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“Navigating the NSF System” Draws Record Attendance at American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

Photo of EAR Program Director Jennifer Wade speaking with NSF workshop attendees

EAR Program Director Jennifer Wade speaks with NSF workshop attendees

September 18, 2017

The Directorate for Geosciences’ (GEO) “Navigating the NSF System” workshop at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting had record attendance this year—with more than 75 graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and early- to mid-career researchers in attendance. The workshop, held on Dec. 14, 2016, was sponsored by the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) and AGU.

Jennifer Wade, Program Manager for the Petrology and Geochemistry in GEO’s Division for Earth Sciences (EAR), spearheaded the effort for GEO—tailoring the workshop content to scientists thinking about applying for NSF funding for the first time. She fined-tuned the workshop’s format based on annual survey information collected by ESWN, providing ample opportunity for potential NSF applicants to work in small groups and one-on-one with GEO program staff from every division (Atmospheric and Geospace, Earth, and Ocean Sciences, and Polar Programs).

The workshop featured a formal presentation about NSF’s merit review process and merit review criterion, and then GEO program staff broke into small working groups with potential applicants to answer questions and match research interests to appropriate program homes. The workshop provided the research and education community with direct access to GEO program staff.

“This workshop allows us to dedicate ourselves to listening and learning from our community. We want to assure new-comers that the NSF culture embraces direct interaction with program staff—that we are accessible and supportive, and want them to succeed,” said Wade. “Participants engaged directly with GEO program staff on a personal level, helping us to articulate best practices as well as to keep the pulse of our community, especially our very important early-career researchers.”

Four of the most common questions Jennifer and her colleagues asked and answered at the workshop, included:

  1. What are the main elements to consider when crafting a good postdoctoral research proposal?
  2. What makes for a good educational component in a CAREER proposal?
  3. How do multidisplinary projects get reviewed, and are they harder to get funded?
  4. What makes for a good REU site?

For the answers to these questions, or any others you may have about a GEO research or education program, please feel free to reach out directly to GEO staff. We encourage you to call, and look forward to speaking with you.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date. Originally published Feb. 15, 2017.

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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