IOS Virtual Office Hours October 2020 Edition: Biology Integration Institutes

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on October 15, 2020 focused on the Biology Integration Institutes (BII; NSF 20-601) solicitation. 

Many excellent questions were asked, and they are summarized here: 

  • Is there an expectation that a BII proposal be multi-institutional as well as multi-disciplinary? – There is no expectation that a BII be multi-institutional.  There is an expectation that it draws on necessary expertise to address the overarching theme and underlying questions, as well as education, training, and outreach.  This may or may not be possible through a single institution. 
  • Can a BII proposal span NSF Directorates as well as BIO Divisions? – In short, yes.  The critical factor is that it is centered on a biological theme that requires integration and that crosses scales.  Disciplines outside of biology can be included at the team’s discretion.
  • Is it allowable for a BII proposal to span into biomedical areas and have biomedical implications? – It can span into biomedical areas as long as it clearly addresses questions in basic, fundamental biology research.  Biomedical implications can certainly be considered as part of the broader impacts.
  • How are BII proposals reviewed? – All proposals will initially be reviewed in panel.  A subset of these proposals will be selected for further review in a reverse site visit.  These are visits where the proposers come to NSF to continue the review process.  Program officers on the working group will consult and make recommendations for awards.  As always, the Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) makes final award decisions.
  • Is it advisable to avoid topics similar to what has been funded in the past? – The working group keeps in mind portfolio balance.  That does not mean that new discoveries and research on similar topics will not be considered.

Join us at our next IOS Office Hour that will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 1 pm EST, when IOS program directors will be available to answer questions from the community and pass on information to investigators interested in IOS.  In November we will be talking about the migration of our electronic proposal submission system from Fastlane to and discussing the newly released solicitation for the Mid-Career Advancement (NSF 21-516) funding opportunity.  Anyone who wishes to receive announcements about these meetings can email and request to be added to our email list for the Virtual Office Hour.

Also, don’t forget to navigate to the Virtual Office Hours page on the blog for registration information.