On January 18, 2022, 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 the Human Resources (HR) Cluster in DBI.
The staff provided a brief overview of the HR cluster and its 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: Is there a link to previous Virtual Office Hour slides and Q&A?
A: Yes. All of the previous VOH slides, as well as the Q&A for each VOH will be posted on the DBI Blog (https://dbiblog.nsfbio.com/).
Q: Do the themes from the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) change every year?
A: They can. Area 1, the Broadening Participation area is a long-standing area and is not expected to change. The Rules of Life area is now in its third year. Typically, this area (Area 2) will change every 5 years or so. Area 3, the Plant Genome area is also long standing, and is not expected to change any time soon.
Q: Does the BIORETS require a minimum number of teachers?
A: Yes. The solicitation suggests between 8-10 teachers. However, if you have a reason to justify having fewer, the program is willing to consider it. For example, if there are fewer than 8 (e.g., 6) teachers because of the nature of the project that you are running, it is clearly justified, innovative, and we believe the project will be transformative and reach out to thousands of students at the schools, the program would be willing to consider it. However, it is always a good idea to reach out to a program officer to discuss this prior to submitting a proposal.
Q: Can you define professional society for the BIO-LEAPS?
A: Yes. When we wrote the solicitation, we tried to be as broad as possible with the definition of professional society. That said, the mission of the institution has to be something that is in line with what professional societies do, meaning it has to have a broad membership from across multiple academic institutions and/or other entities. While the society must be based in the United States, smaller societies and burgeoning societies are welcome to reach out to the LEAPS working group and discuss these proposals.
Q: Is the RaMP Program temporary?
A: We can’t say for sure if it is temporary, but it is an active program right now. To be eligible, the expectations are that for whatever reason, the student was unable to acquire research experience, and wanted to have that opportunity. The student has now graduated and is applying to this program post-graduation. COVID was a clear example of what we have gotten as a rationale for why students did not get research experiences for this, but if you can justify another one the RaMP program would entertain that. Again, please reach out to the RAMP program officers to discuss any further questions/ideas you have.
Q: Do the traditional funding constraints apply to RCN-UBE support?
A: There are differences between a standard RCN, and RCN-UBE. For RCN-UBE, there are some additional constraints to consider. For RaMPS proposals, at least half of the funds to go towards participant support costs.
Q: Last year, the MCA deadline was a little bit forgiving. Is the deadline now a hard deadline?
A: The MCA program has a target date of February 6, 2023, and the first Monday in February each year thereafter. Target dates are dates after which proposals can still be accepted, although they may miss a particular panel or committee meeting and consequently have a longer decision time.
Q: When are REU Supplements due?
A: There is no deadline. A PI can request a supplement any time.
Q: Are the ~30 new REU awards each year sites only, or do they include both sites and supplements?
A: The approximately 30 awards are Sites, and you can see them in the NSF website. They will have a grant # starting in 21xxxxx.
Q: How does RUI differ from ROA?
A: RUI is a proposal that is reviewed in a panel. ROA is a supplement sent to NSF by your host lab to cover your expenses.
Q: The RUI is a bit confusing. Is it an award or something you would include along with a regular proposal such as a DEB proposal?
A: If you are submitting to a program in any BIO Division, and your institution is an eligible PUI, then you may submit your proposal as an RUI to get the added benefits articulated in the RUI solicitation.
Q: Will there will be another RaMP competition next year?
A: We are hoping that the new program will continue next year. However, as with all programs at NSF, program continuance is based on the availability of funds. In order for this program to continue a new and revised solicitation will need to be released, so please keep an eye out for it for fiscal year 2023.
Q: Can you share some percentages of success rates for some of these programs? Is that publicly available?
A: Success rates at the programmatic level are not public information. You can find new awards as they are posted in the Awards tab at the nsf.gov website. Success rates for Directorates and the agency, including by state as a whole can be found in our NSF by the Numbers tool.
Q: Are REPS Supplements still being considered?
A: Yes, they are.