On November 16, 2021, program officers from the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) within the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) held a virtual office hour session introducing DBI and its programs.
The staff provided a brief overview of DBI and various programs and were available for questions. Below are some of the questions asked. If you have project-specific questions, please reach out to a DBI program officer (and if you are an awardee, please contact your cognizant program officer).
The slides from this Office Hour are available here:
Q: Can non-permanent resident assistant professors, for example H1-B holders, apply to the Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program?
A: Proposals may be submitted to the RUI program by U.S. predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), which are accredited colleges and universities (including two-year community colleges) that award Associate’s degrees, Bachelor’s degrees, and/or Master’s degrees in NSF-supported fields, but have awarded 20 or fewer Ph.D./D.Sci. degrees in all NSF-supported fields during the combined previous two academic years. Because proposals are submitted by institutions, not principal investigators, there is no requirement for citizenship or permanent resident status. Please see Section I.E in the PAPPG for more information on who may submit proposals.
Q: For the project description, the Infrastructure Capacity for Biological Research (Capacity) solicitation listed several sections. Is the order of the first two sections (Overview, Results from Prior NSF Support) mandatory? Or we can put “Results from Prior NSF Support” first, then “Overview”?
A: There is no specific requirement for the order of these sections, so you can order them as you like as long as both sections are included with the appropriate sub-headers.
Q: Is reviewer service by invitation only?
A: Yes, NSF reviewer service is by invitation only, but you can volunteer to be invited. To become an NSF reviewer, send an e-mail to the NSF program officer(s) of the program(s) that fits your expertise. Introduce yourself, identify your areas of expertise, and let them know that you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer. It is most helpful if you also attach a 2-page CV with current contact information. Please see “Why You Should Volunteer to Serve As An NSF Reviewer” for more information.
Q: What is the planned submission date for the Capacity: Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories programmatic area? Is there budget guidance?
A: Infrastructure Capacity for Biological Research (Capacity) is among the NSF Biology programs with no deadlines, so proposals to Capacity programmatic areas, including Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories, can be submitted any time. The size and duration of any individual request should be justified by the amount and complexity of the work to be accomplished. As a rule, the larger the budget, the greater the expected impact on the biological research community. Please see the Capacity solicitation for more information.
Q: For the Capacity program, what is the average budget amount? Is there a maximum number per proposal? For example, the current proposal we are working on has a total budget about 1.5M. Would this be fine?
A: There is no budget limit for Capacity proposals, but the budget should be justified by the amount and complexity of the work to be accomplished. You can see the budgets of Capacity awards by using the award search function on nsf.gov.
Q: What are the expectations for prototypes in the Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (Innovation) program?
A: The Innovation program supports research to design novel or greatly improved research tools and methods that advance contemporary biology in any research area supported by the Directorate for Biological Sciences at NSF. There is no specific requirement for prototypes; however, a prototype may be useful in providing evidence of the feasibility of an innovation. It is recommended to discuss your proposal, including whether or not a prototype would be helpful, with a program officer in the Innovation program.