January Virtual Office Hours Recap: Rules of Life (RoL) in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) – What do you need to know?

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on January 16, 2020 focused on the RoL track, which can be found in all BIO core program solicitations:

The RoL is a BIO-wide opportunity with unique specifications:

  1. There are no deadlines for submission of RoL proposals.
  2. Proposed research should integrate across multiple levels of biological organization to test foundational principles that explain/predict the emergence of complex phenomena.
  3. Because of the integrative nature of the work, proposals will span, topically, multiple levels of organization and these projects will span multiple divisions within the BIO.
  4. Research should engage or enable innovative approaches to address fundamental questions and results of research should be generalizable beyond the specific study systems used.

Attendees had several questions about the RoL opportunity. Some common themes were:

  • How are RoL proposals reviewed? RoL proposals will always be co-reviewed because they span two different divisions within BIO. At this time, RoL and non-RoL proposals are reviewed in the same panels. Reviewers are provided guidance on these unique proposals during the review process.
  • Are investigators required to talk with program directors prior to submitting a RoL proposal? While it is not required that you communicate with a program director, it is highly recommended. In many cases, investigators may be proposing research somewhat outside their area of research and the proposal may be reviewed by new programs. Touching base with program directors before proposal submission and getting feedback on a research synopsis in a one-pager, may help with framing the proposal.
  • Should RoL proposals be collaborative, or are they required to be collaborative? RoL proposals do not have to be collaborative efforts (defined as a research association between 2+ researchers at 2+ universities). You may have the appropriate research expertise right in your own department or even in your own lab. Many RoL proposals are true collaboratives that require multiple investigators across institutions to tackle the proposed work.

Join us at our next IOS Office Hour to be held on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 1 pm EDT, when IOS directors from each program will be available to answer questions. The February IOS Office Hour will focus on the new solicitation for Enabling Discovery through GEnomic Tools (EDGE) found at NSF 20-532.