New & Noteworthy

Archive for October, 2013

28 Oct 2013

NSF Announces Solicitation for Environmental Biology Research

Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) posted a new solicitation for core proposals to the Division of Environmental Biology.  The solicitation, 14-503, is available at

NSF also issued a reminder to proposers that a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 13-1, was issued on October 4, 2012 and is currently in effect. Researchers should be aware that significant changes were made to the PAPPG to implement revised merit review criteria based on the National Science Board (NSB) report, National Science Foundation’s Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions. While the two merit review criteria remain unchanged (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), guidance has been provided to clarify and improve the function of the criteria. Changes will affect the project summary and project description sections of proposals. Annual and final reports also will be affected.

22 Oct 2013

NSF Extends Deadline for Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections Program

To Potential Applicants to the NSF Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections Program:

The U.S. National Science Foundation has extended the deadline for applications to the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program.  Please see the note below from Dr. Judy Skog at NSF.

Hi, all.

As you know, with the government shutdown, the deadline for ADBC was in question. The program officers were allowed to grant five day extensions only, because of the contingency clause in the Grant Proposal Guide, but the official NSF decision about length of time to extend the deadline depended upon many factors, including assessing all the upcoming deadlines, the number of proposals anticipated for those programs, and dates when the missed deadlines could be accommodated. That analysis is now completed, and the ADBC deadline will be November 13, 2013. We thank you for your patience and encourage you to submit proposals as soon as possible. Obviously this delay in the deadline will also delay the review process and we do not know what twists and turns are ahead. We appreciate the support of the community in these efforts.

Dr. Judith E. Skog
Directorate for Biological Sciences
Office of the Assistant Director
NSF, 4201 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22230
Phone: 703-292-7909

16 Oct 2013

NSC Alliance New Board of Directors

On 11 October 2013, the elections for the new NSC Alliance Board of Directors closed.  The results are:

Larry Page, University of Florida Museum of Natural History

Vice President
Scott Schaefer, American Museum of Natural History

James Croft, The Field Museum

Scott Gardner, University of Nebraska State Museum

Barbara Thiers, New York Botanical Garden
Mark Henry Sabaj Perez, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The balance of the Board of Directors is available at:

11 Oct 2013

Request for Information: Undergraduate Biology Education Reform

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is conducting a survey of individuals who are leading large-scale educational change efforts at the undergraduate level.  If you play a leadership role in undergraduate biology education reform, you are invited and encouraged to participate in the online Faculty Leadership Development Survey:

The survey will be open until 5 November 2013 and is part of a larger study to explore programmatic elements that are important for the development of departmental leadership capacity among STEM faculty ( This study will allow AIBS to evaluate questions related to faculty leadership for change, the academic leadership skills faculty need and want, and existing general higher education leadership programs. The results will be shared with the broader STEM undergraduate community and allow AIBS to determine how it can provide additional support to those leading change through new initiatives or programs.

10 Oct 2013

Government Shutdown Enters Second Week

Most government offices have been closed for more than a week as the result of a congressional impasse over funding the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare).  Conservative Republicans have sought to defund the law by adding riders to legislation that would provide fiscal year 2014 funding to keep the government open.  Thus far, both chambers have agreed to an annual funding level of $986 billion, which is higher than the limit set in the Budget Control Act.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are insisting on defunding the 2010 health care reform law as part of the must-pass spending bill.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama have thus far held firm to not negotiate on whether Congress should fund the federal government.

In recent weeks, the legislative process has resembled a game of ping-pong.  The House passed a bill to fund the government and defund Obamacare, which the Senate amended to remove the provision on health care.  That bill was sent back to the House, where it was amended again and sent back to the Senate.  The process repeated several more times before time ran out and the new fiscal year started on 1 October.

Federal agencies began shutting down operations on the morning of 1 October.  Subsequently, the House passed legislation that would ensure that federal employees are eventually paid for the time they have been furloughed.  This legislation was passed after uniformed Secret Service and Capitol Police officers, working without pay, prevented a woman from ramming her vehicle onto White House and Capitol grounds.  Officers involved in the incident were injured trying to stop the vehicle.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has been pursuing an alternate approach: funding and reopening select agencies and departments.  The National Institutes of Health and National Parks would have reopened under legislation passed by the House last week.  Both bills were modified by Senate Democrats to fund the entire government until mid-November.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced that he was recalling federal civilian civil servants at the Department of Defense (DOD).  The move came after DOD and the Justice Department interpreted a provision of a bill signed into law last week that guarantees uniformed military personnel are paid.  According to news reports, DOD will recall roughly 300,000 civilians who contributed to the morale, well-being, and readiness of service members.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, about six percent of the workforce will continue working because they perform “essential duties” or because their salaries are paid for by sources other than annual appropriations.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued guidance that stated that awardees may continue work on all awards “to the extent that doing so will not require federal staff intervention and that funds are available….[N]o payments will be made during the funding hiatus.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, NSF, and others shuttered official websites due to the lapse in government funding.  Other agencies notified users that their websites would not be updated until the government resumes business as usual.

Government agencies will remain closed until the House and Senate agree to a spending plan, which is increasingly looking to be more than a week off.  News reports have speculated that a spending plan may come together with a proposal to address the nation’s debt ceiling.  Current forecasts indicate that the country will hit its debt limit on 17 October.  Many also believe that hard line Republicans will attempt to secure deep cuts to federal programs as well as repeal the health care reform law as part of any deal to address the debt ceiling.