NSF Biological Science Advisory Committee Meets

NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) Advisory Committee met May 11-12. The recording of the meeting is available on YouTube (Day 1 and Day 2) and the meeting agenda is online here. The committee, composed of biological and ecological scientists from across the research enterprise, typically meets twice a year.

Highlights of the meeting include:

  • Three of the meeting’s panels focused on use-inspired research, reflecting increased interest at NSF and in the administration in collaboration with industry and as well more applied science.
  • The committee voted to approve decadal review of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and will post the subcommittee’s report publicly. Possible areas for improvement for LTER better coordinating research across the network to allow more intentional synthesis of data across sites, rather than post-hoc analysis as well as better integration of social sciences. Strengths of the LTER network identified in the report include that the sites’ work educating students and leveraging NSF funding. The review committee also noted that the sites are well poised for research about the human impacts on ecosystems.
  • BIO’s switch to no deadlines for core programs in 2018 did not impact the demographics of Principal Investigators (PI) receiving NSF grants, across race, general, career stage and type of home institution. NSF representatives urged grantees to the optional demographic information so NSF can better understand its grantee community. In response to a question from a BIO AC member, an NSF representative shared that the federal government is considering how to improve how it collects gender demographics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy level.
  • Division of Environmental Biology Director Stephanie Hampton is leaving the agency after four years of service under NSF’s rotator program.
  • BIO Assistant Director Joanne Tornow announced that she will retire.