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National Science Foundation HomeNational Science Foundation - Directorate for Biological Sciences
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
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DEB Home
About DEB
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Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Environmental Biology (DEB)
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Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
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About Environmental Biology (DEB)

The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) supports fundamental research on populations, species, communities, and ecosystems. Scientific emphases range across many evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes at all spatial and temporal scales.  Areas of research include biodiversity, phylogenetic systematics, molecular evolution, life history evolution, natural selection, ecology, biogeography, ecosystem services, conservation biology, global change, and biogeochemical cycles. Research on origins, functions, relationships, interactions, and evolutionary history may incorporate field, laboratory, or collection-based approaches; observational or manipulative experiments; synthesis activities; as well as theoretical approaches involving analytical, statistical, or simulation modeling. 

Questions?  Please see the DEB frequently asked questions FAQ page for answers to many questions commonly posed to DEB program offices.   DEB staff may be contacted via electronic mail at individual email addresses or by phone at (703) 292-8480.

Grant Opportunities

Programs and Funding Opportunities are listed on the DEB Home Page

Deadline Dates

After July 13, 2011 the deadline dates for submission of preliminary proposals to the Division of Environmental Biology Core Programs is January 9. The deadline date for submission of invited full proposals is August 2 unless otherwise stated in specific program announcements. Proposals received by the deadline date will be considered in the next panel review cycle. The earliest possible effective date for an award would be approximately six months after the target date or deadline date.

Research networks and centers of special interest to DEB researchers

NSF provides funding to networks and centers; several of these are likely to be of particular interest to environmental biologists.  Funding for these come from DEB and other administrative units at NSF. 

Long Term Ecological Research

The National Science Foundation established the LTER program in 1980 to support research on long-term ecological phenomena in the United States. From the original six site-based projects established in 1980, LTER now encompasses 26 projects broadly representing diverse ecosystems. The LTER Network is now a collaborative effort involving more than 1800 scientists and students. The Network promotes synthesis and comparative research across sites and ecosystems and among other related national and international research programs. The LTER Network Office coordinates communication, network data sharing, and research-planning activities, and maintains the network's website (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/good-bye?http://www.lternet.edu).

National Ecological Observatory Network

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a research platform designed to enhance our understanding of the biosphere at regional and continental scales. Through remote sensing, in-situ observation, experimentation, synthesis, and modeling, NEON will provide researchers with a unique capability to quantify the strong and weak forces regulating the biosphere and predict its response to invasive and climate and landuse change. NEON infrastructure will include field-deployed instrumented towers and sensor arrays, remote sensing capabilities, cutting-edge laboratory instrumentation, natural history archives, and facilities for data analysis, modeling, visualization, and forecasting, all networked through a cyberinfrastructure backbone. Infrastructure will be deployed across the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico using a statistically determined design, stratified by climate and land use. The knowledge base NEON will create, its real time and continuous integrated data, simulation and observation capabilities, and its networked communication will be an asset for formal and informal education and training. A NEON gateway will provide resources to support informal public education and provide opportunities for citizens to actively participate in scientific investigations. NEON, Inc. coordinates NEON Project Management Office's ongoing design and management activities, governance and community participation, and maintains the NEON website (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/good-bye?http://www.neoninc.org/).

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)

Scientists at NCEAS use existing information to address important questions in ecology and allied disciplines. Hundreds of scholars, including Postdoctoral Associates, Sabbatical Fellows, and visitors collaborate in Working Groups each year at the Center on scores of projects.  Twice yearly open calls for proposals to the core ecology program, supported by NSF, allow NCEAS to support widely varying fundamental research driven by the needs and interests of the scientific community. Special programs in ecoinformatics and conservation and resource management address specific research needs of partners and sponsors, and may sometimes issue requests for proposals.  Visit the NCEAS website (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/good-bye?http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu) for additional information.

National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

In 2004, the Biological Sciences Directorate provided funds to support a National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC. Diverse scientific, cyberinfrastructure and educational activities at the Center facilitate broadly synthetic research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. The Center sponsors postdoctoral fellows and sabbatical scholars as resident scientists; working groups and catalysis meetings enable teams of visiting scientists to work intensively over an extended period of time to address particular questions or to catalyze new synthetic collaborations. Proposals for these activities are accepted from the broad evolutionary community and are evaluated by an external advisory board. The Center provides analytical tools and computational technologies to support these activities, builds extensible and interoperable software components for evolutionary analyses, and trains the evolutionary biology community to fully realize the potential of these tools. Scientific and bioinformatic activities are solidly integrated with education and outreach to improve evolution education and to broaden participation in evolutionary biology.  Visit the NESCent website (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/good-bye?http://www.nescent.org) for additional information.

Data Sharing
Proposals submitted to all programs in DEB must adhere to the general NSF policy on data sharing as described in the Grant Proposal Guide: the NSF "expects PIs to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials, created or gathered in the course of the work." Thus, proposals should describe plans for specimen and information management and sharing, including where data and metadata, will be stored and maintained, and the likely schedule for release. These plans will be considered as part of the review process.

Review Criteria
All proposals to DEB will be evaluated with respect to two general criteria, described in the Grant Proposal Guide - intellectual merit and broader impacts:

The intellectual merit of a proposed activity might address a number of questions. How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

The broader impacts of the proposed activity might address a number of questions as well. How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Contact Information
DEB staff may be contacted via electronic mail at individual email addresses or by phone at (703) 292-8480


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