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Human Origins   (HOMINID)
Moving in New Directions

Program Solicitation

Replaces Document(s):
  NSF 08-512

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National Science Foundation

Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
     Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     March 13, 2009

     February 22, 2010

     Last Monday in February, Annually Thereafter


Please be advised that the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) includes revised guidelines to implement the mentoring provisions of the America COMPETES Act (ACA) (Pub. L. No. 110-69, Aug. 9, 2007.)   As specified in the ACA, each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals.  Proposals that do not comply with this requirement will be returned without review (see the PAPP Guide Part I: Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II for further information about the implementation of this new requirement). 

As announced on May 21, 2009, proposers must prepare and submit proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) using the NSF FastLane system at This approach is being taken to support efficient operations during this busy workload period and in response to OMB direction guidance issued March 9, 2009. NSF will continue to post information about available funding opportunities to FIND and will continue to collaborate with institutions who have invested in system-to-system submission functionality as their preferred proposal submission method. NSF remains committed to the long-standing goal of streamlined grants processing and plans to provide a web services interface for those institutions that want to use their existing grants management systems to directly submit proposals to NSF.



General Information

Program Title: 

Human Origins  (HOMINID)
Moving in New Directions

Synopsis of Program:

This competition is directed towards increasing our knowledge of the complex biological, physical, and behavioral interrelationships that led to the development of our species and that are responsible for both the shared and variable features that characterize living human populations. It recognizes that understanding of the processes and pathways of human evolution requires input from a wide range of disciplines which examine our species from multiple perspectives and across both time and space. Accomplishing this goal requires a large scale initiative which allows research activities that go beyond the smaller, shorter duration, single investigator awards that disciplinary programs have been able to provide in the past. The Human Origins: Moving In New Directions (HOMINID) competition will support large scale, long term, integrative research and infrastructure projects through awards of up to $500,000 per year for up to five years. Contingent on the availability of funds, the program expects to make two awards in each fiscal year.

It is intended that HOMINID awards will provide for transformative approaches to long-standing questions about the history of our species. Infrastructure development is also eligible for support either as a stand alone project or as part of a research award. One goal of the competition is to develop a portfolio of awards that reflects the multiple approaches to the understanding of human origins. It is expected that the combination of awards will complement each other and prove to be mutually informative as they progress.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

  • John   E Yellen-Program Director, 995 N, telephone: (703) 292-8759, fax: (703) 292-9068, email:

  • Mark   L Weiss-Program Director, 995 N, telephone: (703) 292-7272, email:

  • Elizabeth  Tran- Associate PD, 905 N, telephone: (703) 292-5338, email:

  • Kaye  Reed-Program Director, 907, telephone: (703) 292-7850, email:

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.075 --- Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award:  Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards:    2   Subject to the availability of funds, the HOMINID program expects to make 2 new awards at approximately $500,000 each per year. HOMINID Awards are for up to five years in duration and up to a total award size of $2,500,000.

Anticipated Funding Amount:   $1,000,000  per year for 2 new awards, pending availability of funds.

Eligibility Information

Organization Limit: 

None Specified

PI Limit: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 1

An individual (Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI) may only be on one proposal submitted for any deadline.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not Applicable
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not Applicable
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: This solicitation contains information that supplements the standard NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Cost Sharing is not required under this solicitation.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:  Not Applicable
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         March 13, 2009

         February 22, 2010

         Last Monday in February, Annually Thereafter

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:   National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:   Additional award conditions apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Reporting Requirements:   Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.


Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. NSF Merit Review Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information


The pathways of change traversed during the course of our species' evolution have fascinated anthropologists, archaeologists, and others for decades. Fossil data provide the primary evidence of morphological change over time and archaeological data illuminate behavioral change. Underlying both the behavioral and anatomical change is genetic variation. Describing these changes is a significant goal, yet description is only partially satisfying. Understanding the environmental and ecological context within which these changes occurred, the genetic processes involved, and the evolutionary forces that drove the evolution of our species are strongly compelling issues.

NSF's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) provides funding for human origins research through its Physical Anthropology and Archaeology programs. Both programs fund smaller-scale individual researcher projects designed to investigate limited aspects of the origins of our species. The scope of past investigations has been limited by the resources of individual programs as well as by prevailing technology. BCS recognizes that human origins researchers are poised, due both to technological and theoretical developments, to make major advances in our understanding of human evolution through larger-scale, multidisciplinary research. Biotechnology allows the sequencing of genes present in people living thousands of years ago. Trace element analysis can lead to insights into the paleoenvironments within which our ancestors functioned. Imaging technologies can provide insights into the structure of our ancestors' brain and the development of human cognitive abilities. Novel ways of analyzing artifacts and other materials from archaeological sites can fundamentally alter our understanding of the behaviors of past human populations and those of their ancestors.

Human Origins: Moving In New Directions (HOMINID) aims to foster large scale integrative research and infrastructure projects through awards up to $500,000 per year and of up to five years in duration. Contingent on availability of funds, it is expected that two awards will be made each year and that the competition will continue on an annual basis, with a goal of developing a portfolio of awards that reflects the multiple approaches to understanding human origins. HOMINID awardees are encouraged to disseminate results broadly and exchange findings with other awardees, in order to increase the potential impacts of the research. Projects exploring human origins defined broadly (in terms of either temporal or spatial scope) are encouraged, however, the research must be firmly placed in the context of human evolution.

NSF is deeply committed to providing training and education opportunities to a varied and diverse group of students.  Intellectually and ethnically diverse research teams that integrate students at all stages of their training are essential to the long-term success and vitality of human evolution research and to the dissemination of  knowledge of our species' adaptations and evolution.  While diversity is enhanced by the inclusion of students from a wide range of disciplines, we are particularly dedicated to the training and participation of individuals from underrepresented minority groups. Researchers are thus strongly encouraged to specifically indicate their plans for including students (undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral) with particular attention to those from underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as participants in the proposed research.  Proposals that demonstrate tangible mechanisms for establishing research and education collaborations with students and researchers from underrepresented groups or from minority-serving institutions, undergraduate institutions, and colleges for women are strongly encouraged.


Through the mechanism of substantial long term awards this competition provides an essential complement to "standard" research projects appropriately funded through discipline-based NSF programs. It recognizes that effective pursuit of human origins questions often involves sustained, large scale, and integrative, multidisciplinary initiatives. The competition invites researchers to pursue innovative broad scale projects which exceed not only in scale, but also scope, the single investigator projects supported by disciplinary programs. While, given the nature of human origins research, many projects will be multidisciplinary and such approaches are encouraged, this is not a requirement. It is recognized, for example, that some research or infrastructure projects, e.g. molecular anthropology laboratory support, dating facility support, long-term paleoanthropological field work, would greatly benefit from significantly larger budgets over longer periods of support than individual programs have previously been able to provide. These too are eligible to compete under the HOMINID program. Proposals which focus on or incorporate infrastructure development into a research design -- for example laboratory support or database development -- are welcome. Given the multinational nature of much human origins research, applicants may include elements which strengthen international collaboration in their proposals. All proposals, whether research or infrastructure focused, must explicitly address issues relevant to the broad scope (both in time and space) of human evolution.

Researchers are encouraged to apply a broad range of approaches and techniques to tightly defined and clearly justified questions of human origins. To illustrate -- but not limit -- the potential range, projects might focus on:

  • Examining extant and past genetic diversity and establishing data or sample repositories
  • Acquiring and analyzing paleontological and archaeological data through, for example, long term fieldwork
  • Constructing relevant chronological geological and environmental contexts for human origins
  • Developing systems (including software and supporting infrastructure) applicable to human origins
  • Conducting comparative studies of extant humans and other primate species, whether in terms of physical adaptations, socioecology, morphology, or molecular aspects
  • Supporting laboratories in multiple disciplines to develop and apply new technologies to the clarification of human origins issues
  • Using new technologies to clarify the evolution of human cognitive skills
  • Investigating the evolution of developmental regimes and control as they relate to human evolution
  • Analyzing long-term interaction between ancestral human populations and their biotic and abiotic landscapes, and the effects of those impacts on those ancestral populations themselves
  • Examining the nature, impacts, and results of the colonization of novel landscapes
HOMINID is designed to complement and not duplicate research currently funded by NSF programs. Contingent on available funds, approximately $1 million will be available annually to permit approximately two new awards, each of up to five years in duration.

Continuations to current or expired HOMINID awards are not a program priority. Current and past PIs may apply for a new award, but the application must make explicit how the proposed project differs from previously funded research. The proposal should include a synopsis of results, their relationship to the current proposal, and how potential results from the proposed project will contribute new information to the advancement of the field.


Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 2 Subject to the availability of funds, the HOMINID program expects to make 2 new awards at approximately $500,000 each per year. HOMINID Awards are for up to five years in duration and up to a total award size of $2,500,000.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,000,000 per year for 2 new awards, pending availability of funds.


Organization Limit: 

None Specified

PI Limit: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 1

An individual (Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI) may only be on one proposal submitted for any deadline.


A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

    Full Proposal Instructions: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidelines specified in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-PUBS (7827) or by e-mail from  Because of the size and duration of the awards, as well as the often interdisciplinary nature of the research or infrastructure supported, PIs are allowed 20 pages (instead of the standard 15 page limit) for the project description. Up to three pages of the 20-page project description should be devoted to a Management Plan. Further, because it is intended that any data or specimens obtained through support via this competition should become rapidly and widely available, PIs must submit a one to two page Data Access Plan, describing the mechanisms and time frame under which they intend to accomplish this goal.

    Management Plan (3 pages maximum as part of the 20 page project description): Each Full Research proposal must contain a management plan, which includes 1) the specific roles of the PI, co-PIs, other senior personnel and paid consultants at all organizations involved, 2) how the project will be managed within and across organizations and disciplines, 3) identification of the specific coordination mechanisms that will enable cross-institution and/or cross-discipline scientific integration (e.g., regular meetings or teleconferencing, yearly workshops, graduate student exchange, project meetings at conferences, videoconferences, software repositories, etc.), and 4) pointers to the budget line items that support these coordination mechanisms.

    Data Access Plan (2 pages maximum as part of the Supplementary Documentation section): Under NSF's data sharing policy, the Foundation expects investigators to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the work. To implement that policy, with this competition HOMINID will require that all proposals include a one to two page detailed description of the applicant's data access plan in the "Supplementary Documentation" section. This page will be in addition to the standard 20-page project description. Applications lacking this statement will not be reviewed. HOMINID realizes that individual cases may differ widely and recognize that any absolute timeline or rigid set of rules is not possible. It also recognizes that revision and adjustment may often be required as the work proceeds. The data access plan, however, will be considered an integral part of the project and therefore subject to reviewer and panel evaluation. Major departure from it will constitute a significant project change and require NSF approval. Successful applicants will be required to address this issue in every progress and final report. PIs on all awards made under these guidelines will be expected to discuss implementation of their plans in the "Results of Prior Research" section when they submit subsequent applications.

    Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (Populated with NSF Number at Clearance) in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

    B. Budgetary Information

    Cost Sharing:   Cost sharing is not required under this solicitation.

    Other Budgetary Limitations:  Proposals should include travel funds to participate in a 1.5 day annual meeting of all awardees at NSF.

    C. Due Dates

    • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

           March 13, 2009

           February 22, 2010

           Last Monday in February, Annually Thereafter

    D. FastLane Requirements

    Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this program solicitation through use of the NSF FastLane system. Detailed instructions regarding the technical aspects of proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

    Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at:


    Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal.

    A. NSF Merit Review Criteria

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

    The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgements.


    What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
    What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

    Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF website at:

    Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project, as described in a one-page supplementary document, will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion.

    NSF staff also will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

    Integration of Research and Education
    One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.


    Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities
    Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

      Additional Review Criteria:

      In addition to the general criteria described above, the following criteria will be considered by peer reviewers and NSF staff in evaluating proposals submitted in response to this solicitation:

      •           Does the data access plan specifically address the mechanisms and time frame under which data and specimens obtained through support via this competition will be made rapidly and widely available?
      •           Do the researchers indicate the mechanism(s) by which they will ensure that the research is responsive to the needs of interested communities?
      •           Infrastructure proposals only: Does the proposal address the question of project support after the expiration of the HOMINID award?

    B. Review and Selection Process

    Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

    Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

    After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later.  The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

    A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer.  In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

    In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.


    A. Notification of the Award

    Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

    B. Award Conditions

    An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

    *These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from

    More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at

    Special Award Conditions:  It is intended that researchers supported through this program will attend an annual PI meeting to discuss both research and management issues.

    C. Reporting Requirements

    For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require more frequent project reports). Within 90 days after expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report.

    Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

    PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports.  Such reports provide information on activities and findings, project participants (individual and organizational) publications; and, other specific products and contributions.  PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.  Submission of the report via FastLane constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete.


    General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

    • John   E   Yellen-Program Director, 995 N, telephone: (703) 292-8759, fax: (703) 292-9068, email:

    • Mark   L   Weiss-Program Director, 995 N, telephone: (703) 292-7272, email:

    • Elizabeth   Tran- Associate PD, 905 N, telephone: (703) 292-5338, email:

    • Kaye   Reed-Program Director, 907, telephone: (703) 292-7850, email:

    For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:


    The NSF Website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this Website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, National Science Foundation Update is a free e-mail subscription service designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Regional Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail when new publications are issued that match their identified interests. Users can subscribe to this service by clicking the "Get NSF Updates by Email" link on the NSF web site. provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on may be obtained at


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    NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

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