Information for IOS PIs when preparing Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops (Meetings)

October 22, 2018


IOS provides support for conferences and workshops in emerging areas of organismal biology. IOS is particularly interested in supporting conferences and workshops that are at the intersection of organismal biology with other disciplines and that aim to identify or fill gaps in the current state of knowledge to move a field forward. The following information is intended to provide guidance for applying for conference and workshop funding in addition to the instructions in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). For more information, please contact a cognizant program director.

Appropriateness of the conference or workshop topics
IOS encourages conference and workshop proposals in emerging and interdisciplinary areas of organismal biology. Emphasis areas include how behavioral, biomechanical, developmental, genetic, genomic, neural, structural, or physiological processes are integrated into the emergent properties of organismal adaptation, integrity, resilience, and robustness.

Support levels, eligible costs, and budget guidelines

  • Most conferences and workshops are supported for only one year at a time, although support for multiyear conferences or workshops may be considered in rare instances and must be well justified.
  • For most conferences and workshops, the level of support is in the range of $10,000 to $15,000. However, for conferences being organized for the first time and for workshops on topics of special interest to the Division, the level of support can be higher. Before submitting a proposal, you are encouraged to contact a Program Director to discuss the scope and budget of the activity.
  • IOS provides support aimed at broadening participation of researchers who are early-career, or members of groups under-represented in the sciences. With only rare exceptions, all requested funds should be used for participant support, and should, therefore, appear on the budget in "Participant Support Costs." Such support can be used to defray costs for registration, room and board, or travel, and the nature of the support should be clearly articulated in the budget justification.
  • Supported participants should be members of the U.S. scientific community (e.g., individuals working in U.S. institutions). If funds are to be used to support scientists from foreign institutions, the request should be discussed beforehand with a Program Director.
  • Note that federal funds must not be used to pay for alcoholic beverages or for entertainment.
  • The budget justification should include information on the total conference or workshop budget (e.g., expected expenses, divided into a few general categories, and expected funding, with sources and requested amounts.)

Review of conference and workshop proposals
In most cases, conference and workshop proposals are reviewed internally, using the NSF merit review criteria as follows:

What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
Highest priority proposals will meet one or more of the following criteria, which should be addressed in the text.

  • The topic is relevant to the scientific areas supported by IOS.
  • The meeting emphasizes novelty and growth of the field or unique contributions that will be made to the field. For recurring meetings, examples of a past program and results of prior support should be provided and show evidence of significant impact.
  • The meeting promotes quantitative research that integrates functional mechanisms at the organismal level.
  • The meeting is interdisciplinary, bringing together scientists from different disciplines, or facilitating the development of multidisciplinary projects and collaborations.

What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
Highest priority proposals will meet one or more of the following criteria.

  • Proposal describes effective methods for encouraging participation of early-career investigators, students and members of underrepresented groups, especially those who are new to the field or are from laboratories that are new to the field. For recurring meetings, past attendance records must reflect appropriate diversity in participants.
  • Methods for selecting which participants to fund are transparent, well-described and appropriate.
  • Proposals integrate research and education or provide unique educational and/or training opportunities.
  • Participation in the meeting is open to all, as opposed to by invitation only.
  • The meeting organizers and speakers are diverse in terms of stage of career, gender, type of institution and geographical region.
  • Data management plan conforms to the NSF policy on dissemination and sharing of research results.

Acknowledging and reporting conference and workshop support

  • The support from NSF and IOS should be acknowledged on the conference web site, in the conference or workshop program, as well as in the specific travel awards provided using the grant funds. The grant number (IOS-XXXXXX) must be included in such citations.
  • As with other awards, PIs of conference or workshop awards must submit a final report within 90 days of expiration of the award. NSF sets the duration of all conference and workshop awards at 12 months.

Proposal submission

  • Instructions for preparing proposals for supporting conferences and workshops, as found in Chapter II.E.7 of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures guide, are described below (also available on the NSF website, www.nsf.gov) and must be followed.
  • Proposals for conferences, symposia, and workshops should be submitted 6-12 months in advance of the scheduled date. The Division will rarely consider a conference and workshop proposal that is submitted less than 6 months from the date of the proposed event.
  • For any particular conference or workshop, submit only one proposal to NSF. If you think the proposal should be seen by more than one NSF division or directorate, list the additional units on the cover page.

Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

Conference Proposal

NSF supports conferences in special areas of science and engineering that bring experts together to discuss recent research or education findings or to expose other researchers or students to new research and education techniques. NSF encourages the convening in the US of major international conferences.
A conference proposal will be evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, and, will be supported only if equivalent results cannot be obtained by attendance at regular meetings of professional societies. Although requests for support of a conference proposal ordinarily originates with educational institutions or scientific and engineering societies, they also may come from other groups. Shared support by several Federal agencies, States or private organizations is encouraged. A conference proposal should generally be submitted at least a year in advance of the scheduled date. Conferences, including the facilities in which they are held, funded in whole or in part with NSF funds, must be accessible to participants with disabilities.

A conference proposal must contain the elements identified below:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Project Summary (Chapter II.C.2.b) should be consulted to prepare this portion of the proposal)
  • Project Description (not to exceed 15 pages) that includes:
    1. A statement of the need for such a gathering and a list of topics;
    2. Separate statements on the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed activity;
    3. A listing of recent meetings on the same subject, including dates and locations;
    4. The names of the chairperson and members of organizing committees and their organizational affiliations;
    5. Information on the location and probable date(s) of the meeting and the method of announcement or invitation;
    6. A statement of how the meeting will be organized and conducted, how the results of the meeting will be disseminated and how the meeting will contribute to the enhancement and improvement of scientific, engineering and/or educational activities; and
    7. Results from Prior NSF Support (up to five pages): If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received prior NSF support including:
      • an award with an end date in the past five years; or
      • any current funding, including any no cost extensions,

    information on the award is required for each PI and co-PI, regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not. See Chapter II.C.2.d.(iii) for additional instructions on preparation of this section.

  • Proposal Budget and Budget Justification: A budget, and budget justification for the conference prepared in accordance with Chapter II.C.2.g. The following provides a listing of the types of costs that may be included on a conference budget. Such costs may be included only if they are specifically and clearly identified in the proposed scope of work and budget. Note that registration fees under NSF-supported conferences are considered program income. For additional information on program income generated from conferences, see Chapter VIII.D.4.

    1. Conference Facilities. Rental of facilities and necessary equipment.
    2. Supplies. Expendable materials and supplies necessary for the meeting.
    3. Conference Services. Costs of translation services, audio visual, webcast, and computer services for recording, transmitting and transcribing the proceedings.
    4. Publication Costs. Costs of publishing the proceedings.
    5. Salaries. Salaries of professional personnel, editorial and clerical assistants and other staff members in proportion to the time or effort devoted to the preparation and conduct of the conference and summarizing its results.
    6. Consultant Services and Speaker Fees. Reasonable fees and travel allowances and per diem (or meals provided in lieu of per diem). Consultants' travel costs, including subsistence, may be included. If requested, the proposer must be able to justify that the proposed rate of pay is reasonable. Additional information on the allowability of consultant or professional service costs is available in 2 CFR 200.459. In addition to other provisions required by the proposing organization, all contracts made under the NSF award must contain the applicable provisions identified in 2 CFR 200, Appendix II.
    7. Meals and Coffee Breaks. Meals that are an integral and necessary part of a conference (e.g., working meals where business is transacted). Funds may be included for furnishing a reasonable amount of hot beverages or soft drinks to conference participants and attendees during periodic coffee breaks. Proposed costs for meals must be reasonable and otherwise allowable to the extent such costs do not exceed charges normally allowed by the grantee organization in its regular operations as the result of the grantee organizations written policies. In the absence of an acceptable, written grantee organizational policy regarding meal costs, 2 CFR 200.474(b)(3) will apply.
    8. Participant Support Costs. See Chapter II.C.2.g.(v).

      The following provides a listing of the types of costs that are not allowable for inclusion on a conference budget.

      1. Meals and Coffee Breaks for Intramural Meetings. NSF funds may not be included or spent for meals or coffee breaks for intramural meetings of an organization or any of its components, including, but not limited to, laboratories, departments and centers, as a direct cost.
      2. Entertainment. Costs of entertainment, amusement, diversion and social activities (such as tickets to shows or sporting events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation and gratuities) are unallowable and may not be requested. Travel, meal, and hotel expenses of awardee employees who are not on travel status also are not permitted. See also 2 CFR 200.438.
      3. Alcoholic Beverages. No NSF funds may be requested or spent for alcoholic beverages.
        • Current and Pending Support: The support requested or available from other Federal agencies and other sources. Chapter II.C.2.h should be consulted to prepare this portion of the proposal.
        • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources: If there will be support from other sources for the conference, such information should be included in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal. The description should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information Chapter II.C.2.i should be consulted to prepare this portion of the proposal. If included, these resources will not be auditable and must not be included in the proposal budget or budget justification. A description of such support should be included in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal.
        • Data Management Plan: Plans for management and sharing of any data products resulting from the activity. Chapter II.C.2.j should be consulted to prepare this portion of the proposal.
    9. Dependent Care Costs. As needed, the costs of identifying, but not providing, locally available dependent care resources may be included.