Presentation on theme: "NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program"— Presentation transcript:
1NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Jeff Ryan*Professor, Chair and Director, School of Geosciences,and (formerly) an NSF Program Director, EHR/DUE[and a past member of the CAREER Coordinating Committee]*with input from past and current NSF PD’s!
2The National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation is an independent granting agency of the U.S. Federal governmentBudget: $7.2 billion, FY 2012Charter: to fund fundamental research and education in the sciences, mathematics and engineeringExcluded from: clinical research (NIH), weapons research (DoD), research in (most of) space (NASA), high-energy physics (DoE)
3NSF “Org Chart” (after Hazelrigg, 2012) National Science BoardDirectorOffice of the Inspector GeneralDirectorate for AdministrationDirectorate forEngineeringBiologicalSciencesGeosciencesDirectorate for Computer and InformationScience andMathematicaland PhysicalSocial,Behavioral,and EconomicEducation andHumanResourcesStaff Offices
4The National Science Foundation Information site (where all NSF funding programs are “published”):Proposal Input site (where you go to both review proposals and to submit your own):Project Reports site (where you document project findings for NSF and input information about public benefits:Just now: NONE of these sites are available for us (thanks to Congressional hijinks…)
5CAREER: Program Goals“A Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”All NSF Research Directorates make CAREER awards.Tying faculty research and educational efforts together is a key goal of the program.As well, CAREER seeks to support the development of investigators from under-represented populations
6CAREER Awards:Funding is to support the academic career development of new faculty (it is not purely a research award…)Is based on a professional development plan, ”a well-argued and specific proposal for activities that will, over a 5-year period, build a firm foundation for a lifetime of contributions to research and education”Research is part of the plan (obviously!), but so is education and professional service/outreach
7CAREER: Program Eligibility Applicants Must:Hold a doctoral degree as of submission dateBe untenured as of submission dateBe employed in a tenure-track (or equivalent) position as of October 1 following submissionBe employed as an assistant professor (or equivalent) as of October 1 following submissionHave not competed more than 2 times previously in the CAREER program (Three Strikes Rule…)Have not previously received an NSF CAREER or PECASE award.Questions? See CAREER Frequently Asked Questions, on the CAREER Program pages in (when it’s available again!)
8CAREER: Award Duration and Size 5-year duration (very long awards for NSF, but equivalent to the pre-tenure period for most University faculty)Minimum award size of $400,000;$500,000 in the Biological Sciences and Polar ProgramsNo maximum award size (!!!), but how much bigger varies considerably by funding program and Directorate.
9CAREER: A Program within Programs… “Foundation-wide” means every Directorate makes CAREER awards, but they each manage their aspect of the program differently toward meeting their mandated goals.One may apply for CAREER Program support for any RESEARCH activities supported by NSF. This means:The research needs to be submittable to an existing NSF research funding program!In the EHR (Education and Human Resources) Directorate, only the REESE (Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering) Program typically accepts CAREER proposalsIn the disciplinary “Research and Research Related” directorates, all programs ostensibly can handle CAREER proposals (though there may be exceptions…).
10CAREER in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Generally, proposals must be submitted through existing SBE funding programs (these cover a lot of ground…)SociologyPsychology/Neuroscience (not clinical!)CriminologyGeography/GIScienceEconomics, etc.Biggest SBE CAREER challenge – budgets!Specifically, getting to the budgetary minimum…A CAREER award ends up being a very large fraction of an SBE funding program (which can make a Program Officer a bit antsy…)
11CAREER: Who should submit? Everyone who is eligible! But…Each NSF Directorate manages CAREER program awards differently:ENG, CISE: Primary means of supporting junior faculty! (lots of CAREER awards made)GEO: Historically, an honorific for the “best of the best” (fewest CAREER awards made):SBE: Number of awards usually constrained by overall program fundingEHR: constrained by “research” funding programs (most are “implementation” or scholarship/fellowship funding).BIO, CHE, PHY - Varies! You need to ask some hard questions of your cognizant Program Officer!
12Writing a Competitive CAREER Proposal: CAREER proposals are NOT normal research proposals!CAREER proposals are requests for financial support of an integrated academic career planResearch is part of this plan, and will define to a great degree the “storyline’ of the proposalEducation is also part of this plan (you are working at a University…)Service is part of this planThe proposal should spend page space (and grant money!) on each aspect of your career development activities, commensurate with their importance in your career!
13A CAREER Development Plan… …is a strategic plan!A strategic plan has three parts:Where are you today?Where do you want to be in the future (5, 10, 20 years from now)?How do you get from here to there?Your proposal…Should move you toward your professional goalsShould be compatible with your institution’s missionand goalsShould represent a contribution to society at large
14CAREER Proposal Preparation - First Steps Before you write a word --CALL your disciplinary Program Officer well in advance to talk about your interest in submitting a CAREER proposal!He/she will tell you up front if it’s better to submit via CAREER, or via the traditional research programs.For budgetary reasons, Program Officers always want a heads-up on any planned CAREER submissionsLarge awards require budgetary planning,CAREER submissions require different reviewers and (maybe) differing review processes….
15CAREER: Who to Contact: Contact the Program Director(s) who manage the NSF research program that best fits the research effort you seek to support via CAREER!Also: each NSF Directorate has CAREER program liaisons, who serve on the CAREER Coordinating Committee (CCC). These folks can be helpful with specific questions about the solicitation, eligibility, etc.Also helpful: CAREER Program Frequently Asked Questions - available on the CAREER program page at (when it’s working…).
16CAREER: Proposal Development What are your plans for research? What are your plans re: education?Criteria for research as in a standard NSF proposal, just more succinct (no room for great detail!)Educational activities should be consistent with your job as an educator (i.e., if you’re assigned to mentor graduate students, it should focus on graduate education…).Don’t propose “extra” activities beyond the scope of your job, esp. if the infrastructure to do them is unclear.Conceptual strategy re education: you are going to LEARN to be an outstanding educatorNSF knows that you didn’t learn this in grad school!How? Identifying/adopting/ adapting best STEM educational practices in your classroom and student activities.Also: you will be mentored by your senior colleagues (Chair’s letter….)
17CAREER: Proposal Development How are you going to integrate your research and education activities?Key: it’s got to make sense!It’s got to be “part of your job”.It’s got to support your career development!The best proposals tie the research and educational activities seamlessly.Ex: classroom activities incorporating research tools/results that lead to students engaging in mentored research with you on aspects of the project.
18CAREER Proposal DO’sHave a strategic career plan that you can explain to a stranger!Build on and leverage your strengths.Differentiate this proposal from your Ph.D. work and other funded work (it can align with past work but not simply repeat/continue it)Do the requisite background work before writing (on both the research you want to do, AND on the education/outreach efforts you will propose!)Read and FOLLOW the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)Establish the professional/research network you will need for success.
19CAREER Proposal DON’Ts Rush!Wait until last minute (<1 month) to contact program directorsMake the proposed work (research and education) too broad and/or diffuseMake the proposed work too narrow (it’s a career…)Ask for too much (or too little) money!Ignore rules (Grant Proposal Guide) and misc. itemsViolation of the GPG rules will result in return without review
20Proposal BasicsWrite to your reviewers, and your Program Officer (they are your audience!)Your proposal will be evaluated and rated by the reviewers, and recommended/declined by the Program Officer based (in part) on reviewer feedback.Reviewers want to know four things:What is it about (the research/educational objectives)?How will you do it (the technical approaches)?Can you do it (you and your facilities)?Is it worth doing (intellectual merit and broader impact)?Did you follow the rules? (specifically, the CAREER solicitation guidelines for proposal content)This is, basically, all the proposal needs to convey – but it needs to convey this
21Two Baseline Rules for writing potentially Competitive Proposals: Don’t piss off your reviewing audience!NSF font/size guidelines – exceed these for readability (12 point MINIMUM!)Organize with headingsNumber the pages (!!)Captions should be with figures!Follow the rules (= read and follow the RFP!)The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)The CAREER SolicitationThe solicitation of the program through which you are submitting your CAREER proposal.
22NSF’s “We’ll Send it Back!” Rules MUST describe Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts in Project Summary document (now this is hardwired…)MUST include a Data Management Plan describing plans for public access to project data (as appropriate) once the project is done.MUST include a Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan if postdocs are part of the proposed project (and in CAREERS they generally are…)MUST include a labeled section on Broader Impacts in the Project Descriptions
23CAREER Specific Requirements/Opportunities Departmental Letter - From your Chair, must confirm your eligibility to submit under CAREER, document support for your project, and commit to mentoring you through the term of the award.Severe Limits on Supplemental Documents beyond the Chair’s letter – Check with the Program Director…PI restrictions - Only YOU may serve as a PI on a CAREER award: no Co-PI’s. Subawards are permitted, as are participating Senior Personnel important to the project. Otherwise funds may be used as in any other NSF grant.PECASE Awards: CAREER grantees who are U.S. citizens are eligible for PECASE (Presidential awards for Early Career Scientists and Engineers) consideration. Nominations made by Program officers and forwarded from each NSF directorate based on number of CAREER awards made.
24CAREER Proposal Deadlines for 2014 ?? (One hopes we will know soon..)Past years: Late JulyUpwards of 1800 CAREER proposals are submitted annually (!!), so generally the deadline is spread over several days, with proposals for different directorates due each day.Be sure your Grants Specialist and you are on the same page re: submission deadlines!
25CAREER Proposal Review This varies A LOT by program and Directorate!For programs with a lot of CAREERS annually: dedicated review process.For less active programs: folded into the normal programmatic review cycle if tenable.2 kinds of review:Ad hoc (“mail” review) for specialist inputPanel review (for generalist/programmatic perspectives and input on education/outreach)CAREER proposals typically are reviewed both ways (ad hoc followed by panel)To know: Ask your Program Officer (it’s not a secret!)
26CAREER Proposal Review Who are your reviewers?Specialists in your research field (Ad Hoc)Experienced investigators broadly in-field (Ad Hoc and Panel)Experts in STEM Education (usually Panel…)Don’t forget the Program Officers!They consider the “advice” of reviewers in making funding recommendations[Very different from NIH….]Another good reason to call your cognizant PO EARLY to set up for submission…
27NSF Review Criteria: Intellectual Merit The Intellectual Merit is the contribution that your research makes to your discipline’s knowledge baseQuestions:What is already known?What is new?What will your research add?What will this do to enhance or enable research in your or other fields?Why is your research important for the advancement of your field?
28NSF Review Criteria: Broader Impact The Broader Impact focuses on the benefit to society at large as a result of your researchMeans to benefit society include:Economic/environment/energyEducation and trainingProviding opportunities for underrepresented groupsImproving research and education infrastructureThe key issue is how your research results will be applied — why would the general public care?
29Getting Started Start EARLY Get acquainted with FASTLANE Read the Program Solicitation (for both CAREER and for your disciplinary research program) and follow their guidelinesDO Contact your cognizant Program Officer to alert him to your CAREER submission and to discuss your idea. This may cause you to refine your idea and may prevent you from applying to the wrong disciplinary programYou can offer to review proposals in your program area, to get more familiar with the state-of-the-art and cutting-edge concerns (be careful though – they WILL take you up on this!)