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Writing a Winning Grant Proposal
Understanding the Federal Program Descriptions

Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
47.074 Biological Sciences

FEDERAL AGENCY:

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

AUTHORIZATION:

National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 106-377, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.
OBJECTIVES: Click here for help!
To promote the progress of the biological sciences and thereby strengthen the Nation's scientific enterprise; to increase scientific knowledge and enhance understanding of major problems confronting the Nation. Most of the research supported is basic in character. The program includes support of research project grants in the following disciplines: molecular and cellular biosciences, integrative biology and neuroscience; environmental biology; biological infrastructure; and plant genome research. Support is also provided for the purchase of multi-user scientific equipment and instrument development, and for research workshops, symposia, and conferences. In addition, awards are made to improve the quality of doctoral dissertations in environmental biology, animal behavior or ecological and evolutionary physiology; for postdoctoral fellowships in biological informatics and microbial biology; and for postdoctoral fellowships to minority scientists in all areas of research supported by the biological sciences.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE:

Project Grants.
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USES AND USE RESTRICTIONS:

Grant funds may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies such as salaries and wages, permanent equipment, expendable materials and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs. Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the principal investigator is responsible for the scientific work. Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Applicant Eligibility:   Public and private colleges and universities; nonprofit, nonacademic research institutions; private, profit organizations; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances. Grants are made on a competitive basis.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Public and private colleges, universities, and research institutions may apply.

Credentials/Documentation:   Proposals must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for colleges and universities and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage OMB Circular No. A-87.

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APPLICATION AND AWARD PROCESS:
Pre-application Coordination:   None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   By electronic submission via FastLane of a formal proposal describing the research or study to be undertaken. Guidelines are contained in publications, "Grant Proposal Guide," NSF 02-2, "Guide to Programs Fiscal Year 2002," NSF 02-03. This program is subject to the provisions of coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Award Procedure:   NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals generally with the assistance and advice of other qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Proposals are accepted in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. States will be notified of Federal assistance awards through the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS).

Deadlines:   Deadlines and target dates are published at the following web address: http://www.nsf.gov/bio/programs.htm.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   6 months.

Appeals:   The principal investigator may request, in writing, that the foundation reconsider its action in declining any application.

Renewals:   Proposals for renewal, containing the same type of information as the original proposal, should be submitted 6 to 9 months before funding from the current award is expected to be exhausted, renewals are treated in competition with all other pending proposals.

ASSISTANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

Formula and Matching Requirements:   Cost-sharing is not required for awards made solely for symposia, conferences and workshops, publication, education and training, or travel. The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information on the general NSF policy on cost sharing.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   Up to 5 years.

POST ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Reports:   For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report. Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required. Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.

Audits:   In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records:   Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to insure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the grant was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for 3 years thereafter.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION:

Account Identification:   49-0100-0-1-251.

Obligations:   (Grants) FY 01 $485,950,000; FY 02 est $508,410,000; and FY 03 est $525,620,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  
Range Low $5,000
Range High $7,852,651
Average $184,303.
.

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PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
In fiscal year 2001, 3,456 awards were made and 7,179 proposals were received. In fiscal year 2002, approximately 3,460 awards will be made and 7,179 proposals received. In fiscal year 2003, approximately 3,460 awards will be made and 7,179 proposals received.

REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES, AND LITERATURE:

48 CFR Chapter 25; 45 CFR Chapter VI; "NSF Guide to Programs, Fiscal Year 2002," NSF 02-03 (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf0203); and "Grant Proposal Guide," NSF 02-2, (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf022).

INFORMATION CONTACTS:

Regional or Local Office:   Not applicable.

Headquarters Office:  
Montona Futrell-Griggs 4201 Wilson Blvd, Stafford I - Suite 605, Arlington, Virginia 22230 Email: mfutrell@nsf.gov Phone: 7032927162 .

Web Site Address:  
http://nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=bio

EXAMPLES OF FUNDED PROJECTS:

(1) Calcium signaling in the brain of behaving zebrafish. (2) Molecular interactions regulating cell signaling. (3) The role of habitat heterogeneity in stream ecosystems. (4) Development of a micro-scale protein sequencing system. (5) Genomics of plant stress tolerance.

CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PROPOSALS:

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On September 20, 1999, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 125, Merit Review Criteria. This Important Notice reminds proposers that both criteria must be addressed in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions. The two 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 he/she is qualified to make judgments. 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 prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original 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? NSF staff 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 - are 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.

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