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Federal Research Funding Agencies The Holy Grail of Academics.

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Presentation on theme: "Federal Research Funding Agencies The Holy Grail of Academics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Federal Research Funding Agencies The Holy Grail of Academics

2 Objectives Agencies and programs Matching ideas, programs, and scientists Getting ready Getting funded…..

3 Some of the Agencies With Competitive Research Programs: the usual suspects National Science Foundation Environmental Protection Agency (Office of Research and Development) National Institute of Health US Department of Agriculture ( Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, CSREES ) NASA NOAA Research

4 What they have in common and what sets them apart from other funding sources Fund research and research related activities based on merit Explicit criteria External peer-review Panel based decisions/recommendations Transparency Low funding rate

5 Choosing the right agency and program Example of NSF: – 9 Directorates (e.g., Biological Sciences, aka BIO; Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences) – BIO: 4 divisions (e.g., Division of Environmental Biology, aka DEB) – DEB: 4 clusters (e.g., Ecosystem Sciences; Ecological Biology; Population & Evolutionary Processes Cluster)

6 Confused? Additional Funding Opportunities for the DEB Community 2010 Project Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI)(ABI) Advancing Theory in Biology (ATB)Advancing Theory in Biology (ATB) Assembling the Tree of Life (ATOL) Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants in the DBS (DDIG) Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) Interdisciplinary Training for Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM) International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) Microbial Genome Sequencing Program FY 2009 Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) Planetary Biodiversity Inventories (PBI) Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS) Research Coordination Networks in Biological Sciences (RCN) Research Initiation Grants to Broaden Participation in Biology (RIG BP) Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

7 So, what to do? It really starts with an idea Can this idea be developed into a research program? Check against the agency and its programs: is it research, infrastructure, education, etc. If it checks out, does the institution meet basic requirements Call the program officer(s) at more than one agency and/or program Call colleagues/friends who have been funded

8 Think that it is a lengthy process? Activities recommended above can be done in one day of work A good proposal takes approximately 160 hours of work plus time from OSP Check the stats for each program

9 Ecosystems Proposals (2008) NSF stats

10 Ecosystem Proposals panelist stats

11 Now the work starts in earnest Read the RFP very carefully: – Organization – Format – Do not forget the attachments Most agencies check proposals for compliance and reject some without review If the compliance officer does not reject the proposal, the reviewers might

12 Biocomplexity Specification in the RFP: team has to be interdisciplinary Make-up of the team: 9 scientists in 7 disciplines including ecology, modeling, social sciences, economics, history, etc. Panel summary: “Very good proposal” but “team is weakly interdisciplinary”

13 Intellectual Merit Ensure that the criteria in the RFP are met If synthesis is one, have a whole section on it (an increasing number of proposals are rejected on this ground) Try to decipher agency’s jargon (e.g., transformative research)

14 National Science Board, 2005 2020 Vision for the national science foundation, The National Science Foundation must support the most innovative and potentially transformative research—research that has the capacity to revolutionize existing fields, create new subfields, cause paradigm shifts, support discovery, and lead to radically new technologies… The Foundation must create an environment that is more open to and encourages transformative research proposals from the research community.



17 Importance of Good Synthetic Figures

18 Broader Impacts Criterion: What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

19 Some facts Broader impact activities should make up 7- 10% of total budget In a 15 page proposal, this criterion should make up @2 pages In an environment where <50% of fundable proposals can be funded, this criterion has become the tie-breaker.

20 In Conclusion Invest time up-front to match your idea to an agency/program Don’t be shy: call program officers and colleagues Comply! If you don’t, one of the 7-9 people throughout the process will use it as an excuse Simplify! Complicated and complex are not the same Be prepared for multiple submissions to more than one agency/program

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