A Note from the Division Director

I’m marking the milestone of 6+ months since I started as the Division Director of Integrative Organismal Systems with a blog post. While there is much to write about, I’ve decided to focus on something I had not fully appreciated about IOS before joining NSF.  

It’s the people. 

When fully staffed there are a total of 41 of us in IOS, consisting of program officers, administrative staff, the Deputy Division Director, and Division Director. In addition to this central contingent, we host AAAS fellows and even undergraduate assistants. We often have program officers and administrative staff on detail from other divisions/directorates and even other agencies.  And about 40% of the program officers in IOS are “rotators” like me on loan (or “detail” if you prefer) from their home institutions for 1-3 years. 

But’s it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the BIO/IOS culture that also includes our entire scientific community: teamwork.  

Commitment, dedication, and a passion for science runs deep in IOS, across the Directorate for Biological Sciences and all throughout NSF.  Enabling the advancement of science is why people choose to work here and why our scientific community generously volunteers their time to help with our merit review process. What I didn’t recognize before joining NSF was how cooperative and collaborative the work is, and how it differs from the single principal investigator model in academia.  

All of IOS scientific programs are team efforts consisting of several scientist program officers and administrative staff who work together to recruit diverse panelists from across the country, run review panels, and make funding decisions, in addition to conducting outreach with the community. And many of our program officers maintain active research and professional development programs – for example, over the past year IOS program officers authored numerous publications and participated in a variety of professional development activities. And our IOS teams often collaborate through co-review with many other divisions in the Directorate for Biological Sciences as well as across NSF. While this may sound trivial, it’s not because we operate on an annual cycle where all activities and the financial allocations must be completed in 365 days. All told, the work done by the IOS team and our scientific community to support and advance science is impressive! 

Perhaps not surprisingly, NSF was selected again as the 2nd best federal agency (midsize) with the Biology Directorate as the 6th best place to work in a federal agency. Every day, IOS staff serve the community to advance the scientific enterprise. We take great pride and joy in the work we do with all of you, and even have fun doing it.  And where else could you see your boss taking a pie to the face not once, but twice in one day to raise morale? The WE attitude over the ME attitude is not what I anticipated when I joined NSF! I am proud to be a part of the IOS team and look forward to being a part of and working with IOS and our scientific community and constituents in the years to come.  

And if you want to be part of the team, check out our recent post on the program analyst vacancy posting or check out NSF’s rotator programs