Proposal submission – any day, any time
As you may have heard, IOS recently made some changes to the Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP). The new PGRP solicitation (NSF 16-614) was released on 28 September, 2016. You will find it includes a few changes, as well as some familiar opportunities and some new offerings. The changes include relaxed submission and eligibility requirements, revised focus areas, and new Challenge Grant opportunities. Here we summarize the new PGRP opportunities, hoping to answer your questions or concerns. Please also review the FAQs (NSF 17-707) for the new solicitation. As always feel free to contact any of the PGRP Program Directors if your questions are not answered.
Major Changes in Submission and Eligibility
- Proposal submissions have changed from one target date per year to “Proposals Accepted Anytime.” This means Principal Investigators (PIs) can submit proposals on their own schedule, when the proposal is ready, any day, and any time. There is no longer a time-frame for when to submit and there is no “better time of year” to submit. The merit review process remains unchanged. All proposals will be subject to the NSF’s rigorous merit review process. As always, the success of a proposal is dependent on a description of its cutting edge genome-wide research in economically important plants and top-notch broader impacts activities.
- The minimum 90-day wait period from publication of the solicitation to proposal submission has been eliminated. Proposals may be submitted immediately, any day, any time.
- Similar to past eligibility restrictions, a researcher may serve as a PI on only one proposal once per year. But now, with no deadline, the time is counted as the 12-month period after the day the researcher submits a proposal as PI. In other words, the PI has a 12-month interval beginning on the day the NSF receives the proposal until the PI may submit another proposal as a PI.
- The limit of one submission per co-PI has changed. There is no longer a limit to the number of proposals on which an individual can serve as co-PI. However, one of the review criteria for a project is the feasibility of the time commitment for each co-PI. Proposals with over-committed co-PIs are unlikely to review well. See the FAQS for other questions about participation.
- Training and career development in plant genomics is offered again through the Early-Career (ECA-PGR) and Mid-Career (MCA-PGR) awards. The only change is that the eligibility for ECA applicants expands to include proposals submitted within 6 months of the start of a job to the year before tenure decision (or equivalent).
- Some things have not changed: PGRP projects are expected to involve scientifically excellent basic research on topics of importance to society in relation to crop plants and broaden participation at all levels. These elements remain fundamental.
Revised Focus Areas and New Challenge Grant Opportunities
REVISED FOCUS AREA (RESEARCH-PGR): This focus area represents the merging of the prior areas of RESEARCH-PGR and TOOLS-PGR, under the single category RESEARCH-PGR. The merging reflects the frequent interweaving of basic genome-wide biology, large-scale hypothesis-driven research with the advancement of new tools and technologies. Tool development is still a major area of interest/focus, and proposals that focus only on tool and resource development are still welcome in this category. Community resource projects as a solo endeavor are still highly encouraged, as well.
NEW CHALLENGE GRANTS: Two new targeted Challenge Grant opportunities are offered. The Challenge Grant opportunities are meant to focus on solving intractable problems in a target area or answering unsolved questions in breakthrough ways and with new thinking. The two challenge opportunities include:
- Transformation Challenge Grants to remove bottlenecks to efficient plant transformation of crop, and related, plants. Same old, same old is not encouraged! The purpose is to move functional genomics, genome editing and phenotyping to a new level of productivity.
- Data Mining Challenge Grants for creative strategies to mine, extract, exploit and re-purpose existing data sets in all new ways. It is expected these grants may be smaller in budget while leveraging existing resources.
We hope this information helps in your planning. We encourage you to refer to all information sources including: the solicitation; FAQs; an upcoming webinar (November 1, 2016, 2-4pmEDT; recording will be available); and direct communication with the PGRP Program Directors – Anne Sylvester, Diane Jofuku Okamuro, Tom Okita, Eduardo Vallejos or Tim Nelson. You can reach us most effectively by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.