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Antarctic Sciences (ANT) and Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL) Sections Virtual Office Hours FAQ

Virtual office hours presentations

General Questions
Questions on Award Terms, Reporting, and Allowable Costs
Merit Review
No-Cost Extensions and Supplements
Upcoming Antarctic Field Season

General Questions

  1. Where can I find more information related to NSF and COVID-19?
    Please visit NSF.gov coronavirus page (https://nsf.gov/coronavirus) as well as the NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) Announcements page (https://www.nsf.gov/news/announcements.jsp?org=OPP). This is where the NSF-wide and OPP-specific information is being posted, and it is updated as new information becomes available.

  2. What is NSF's current operational status?
    While the NSF building remains closed, NSF is continuing its operations virtually. We are available to answer your questions and hear your concerns. We've been proactively working in close contact with NSF's Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) and other groups within NSF to answer questions we are receiving. Programs are still holding panels and reviewing proposals. Antarctic Sciences is still accepting proposals at any time (NSF 20-568). Your program officer is available to help if you have questions. Make sure to reach out to them. If they can't immediately answer your question, they will look for an answer.

Questions on Award Terms, Reporting, and Allowable Costs

  1. How can I find out more information on my active award?
    Please log in to Research.gov (https://www.research.gov/) to check on the status of your award. There you can find information such as project dates, report due dates, and the current program officer for your grant(s). Make sure to have awareness of your grant balances. This will allow you to plan how to most effectively plan your grant expenditures. As you have more clarity on the potential need for supplemental funding, please reach out to your program officer.

  2. Have award closeout deadlines changed?
    Yes. NSF has extended the closeout period for awards that ended between November 30, 2019, to April 30, 2020, by 180 days. However, we advise that you continue to check the NSF.gov/coronavirus page (https://nsf.gov/coronavirus) as guidance may change.

  3. Are there changes in award Terms and Conditions due to COVID-19?
    For current awardees, NSF has been working closely with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to try to provide the greatest flexibility possible to allow you to continue to support your research in a safe manner. OMB has issued a memorandum allowing additional flexibility in spending on your grants. These are posted on the NSF coronavirus page (https://nsf.gov/coronavirus). We expect there will be additional guidance in the future. There may be things now that are not allowable that will become so in the future, so continue to monitor the NSF website. The most critical thing is to document any impacts the COVID-19 situation has had on your awards.

  4. Can we continue charging salaries for graduate student summer researchers who are working remotely?
    Yes. Please follow the guidance issued by your institution and information on the NSF COVID-19 website (https://nsf.gov/coronavirus).

Merit Review

  1. Do you continue to encourage PI's to submit proposals to ANT?
    Yes. Although we anticipate delays in future fieldwork from impacts from COVID-19, we continue to encourage the community to submit proposals to ANT, particularly those that do not involve fieldwork.

  2. Should we expect delays in reviews and/or funding notifications? Are virtual panels being held?
    NSF and ANT are continuing to work on a normal schedule, including virtual panel reviews.

  3. What is the typical lead time for review of proposals that involve Antarctic fieldwork?
    The standard guidance is typically 13 months; however, the current situation is unprecedented, and this time may become longer.

  4. What is the status of proposals submitted to the Antarctic Sciences-Life in Antarctica (ANT-LIA) program?
    For the most recent status on the ANT-LIA area of interest, please reach out to the cognizant program officer.

  5. I was considering applying to NSF CAREER solicitation. Are deadlines still the same?
    Yes. Deadlines for the CAREER proposals remain unchanged. However, refer to the NSF website for the most up-to-date information.

No-Cost Extensions and Supplements

  1. Has the process for requesting No-Cost Extensions changed?
    No. The process for requesting no-cost extensions remain the same as outlined in NSF's Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

  2. Is there an option to extend support for graduate students who are affected by COVID-19 related delays to their fieldwork and/or research that must be conducted on campus?
    Yes, PI's can apply for a no-cost extension as outlined in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). Alternatively, PI's can contact their cognizant program officer to discuss the possibility of supplemental funding.

  3. If a supplement is anticipated in the future, when is the appropriate time to bring this to the attention of my program officer?
    Alert your program officer as soon as possible, even if you still have some uncertainties regarding your supplemental request.

  4. What is the maximum amount of supplemental funding we can request? Have NSF policies related to supplements changed?
    As of now, the policies regarding supplements have not changed. The cognizant program officer primarily determines the amount of support that can be provided.

Upcoming Antarctic Field Season

  1. What can be expected for the 2020-21 Antarctic field season? When will more information be available?
    We are continuing to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020-21 Antarctic field season. Currently, all Antarctic stations are operational and will be operational over the 2020 winter. Please refer to NSF's recent statement, “UPDATE: How USAP is responding to COVID-19 challenges and planning for the upcoming season” (https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=300461&org=OPP. We do anticipate a reduced capacity of support science in the 2020-21 field season, and we are actively re-evaluating the activities currently planned and proposed. We will have a better understanding of the situation by the end of May 2020.

  2. What drives the May 31 date for NSF guidance on the Antarctic season?
    This date is primarily driven by the need to develop an implementable program and to hire support staff plan for the 2020-21 season. This is a complicated and lengthy process that must be completed by June 1. In developing this plan, NSF's prime directive is preventing the transmission of COVID-19 to the continent. Currently lengthy quarantine periods are required for all U.S. Antarctic Program participants, which could greatly limit the number of personnel that we will be able to transport to the continent if quarantine requirements continue.

  3. What is the likelihood of isolation prior to deployment (either New Zealand or in Chile) for the 2020-21 season?
    Currently, isolation is required prior to deployment through either gateway city. In the 2020-21 season, all deployments will be implemented using the best testing, treatments, and other techniques that are known and available to us at the time.

  4. Is it on the table to cancel the 2020-21 Antarctic field season and focus resources on the McMurdo Station rebuild?
    No. This is not being considered.

  5. Does NSF anticipate scheduling new field projects in the 2020-21 Antarctic season?
    The 2020-21 season will be significantly impacted because of COVID-19. It is highly unlikely that new projects will be scheduled for fieldwork for this season. However, Antarctic Sciences (ANT) and Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL) are reviewing current and proposed research to develop a plan for the 2020-21 season. We expect that this plan will be complete in early June.

  6. Will 2020-21 fieldwork be canceled indefinitely or deferred to future years? Will field work be de-scoped?
    Our goal is to preserve as much 2020-21 fieldwork as possible. NSF's plan is to defer and not cancel field projects. We also hope to avoid de-scoping any funded research. Program officers will be reaching out to investigators to discuss their projects as more is known about 2020-21 plans.

  7. Does ANT encourage proposals focused on non-field activities?
    ANT always encourages proposals that utilize existing samples and data and/or that are focused on modeling studies.