Biological Sciences

To promote the progress of the biological sciences and thereby strengthen the Nation's scientific enterprise; to increase scientific knowledge and enhance understanding of major problems confronting the Nation.

Most of the research supported is basic in character.

The program includes support

credit: Wikimedia Commons
of research project grants in the following disciplines: molecular and cellular biosciences, integrative organismal biology; environmental biology; biological infrastructure; and plant genome research.

Support is also provided for the purchase of multi-user scientific equipment and instrument development, and for research workshops, symposia, and conferences.

In addition, awards are made to improve the quality of doctoral dissertations in environmental biology and integrative organismal biology; for postdoctoral fellowships in biological informatics and postdoctoral fellowships to minority scientists in all areas of research supported by the biological sciences.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

1) BioLit: Open Source Tools for Integrating Biological Literature and Databases.

(2) Potential for the Recovery of Biogeochemical Function in Degraded Stream Ecosystems.

(3) Evolution of Cavefish Eye Degeneration.

(4) Sequencing the Maize Genome.

(5) The Energy Landscapes of Protein Folding and Function: Connecting Theory and Experiments.

(6) The Emergence of Life: From Geochemistry to the Genetic Code.


Agency - National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation is an independent Federal agency created to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare and to secure the national defense. The NSF annually funds approximately 20 percent of basic, Federally-supported college and university research.


Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories




Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 6,726 proposals were received and 1,303 awards were made. In fiscal year 2008, approximately 7,000 proposals are expected to be received and 1,250 awards will be made.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Grant funds may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies such as salaries and wages, permanent equipment, expendable materials and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs.

Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the principal investigator is responsible for the scientific work.

Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances.

See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Credentials/Documentation

Proposals must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for colleges and universities and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

By electronic submission via FastLane of a formal proposal describing the research or study to be undertaken. Guidelines are contained in publications, "Grant Proposal Guide." This program is subject to the provisions of coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Award Procedures

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals generally with the assistance and advice of other qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Proposals are accepted in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. States will be notified of Federal assistance awards through the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS).

Deadlines

Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF utilizes Target Dates, Deadline Dates, and Submission Windows. Consult the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.F. for a further description of these types of due dates.

Authorization

National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 107-368, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

6 months.

Appeals

The principal investigator may request, in writing, that the Foundation reconsider its action in declining any application.

Renewals

Proposals for renewal, containing the same type of information as the original proposal, should be submitted 6 to 9 months before funding from the current award is expected to be exhausted, renewals are treated in competition with all other pending proposals.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Cost-sharing is not required for awards made solely for symposia, conferences and workshops, publication, education and training, or travel. The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information on the general NSF policy on cost sharing.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Up to 5 years.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report.

Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required.

Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.

Audits

In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records

Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to insure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the grant was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for 3 years thereafter.

Financial Information

Account Identification

49-0100-0-1-251.

Obigations

(Grants) FY 07 $608,540,000; FY 08 est $612,020,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$2,000 to $12,389,000; $184,040.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

48 CFR Chapter 25; 45 CFR Chapter VI; "Grant Proposal Guide," (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf0423).

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

None.

Headquarters Office

Assistant Director, Biological Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703)292-8400. NSF World Wide Web site URL: http://www.nsf.gov/.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions. In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative. Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects. The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? 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? NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions: Integration of Research and Education. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement ofdiscoveryandenrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.



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