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Participants will be in Listen Only mode until Q&A for this webinar which is being recorded.

To view real-time captions of this webinar , in a second web browser page go to: http://www.fedrcc.us and enter event confirmation number 1832131, if you need this accommodation.

Remember to state your name and organization before commenting during Q&A.

Speak clearly and loudly so all comments can be heard.


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Division of Environmental Biology webinar which is being recorded.New Solicitation for Core Programs2011 Webinar

What is changing?

Why is it changing?

What are the details?

How is merit review affected ?


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What is changing? webinar which is being recorded.

Take Home Message:

Starting with the January 2012 proposal submission deadline – all proposals submitted to the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) must conform to new, division-wide solicitation NSF 11-573


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What is changing? webinar which is being recorded.

  • The new, Environmental Biology (DEB) solicitation is one of three new solicitations released by the Directorate for Biological Sciences :

  • A new solicitation for proposals submitted to Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) was announced May, 2011. MCB will now accept full proposals at 8-month deadlines.

  • The rest of this presentation concerns 2 new solicitations for proposals submitted to Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) or DEB.

  • The IOS and DEB solicitations both:

  • Require a pre-proposalsubmission in January followed by full proposal deadline in August.

  • Full proposals can be submitted ONLY if invited by the program based on review of a pre-proposal.

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What types of proposals are affected by these new solicitations?

All regular research proposals that were previously submitted through the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, or to any of the core Programs Descriptions in IOS or DEB must conform to the new solicitations.

In addition, any proposals submitted to the core programs in IOS or DEB through the Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) or Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) solicitations must conform to the same, new solicitations.

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The IOS core programs are: solicitations?

Behavioral Systems: 

          Animal Behavior

Developmental Systems:

          Plant, Fungal and Microbial Developmental Systems

          Animal Developmental Systems

          Evolution of Developmental Systems

Neural Systems:




Physiological and Structural Systems:

          Symbiosis, Defense and Self-Recognition

          Processes, Structures and Integrity

          Organism-Environment Interactions

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The DEB core programs are: solicitations?

Ecosystem Science Cluster: 

Ecosystem Studies

Evolutionary Processes Cluster:

Evolutionary Ecology

Evolutionary Genetics

Population and Community Ecology Cluster:

          Population and Community Ecology

Long Term Research in Environmental Biology

Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster:

          Phylogenetic Systematics

Biodiversity: Discovery and Analysis

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Solicitations solicitations? NOT affected by this change include (but are not limited to):

  • Assembling the Tree of Life - ATOL


  • Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems - CNH

  • Dimensions of Biodiversity

  • Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases - EEID

  • Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis - OPUS

  • Research Coordination Networks – RCN

  • Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants - DDIG

  • Also, ALL programs in IOS and DEB will continue to accept:

  • Conference and workshop proposals

  • EAGERs

  • RAPIDs

  • Supplements to existing awards

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Why are we changing things in DEB? solicitations?

  • Full proposal success rates in DEB have declined from ~25% in 2001 to levels that are ~10% in 2011.

  • PIs are writing more and more full proposals in response to this declining success rate.

  • Increased proposal numbers , low success rates, and high numbers of resubmissions create inefficiencies and reviewer burnout.

  • In short, everyone is working harder for the same resources.

  • To address this workload challenge IOS and DEB will change to a system of review that starts with pre-proposal submission, followed by invited full proposals.

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1600 solicitations?







Number of Projects



Success Rate %
















Proposal Submissions and Awards

During the past decade the number of proposals submitted to DEB has nearly doubled while the number of awards we are able to fund has remained relatively unchanged.

Consequently, success rate has dropped (except in 2009 - stimulus-ARRA funds) and is now approaching single digit percent rates



Success Rate


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Burden on Reviewer Community solicitations?

Total number of reviews submitted to DEB increased until 2007 when programs began decreasing mail review requests in order to reduce the added workload of increasing numbers of proposals.

However, the number of panelists necessary to review proposals has continued to increase.

Total Reviews

Panelists Reviews

Mail Reviews

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What are the details? solicitations?

(same for both IOS and DEB)

Single pre-proposal deadline per year followed by submission of invited full proposals

Preliminary proposals are required – January 9 deadline

  • Limit per division of 2 per individual, including as:

    • PI or Co-PI on any planned single institution or collaborative submission.

    • Lead personnel on any planned subaward.

  • Pre-proposal panel review only March-April

  • Invite or Not Invite decision ~May 1

    Full proposal submission – August 2 deadline

  • Onlyinvited proposals will be accepted (LTREB-Renewal, OPUS and RCN proposals to core programs will also be accepted but only at this deadline)

  • Panel review (with possible ad hoc reviews) October-November

  • Award/Decline decisions by December

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Annual Cycle of Review and Recommendation solicitations?

Write full proposal

Pre-proposal Submission

Full-proposal Submission

Pre-proposal review panels

Full-proposal review panels

Notification of Invite / Not Invite

Notification of Award/ Decline

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Pre-proposal Format solicitations?

  • Cover sheet

    • Title must begin with “DEB Preliminary Proposal:” and “ABR:”, “RUI:” or “LTREB:” as appropriate.

  • Project Summary – Standard GPG rules -1 page

  • Project Description (1 pg. list of senior personnel, 4 pg. for project description)

    • Page 1: List all PI/Co-PIs (on all planned institutional proposal submissions if a collaborative proposal, and on all planned subawards).

    • Page 2-5: Describe both intellectual merit and broader impacts. No requirement to describe results from prior NSF support.

  • Biographical Sketches– for all personnel listed on pg. 1 of Project Description

  • Single Copy Documents: list of COIs

    • Alphabetized list of all individuals with conflicts of interests for all PIs, Co-PIs and subaward leads as listed on pg. 1. of Project Description.

  • No budget is required : Enter $2 in requested amount box on cover page

  • No Facilities section should be submitted

  • No Appendices nor any other type of supplementary documents are allowed – this includes no Postdoctoral Mentering Plan and no Data Management Plan

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Pre-proposal Content solicitations?

As with any proposal: A good research project is a creative, important idea, well grounded in theory, clearly expressed and convincingly justified, and with appropriate methods and expertise for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, and making them known to all.

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Pre-proposal Content solicitations?

The Project Description of a pre-proposal should address:

  • the main idea, issue, phenomena, or concepts that the PIs intend to address,

  • the specific questions, hypotheses or aims the project will pursue in order to address the issues,

  • the conceptual basis and novelty of those ideas/questions and rationale for why they are of general interest,

  • the research approaches or experimental plan,

  • the ability of the team to conduct the research,

  • the planned broader impacts.

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Basis for Invite/Not Invite Decisions solicitations?

  • Assessment by the pre-proposal panel

    • Are the ideas bold and innovative?

    • Is the motivation for this work conceptually well grounded?

    • Are there compelling questions/hypotheses identified?

    • Are the approaches and experimental design feasible and logically linked to the central ideas?

    • Are the PIs well qualified and experienced enough with the approaches to be able to conduct the research?

    • Is there a convincing and significant effort made towards broader impacts?

  • Additional programmatic considerations for portfolio balance

    • Existing awards in the program

    • Diversity with regard to career level, under-represented groups, geographic location and institution type

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Proposal merit review - 2 axes of risk solicitations?


Risk - Boldness

Incremental - Innovative – Compelling - Iconoclastic


Straight-forward- Solid- Technical quibbles – Design flaws – Not feasible

Risk - Feasibility

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Proposal merit review – transformative potential solicitations?

Funding Priority

Cumulative knowledge

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QUESTIONS solicitations??

This Webinar will be posted as presented for later reference -http://www.nsf.gov/events/event_summ.jsp?cntn_id=121479&org=BIO

Link to Solicitation - NSF 11-573 http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11573/nsf11573.pdf

Link to FAQ – NSF 11-079


Email questions to any DEB Program Officer:

see DEB website for addresses: http://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=DEB

Concerns can also be directed to:

DEB Division Director (acting)– Penny Firth [email protected]

Assistant Director for Biological Sciences – John Wingfield [email protected]