Did you miss it? May 2022 Virtual Office Hours Recap: Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program

The slides are available here

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on May 19th, 2022, providing information on the recently revised CAREER solicitation (Faculty Early Career Development Program, NSF 22-586). Program officers active in this opportunity and representatives from all IOS core programs attended to talk about and answer questions about this opportunity. 

The CAREER program is an NSF-wide activity that supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in both research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. A goal for CAREER projects is to build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Some questions that were posed to attending program officers included:

What modifications were made to the recently revised CAREER solicitation?

NSF 22-586 revisions include:

  1. A change in deadline to the 4th Wednesday in July (the next deadline is July 27, 2022).
  2. Clarification that the required Departmental Chair Letter is not a support letter.
  3. Edits in the PECASE language that adds the additional requirement for the PI candidate to show commitment to STEM equity, diversity, accessibility, and/or inclusion.
  4. Inclusion of a new single copy document for PIs that states their eligibility for PECASE.
  5. CAREER submission will be through Research.gov or Grants.gov. FastLane will no longer be used for submission for the July 2022 deadline.

How is the educational component of a CAREER proposal different from regular teaching responsibilities or from broader impacts proposed in standard core program proposal submissions?

CAREER proposals should have a well-integrated plan for research and educational activities that are ambitious yet feasible. There should be synergy between the research and the proposed education activities. The budget should be consistent with the scope of both the research and educational activities proposed. A common response from panelists when reviewing CAREER proposals is that these broader impacts would be appropriate for a proposal submitted under a core solicitation but are not extensive enough for a CAREER proposal.

Are professional third-party evaluators necessary for a positive CAREER evaluation?

Although it is critically important to include on-going evaluation of educational and outreach activities during a CAREER project, it is not necessary that the evaluation be carried out by professional third-party evaluators. The important point is that an evaluation provides helpful feedback to the PI to identify what is working and what is not, with the goal to make necessary adjustments as the project moves forward.

Can you share advice regarding a second or third CAREER submission? How should a PI go about addressing some of the previous reviewers’ concerns? Will the reviewers be totally different?

When preparing a resubmission, the following efforts can be helpful:

  • Work towards creative, high impact intellectual merit and effective outreach and educational efforts
  • Speak with the Program Director who will be managing the review of your resubmission
  • Carefully read the CAREER program solicitation and the program’s FAQs  
  • Ask colleagues familiar with the CAREER program to comment on drafts of the proposal

The reviewers will include those who have not reviewed the earlier submission, and perhaps those who have. Feel free to suggest reviewers and mention those who you do not wish to have review your proposal.

Can the departmental chair letter contain information about how the project will be supported by the College/Institution?  Or must it focus on departmental support only? Additionally, if the PI belongs to more than one Department, should multiple Departmental Chair letters be submitted?

The Chair’s letter should describe the contributions from both the department and the institution at large. Any institutional input important to the project is appropriate to include. If your appointment spans two departments, one department Chair letter signed by both chairs should be included.

Please join us on June 16th, 2022 for our next IOS Virtual Office Hour when we will talk about Research Coordination Networks (RCNs; NSF 17-594). The RCN program provides opportunities to foster new collaborations as its goal is to advance a field by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries.