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Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB)


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#1 Melanie Colón

Melanie Colón
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  • Texas A&M University, College Station, TX,
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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:20 PM

For more: http://www.nsf.gov/p...01/nsf15501.htm

BIO offers Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology to provide opportunities for scientists early in their careers who are ready to assume independence in their research efforts and to obtain training beyond their graduate education in preparation for scientific careers, to gain research experience under the sponsorship of established scientists, and to broaden their scientific horizons. Fellowships are further designed to assist new scientists to direct their research efforts beyond traditional disciplinary lines and to avail themselves of unique research resources, sites, and facilities, including international locations. Fellows must affiliate with appropriate research institutions and are expected to devote themselves full time to the fellowship activities for the duration of the fellowship. The fellowships have both research and training goals.

Currently BIO offers Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology in the following three areas:

Competitive Area 1. Postdoctoral Fellowships for Broadening Participation in Biology.

These fellowships have been offered since FY 1990 as the NSF Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in biology. The program supports a wide range of biological research and training across the full range of BIO's research programs.

Competitive Area 2. Postdoctoral Research Fellowships Using Biological Collections.

Biological research collections represent the documented scientific history of life on Earth, and the U.S. museum community alone curates over a billion specimens ranging from bacteria to plants, insects and vertebrates, as well as fossils. Across the globe, collections represent critical infrastructure and support essential research activities in biology and its related fields. Scientists, government agencies, industry and citizens utilize collections to document and understand evolution and biodiversity, study global change, formulate advice on conservation planning, educate the general public, improve interactions between sciences, and devise new practical applications from science to every day life. New technologies supported by NSF in digitization, such as the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) program, are making collections and their associated data, whether they are physical specimens, text, images, sounds, or data tables, searchable in online databases. Despite this clear progress in improving access to physical specimens and their associated metadata, collections remain under-utilized for answering contemporary questions about fundamental aspects of biological processes. Thus, collections are poised to become a critical resource for developing transformative approaches to address key questions in biology and potentially develop applications that extend biology to physical, mathematical, engineering and social sciences. This postdoctoral track seeks transformative approaches that use biological collections in highly innovative ways to address grand challenges in biology. Priority may be given to applicants who integrate biological collections and associated resources with other types of data in an effort to forge new insight into areas traditionally funded by BIO. Examples of key questions in biology of interest include, but are not limited to, links between genotype and phenotype, evolutionary developmental biology, comparative approaches in functional and developmental neurobiology, and the biophysics of nanostructures. Using collections as a resource for grand challenge questions in biology is expected to present new opportunities to advance understanding of biological processes and systems, inspiring new discoveries in areas with relevance to other disciplines with overlapping interests in biological systems. Applicants must document access to the selected collection(s) in the research and training plan.

Competitive Area 3. National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

The NPGI fellowships will be co-sponsored by NSF, US Department of Energy (DOE), and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to allow the recipients to focus their studies in plant genomics with an emphasis on quantitative genetics, modern breeding approaches, and bioinformatics. These fellowships are designed to provide active mentoring of the Fellows by the sponsoring scientists who will benefit from having these talented young scientists in their research groups. The research and training plan of each fellowship must address important scientific questions within the scope of the goals of the NPGI and the specific guidelines in this Solicitation. Opportunities to participate in research in USDA-ARS laboratories and the DOE's Joint Genome Institute will be possible as part of the training activities for the postdoctoral fellows. International training may be included in the research plan provided that it is relevant to the goals of the NPGI and within the scope of this Program.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
Fellowship Competitive Area 1: Broadening Participation in Biology

Through this program, BIO seeks to increase the diversity of scientists at the postdoctoral level in biology, and thereby contribute to the future vitality of the Nation's scientific enterprise. Groups that are significantly underrepresented in biology in the U.S. include Native Americans, including Alaskan Natives and Native Pacific Islanders, African Americans, and Hispanics. Individuals with disabilities are also under represented. The goal of the program is to prepare minority biologists and others who share NSF's diversity goals for positions of scientific leadership in academia, industry, and government. The research and training plan in these applications must fall within the purview of BIO and explain how the fellowship award will broaden or effectively encourage broadening the participation of underrepresented minorities in biology supported by BIO.

Fellowship Competitive Area 2: Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections.

Biological research collections represent the documented scientific history of life on Earth and the U.S. museum community alone curates over a billion specimens ranging from bacteria to plants, insects and vertebrates, as well as fossils. Across the globe, collections represent a critical infrastructure and support essential research activities in biology and other fields. Scientists, government agencies, industry and citizens utilize collections to document and understand evolution and biodiversity, study global change, formulate advice on conservation planning, educate the general public, improve interactions between sciences, and devise new practical applications from science to every day life.

New technologies, including NSF-led programs in digitization, are reinvigorating collections-based research in the U.S. Collections data are becoming searchable whether they are physical specimens, text, images, sounds, or data tables in easily accessible online integrated databases. Despite clear progress in improving access, a considerable amount of information on physical specimens remains unexplored, awaiting new analysis, instrumentation, and methods to study their structure and composition and their use in answering contemporary questions about basic biology. Thus, collections also are a critical resource for potentially transformative approaches to addressing questions and developing applications that extend biology to physical, mathematical, engineering and social sciences. Using collections as the source for interdisciplinary bio-inspired approaches and designs has multilateral benefits: 1) it benefits biology by presenting new opportunities to advance understanding of biological processes and systems and inspires new discoveries in areas that are understudied, and 2) it aids other disciplines to which it is applied by providing new and potentially transformative approaches to challenging questions that originate in biological systems.

The proposed research and training plan for applications to this competitive area must include substantive and significant use of specimens and/or data from existing, archived biological research collections and their associated collection databases. It must also document access to the collection and/or data as discussed below.

Fellowship Competitive Area 3: National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

Plant improvement is undergoing a revolution through the application of new tools for genotyping and phenotyping, and in the quantitative theory used for selection. In addition, the flood of data being generated requires new computational tools to provide an effective framework for basic plant biology research and plant improvement. The purpose of these fellowships is to provide postdoctoral training opportunities that target interdisciplinary research in plant improvement and associated sciences such as physiology and pathology, quantitative genetics, and computational biology. Applicants with strong backgrounds in a single disciplinary area may consider expanding their expertise with research in associated fields. For example, a Ph.D. in plant breeding may consider a fellowship in statistical genetics with a focus on application to plant improvement. Plant breeding is increasingly interdisciplinary and requires sophisticated modeling and experimental techniques; therefore, new connections are needed between biology and the mathematical/computational/statistical sciences.

Successful applicants will propose research and training plans that are significantly different from their graduate research and training and which address important scientific questions within the scope of the goals of the NPGI (http://www.whitehous...plan_5-2014.pdf) and the specific guidelines in this Solicitation. The overall goal of the NPGI is to develop a basic knowledge of the structures and functions of plant genomes and translate this knowledge to a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of economically important plants and plant processes of potential economic value. By bridging basic research and plant performance in the field, the NPGI aims to accelerate basic discovery and innovation in economically important plants and enable enhanced management of agriculture, natural resources, and the environment to meet societal needs.

The panel reviews will be managed by NSF Program Directors and observed by USDA-ARS National Program Leaders and DOE Program Directors in programmatic areas relevant to Fellowship Competitive Area 3. As part of Competitive Area 3, applicants are encouraged to consider sponsors located at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and USDA-ARS laboratories. Fellows undertaking part or all of their research activities at the JGI will have the opportunity to contribute to improvements in genome assembly, annotation, and community access (through web-based activities such as Phytozome, Gramene, etc.) for completed, ongoing or planned plant genome projects. The list of such projects is available at http://jgi.doe.gov/o...plant-genomics/. Interested candidates must identify a specific project and address how their scientific expertise and career development would benefit from this interaction with the JGI.

Successful applicants will be supported by either NSF or USDA-ARS. Depending on the focus and location of the proposed research, up to five successful applicants may be supported by USDA-ARS fellowships. Applicants selected for support by USDA-ARS will be contacted directly by NSF and informed of their selection for these additional fellowship opportunities. They will be instructed to withdraw their application to this Program as "funded elsewhere" and USDA-ARS will then initiate the appointment of these fellows directly. All other awards will be made by NSF.




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