BIOCOMPLEXITY: PHASE I

RESEARCH ON THE FUNCTIONAL
INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN
MICROORGANISMS AND BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL,GEOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL
AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS


PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT
NSF 99-60

DIRECTORATE FOR BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
DIRECTORATE FOR COMPUTER, INFORMATION SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
DIRECTORATE FOR ENGINEERING
DIRECTORATE FOR GEOSCIENCES
DIRECTORATE FOR MATHEMATICAL AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES
DIRECTORATE FOR SOCIAL, BEHAVIORAL AND ECONOMIC SCIENCES
OFFICE OF POLAR PROGRAM

DEADLINE DATES: PRE-PROPOSALS MARCH 15,1999 FULL PROPOSALS JUNE 15,1999

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION



GENERAL INFORMATION

As a first step in a longer-term effort to understand the nature and dynamics of biocomplexity, NSF announces a special competition to support integrated research on the functional interrelationships between microorganisms, defined here as prokaryotes (archaea and eubacteria) and unicellular eukaryotes (algae, protozoa, fungi) and the biological, chemical, geological, physical, and/or social systems that jointly comprise complex environmental systems. Projects that explicitly focus on the role that microorganisms play in structuring or controlling complex systems are particularly encouraged. Knowledge of how microorganisms control or structure the biological, chemical, geological, physical or social environment or are controlled by them could have profound effects on our ability to understand and manage complex systems, monitor and restore the natural environment, and lead to new resources for biotechnology.

COGNIZANT PROGRAM OFFICER(S):

Biological Sciences( BIO)
Joann Roskoski
Phone: (703) 306-1480
E-mail: jroskosk@nsf.gov

Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
Maria Zemankova
Phone: (703) 306-1125
E-mail: mzemanko@nsf.gov

Engineering (ENG)
Janie M. Fouke
Phone: (703) 306-1320
E-mail: jfouke@nsf.gov

Geosciences (GEO)
Phillip R. Taylor
Phone: (703) 306-1587
E-mail: prtaylor@nsf.gov

Mathematical Physical Sciences (MPS)
Marge Cavanaugh
Phone: (703) 306-1842
E-mail: mcavanau@nsf.gov

Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE)
Cheryl Eavey
Phone: (703) 306- 1729
E-mail: ceavey@nsf.gov

Office of Polar Programs(OPP)
Linda E. Duguay
Phone: (703) 306-1029
E-mail: lduguay@nsf.gov

ELIGIBILITY

AWARD INFORMATION

PROPOSAL PREPARATION & SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

BUDGETARY INFORMATION

FASTLANE REQUIREMENTS

FastLane point of contact: For technical assistance with FastLane, please send an e-mail message to biofl@nsf.gov.

DEADLINE/TARGET DATES

PROPOSAL REVIEW INFORMATION

Merit Review Criteria: Standard National Science Board approved criteria

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Special grant conditions anticipated: None


INTRODUCTION

Complexity is a dynamic property of life that arises from the interaction of living organisms with their environment. Thus, biological complexity emerges from the functional interrelationships between biological entities, at all levels of organization, and the biological, chemical, geological, physical and social environment, at all levels of aggregation. The resulting complex natural and anthropogenic systems range from microscopic to global in scale and in totality comprise the earth system. Humankind depends upon complex systems for food, fiber, breathable air, and other vital natural resources. Such systems also establish the parameters for, and the environments in which occur, all human economic and social interactions. Consequently, understanding the role of biological complexity in complex systems is critical.

Because all biological systems, from molecular to ecosystem levels, are inherently complex, it has been difficult to understand their role within, and effect upon, the environmental systems in which they occur. Fortunately, our ability to study biological complexity has been enhanced by the advent of powerful new technologies. Genome sequencing and DNA-chips, new tools in computational analysis , mathematical and statistical modeling, robotics, new sensors and monitoring devices, along with satellite-based imaging of the land and sea - are all contributing to the flood of data about the Earth's biological complexity. While the analysis of massive data sets is a crucial ingredient, data acquisition alone will not enhance our understanding of biological complexity and its role in complex systems.

It is apparent that understanding biological complexity requires a sophisticated approach that addresses integration across temporal, spatial and conceptual boundaries to identify and represent design principles and dynamic patterns at multiple levels of organization and scale. Collaborations involving scientists from a range of disciplines (e.g. biology, physics, chemistry, geology, hydrology, social sciences, statistics, mathematics, computer science and engineering) will be essential to advance our understanding of biological complexity and its role in complex environmental systems. These collaborations should not be constrained by institutional, departmental or disciplinary boundaries.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

In order to encourage the bold and innovative research that can lead to an enhanced understanding of biocomplexity, the NSF announces a special competition to support integrated research on the functional interrelationships between microorganisms and the biological, chemical, geological, physical, and/or social systems that jointly comprise complex systems. While microbes, plants, and animals all contribute to shaping the Earth’s biological complexity, we know the least about microorganisms, defined here as prokaryotes (archaea and eubacteria) and unicellular eukaryotes (algae, protozoa, fungi). Therefore, as the first step in a longer-term effort in this area, projects that explicitly focus on the role that microorganisms play in structuring or controlling complex systems are solicited.

Diverse environments that range from frozen polar regions to volcanic vents, from tropical forests to agricultural lands, as well as the neighborhoods of urban centers and industrial fermentation tanks are all appropriate for study. Knowledge of how microorganisms control or structure the dynamics of these environments or are controlled by them could have profound effects on our ability to understand and manage complex systems, monitor and restore the natural environment, and lead to new resources for biotechnology.

This competition complements several ongoing activities (Life in Extreme Environments NSF 99-43, Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology NSF 99-12, Environmental Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry NSF 99-9, and Microbial Observatories NSF 99-36) within the NSF priority area, Life and Earth’s Environment, by supporting larger and longer duration projects in a wider variety of natural and human environments.

Non-exclusive examples of questions appropriate for research supported by this competition include:

Does functional redundancy exist in microbes that mediate key processes involved with carbon and nutrient cycling? And if so, what is its significance to the resiliency of natural and anthropogenic systems to stress?

How much does biological variation, from genes to species, determine environmental heterogeneity in terrestrial, aquatic and marine systems and result in the patterns observed in regional to global scale processes?

What are the feedbacks between human social and economic systems and the distribution and dynamics of important processes mediated by microbes?

How do chemical, physical and biological factors interact to organize, control and run macromolecular machines (highly coordinated assemblies of macromolecules that function in even more complex, ordered structures within cells and on which fundamental cellular mechanisms such as protein synthesis depend)?

Do microbes play key roles in the dynamics of the complex systems involved in human infrastructure (bridges, highways, water delivery systems etc.) deterioration?

How did the interaction of microbial and geological systems lead to the expansion and collapse of natural systems through geological time?

What unifying insights into the functional interrelationships between microorganisms and their biological, physical, geological , chemical, and social environments are possible using concepts such as fractal analysis, chaos, and non-linear dynamics?

ELIGIBILTY

U.S. institutions that are eligible for awards from the National Science Foundation, including colleges, universities, and other nonprofit research institutions such as botanical gardens, marine and freshwater institutes, and natural history museums may submit proposals. The NSF encourages collaborations with scientists at foreign institutions; however, primary support for any foreign participants/activities must be secured through their own national sources.

For purposes of this competition, NSF will not support research on human disease, including work on the etiology, diagnosis, or treatment of physical or mental disease, abnormality, or malfunction. Studies of animal models for such conditions, the design and testing of drugs or other procedures for their treatment are also not eligible for support. NSF does not normally support technical assistance, pilot plant efforts, research requiring security classification, the development of products for commercial marketing, or market research for a particular project or invention.

Proposals already submitted to other NSF programs are not eligible for consideration by this special competition. However, NSF will simultaneously review proposals submitted to another Federal agency when both agencies have agreed to joint review and possible joint funding of the proposal.

AWARD INFORMATION

In Fiscal Year 1999, NSF expects to make up to 10 awards from a total budget of approximately $11 million depending on the quality of submissions and the availability of funds. Typical awards are expected to involve two or more institutions, be up to 5 years in duration, and have annual budgets of $500,000 to $1,000,000. The anticipated date of awards is September 1999.

PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

PREPROPOSALS

A. Preproposal Preparation Instruction

Preproposals to Biocomplexity: Phase I Research on the Functional Interrelationships Between Microorganisms and Biological, Chemical, Geological, Physical and Social Systems require electronic submission via the NSF FastLane system. All page limits are single-spaced pages prepared in accordance with the proposal format instructions in the Chapter II, Section C of the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG), NSF 99-2. The complete text of the GPG (including electronic forms) is available electronically on the NSF Web site at: https://www.nsf.gov/. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from pubs@nsf.gov.

Preproposals must contain the following information:

  1. In the NSF FastLane system read the proposal preparation instructions located at http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. When completing the Cover Sheet click on the Add Org Unit button. Scroll down and highlight Biocomplexity Phase I and click OK. Clicking OK designates this program as the NSF organizational unit of consideration.
  2. NOTE: The BIO Proposal Classification Form (PCF) is not generated for proposals submitted to this competition.

  3. In the box labeled Program Announcement/Solicitation No. enter NSF 99-60 with no additional characters.
  4. Insert the Closing Date information. The closing date for preproposals is 03/15/99.
  5. Place a check in the box marked "If this is a preproposal check here."
  6. Begin the Project Title with BIOCOMPLEXITY: ....
  7. In addition to the Principal Investigator (PI) NSF allows up to 4 individuals to be listed as Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs) on a proposal. Some preproposals may involve more than 5 researchers, however. In this case the additional researchers can be listed in the Senior Personnel category. (On the FastLane FORM SELECTOR screen, click on 'Add/Modify Non Co-PI Senior Personnel')
  1. On the Budget Selector screen, click on New, then 1, and then Create.
  2. Enter the cumulative budget on the screen provided. FastLane will print the budget data on a Budget Year 1 page, and a cumulative page. The Year 1 page will be ignored by the reviewers.