A Message from the Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

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Joanne Tornow Signature

A Message from the Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

Dear colleagues,

As I mentioned in our last newsletter, BIO is continuing to add to our portfolio of programs aimed at broadening participation in the biological sciences and STEM broadly.

The last year-and-a-half has shown us the need for ongoing and new efforts in this space given the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals in historically under-represented groups, those at historically under-served institutions, and on those institutions themselves.

Of course, these issues did not arise during the pandemic. They are historic and COVID-19 has only heightened them. As NSF Director, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan has said:

“The need for a robust and diverse STEM workforce has been reiterated for decades, and it is one of the current administration’s top priorities in order to maintain America’s historical preeminence in the STEM fields.

Our hope is that these programs, along with those in other Directorates and NSF-wide efforts, will diversify the STEM workforce by attracting, retaining, and supporting diverse students and faculty in STEM, leading to lasting cultural change.

The recently released programs are highlighted​ below. Details of these funding opportunities will be featured in the upcoming virtual office hour on November 18, at 1pm ET. Register for that session here.

  • Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO)
    • Awards will provide the means for new faculty (i.e., those at the Assistant Professor rank (or equivalent) with service at that rank for no more than 3 years by the proposal submission date) –​ primarily at MSIs, PUIs, and other​ universities and colleges that are not among the nation’s most research-intensive institutions –​ to initiate and build independent research programs by enhancing their research capacity. These projects might also include biology-focused research collaborations among faculty within the same institution, across peer-, or research-intensive institutions, or partnerships with industry or other non-academic partners that advance the candidate’s research program.
    • Full proposal windows: January 3-31, 2022 and June 1-30, 2022
  • Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP)
    • Awards will establish networks to support full-time research, mentoring, and training for recent college graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by the Directorate of Biological Sciences.
    • Full proposal deadline: January 20, 2022

We also continue to have the Broadening Participation track in the Postdoctoral Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) program (Full proposal deadline: December 6, 2021). Additionally, there are the​ cross-Directorate Mid-Career Advancement (MCA) program (Target date: February 7, 2022) and the MCB-specific Transitions to Excellence in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Research (Transitions) (Full proposals accepted anytime).

Finally, if you want to see all the programs with a focus on broadening participation at NSF, you can use the new funding search tool and filter for “Advancing Diversity.”

I encourage you to read about each program; submit a proposal if you see fit; and share these solicitations, any upcoming ones, and the virtual office hour opportunity noted below​ with your networks.


Joanne Tornow
NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

A slide showing a diverse group of individuals and reading "BIO-wide virtual office hours"

Learn More: BIO-wide
Virtual Office Hours

To help the community become acquainted with these new efforts focused on broadening participation, Program Directors from across the Directorate for Biological Sciences will hold a Virtual Office Hour on November 18 at 1pm ET.

Register at https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_QJdSn2DFQUOpIFOu_oW-Cg.​

BIO Divisions

Division of Biological Infrastructure​ (DBI)
DBI supports development and enhancement of resources for research, human capital, and mid-to-large-scale infrastructure and centers to promote advances in all areas of biological research.

Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences​ (MCB)
MCB supports quantitative and interdisciplinary approaches to deciphering the molecular underpinnings of complex living systems.

Division of Environmental Biology​ (DEB)
DEB supports fundamental evolutionary and ecological research on species, populations, communities and ecosystems, across all spatial and temporal scales.

Emerging Frontiers​ (EF)
EF supports multidisciplinary research opportunities and networking activities that arise from advances in disciplinary research.

Division of Integrative Organismal Systems​ (IOS)
IOS supports fundamental research aimed at understanding organisms as units of biological organization, encouraging the use of integrative, interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex problems in organismal biology

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