Links for recent funding opportunity updates in BIO

Please take note of these recently published funding opportunity updates:

1) A revision to the DEB Core Programs solicitation has been published. The new solicitation number is NSF 15-500. See it here:

2) The Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) solicitation has also been updated. The new solicitation number is NSF 15-503. See it here:

3) Current DEB awardees should have received a reminder about Education and Broadening Participation supplement requests, due December 2. The guidance for these supplements is also online, here:

4) A revision of the BIO Postdoctoral Fellowships program has also been published. There are 3 tracks all of which may be relevant to new PhDs in DEB fields: (1) Broadening Participation of Groups Under-represented in Biology, (2) Research Using Biological Collections, and (3) National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI). See it here:

As always, we are happy to receive  your questions in the comments and by phone or email.

DEB Numbers: Community Satisfaction Survey Results

You may recall that way back in the first half of 2013 we invited the community by email and also via this blog to participate in a survey to gauge satisfaction with the preliminary proposal process in DEB and IOS.

The full results of the survey have now been published in BioScience. Our thanks to you for responding to our call to participate in great numbers and to the various discussants, readers, and reviewers who helped throughout the process.

We understand how strongly many people feel about these issues and appreciate your engagement as individuals with diverse experiences and perspectives. For every possible change we do or do not make, real lives are being impacted and that matters to us; and when 9 of 10 proposals are declined there will always be more individuals who “lose” than “win” even if the collective face of either group doesn’t change at all. We are ultimately people, trying to do our best to balance trade-offs with very real individual and collective consequences amidst constraints that extend well beyond any one of us. We are considering the responses very carefully, continuing to monitor outcomes, make adjustments, and evaluate the results of these changes with all available data.

Major Messages:

Respondents were most satisfied with the preliminary proposal requirement and mostly dissatisfied with the switch to a single annual deadline.

The respondents indicated that they see the DEB and IOS changes as a potential threat to the success of several different groups, especially to the ability of early career faculty to obtain funding. After the first complete review cycle, there were no immediate and obvious changes to the representation of these groups in the award portfolio.

General consensus was seen in responses between DEB and IOS and across various demographic divisions.

You can check the results out for yourself here: (Web) (PDF)

Note: you may hit a paywall if searching for the article directly from the web. These links should get you there directly.


Leslie J. Rissler and John Adamec. Gauging Satisfaction with the New Proposal Process in DEB and IOS at the NSF. BioScience (September 2014) 64 (9): 837-843 first published online August 13, 2014 doi:10.1093/biosci/biu116




Meet DEB: George Malanson, PCE Program Officer

Basic Profile

Name: George Malanson

GPM head

Education: PhD, UCLA, 1983

Home Institution: University of Iowa

Research Experience/History: I started out in fire ecology, working on coastal sage scrub at UCLA with Walt Westman. I continued on that track in a postdoc in Montpellier, France (with Louis Trabaud on an NSF fellowship), where I was able to augment some of his experimental burns with some of my own. In between I had an interlude where I was serendipitously introduced to Glacier National Park (avalanche paths there look like fuel breaks carved into the hillsides of southern California – and function similarly). Looking at avalanche paths set up a switch to riparian ecology when I moved to Iowa because I wanted to refocus on spatial structure, and linearity seemed like a good construct. I later changed to alpine treeline to continue the linearity – in a different way – but mostly to get back to the Glacier. That work has occupied most of the past 25 years. Recently I have been looking at some large scale biogeography of alpine tundra, in part because the tundra is important for what happens to tree seedlings at treeline and in part because its diversity may be what suffers with climate change. The continuing question in this work is: How does the spatial structuring of populations by the abiotic environment affect the processes determining community structure and diversity. I am particularly interested in feedback loops. Some modeling work has led to applying similar models for coupled human-natural systems.

NSF Experience/History: NSF Rotator since 8/4/14. Review experience: prior site panel for LTER; reviewer for PCE, GSS; panelist for CNH, GSS.

Competitions I currently work on: Population and Community Ecology.

Q & A

Describe your current IR/D activities:

  • Revising a manuscript on how neighborhood facilitation works in the stress-gradient hypothesis
  • Revising a manuscript on beta-diversity in alpine tundra

What do you do in your position at NSF?

Ad hoc, ad hoc, and ad hoc: i.e., get proposals reviewed.

Biggest surprise you’ve encountered coming to DEB from the academic world:

Everyone here uses acronyms. All the time. Who knew?

One thing you wished more people understood about your field and why:

Uncertainty. It doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything.

What was the last book you read?

The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett, but I recommend her short stories, especially Servants of the Map.

Something extra about you to share with readers?

I have a passing interest in academic genealogies. Mine goes back to John Merle Coulter (1851-1928), but his doctorates were honorary and so it stops there.


A quick refresher for blog visitors

We’ve come a long way since launching the blog in February of 2013. For one, there are a lot more of you following us and reading posts on a regular basis.

So we’re interrupting our normal content to post a quick “nuts and bolts” refresher in the hope of improving your experience here and encouraging more participation.


This blog is an informal communication medium of the NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology. You can share with us anything you’d like us to know and we can provide you with information, pass along news and announcements, respond to your questions and comments and share our experiences. Suggestions for new and follow-up post topics are always appreciated.

Why doesn’t DEBrief run reader polls and ask for discussion of specific scenarios?

Soliciting advice or information from the public (e.g., us asking you questions that could be seen as placing undue burden on your time) is governed by various laws and takes place through formal mechanisms, for example by the BIO Advisory Committee. The blog is not an approved formal mechanism for doing this.


Please do: your questions, comments, responses to posts, and even general venting are all welcome. We started the blog because we wanted to create an open opportunity for two-way communication between DEB and the research community.

Comments are moderated (see the blog policies) so an email address can be useful for follow-up but isn’t required. In fact, you can comment without filling in any of the information and stay anonymous if you wish.


We try to have something new roughly every week but make no guarantees since we put a high premium on quality content and also have other responsibilities, for example: managing proposal review.

For your convenience, you can click the links to the right to receive notifications of new posts or to subscribe via an RSS.


DEBrief is more than just captivating original content you might “like”. We also bring you important reminders and critical updates related to new and ongoing funding opportunities. Help us get this information to everyone who would benefit from seeing it. Sharing buttons for various traditional (email, print) and social (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit) media are at the bottom of each post.


Old posts are below and will continuously load as you scroll deeper into the past. Since some are quite long, most content for older posts has been moved below the fold. A search function, categorical filters, and monthly archives are available via the menus on the right-hand side of the page.

Up top, we have some tabs with permanent information:

  • “DEB Resources and Links” takes you directly to frequently sought official information hosted on the website.
  • “About” lists who we our and our aims in presenting information here.
  • “Blog Policies” explains what you should expect from us and what we expect from you while interacting through the blog.

Reminder: 2014 BIO DDIG Deadline Thursday Oct 9

The DEB (all clusters) and IOS (Behavioral Systems Cluster only) due date for Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIG) is Thursday, 9 October 2014.

Submissions must be received by 5:00 PM (your local time) on Thursday, 9 October 2014.

This is the same scheduled deadline (2nd Thursday in October) as last year.

Don’t be confused by last year’s extended deadline caused by the government shutdown. Be aware of the correct due date and don’t miss your window to apply!

If you are planning to submit:

Please be sure all of the required paperwork and certifications (especially the “statement that the student has advanced to candidacy for a Ph.D., signed and dated by the department chairperson, graduate dean, or similar administrative official”) will be ready for the submission. Also, please make sure your organizational representative (usually, the Sponsored Research Office (SRO)) is aware of the actual due date to avoid missing the deadline.


DDIG solicitation (submission instructions):

DDIG Website (with program contacts):

Our recent series on DDIG: part 1, part 2, part 3


Two New Dear Colleague Letters Promote International Collaboration in DEB

We are excited to announce two new Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) in the Division of Environmental Biology.

When DEB researchers pursue international research collaborations, a common challenge is for both parties to secure concurrent funding. As explained in a previous DEBrief blog post on international collaboration, DEB can fund investigators through US-based institutions, however, DEB cannot fund investigators through foreign institutions. If both collaborators apply for grants independently to their respective country’s funding agency, there is a risk that one or both sides will not be funded. Some call this challenge double jeopardy.

International agreements between funding agencies can help to mitigate this type of  challenge. In lieu of each funding agency conducting a concurrent and independent review of the proposal, agencies can work together to streamline the review process into one mutually approved review. A single review process minimizes the risks associated with double jeopardy. If a jointly submitted proposal is selected for funding, then each country will pay for its own researcher’s component of the project. By aligning our funding decisions with those of other science funding agencies, we are able to extend the reach of our investigators’ high quality, cutting-edge science.

The two new Dear Colleague Letters are separate activities that have important differences. We strongly encourage interested investigators to carefully read the relevant Dear Colleague Letter and its associated program solicitation. DEB will begin accepting these US-Israel or US-UK collaborative proposals for the 2015 core solicitation preliminary proposal deadline of January 23, 2015.

It is important to recognize that these Dear Colleague Letters ARE NOT solicitations with dedicated budget lines (e.g. they do not describe new opportunities for funding). These DCLs simply announce a new way for international collaborative proposals to go through existing peer review mechanisms. We’re trying to make international collaboration routine as much as possible by reducing unnecessary barriers.



BSF_LogoThe US – Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) is a science-funding agency that supports collaborative research between United States and Israeli scientists. The projects they fund cover a wide range of basic and applied scientific fields. The DEB-BSF Dear Colleague Letter strives to enhance collaborations between US and Israeli scientists specifically in the realm of environmental biology.


NERC_LogoThe Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is one of the seven councils within the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK). It is the UK’s largest funder of independent environmental science, training, and innovation. The goal of the DEB-NERC Dear Colleague Letter is to reduce current barriers that investigators face when working with UK collaborators in the field of environmental biology and to promote US and UK science partnership.

Interested investigators are strongly encouraged to email in advance of submitting a proposal.

For questions on the BSF-DCL, please email:

For questions on the NERC-DCL, please email:


What’s your DEB Story?

Sometimes, it can be hard to fit what you want to tell us into your annual report. Other times, the coolest results, recognition of important research outcomes, and broader impacts only come to fruition in the years after a grant was closed and the final reports compiled.

We’re interested in unearthing the dark data on award outcomes. Help us tell the full story of DEB funding: from personal experiences to news-making discoveries, we want to hear from you. Comment, email us, or schedule a time to talk with us to share your experiences.

Non-exhaustive list of examples:

  • Any part of the project that you couldn’t fit in your reports and want us to know about.
  • Updates on how research on a grant has influenced student careers.
  • Publications that have become modern classics.
  • Awards and recognitions.
  • Institutional legacies of innovative programs.
  • Follow-up or translational research that took your results in unexpected directions.

We’re always looking to highlight the results of research spending to illustrate the breadth of impacts of past and current awards. Short summary stories of award outcomes are passed to NSF’s Public Affairs team and may wind up on Your responses can help us highlight the many ways in which DEB awards serve to promote the progress of science, support education, and contribute to national well-being.