ESA as a channel of communication between its members and NSF
by Osvaldo Sala, ESA President
One of the central roles of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) is to represent its members in front of different bodies at the national and international levels. While single voices face difficulties in reaching target audiences, communications are enhanced when articulated through a professional society. ESA plays the double role of not only communicating ideas from our membership to other organizations but also communicating news from governmental and non-governmental organizations to our members. The heightened dialogue, facilitated by ESA, helps our members and the science and practice of ecology.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) wants to serve the scientific community and it seeks input from the scientific community. NSF needs excellent research proposals, scientists to conduct thorough peer reviews and the ideas that the scientific society contributes. Joanne Tornow, NSF assistant director for the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) convened meetings during the past year with presidents and directors of scientific societies related to biology and ecology. You can read a blog about the topics and discussions covered during the one of the last meetings here.
Another way that Dr. Tornow communicates with the larger community is by writing posts for the official BioBuzz blog. I am sure that ESA members would be interested in the recent blog published June 2 that Dr. Tornow wrote showing the impact of removing deadlines for the submissions of proposals to the BIO Directorate. Overall, the success rate increased from 21 to 28% while the number of submissions declined. The study reported no effect of the new policy on gender, race or ethnicity of the PI and co-PIs.
The ESA–NSF dialogue is only one channel that ecologists have to communicate to the agency that I hope serves our members well. Ecologists always can reach NSF directly and many work closely with various BIO divisions and program officers.