Article Ecology
Dengue-resistance Spreads in Mosquitoes
Satellites Spy on Fish Farms
Fukushima Birds Affected
Boozing for Better Health
Climate Conflict of Interest?
One Year On
Antarctic Invasion
Lions Up Close
More Maternal Effort Means More Robust Offspring
Pesticide Problems for Bees
Ants Share Pathogens for Immunity
Poisonous Shrooms Battle Cancer
Colony Collapse from Pesticides?
Insect Battles, Big and Small
Spotted: Emperor Penguins
Melting Ice Releases Ancient Microbes
Pigeon GPS Identified
It’s Raining Mice
Ocean Plastic Aid Insects
Can Fish Eco-Labeling be Trusted?
How Prawns Lure Prey
Food's Afterlife
A Greener Arctic
The Ecology of Fear
  A Funding Reboot
More than 550 frustrated ecologists and evolutionary biologists sent a letter to the National Science Foundation (NSF) last week, blasting the agency’s new grant proposal process. The letter claimed the new process slows the progress of science, places young faculty in peril, and hinders collaborative projects; NSF officials said the old process was broken.

The new process, announced in 2011 for the environmental biology and integrative organizational systems divisions of NSF, cuts the number of grant cycles per year from two to one, and limits the number of proposals each scientist can submit to two. Now, scientists can submit up to two 4-page pre-proposals in January, and NSF reviewers invite a fraction of those to submit a full 15-page proposal in August.

In addition to fewer opportunities to submit proposals, receive feedback, and contribute to collaborative proposals, scientists worry that long gaps in funding—successful researchers will see funding roughly a year after they submit their pre-proposal—could cripple junior faculty. For a large majority of scientists that have to resubmit the following January, it would be a minimum of 2 years before they get funding, a considerable amount of time for faculty closing in on tenure evaluations.

“You can have full research programs go under in 2 years,” an anonymous professor of evolutionary biology, who blogs under the name Prof-Like Substance, told The Chronicle of Higher Education (for an article written by this reporter).

According to officials at the NSF, the changes were necessary, due to the fact that proposal submissions have jumped 40 percent in the past decade without significant increases in the federal budget. In a statement released to The Chronicle, NSF officials wrote, “such increases generated a significant burden on NSF staff and external reviewers.”

But John C. Wingfield, associate director of the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences, told The Chronicle that the changes in the proposal process are a “work in progress.” The NSF is collecting data on the first cycle, he said, which it will post online and use to inform discussions with scientists on improving the system. “I think there are some fairly obvious tweaks that we can make quickly,” he said. The welfare of junior faculty, he added, is a top priority.
Microbial Awakening
Little Fish in a Big Pond
No Sex Required
Old New Species
Beetles Warm BC Forests
Coughing Seashells
Marlboro Chicks
Fighting Microbes with Microbes
Fly Guts Reveal Animal Inventory
Cities Affect Global Weather Currents
Modeling All Life?
Killer Kittens
Opinion: Paradoxical Amphibians
Oil Additive Harming Seabirds
Diversity Defeats Disease
Icy Algae in a Changing Arctic
Native Frogs Beat Invasive Toads
Bridges for UK Water Voles
Mysterious Sea Lion Stranding Continues
Can CO2 Help Grow Rainforests?
Arctic Foxes Suffer from Seafood Diet
Plants Communicate with Help of Fungi
Ladybird Bioterrorists
Arctic Bacteria Thrives at Mars Temps
Mary O’Connor: Warming Up
Bird Bullies
An Ocean of Viruses
Science on Lockdown
West Coast Marine Threat
The Gigapixel Camera
Mixed Report for Oiled Salt Marshes
EPA to Regulate Greenhouse Emissions
Genetic Shift in Salmon
A Scientist Emerges
Life (Re)Cycle
How Green Are Your Fish?
School Teachers Release Invasives
Zoo Virus Swap
Mothers-In-Law and Menopause
Stalking Sharks
From Plants and Fungi to Clouds
Good Vibrations
Down and Dirty
Dogs Improve Beach Sanitation
A Funding Reboot
Agriculture-Ecology Initiative Announced
Evolving Dependence
Beard Beer
Opinion: Controlling Invasion
Natural-Born Doctors
Opinion: Fishy Deaths
A Celebrated Symposium