of students, commensurate with the size and nature of their projects, with proportional additional support for students from underrepresented groups. Requests for larger numbers of students should be accompanied by detailed justifications.

CISE provides up to $8,000 per student per year through an REU supplement (this amount usually covers the student's stipend, but a small portion of the funds can be used for other related purposes, e.g., student travel to a conference). As described in the REU program solicitation (NSF 13-542), indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs in REU Site or Supplement budgets.

CISE REU supplemental funding requests must describe results of any previous such support, such as students supported, papers published, and student placements. Other factors influencing supplemental funding decisions include the number of REU requests received by CISE programs, and in the case of multiple submissions by a single PI, the ability to provide adequate mentoring.

How to apply

PIs are encouraged to refer to the REU program solicitation (NSF 13-542) for detailed information concerning submission requirements. As described above and in that solicitation, each REU supplemental funding request should include the following information in the "Summary of Proposed Work" section, except as noted below:

  • A description of the research to be performed by the student, and how the student will benefit from the overall REU experience;
  • The PI's prior experience, if any, supervising REU students, including papers published and student placements, along with the status of prior REU supplements received on the corresponding award;
  • A description of the mentoring that the student will receive as part of the REU experience;
  • The relationship of the REU supplemental funding request to the original award;
  • Information about how students, including from underrepresented groups, will be recruited;
  • A statement acknowledging that all students to be funded will be US citizens or permanent residents; and
  • Specifics about the REU request - duration, stipend rates, period of REU experience, and travel justification (if any) (include in the "Justification for Supplement" section).

Since a supplemental funding request is handled by the cognizant NSF program officer that oversees the active award for which the request is submitted, grantees should contact the cognizant NSF program officers of their awards if they have questions or need additional information.

Sincerely,

Jim Kurose
Assistant Director
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
National Science Foundation

Dear Colleague Letter: Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (Mid-scale RI) Opportunities

Monday, October 22, 2018

NSF DCL 19-013

 

October 15, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (Mid-scale RI) is an NSF-wide Big Idea designed to address the research community's growing needs for contemporary research infrastructure to support the advancement of science and engineering research, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics education research. Mid-scale RI will fund the implementation of experimental research capabilities in the mid-scale range (i.e., with a total project cost of between $6 million and $70 million). The overall objective of Mid-scale RI is to transform scientific and engineering research fields by making available new capabilities, while simultaneously training researchers in the acquisition, implementation, development, design, and/or construction of cutting-edge infrastructure.

Mid-scale research infrastructure has been identified as critical for scientific advances in many research areas. In recognition of this scientific importance, the 2017 American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) directed NSF to "evaluate the existing and future needs, across all disciplines supported by the Foundation, for mid-scale projects" and to "develop a strategy to address the needs identified." NSF issued a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 18-0131) and received responses whose execution would require $8 billion to $10 billion in funding for projects in the $20 million to $100 million range.

This fall, NSF intends to announce Mid-scale RI funding opportunities. These will be for research infrastructure that will advance the frontiers of discovery in any of the research domains supported by NSF.2 These forthcoming funding opportunities are intended to encompass research infrastructure broadly defined, from the creation of mid-scale disciplinary instrumentation to the implementation (including acquisition and construction) of mid-scale facilities, cyberinfrastructure and other infrastructure that are demonstrated to be necessary to support specific science, engineering or education research objectives associated with current or future NSF-supported research activities. This portfolio may also include mid-scale upgrades to existing research infrastructure.

NSF anticipates that one solicitation will include an opportunity to propose Mid-scale RI projects with a total project cost of between approximately $6 million and approximately $20 million, pending the availability of funds. A second solicitation is expected to include an opportunity to propose Mid-scale RI projects with a total project cost of between approximately $20 million and approximately $70 million, pending the availability of funds.

Both Mid-scale RI programs will emphasize strong scientific merit, responsiveness to an identified need of the research community, technical readiness for implementation, sound management, and a well-developed plan for training students and involving a diverse workforce in mid-scale facility development and/or data management.

CONTACTS

Information regarding the Mid-scale RI funding opportunities will be available this fall via the NSF website. The funding opportunities will list NSF-wide and directorate-specific points of contact. In the meantime, general questions about this Dear Colleague Letter may be addressed to:

MSRI [at] nsf [dot] gov

Sincerely,

Joanne S. Tornow, Assistant Director (Acting), BIO
James Kurose, Assistant Director, CISE
Karen Marrongelle, Assistant Director, EHR
Dawn M. Tilbury, Assistant Director, ENG
William E. Easterling, Assistant Director, GEO
Anne Kinney, Assistant Director, MPS
C. Suzanne Iacono, Office Head, OIA
Rebecca L. Keiser, Office Head, OISE
Arthur W. Lupia, Assistant Director, SBE


1NSF 18-013, Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information on Mid-scale Research Infrastructure.

2 See the NSF 18-1, Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide and subsequent revisions for a description of the fields of research supported by NSF.

Dear Colleague Letter: Growing Convergence Research

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Read DCL NSF 18-058 Online

Dear Colleagues:

Growing Convergence Research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) was identified in 2016 as one of 10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment. Research relying on convergence is needed to solve complex scientific and engineering problems that require integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. NSF identifies Convergence Research as having two primary characteristics:

  • Research driven by a specific and compelling problem. Research requiring a convergence paradigm is generally inspired by the need to address a specific challenge or opportunity, whether it arises from deep scientific questions or pressing societal needs.
  • Deep integration across disciplines. As experts from different disciplines pursue common research challenges, their knowledge, theories, methods, data, research communities and languages become increasingly intermingled or integrated. New frameworks, paradigms or disciplines can form from sustained interactions across multiple communities.

The convergence paradigm builds upon transdisciplinary approaches to research by intentionally bringing together intellectually diverse scientists and/or engineers at a project's inception in new collaborations that can generate multiple solutions to complex problems. Convergence has been discussed in a number of reports. The National Research Council published a series of reports between 2004 and 2014 on topics in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, culminating in the 2014 study, Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond, which included several examples of convergence in action. A comprehensive treatment of convergence in the biomedical sciences, entitled Convergence: The Future of Health, was published in 2016. More recently – in 2017 – the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report entitled A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research envisioned convergence becoming the essence of center-based research in the 21st century.

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) seeks to identify potential future research areas that go beyond NSF's Big Ideas, require a convergence approach, cross internal and/or external organizational and disciplinary boundaries, and advance the progress of science as articulated in NSF's mission. NSF encourages the submission of prospectuses to identify these new areas and specific projects within them. NSF may invite the teams submitting the most promising prospectuses to submit proposals to further explore their research strategies. Prospectuses must outline novel approaches and research strategies that are likely to result in a clear demonstration of the potential for transformative advances. The research areas and proposed projects must reflect the characteristics of convergence outlined here.

Interested researchers who would like to compete for FY 2018 and FY 2019 funding must submit a prospectus describing a new area of research and an exploratory research project within it to the convergpro [at] nsf [dot] gov mailbox. A prospectus may be submitted at any time to help NSF identify new areas of research that require convergence, but to be considered for FY 2018 support, the prospectus must be submitted by May 1, 2018, and for FY 2019 funding, by October 15, 2018. All prospectus submissions will be acknowledged via email. The prospectus should not exceed 1,000 words of text and be no more than two pages in length, inclusive of figures and tables. It must include: (i) a description of a potential future research area requiring a convergence approach; (ii) a list of the pertinent disciplines to be integrated; (iii) a brief description of the proposed exploratory research project within the area described in (i); (iv) a brief description of the methods and research strategies that will nurture convergence in the exploratory research project; and (v) a listing of the senior personnel who would be involved in the exploratory project. No references are required in the prospectus.

Researchers describing the most promising research ideas and exploratory projects will be invited to submit a proposal within 60 days after issuance of the invitation. An invited proposal must be prepared in accordance to the guidance for Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) proposals, as specified in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG; see Chapter II.E.3). The invited researchers do not need to obtain further approval from NSF program officers to submit the invited proposal. The total proposed budget may not exceed $1 million, and the proposed project duration should not exceed 3 years.

Prospective principal investigators are advised that, based on the portfolio of ideas received, NSF may choose to use internal review for these RAISE proposals or seek advice from external reviewers as to the merits of the full proposals received. Such external review may include review by ad hoc reviewers and/or a panel.

This DCL remains in effect for twelve months from the date of issue, unless superseded by another DCL or a new solicitation.

POINTS OF CONTACT

Researchers should direct questions about this DCL to convergpro [at] nsf [dot] gov.

Questions about convergence should be directed to Dragana Brzakovic at dbrzakov [at] nsf [dot] gov.

Sincerely,

Joanne S. Tornow, Assistant Director (Acting), BIO
James Kurose, Assistant Director, CISE
William J. (Jim) Lewis, Assistant Director (Acting), EHR
Dawn M. Tilbury, Assistant Director, ENG
William E. Easterling, Assistant Director, GEO
C. Suzanne Iacono, Office Head, OIA
Rebecca L. Keiser, Office Head, OISE
Anne Kinney, Assistant Director, MPS
Fay Cook, Assistant Director, SBE

Dear Colleague Letter: STEM Education for the Future

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Read DCL NSF 18-084 Online

Dear Colleagues:

NSF invites proposals to solve educational challenges created by the technology revolution. To effectively respond to many of the problems facing our nation, new scientific advances are needed, as defined in the Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments. Achieving these advances will require changes in what people learn and how they learn it. Through this STEM Education for the Future Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), existing NSF education and workforce development programs encourage innovative proposals to prepare scientists and engineers for work in new contexts created by technology and big data.

Specifically, through this DCL, NSF aims to support STEM educational research and development projects whose results can enable our country to: better prepare its scientific and technical workforce for the future; use technological innovations effectively for education; advance the frontiers of science; and adapt to both new work environments and new education pathways needed to prepare students at all levels for those environments.

Technology, Computation, and Big Data are driving changes to daily life. Computing, sensing, data storage, data access, communication, and hardware technologies continue to change our lives and work. These technologies produce unprecedented volumes of data and vast interconnectivity capabilities, such as data provided by ubiquitous sensing and the Internet of Things. Personal, behavioral, transactional, and environmental data in a myriad of formats (numerical, image, audio, and others) are available at ever greater speeds, propelling innovations such as artificial intelligence-aided automation. Such automation in the home, office, and classroom also challenges long-standing expectations about privacy, security, and the veracity of the underlying data

Although it is expected that technology, computation, and big data will have positive impacts on the human condition, the world still faces persistent societal, cultural, and economic challenges, e.g., hunger, poverty, our dynamic Earth, and energy security. Moreover, we must continue work to ensure equitable access to precisely those technologies that give rise to these changes. Equally important is the challenge of ensuring equitable access to high quality education, which leads directly to questions important to the NSF: How do these new technologies change the way we learn and do science, math, and engineering? How do we navigate such change? How do we use technological innovations to ensure full participation of all groups in the STEM workforce?

To answer these questions related to learning, researchers will need to cross disciplines, define the potential impact of technologies, and develop new technical competencies. Furthermore, all scientific and technical workers will need new knowledge and skills so they can perform new tasks or perform current tasks with new tools.

This DCL seeks proposals related to harnessing the data revolution and the future of work at the human-technology frontier. This DCL encourages educational research and development proposals that are original, creative, and transformative, and that can help the nation educate the STEM workforce of the future, in contexts of:

All proposals responding to this DCL should address education issues related to FW-HTF, HDR, or to both. Proposals can also include activities that are relevant to other NSF Big Ideas.

This DCL will support three categories of proposals:

  1. Proposals focused on educational transformation: These proposals will leverage technology, computation and/or big data to develop, implement, and analyze educational interventions designed to prepare a diverse workforce, researchers, and innovators of the future. Proposals that explore how students learn to integrate knowledge across disciplines to solve complex problems fall into this category.
  2. Proposals focused on the science of teaching and learning: These proposals will leverage technology, computation and/or big data to develop, implement, and analyze new tools for assessing and evaluating convergent education strategies that aim to promote student learning at all levels.
  3. Planning grants, Research Coordination Networks, Conference Proposals: These proposals will create communities of STEM educators to address convergent curriculum and pedagogical challenges across disciplinary boundaries brought about by the human-technology frontier, the data revolution, or both.

This DCL emphasizes proposals that cross departmental and disciplinary boundaries. This DCL encourages original proposals for curricular innovations that cross boundaries, so that students gain the tools and knowledge needed to thrive in the technology revolution and become the creators/innovators of the future.

This DCL encourages proposals that reflect a coordinated effort from interdisciplinary research teams of at least two PIs from different disciplines. Such teams can make learning a convergence experience and accomplish learning goals that are not otherwise achievable. Examples include, but are not limited to: computational skills in an application area such as genetics; automation and sensing in natural and manufactured environments; calculus, modeling and simulation of physical contexts and objects; art, psychology, conceptual design and mechanical design for better product development; or sociology and earth sciences to address adaptation to our environment. Proposals that use convergence approaches to instill the development of needed non-technical abilities for the 21st century are also appropriate, including ones that focus on development of teamwork, higher level thinking, problem solving, creativity, adaptability, and the ability to communicate across disciplinary boundaries.

In summary, competitive proposals will propose an approach that reflects convergence in education and human resource development, using technology and data beyond disciplinary boundaries to create student outcomes that will benefit society.

Responding to the STEM Education for the Future DCL
Proposals responding to this DCL should be submitted by the due date of the applicable funding opportunities listed below.

To determine whether a research topic is within the scope of this DCL, principal investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the cognizant NSF Program Officer(s) of the participating program(s) to which they plan to submit their proposal. These programs include:

Program Program Link and
Solicitation
Due dates
EHR Accelerating Discovery:
Educating the Future STEM
Workforce (AD)
AD (PD 18-1998) April 2, 2018 - January 16, 2019
DUE Improving Undergraduate
STEM Education: Education and
Human Resources [i]
IUSE: EHR (NSF 17-590) Accepted anytime (Exploration and
Development Tier) Dec 11, 2018 (Development and
Implementation Tier)
DUE Advanced Technological
Education [ii]
ATE (NSF 17-568) October 4, 2018
DGE Innovations in Graduate
Education [iii]
IGE (NSF 17-585) September 27, 2018
HRD Historically Black Colleges
and Universities -
Undergraduate Program [iv]
HBCU-UP (NSF 18-522) See solicitation
HRD Tribal Colleges and
Universities Program [v]
TCUP (NSF 16-531) See solicitation
HRD/DUE Improving Undergraduate
STEM Education: Hispanic-
Serving Institutions (HSI Program) [vi]
HSI See program page
DRL Innovative Technology
Experiences for Students and
Teachers [vii]
ITEST (NSF 17-565)

 

August 8, 2018
DRL Advancing Informal STEM
Learning[viii]
AISL (NSF 17-573) November 7, 2018
BIO/EHR Research Coordination
Networks in Undergraduate
Biology Education [ix]
RCN-UBE (NSF 18-510) January 22, 2019
EEC Research in the Formation
of Engineers[x]
RFE (NSF 17-514) February 28, 2019
GEO Ocean Education Program [xi] OCE Contact Elizabeth Rom,
jmeriwet [at] nsf [dot] gov
GEO Polar Special Initiatives
Program [xii]

OPP

Contact Elizabeth Rom,
jmeriwet [at] nsf [dot] gov

To ensure proper consideration, principal investigators must indicate the relevant Big Idea(s) in the title, the overview statement of the Project Summary, and the Project Description. For example, the title of a proposal about the Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier and Rules of Life should begin with "FW-HTF/RoL" and a proposal addressing educational challenges relevant to Harnessing the Data Revolution should precede its title with "HDR." Table 1 lists the NSF Big Ideas and designated acronyms. In summary, proposals responding to this DCL:

  1. Should focus on education and/or workforce development in the context of the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier, Harnessing the Data Revolution, or both.
  2. May intersect with additional Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment.
  3. Should include PIs from different disciplines.
  4. Must be submitted to one of the programs listed in this DCL.
  5. Must comply with the relevant program/solicitation-specific requirements.
  6. Must present novel ideas or approaches (high risk/high reward proposals are encouraged).
  7. Must have titles that adhere to the naming convention noted above.

 

Table 1. NSF's Six Research Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment

The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier FW-HTF
Harnessing the Data Revolution HDR
Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype RoL
Navigating the New Arctic NNA
Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics MMA
The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution QL

Sincerely,

William (Jim) Lewis
Assistant Director (Acting)
Directorate for Education & Human Resources

Joanne S. Tornow
Assistant Director (Acting)
Directorate for Biological Sciences

Dawn M. Tilbury
Assistant Director
Directorate for Engineering

William E. Easterling
Assistant Director
Directorate for Geosciences

___________________________________________

 

[i]The IUSE: EHR program supports projects that have the potential to improve student learning in STEM through development of new curricular materials and methods of instruction, and development of new assessment tools to measure student learning in science and engineering classrooms.

[ii]The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation's economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions and industry to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels. The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways; and other activities.

[iii]The IGE program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative approaches to STEM graduate education and training. IGE projects pilot, test, and validate novel approaches and generate the knowledge required to add to our understanding of graduate student learning, thereby allowing others to adapt/adopt successful, evidence-based approaches.

[iv]HBCU-UP is committed to enhancing the quality of undergraduate STEM education and research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as a means to broaden participation in the nation's STEM workforce. The HRD HBCU-UP tracks realize this purpose by providing awards to develop, implement, and study innovative approaches for making dramatic improvements in the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may participate successfully in graduate programs and/or careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

[v]The Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) provides awards to Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native-serving institutions, and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions to promote high quality science (including sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, statistics, and other social and behavioral sciences as well as natural sciences and education disciplines), technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, research, and outreach. Support is available to TCUP-eligible institutions.

[vi]The HSI Program seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs and to increase retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs. In addition, the HSI Program seeks to build capacity at HSIs that typically do not receive high levels of NSF grant funding.

[vii]ITEST is a research and development program that supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future

[vii]The AISL program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

[ix]The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries. The RCN-UBE program originated as a unique RCN track to "catalyze positive changes in biology undergraduate education" (NSF 08-035) and is now supported by the collaborative efforts of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). It has been responsive to the national movement to revolutionize undergraduate learning and teaching in the biological sciences. RCN-UBE accepts workshop proposals, incubator proposals, and full RCN proposals in undergraduate biology education.

[x]The RFE program advances research about the underlying processes and mechanisms involved in the formation of engineers by deepening our fundamental understanding of how professional formation is or can be accomplished.

[xi]The OCE Education program supports efforts to integrate ocean research and education. In particular, the program is interested in receiving proposals related to the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).

[xii]Polar Special Initiatives Program welcomes proposals related to the training of students with "Big Data" tools focusing on polar regions' satellite imagery, digital elevation maps, "3D virtual" ice sheets dynamics and/or proposals related to Navigating the New Arctic.

NSF Research Opportunities in Europe

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows

NSF 18-055

March 15, 2018

Dear Colleague:

BACKGROUND

To further scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the United States, an Implementing Arrangement was signed on July 13,2012 to enable U.S. scientists and engineers with NSF-funded CAREER awards and Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to pursue research collaboration with European colleagues supported through EU-funded European Research Council (ERC) grants.

Connecting researchers with complementary strengths and shared interests promotes scientific progress in solving some of the world's most vexing problems. This international research opportunity is mutually beneficial to the U.S. participants and the hosts through cooperative activities during research visits and also by establishing international research partnerships to enrich future research activities in Europe and the U.S.

Under the Arrangement, the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA) identifies ERC-funded research groups who wish to host NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows for research visits of up to one year within their ERC funding.

This is the final year of the program.

OPPORTUNITY

This letter invites current Postdoctoral Research Fellows to apply for research visits to any identified, appropriate European research group. Instructions on how to apply and other relevant policies and requirements are provided below. A similar Dear Colleague Letter invites NSF CAREER awardees to participate (see NSF 18-054).

ERCEA has provided a list of ERC-funded principal investigators and research teams interested in hosting NSF Postdoctoral Fellows. NSF Fellows should request this list via email from nsf-erc [at] nsf [dot] gov, and then communicate directly with ERC PIs to as certain areas of mutual interest and research goals for a visit. Fellows may then submit their requests directly to their NSF Program Officers. If approved by NSF, the request is forwarded to ERCEA for review and for making arrangements with the ERC-funded project.

The European hosts will provide funding to support in-country living expenses during the visits.

NSF will provide travel funds to and from Europe.

Activities are subject to availability of funds and all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and programs of the ERC and NSF.

ELIGIBILITY

Only NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows with active fellowships are eligible to apply. For definition, research visits of less than 6 months are considered short-term, whereas visits of 6 months to one year are long-term visits. The maximum length of a visit is limited to 12 months.

CONDITIONS

NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows may apply for a single short-term or long-term research visit. Time spent in Europe will be in addition to, rather than in lieu of,the NSF-funded fellowship duration. NSF will cover round-trip transportation for the Fellow's visit and, in the case of long-term visits, for qualified family members (as defined in Uniform Guidance § 200.474: Travel Costs). During the visit, the Fellow's compensation will be provided from the existing ERC funding. Any applicable health coverage expenses, in accordance with the applicable national law and regulations, will also be borne through the ERC grant. Other eligible costs incurred during the visit that are directly related to the ERC-funded project may also be allowed. Fellowship awards will not be supplemented; payment for travel will be issued directly from NSF to the Fellow.

NSF Postdoctoral Fellows will be expected to report on the research visits in their annual and final project reports, as appropriate, and may be asked to participate in follow-up evaluation activities.

HOW TO APPLY

NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows should contact their cognizant Program Officers to discuss the proposed visits prior to submitting their requests via email.

The request consists of:

  • Description of research to be performed during the visit at the host location, no more than 3 pages, and how it relates to current research and more broadly to career goals
  • 2-page biographical sketch of the Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 2-page biographical sketch of the ERC-funded host
  • Time line for the proposed activity
  • IRB, IACUC, permits, other special clearances needed, if any Communication from the ERC-funded PI host indicating:
    • how the proposed visit fits within the ERC project
    • facilities and resources that will be made available to the Fellow, and
    • the expectations the ERC host has for the Fellow's visit
  • Communication from the Fellowship sponsoring scientist indicating how the proposed visit fits within the research and career plans of the Fellow.

NSF may share the request in its entirety with ERC staff and the proposed host PI. Requests must be received at NSF at least 4 months prior to the proposed visit.

WHEN TO APPLY

The deadline is April 20, 2018.

For further information, please contact nsf-erc [at] nsf [dot] gov.

 

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF CAREER Awardees

NSF 18-054

March 15, 2018

Dear Colleague:

BACKGROUND

To further scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the United States, an Implementing Arrangement was signed on July 13, 2012 to enable U.S.-based scientists and engineers with NSF-funded CAREER awards and Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to pursue research collaboration with European colleagues supported through EU-funded European Research Council (ERC) grants.

Connecting researchers with complementary strengths and shared interests promotes scientific progress in solving some of the world's most vexing problems. This international research opportunity is mutually beneficial to the U.S. participants and their hosts through cooperative activities during research visits and also by establishing international research partnerships to enrich future research activities in Europe and the U.S.

Under the Arrangement, the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA) identifies ERC-funded research groups who wish to host CAREER awardees for research visits of up to one year within their ERC funding.

This is the final year of the program.

OPPORTUNITY

This letter invites current CAREER awardees to apply for research visits to any identified, appropriate European research group. Further, the letter gives instructions on how to apply and other relevant policies and requirements. A similar Dear Colleague Letter invites NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows to participate (see NSF 18-055).

ERCEA has provided a list of ERC-funded principal investigators and research teams interested in hosting NSF CAREER awardees. CAREER awardees should request this list via email from nsf-erc [at] nsf [dot] gov, and then communicate directly with ERC PIs to ascertain areas of mutual interest and research goals for a visit. They then must discuss their plans for their visits with the NSF Program Officer managing their CAREER awards prior to submitting a supplemental funding request. If approved by NSF, the request is forwarded to ERCEA for review and confirmation with the ERC-funded project.

The European hosts will provide funding to support in-country living expenses during the visits.

NSF will provide travel funds to/from Europe.

Activities are subject to availability of funds and all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and programs of the ERC and NSF.

ELIGIBILITY

Only CAREER awardees with active awards may apply. For definition, research visits of less than 6 months are considered short-term, whereas visits of 6 months to one year are long-term visits. The maximum visit duration is limited to 12 months. The visit(s) should begin at least 12 months prior to the expiration date of the NSF CAREER award.

CONDITIONS

NSF CAREER awardees may apply for a single short-term or long-term research visit or multiple short- term visits, e.g., for joint experiments. Multiple short-term visits should aggregate to an agreed-upon number of visits and minimum time, e.g., 6 months.

CAREER awardees will continue to receive NSF funding during the period of the European visit, and their salaries will be covered in accordance with the award terms and conditions. NSF will provide supplemental funding to the CAREER award for the foreign travel expenses of the awardee for short- term visits and, if requested, for the awardee plus qualified family members (as defined in Uniform Guidance § 200.474Travel Costs) for long-term visits.

In-country costs should be provided from the existing ERC funding in accordance with applicable national laws and regulations, commensurate with the level of experience of the CAREER awardee. These in- country costs may include subsistence on a per diem basis, or other appropriate arrangement by the host institution. Other eligible costs incurred during the visit that are directly related to the ERC-funded project may also be allowed and should be agreed with the European host prior to submitting the request.

CAREER awardees will be expected to report on the research visits in their annual and final project reports, as appropriate, and may be asked to participate in follow-up evaluation activities.

HOW TO APPLY

Research visits will be funded for NSF CAREER awardees as supplements to their awards. Supplemental funding requests will be prepared in accordance with standard policies and procedures using FastLane following consultation with the cognizant Program Officer.

The supplemental funding request consists of:

  • description of the research to be performed during the visit at the host location, no more than 3 pages, and how it relates to current research and more broadly to career goals2-page biographical sketch of the U.S. PI
  • 2-page biographical sketch of the European collaborator
  • time-line for the proposed activity
  • IRB/IACUC approvals, permits, and/or other special clearances needed, if any
  • budget and budget justification
  • communication from the department chair of the U.S. PI endorsing the visit
  • communication from the ERC-funded PI host indicating:
    1. how the proposed project fits within the ERC project
    2. facilities and resources to be made available to the CAREER awardee and
    3. expectations that the ERC PI host has for the visit.
  • communication of endorsement from the ERC host institution.

NSF may share the supplemental funding request in its entirety with ERC staff and the ERC-funded host PI.

WHEN TO APPLY

The deadline for European research opportunity supplements is April 21, 2018.

For further information, please contact nsf-erc [at] nsf [dot] gov.

Dear Colleague Letter: NSF-USDA-BBSRC Joint Funding Opportunity for EAGER Grants

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NSF 18-039

Dear Colleague Letter: NSF-USDA-BBSRC Joint Funding Opportunity - Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGERs) to Develop Breakthrough Ideas and Enabling Technologies to Advance Crop Breeding and Functional Genomics

 

January 5, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have established a joint funding opportunity to support the development of breakthrough technologies that will enable significant advances in crop breeding. This opportunity aims to make high impact changes in the ability to translate basic knowledge of plant genomics to practical outcomes in crops of economic importance to the participating countries.

This NSF-BIO, USDA-NIFA and BBSRC Joint Activity is soliciting Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals to support development of breakthrough ideas and technologies to speed the development for new crop varieties. There remain significant bottlenecks to improving crop varieties even if new traits or natural variants are identified, such as producing hybrids, understanding recombination, and epigenetic inheritance as examples. Translation of basic knowledge to practical outcomes can be accelerated by key emerging technologies that exploit genomics rapidly and effectively. This EAGER opportunity invites proposals to overcome these barriers to crop breeding in highly innovative and transformative ways. Investigators considering this opportunity should articulate how the enabling technologies would be used to improve crop breeding.

Areas of research that await breakthrough advances and are appropriate for this EAGER opportunity include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advancing genome editing technology to generate new phenotypes for greater genetic gain
  • Achieving reliable and high throughput production of doubled haploids from genotypes that are currently recalcitrant to chromosome doubling to accelerate the breeding process in cereals and other crops
  • Controlling and understanding meiotic recombination to tap into inaccessible genetic resources in areas of low recombination and enabling whole genome manipulation
  • Modifying epigenetic inheritance to facilitate phenotypic changes related to environmental responses
  • Understanding mechanisms of heterosis, thereby generating and exploiting hybrid vigor for crop improvement

For this EAGER opportunity, emphasis should be on developing enabling technologies that will impact crops or model crop systems. Projects that focus solely on sequencing will not be considered. Funded projects relevant to the goals of the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) will be invited to become IWYP Aligned Projects.

Proposed studies should be potentially transformative and must be considered "high-risk, high-payoff" to achieve the goal of making technological breakthroughs to promote crop breeding. Studies should be compatible with the budget (up to $300,000 for US components and up to £200,000 for UK components) and time limits (2 years) of the EAGER funding mechanism. For collaborative US/UK EAGER projects, BBSRC will fund UK researchers up to £200,000 and NSF or NIFA will fund US researchers up to $300,000 including indirect costs. US only EAGERS are limited to $300,000 total including indirect costs. Further details are provided below for budgetary limits for UK partners. EAGER proposals may originate from US-UK partnerships or from US-only applicants. EAGERs solely involving UK applicants are not permitted. For more information on EAGERs, please review NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

EAGER SUBMISSION PROCESS

EAGER proposals will be submitted in a two step process:

1. Submission of two-page summary of EAGER proposal concept (Summary): Inquiries will be accepted from a Principal Investigator (PI) or a consortium of Investigators led by a PI at an eligible institution in the US or UK. Standard BBSRC eligibility criteria, as described in section 3 of the BBSRC grants guide (http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/grants-guide/) are further described below.

International collaboration between US and UK investigators is encouraged, but not required. EAGER submissions by only UK participants will not be accepted. Interested PIs are required to email a two-page summary of the idea to be considered for a full proposal. The two-page Summary should be submitted as a pdf file with a filename in the format "PILastName_PIFirstName_PIInstitution.pdf" to bttpitch [at] nsf [dot] gov by March 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM proposer's local time. US investigators may be listed as PI or coPI on no more than two Summaries; UK investigators may be listed on only one Summary (see BBSRC-specific details below).

The Summary should consist of three pages including a front title page plus two pages of text. A template for the front title page is available as a link on the NSF Plant Genome Research Program website. The text of the Summary should include the following information:

  1. Background
  2. Intellectual Merit
  3. Goals and Specific Aims
  4. Contributions of the US and UK partners to achieve the goals, when applicable
  5. Broader Impacts that includes a statement of downstream impact with long-term potential for translation to breeding improvement

All submitted material, including references and figures, must be included within the two-page Summary and must be prepared in a minimum 10 point font size and with margins at least an inch wide in all dimensions. The Summary will be reviewed internally by NSF/BIO, USDA/NIFA, and by experts appointed by BBSRC.

2. Submission of EAGER proposal: PIs whose submitted Summaries best meet the goals of this DCL will be encouraged to submit full proposals. All proposals will be submitted to NSF using Fastlane, and should be submitted according to NSF EAGER guidelines described in the NSF Proposal and Awards Policy and Procedures Guide 18-1 (PAPPG).

This is an interagency partnership between NSF/BIO and USDA/NIFA, and through a Lead Agency agreement between NSF/BIO and BBSRC; therefore, meritorious proposals may be selected by one of the agencies for consideration. Successful applications will then be forwarded to the appropriate agency for funding in accordance with each agency's terms and conditions. Applicants selected for funding may be required to provide additional information. Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the individual policies of the awarding agency. Information on NIFA's policies and procedures is in NIFA's Policy Guide. Information about BBSRC policies and procedures may be found in the BBSRC grants guide.

Special notes concerning UK applicants: Standard BBSRC eligibility criteria, as described in section 3 of the BBSRC grants guide will be applied to the UK component of applications submitted to this call. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Research Council Institutes (RCIs) that are normally eligible to apply for research grants are eligible to apply to this call. Applications with non-eligible UK partners will not be considered for funding.

The UK component of applications should be costed on the basis of full economic costs (fEC). If the grant is awarded, BBSRC will provide funding on the basis of 80% of fEC. UK components of applications are limited to one UK Principal Investigator and are limited to £200k for 2 years (80% fEC amount). UK Principal Investigators may only be involved in one application each. Successful UK applicants will be required to submit an additional form through the Je-S system, and will receive awarded BBSRC grants in Pounds Sterling. These grants will be subject to standard Research Council Grants Terms and Conditions.

For more information or questions, please contact one of the following:

  • Anne Sylvester, Program Director, Plant Genome Research Program, NSF at asylvest [at] nsf [dot] gov or 703-292-7168
  • Ed Kaleikau, National Program Leader, Division of Plant Systems, Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, NIFA at ekaleikau [at] nifa [dot] usda [dot] gov or 202-401-1931
  • Paul Wiley, Senior International Programme Manager, International Relations Unit BBSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1UH, UK, +44 (0)1793 413379, Paul [dot] Wiley [at] bbsrc [dot] ac [dot] uk

Sincerely,
Joanne S. Tornow
Assistant Director (Acting)
Directorate for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation

FAQs about NSF INCLUDES DCL: Announcement of an Effort to Expand the NSF INCLUDES National Network

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Read the NSF INCLUDES Dear Colleague Letter: Announcement of an Effort to Expand the NSF INCLUDES National Network (NSF 17-111)

 

  1. What is NSF INCLUDES?
  2. Could you elaborate on what you mean by collaborative infrastructure?
  3. What are collaborative change strategies?
  4. What is NSF INCLUDES seeking in Conference proposals submitted in response to this Dear Colleague Letter?
  5. What do you mean by link to the NSF INCLUDES Network? Does that refer to the goals of NSF INCLUDES or to specific projects?
  6. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from conferences?
  7. What does NSF INCLUDES want from successful EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals?
  8. How are NSF INCLUDES EAGERs different from other broadening participation efforts funded by NSF?
  9. How will you distinguish between an EAGER proposal and a Design and Development Launch Pilot proposal NSF 17-522? Wouldn't an EAGER grant end up being groundwork that could become a Design and Development Launch Pilot?
  10. What kinds of outcomes do you expect from EAGER projects?
  11. Would it be appropriate for an EAGER project to study existing collaborations/Networked Improvement Communities that are currently NSF funded?
  12. Can one institution submit both an EAGER and a Conference proposal related to the same topic? Can one institution submit more than one EAGER proposal?
  13. Can partnerships include institutions from outside of U.S.?
  14. Can a for-profit research firm apply for an EAGER or a Conference grant?
  15. On average, how many organizations should participate in this collaboration?
  16. If we don't have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, then is an EAGER or Conference grant still possible?
  17. If we do have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit an EAGER or Conference proposal?
  18. How will EAGER and Conference proposals be reviewed?
  19. What is NSF INCLUDES looking for in requests for supplemental funding?
  20. If we have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit a Supplement request?
  21. How are NSF INCLUDES Supplements different from Design and Development Launch Pilots (NSF 17-522) or other broadening participation efforts?
  22. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from Supplements?
  23. Will there be another solicitation for Design and Development Launch Pilots in FY 2018?

Blue Divider Line

  1. What is NSF INCLUDES?

    NSF INCLUDES is one of NSF's Ten Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment meant to catalyze interest and investment in fundamental research, discovery, invention and innovation. NSF INCLUDES is catalyzing novel approaches to broadening participation in STEM by creating the NSF INCLUDES National Network, composed of NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilots, NSF INCLUDES Alliances, NSF-funded broadening participation projects, other relevant NSF-funded projects, scholars engaged in broadening participation research, and other organizations that support the development of talent from all sectors of society to build the STEM workforce. NSF INCLUDES incentivizes the building of collaborative infrastructure that will bring people and organizations together who might currently be working in isolation.

  2. Could you elaborate on what you mean by collaborative infrastructure?

    By collaborative infrastructure we mean the structures and facilities that enable collaboration across organizations and institutions with a shared goal or vision; map out mutually reinforcing activities; develop goals, objectives and measures to map their progress; engage in constant communication; and advance the potential for expanding, scaling and sustaining the collaborative efforts that would not be possible otherwise. For the NSF INCLUDES National Network, collaborative infrastructure fosters coordination and collaboration by emphasizing the following five characteristics: Vision; Partnerships, Goals and Metrics; Leadership and Communication; and the Potential for Expansion, Sustainability and Scale. Every NSF INCLUDES project and the NSF INCLUDES National Network engage a broad community in a shared vision of the importance and power of diversity for scientific innovation. Partnerships and networks are at the heart of the NSF INCLUDES National Network, and through the Coordination Hub, Alliances, Design and Development Launch Pilots, and other network building mechanisms like this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF hopes to provide platforms for partnerships and collaborative action. Partnerships and networks will be driven by shared goals and metrics that allow for robust data that facilitate evidence-based decision making. NSF INCLUDES is also designed to build capacity for leadership and communication among organizations and individuals to create opportunities in STEM education and careers. Finally, collaborative infrastructure should lead to expansion, sustainability and scale by encouraging more partners to join the movement, thus enabling more connections and opportunities for large-scale change to occur.

  3. What are collaborative change strategies?

    Examples of collaborative change strategies include Collective Impact, Networked Improvement Communities, and Research + Practice Partnerships. Collaborative change strategies are frameworks used to tackle deeply entrenched, complex problems, like broadening participation in STEM. Such strategies are designed to make collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and individuals to achieve significant and lasting change. Other potential frameworks are possible, and we encourage projects to explore various ways to harness the power of collaboration.

  4. What is NSF INCLUDES seeking in Conference proposals submitted in response to this Dear Colleague Letter?

    NSF INCLUDES invites Conference proposals that will link the NSF INCLUDES National Network to the knowledge base and results from the wider NSF broadening participation portfolio of programs and projects (the NSF website lists the NSF Broadening Participation portfolio programs). We are also interested in connecting the NSF INCLUDES National Network to the knowledge and experiences of NSF-funded center-scale activities, such as our Science and Technology Centers or Engineering Research Centers. Communicating the knowledge and results of other major NSF investments, and encouraging collaboration across NSF-funded efforts with the NSF INCLUDES National Network are also desirable goals of conferences. More ideas for NSF INCLUDES conferences include: facilitating a new or existing collaborative dialog among organizations that are interested in opportunities to connect with the NSF INCLUDES National Network; communicating research findings from the science of broadening participation research community to the NSF INCLUDES National Network; and/or providing a platform for new collaborations within the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Please send a one-page description of your Conference idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  5. What do you mean by link to the NSF INCLUDES Network? Does that refer to the goals of NSF INCLUDES or to specific projects?

    Both options are acceptable. We encourage conferences that would include current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot projects, but this is not a requirement. Linking to the NSF INCLUDES Network might also be facilitated through dialog about the goals of NSF INCLUDES and how participating organizations might become involved in efforts to: bring together dedicated partners; find solutions that work; and build a nation where everyone has opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  6. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from conferences?

    The outcomes of NSF INCLUDES conferences include the engagement of individuals, organizations and groups with the concepts and ideas of the NSF INCLUDES National Network, with a view toward expanding the network. Additional outcomes of Conference grants may include (but are not limited to): presenting the findings from discussions at PI and other stakeholder meetings; a summary report from the conference gathering, including lessons learned about broadening participation and collaborative change; an edited volume in a journal, with articles based on the discussion by conference participants; and/or publication of scholarly journal articles based on conference discussions or resulting research.

  7. What does NSF INCLUDES want from successful EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals?

    In the context of this DCL, EAGERs are research projects that produce findings and results that will: generate new insights for the NSF INCLUDES National Network; suggest potential strategies for engaging NSF's existing broadening participation activities in the Network; and/or highlight lessons learned that could inform the NSF INCLUDES Launch Pilots and Alliances as they develop. EAGERs that use new theoretical approaches, methods, or data collection strategies to help foster deeper understanding of collaborative change strategies, common metrics, or how networks can expand and reach "scale" are encouraged. Studies should: be grounded in a relevant research theory or framework; apply appropriate methods; and further the evidence-based research that could illustrate the efficacy of collaborative change approaches. Appropriate goals of EAGER proposals could include developing new measures or approaches for assessing networks, or gathering preliminary data in support of theoretical approaches to understanding collaborative change. Note that these are just some ideas; NSF INCLUDES welcomes other ideas for EAGERs. EAGERs that use data science, including data analytic methodologies to understand network operations and effective expansion and management for broadening participation are especially encouraged. Please send a one-page description of your EAGER idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  8. How are NSF INCLUDES EAGERs different from other broadening participation efforts funded by NSF?

    In the context of this DCL, EAGERs are research grants to help us understand how collaboration functions within the context of broadening participation in STEM. The focus of an EAGER is not on implementation but on theoretical research that grows the knowledge base. The NSF Broadening Participation Portfolio includes other programs that may fund interventions with a goal of broadening participation in STEM. Those interested in implementation might consult the list of Broadening Participation programs at NSF. Similarly, research proposals that could be submitted to the various Science of Broadening Participation tracks in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences or the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, in response to NSF 17-143, Dear Colleague Letter: Stimulating Research Related to the Science of Broadening Participation), or through the Directorate for Engineering's Broadening Participation in Engineering program should be submitted to those programs rather than as an EAGER. EAGERs are also not evaluation studies of interventions.

  9. How will you distinguish between an EAGER proposal and a Design and Development Launch Pilot proposal NSF 17-522? Wouldn't an EAGER grant end up being groundwork that could become a Design and Development Launch Pilot?

    Design and Development Launch Pilots are projects that are taking the first steps toward building and implementing collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation in STEM. An EAGER grant is a research grant. In an EAGER proposal, we will be looking for research questions that stem from a theoretical foundation, and data collection and analysis strategies that will answer those questions. Design and Development Launch Pilot proposals as described in NSF 17-522 have very specific characteristics and requirements that are significantly different from those of a research project.

  10. What kinds of outcomes do you expect from EAGER projects?

    EAGERs should produce high-quality research suitable for publication in scholarly journals and presentations at professional conferences. EAGER projects might also culminate in a "lessons learned" document or white paper to share with the NSF INCLUDES National Network. We encourage EAGER researchers to attend PI and other stakeholder meetings to share the results of the research with the NSF INCLUDES National Network.

  11. Would it be appropriate for an EAGER project to study existing collaborations/Networked Improvement Communities that are currently NSF funded?

    An EAGER proposal involving an existing collaboration would be acceptable if it is a theoretically-driven examination of specific research questions about how collaboration functions within the specific context. The proposal should provide clear research questions and a data collection and analysis plan that would answer those questions. The outcomes should include publishable research that furthers our understanding of collaborative change strategies. EAGER projects should not be evaluations of existing efforts.

  12. Can one institution submit both an EAGER and a Conference proposal related to the same topic? Can one institution submit more than one EAGER proposal?

    There is no limit on the number of EAGER or Conference proposals that an institution may submit. We do ask that you send us a one-page description of each EAGER and/or Conference idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  13. Can partnerships include institutions from outside of U.S.?

    Yes, partnerships may include institutions outside of the US, but keep in mind that NSF INCLUDES is about broadening participation in STEM within the US. If you want to include an international partner, you will need to justify how that partnership will help broadening participation by underrepresented groups within the US.

  14. Can a for-profit research firm apply for an EAGER or a Conference grant?

    The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E. US commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education, are eligible to apply for NSF grants including submission of Conference proposals. NSF INCLUDES is particularly interested in supporting projects that couple industry research, resources and perspectives with those of universities, schools, and non-profit organizations and so welcomes proposals for collaborative projects involving the private commercial sector.

  15. On average, how many organizations should participate in this collaboration?

    NSF does not stipulate the number of partnering organizations in any collaboration. Proposers are encouraged to consider the funding amount and the activities that might be achieved given that limitation and then realistically consider how many partners are feasible.

  16. If we don't have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, then is an EAGER or Conference grant still possible?

    Having an NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot is not a prerequisite for submitting an EAGER or Conference proposal. Any organization eligible per the PAPPG may submit an EAGER or Conference proposal in response to this DCL. However, we do ask that you submit a one-page summary of your project idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  17. If we do have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit an EAGER or Conference proposal?

    Current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot grantees are eligible to submit an EAGER or Conference proposal. We do ask that you submit a one-page summary of your project idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  18. How will EAGER and Conference proposals be reviewed?

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through two merit review criteria: the intellectual merit of a proposal is its potential to advance the knowledge base in a subject area; the broader impacts of a proposal is its potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. Please make sure your EAGER and/or Conference proposal addresses both the intellectual merit and the broader impacts of your idea in both the project summary and the project description. Conference proposals that come in at or over $100,000 will undergo external merit review; those under that amount may go through internal or external NSF merit review. EAGER proposals will go through the internal NSF merit review process. We highly recommend you read the sections on EAGERs and/or Conference proposals in the NSF PAPPG before writing your proposal.

  19. What is NSF INCLUDES looking for in requests for supplemental funding?

    NSF INCLUDES supplements should involve connecting an existing NSF award or a group of NSF awards to, and becoming part of, the NSF INCLUDES National Network. NSF INCLUDES will consider supplemental funding for existing NSF grants to create opportunities among NSF-funded projects with the goal of building a collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation and connection to the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplements may also provide seed money for experiments using collaborative change strategies for broadening participation in conjunction with the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplement grantees might develop linkages between an NSF-funded project and an NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot. Supplements may also be used to generate new ideas for bringing a community of NSF-funded projects into the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Becoming part of the NSF INCLUDES National Network is the important part of any supplement activity. We do ask that you send us a one-page description of your Supplement idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov and discuss your idea with your cognizant program officer in advance of formally submitting a supplement request, so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your submitting a supplement request.

  20. If we have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit a Supplement request?

    Current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot grantees are not eligible for Supplements.

  21. How are NSF INCLUDES Supplements different from Design and Development Launch Pilots (NSF 17-522) or other broadening participation efforts?

    Requests for supplements should describe a collaborative change strategy effort to link an existing NSF-funded activity to the NSF INCLUDES National Network and thereby become a part the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplements are not held to the requirements for Design and Development Launch Pilots as described in NSF 17-522 and are not considered Design and Development Launch Pilot projects. Supplements should not be used to implement a single intervention for broadening participation (e.g., offering a summer camp or an after-school program) and are not evaluation studies of interventions. In addition, NSF INCLUDES supplements are not supplements for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or to add undergraduate or graduate assistants to your project, unless their participation is facilitating networking activities. They should also not be used to add new participants or participant groups to an existing intervention.

  22. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from Supplements?

    Supplement grantees might share data with the NSF INCLUDES National Network, present at PI or stakeholder meetings or produce a summary report of lessons learned about broadening participation and collaborative change. Other outcomes of NSF INCLUDES supplements might involve publishing scholarly journal articles about collaborative change or developing a plan or logic model for how NSF-funded projects might join the NSF INCLUDES National Network and sharing that broadly with other NSF grantees through national and disciplinary conferences. We invite other creative ideas for how to link existing NSF grantees to the NSF INCLUDES National Network through supplements. Supplement grantees are expected to participate in the NSF INCLUDES National Network by attending PI and other stakeholder meetings.

  23. Will there be another solicitation for Design and Development Launch Pilots in FY 2018?

    At this time, we do not anticipate another Design and Development Launch Pilot solicitation in FY 2018.

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