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This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see

Directorate for Biological Sciences
Division of Biological Infrastructure

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) supports activities that provide the infrastructure for contemporary research in biology.

Instrument-Related Activities Cluster

This cluster also manages biology-related proposals submitted to the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program. MRI is administered by the NSF Office of Integrative Activities ( See the MRI Program Announcement (NSF 04-511) for further details.

1. Multi-User Biological Equipment and Instrumentation Resources

Provides cost-shared support for the acquisition of major items of specialized multi-user instrumentation, thereby providing access to state-of-the-art instruments. The instrumentation must be used in the conduct of research that falls within the purview of the BIO Directorate. The institution is required to share the capital cost.

  • Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) Proposals for Multi-User Biological Equipment and Instrumentation Resources—The Multi-User Biological Equipment and Instrumentation Resources Program (see program announcement NSF 98-137) accepts proposals through the RUI Program (see program announcement NSF 00-144). The Multi-User Biological Equipment Program requires that one of the principal investigators be actively receiving NSF funding for research. NSF recognizes that research in NSF-funded areas at RUI institutions is often supported by other sources. Therefore, for RUI institutions, the program makes an exception to the requirement for active NSF research funding provided that (1) the user group is conducting research in NSF-supported subject areas and (2) the user group is able to show adequate research support from other funding sources (such as private foundations or institutional research support) to support the proposed research activities.

2. Instrument Development for Biological Research

Supports the development of new instrumentation to increase the accuracy, range, or sensitivity of observations for BIO research fields, including development of concept and proof of concept for entirely new instruments; development of new instruments that will provide new capabilities or significantly extend currently achievable sensitivity or resolution; and development of improved or novel software for the operation of instruments or the analysis of data or images. For more information, see program announcement NSF 98-119.

3. Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment for Research at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories

Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSMLs) are off-campus facilities for research and education conducted in the natural habitats of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. FSMLs support biological research and education by preserving access to study areas and organisms, providing facilities and equipment in close proximity to those study areas, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual scientific interest and collaboration in research and education. To fulfill these roles, FSMLs must offer modern laboratories and educational spaces, up-to-date equipment, appropriate personal accommodations for visiting scientists and students, and modern communications and data management systems for a broad array of users. In recognition of the importance of FSMLs in modern biology, NSF invites proposals that address these general goals of FSML improvement. For more information, see program guideline NSF 02-040.

Research Resources Cluster

1. Biological Databases and Informatics (BDI)

Encourages support of new approaches to the management of biological knowledge that render the collection, maintenance, dissemination, and query of the data and information therein of greater use to the scientific community. For more information, see program announcement NSF 02-058.

In addition to the BDI Initiative, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding in fiscal year 2003 to participate in a new program, Tools for Collaborations that Involve Data Sharing. The program invites proposals to develop tools and techniques to harness the unprecedented volume of data generated by collaborations among researchers. Further information about the program is available at

2. Support of Living Stock Collections

Supports repositories of research organisms, genetic stocks, and seeds, as well as cell lines and DNA clones that are associated with the whole organisms in the collection. The resources supported through this activity are considered essential for national or international scientific research in the biological sciences. Funds are also provided for curatorial databases and for linking the information associated with the collection to other information resources or scientific databases. Long-term support of a collection or repository will require the development and use of such databases. For more information, see program announcement and guidelines NSF 97-80.

3. Biological Research Collections

Supports collection improvement; computerization of specimen-related data; research on curatorial and collection management techniques; and activities such as symposia and workshops to discuss subjects that enhance collections availability and utilization by the research community. For more information, see program announcement NSF 03-566.

Training Cluster

1. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites

This Foundation-wide program provides opportunities for undergraduate students to experience hands-on participation in research and related scholarly activities. BIO provides support to grantees who involve students in special training programs and ongoing research through the REU Sites and Supplements Program. For more information, see program announcement NSF 03-577.

2. Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB)

The UMEB Program is designed to enable institutions to create innovative programs that will encourage undergraduate students—especially those from underrepresented groups—to pursue a career in environmental biology. UMEB supports projects designed to engage undergraduate students in year-round research activities and to provide sustained mentoring support. For more information, see program announcement NSF 03-585.

3. Collaborative Research at Undergraduate Institutions (C-RUI)

The C-RUI Program supports the collaboration of faculty across all science disciplines to engage in research activities that require the expertise of biologists (as well as nonbiologists) to solve biological problems requiring a multidisciplinary approach. Key elements in the program include the integration of research and teaching and the training of undergraduate students. The program is intended to build the research infrastructure at undergraduate institutions and to encourage multidisciplinary (e.g., biology and geoscience, biology and chemistry, biology and mathematics, biology and computer science) training of undergraduate students. It is the intention of the BIO Directorate to participate in this activity by continuing the C-RUI activity that began in fiscal year 1995. For more information, see program announcement NSF 03-514.

4. Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT)

The agency-wide IGERT Program was created by NSF to meet the need for a cadre of broadly prepared Ph.D.s with the technical, professional, and personal skills essential to address the varied career demands of the future. IGERT sponsors development of innovative, research-based graduate education and training programs in Ph.D.-granting institutions. The program supports projects that are based on multidisciplinary research themes and organized by diverse groups of investigators with appropriate research and teaching expertise. The use of a multidisciplinary research theme provides a framework for the integration of research and education activities and for collaborative efforts in training that span disciplinary areas. Thus, an IGERT project may involve investigators from one or more departments within a single institution or from more than one institution. The emphasis of the IGERT Program is on training graduate students; however, the program will support efforts that include undergraduate and/or postdoctoral training if such participation will strengthen the proposed training program.

5. Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

These fellowships are offered in select program areas to U.S. citizens, nationals, and lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens. Applicants choose a sponsoring scientist and present a research and training plan. These fellowships are awarded to individuals for research and training at any appropriate U.S. or foreign institution for 2 years, and require a change from the Ph.D. institution.

  • The BIO Directorate offers postdoctoral research fellowships in selected areas of biology to provide opportunities for recent doctoral scientists to obtain additional training; gain research experience under the sponsorship of established scientists; and broaden their scientific horizons beyond their research experiences during their undergraduate or graduate training. These fellowships are further designed to assist new scientists to direct their research efforts across traditional disciplinary lines and to offer them unique research resources, sites, and facilities, including foreign locations. NSF postdoctoral fellowships are awarded to individuals, and applications are submitted directly by applicants to NSF. Fellows must affiliate with an appropriate research institution and are expected to devote themselves full time to fellowship activities for the duration of the fellowship. At the conclusion of the fellowship, a fellow who accepts a tenure-track appointment at a U.S. institution deemed eligible to receive NSF funds may apply for a research starter grant. This program seeks to encourage research and training at the postdoctoral level at the intersection of biology and the informational, computational, mathematical, and statistical sciences. Complete information, including deadline dates and program announcement numbers, is available at
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