Presentation on theme: "NSF CAREER Young Faculty Perspective Steve McIntosh Department of Chemical Engineering."— Presentation transcript:
NSF CAREER Young Faculty Perspective Steve McIntosh Department of Chemical Engineering
My Experience Awarded NSF CAREER (CBET, Catalysis Program) in 2007. One of two awards that year in the program Since then have served on ~6 regular panels and two CAREER panels.
Competitiveness The NSF programs have become extremely oversubscribed. CAREER is extremely competitive but award rates are not as bad as the regular program (smaller pool).
Why was I successful? PhD research – Chemical Engineering - focus on catalysis for fuel cells. Postdoc research – Materials Science – novel materials characterization. CAREER award – novel materials characterization of catalysts for fuel cells. I combined my previous work. Stayed quite close to home. Had extensive publications in the area – I could do it. Novel twist/approach to a common problem. Its dangerous to stray too far from your core competence for two reasons: Can you do it? Do you understand the issues? Do the people on the panel know who you are?
Why was I successful? Outreach section This has changes a bit since my award. Proposed undergraduate research projects within each section of proposal. Proposed to develop a new energy themed course. Proposed to incorporate energy topics in other courses. That was it! Again, I could feasibly do this. Ive seen many more advanced and detailed proposals since. Nobody gets an award based on the broader outreach (in my experience).
My top tips? Serve on panels. As many as possible. Volunteer today. These people will review your proposal. Be creative but dont jump to a new field. You have no track record in the new area. Can you really identify and solve a critical problem? Why should I believe you? Focus on the science. Make sure your outreach seems feasible. School outreach programs are commonly proposed – do you have a better idea? Incorporate broader impacts into the science. Keep it reasonable – the budget is very tight.
How are proposals reviewed? Is it well written? Can I read it rapidly? Is it free of critical errors? Panel members can be reviewing 10 proposals. Is this a real problem? Are there other more important issues in the field? Does the PI have the background to succeed at this? Is there a novel/transformative aspect to the science? Will that work? Risk vs reward balance Is outreach reasonable?