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Division of Integrative Organismal Systems

Physiological and Structural Systems

Special Announcement

The description of the Symbiosis, Defense, and Self-recognition (SDS) Program has been updated to reflect changes in the current IOS Core Programs solicitation, NSF 16-505. These changes have been made to accommodate the development of a new joint program solicitation, Plant Biotic Interactions (NSF 16-551), which is administered by NSF/IOS and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Investigators working in areas of plant symbioses and plant self/non-self recognition are strongly encouraged to read the revised SDS Program description on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions for the core programs solicitation (NSF 16-505) can be found at  

Note new program names and descriptions

Two of the programs in the Physiological and Structural Systems (PSS) Cluster have changed.  The former Processes, Structures and Integrity Program (PSI) has been renamed the Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics Program (PMB). The Organism Environment Interactions (OEI) has been renamed the Integrative Ecological Physiology Program (IEP).   The names and descriptions were updated to better reflect the program priorities.

Name Email Phone Room
Irwin  Forseth (703) 292-8413  685N  
Emily  Carrington (703) 292-8413  685N  
Mary  E. Chamberlin (703) 292-8413  685N  
Rollie  Clem (703) 292-8413  685N  
Kimberly  A. Hammond (703) 292-8413  685N  
Michael  Mishkind (703) 292-8413  685N  
Mamta  Rawat (703) 292-8413  685N  
Scott  Santos (703) 292-8413  685N  
Elsbeth  Walker (703) 292-8413  685N  
William  E. Zamer (703) 292-8413  685N  


Apply to 16-505

The Physiological and Structural Systems (PSS) Cluster supports research to advance understanding of whole organism physiological mechanisms and functional morphology.  PSS supports hypothesis-and discovery-based organismal research encompassing a wide range of approaches and perspectives.  Although research supported by the PSS Cluster includes molecular approaches and the interface of organismal biology with population biology, the intellectual focus of this research is on understanding whole organisms.  The Cluster encourages submission of proposals aimed at 1) identifying fundamental design principles of physiological and structural systems; 2) understanding why particular morphological and physiological mechanisms have evolved; and 3) how they are integrated at the level of the whole organism.  The Cluster welcomes projects involving modeling and theoretical approaches integrated with experimental approaches.  Multidisciplinary research at the interfaces of biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and engineering is encouraged.  The PSS Cluster will not consider projects that are primarily focused on environmental toxicology or endocrine disrupting chemicals.  Projects that are entirely focused at the cellular and/or biochemical level, without integration at the organismal level, are not appropriate for this cluster. 

Proposals should be directed to one of the three programs described below:

The Symbiosis, Defense and Self-recognition Program (SDS) supports research on processes mediating both antagonistic and beneficial symbiotic interactions, as well as mechanisms of self/non-self recognition, within and between animals, fungi, protists (including photosynthetic protists), prokaryotes, and viruses.  The program welcomes proposals on the dynamics of initiation, transmission, maintenance and dissolution of these complex associations, including studies of metabolic interactions, immune defenses (especially involving comparative studies, new systems or novel mechanisms), host-symbiont regulation, and recognition, signaling, communication, and reciprocal responses among interacting species. Integrative approaches and attention to emergent effects of symbiotic interactions are encouraged. All aspects of symbiosis among and between non-plant organisms are supported, including commensalism, mutualism, parasitism, host-pathogen interactions, and mechanisms of foreign organelle acquisition.

Special Note: Proposals on plant symbioses and self/non-self recognition formerly submitted to the SDS Program should be submitted to a new program, Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI), NSF 16-551, jointly administered by IOS and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  The deadline for proposal submission is the third Friday in April, annually thereafter. 

The Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics Program (PMB) supports research on the physiological mechanisms and structural features of organisms.  Broad thematic areas include, but are not limited to  signaling mechanisms, solute transport, gas exchange, circulation, osmoregulation, metabolism, energetics, endocrinology, reproductive physiology, muscle physiology, biomechanics, biomaterials and functional morphology.  Systems approaches that predict or reveal the nature of coordination among functional processes and/or structural components as a means to further the understanding of organismal integrity are particularly encouraged.  Projects focused exclusively on cellular or subcellular structure and function without integration at the whole organism level of analysis are not appropriate for this program. 

The Integrative Ecological Physiology Program (IEP) supports research on the structural and physiological traits of organisms that underlie their capacities to live in various ecological settings.  A central focus of the program is research on physiological mechanisms underlying organism responses to abiotic and biotic components of their environments.  The program seeks proposals framed in explicit ecological or evolutionary contexts, and therefore projects may address time scales ranging from the short-term to evolutionary.  Projects focused on understanding how genetic, biochemical, morphological and physiological processes integratively result in the capacities of organisms to live in dynamic and stressful environments are encouraged.  The IEP Program particularly encourages proposals focused on using physiological traits to improve predictive models of organismal responses to environmental changes.  Projects focused exclusively on cellular or subcellular processes without integration at the whole organism level of analysis are not appropriate for this program.

Program Directors:

Irwin Forseth.  Integrative Ecological Physiology

Emily Carrington.  Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics

Mary E. Chamberlin.  Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics   

Rollie Clem.  Symbiosis, Defense & Self-recognition  

Kimberly Hammond.  Integrative Ecological Physiology

Michael Mishkind. Plant Biotic Interactions

Mamta Rawat.  Integrative Ecological Physiology

Scott Santos.  Integrative Ecological Physiology

Elsbeth Walker.  Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics

William Zamer.  Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics



What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program

Frequently Asked Questions to NSF 16-505