Call for Proposals FAPESP-NSF: BIOTA and Dimensions of Biodiversity 2014

Published at

Call for Proposals for Scientific Cooperation between researchers in the United States and in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, under a Scientific Cooperation Agreement between the “Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo” (FAPESP) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)

FAPESP and NSF make public this joint Call for Proposals and invite interested researchers to submit projects for Scientific Cooperation through their programs, BIOTA ( and Dimensions of Biodiversity (, respectively, under the terms and conditions hereinafter set forth.

This Call for Proposal is based in a broader Call for proposals published annually by the NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity´s Program, which invites the participation of U.S. researchers to apply for NSF´s regular funding or co-funding opportunities under NSF agreements with FAPESP, Chinese National Natural Science Foundation and NASA (for details see the NSF Dimensions Program' Solicitation at

1. Introduction:

Life on Earth is astounding in its diversity and in its ability to transform the world. Despite centuries of discovery, the vast majority of our planet's diversity remains unknown. Only a few years ago scientists shared the view that the diversity of life on Earth was so vast that it might be beyond cataloging, much less understanding. This is no longer the case. Advances in our capacity to collect, analyze, and integrate biological data have provided tools with which researchers can significantly expand our knowledge of Earth's biodiversity and revolutionize our understanding of the living world. Unfortunately, the pace of discovery is increasingly offset by rapid and permanent loss of biodiversity. Drivers of biodiversity loss include climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources, planetary re-engineering (such as land use change, water diversions, coastal development, fertilizer use), and the intentional or unintentional movement of species. With biodiversity loss, humanity is losing links in the web of life that provide ecosystem services, forfeiting opportunities to understand the history and future of the living world, and losing opportunities for future beneficial discoveries in the domains of food, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and bio-inspired innovation. This reality has stimulated a campaign of integrated study across the dimensions of Earth's biodiversity.

Biodiversity research has often focused on a single dimension. For example, investigators have concentrated on the taxonomic diversity or phylogenetic history of a clade, the genetic diversity of a population or a species, or the functional role of a taxon in an ecosystem. Although this research has yielded important advances, huge gaps persist in our understanding of biodiversity. We understand little about how these various dimensions, individually and in concert, contribute to environmental health, ecosystem stability, productivity, and resilience, or biological adaptation in response to rapid environmental change.

2. BIOTA/FAPESP and NSF- Dimensions of Biodiversity Program´s descriptions

The aims of the BIOTA-FAPESP Research Program, launched in March 1999 includes: i) to inventory, map and characterize the biodiversity of the State of São Paulo; ii) to understand the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity, as well as those that can result in its deleterious reduction; iii) to improve public policies on biodiversity conservation and restoration, and iv) to develop means and strategies for the sustainable use of plants, animals and microorganism with economic potential.

The scientific plan of the BIOTA/FAPESP Program for the next 10 years ( includes: (i) native biodiversity restoration, (ii) development and implementation of a new information system for the Program (SinBiota 2.0), (iii) biodiversity inventories (including DNA bar-coding and metagenomics), (iv) phylogeny and phylogeography, (v) ecosystem functioning and landscape ecology, (vi) marine biodiversity, (vii) applied ecology and human dimensions of biological conservation, (viii) invasive species and GMOs, (ix) modeling, (x) bioprospecting, and (xi) education and public outreach.

A primary goal of the NSF Dimension´s of Biodiversity Program is to address the largest unknowns related to biodiversity, taking a broad view that ranges from genes through species to ecosystems in an effort to integrate both descriptive and functional aspects of biodiversity on Earth. The long-term goal of the Dimension´s campaign is to develop an integrated understanding of the key dimensions of biodiversity in an ever-changing world.

The Dimensions of Biodiversity program currently targets three fundamental dimensions of biodiversity (as presented in Figure 1, below): genetic diversity, taxonomic/phylogenetic diversity, and functional diversity. Genetic diversity includes but is not limited to nucleotide sequence diversity at neutral or coding loci or genomic (proteomic, transcriptomic) diversity. Taxonomic/phylogenetic diversity refers to evolutionary lineages at and above the level of the population. Functional diversity includes but is not limited to aspects of ecosystem function such as energy flow, material cycling, ecological resilience, and the role of key innovations in the generation and maintenance of biodiversity. (See examples listed below.)

Figure 1. Three dimensions of biodiversity. This Call for proposals targets the area where all these three areas overlap.

The goal of the Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign is to transform, by 2020, how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. The campaign promotes novel, integrated approaches to identify and understand the evolutionary and ecological significance of biodiversity amidst the changing environment of the present day and in the geologic past.

This campaign seeks to characterize biodiversity on Earth by using integrative, innovative approaches to fill the most substantial gaps in our understanding of the diversity of life on Earth. It takes a broad view of biodiversity, and currently focuses on the integration of genetic, taxonomic/phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity. Successful proposals should integrate these three dimensions to understand interactions and feedbacks among them. While this focus complements several core FAPESP and NSF programs, it differs by requiring that multiple dimensions of biodiversity be addressed simultaneously, in innovative or novel ways, to understand their synergistic roles in critical ecological and evolutionary processes. Proposals that have the potential to fill large gaps in this understanding of biodiversity are particularly encouraged.

3. Purpose:

The purpose of this second Call is to define the conditions for the submission of proposals for Scientific Cooperation between scientists in São Paulo, Brazil, and in the United States within the scope of the Scientific Cooperation Agreement between FAPESP and NSF signed on 19/12/2011 and published at

The funded projects selected in the previous Calls (2012 and 2013) under the FAPESP and NSF agreement, are listed at and

4. Fields of knowledge:

For this Call for proposals, research projects must integrate the three dimensions of biodiversity (Fig. 1) with the goal of understanding the interactions and feedbacks among these dimensions. Innovative approaches are encouraged in order to accelerate the characterization and understanding of these three dimensions of biodiversity and their relative importance; empirical, experimental, theoretical, and modeling approaches are all appropriate. Projects may incorporate the context provided by one or more drivers of biodiversity loss (e.g. climate change; over-exploitation of natural resources; planetary re-engineering such as land use change, water diversions, coastal development, fertilizer use; and the intentional or unintentional movement of species), although this is not a requirement of the solicitation.

The research proposals should include the following topics integrating roles of the three dimensions of biodiversity, but should not be limited to them:

i) community or ecosystem resilience, sustainability, or productivity;

ii) maintenance of symbioses and symbionts;

iii) genetic/phylogenetic diversification enabled by natural selection on novel traits;

iv) food web and community stability, particularly with respect to environmental thresholds and alternate stable states;

vv) feedbacks between biotic and abiotic change;

vi) community invasibility and community collapse;

vii) ecological response to anthropogenic disturbances including climate change;

viii) carbon, nitrogen, and other biogeochemical cycles;

ix) rates of evolution;

x) relationships between spatial scale and the three targeted dimensions. Integration among these three dimensions is a critical aspect of all proposals;

xi) the interaction of marine biodiversity with ecosystem function relative to climate change (projects in this field are of particularly interest).

Projects that develop original computational methods or technology that will be useful to a wide community of researchers (e.g., informatics, instrumentation, imaging, analysis) and other tools specific to integrative biodiversity studies are also welcomed, as are both single investigator and collaborative efforts.

If a project to characterize multiple dimensions of biodiversity and understand its ecological and evolutionary significance has a global scope, investigators are encouraged to develop international collaborations to address these challenges.

Proposals whose primary focus is applied in nature (e.g., food and drug development; restoration or conservation; biodiversity management) are not eligible for funding. Projects that integrate multiple dimensions of biodiversity but largely repeat or replicate existing work will not be funded. Additional examples of projects that will not be considered by this program include:

i) projects that only address the characterization of genetic diversity within a population or species;

ii) projects that consist only of species surveys, inventories, or descriptions;

iii) projects that only address taxonomic boundaries (e.g., species delimitation) using genetic markers;

iv) phylogenetic and/or phylogeographic studies that do not also address the genetic and functional aspects of the group(s) being studied.

Research on biodiversity science that is focused on systematics, evolution, ecology, or ecosystem science is strongly supported by NSF, however proposals addressing those individual areas may not be appropriate for the Dimensions of Biodiversity Program.

FAPESP and NSF continue to recognize the importance of taxonomy, systematic, evolutionary biology, ecological and ecosystems research that may not be directly applicable to this joint call for proposal. Proposals that address biodiversity, in ways not described herein, can continue to be submitted to BIOTA-FAPESP and to relevant NSF programs.

5. Eligibility:

The proposals must be submitted:

5.1 To FAPESP, by researchers associated with public or private Higher Education or Research Institutions in the State of São Paulo. The researchers must have a doctorate degree (or equivalent). The São Paulo state researchers applying to FAPESP must meet FAPESP eligibility requirements and must apply through an institution eligible to receive FAPESP funding. The SP proposer should fit the FAPESP's requirements for Thematic Projects. Please see FAPESP funding rules for thematic projects grant application in:

Researchers from the State of São Paulo must send a pre-proposal as described in item 9.1, before 27/03/2013 (at least 6 weeks prior to the proposal deadline) to receive pre-approval by FAPESP regarding his/her eligibility as a PI for a FAPESP Thematic Grant.

Applications with non-eligible São Paulo partners will not be considered for funding as a US-São Paulo Collaborative Research project.

5.2. To NSF, by researchers associated with eligible institutions as defined in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (

5.3. The number of proposals per PI is limited to 1. An individual may appear as Principal Investigator (PI), co-PI, or other senior personnel on only one proposal submitted in response to this Call. If an individual is listed as PI, co-PI, or senior personnel on more than one proposal, all of those proposals will be returned without review.

5.4. Applications with a non-eligible American partner will not be considered for funding by FAPESP. In the same way, applications with a non-eligible São Paulo partner will not be considered for funding by NSF.

6. Timeline:

20th December 2013: Call for proposals publication

21st February 2014 : Closing date for submission of “Pre-proposals” by the SP State PIs to FAPESP

10th March 2014 : SP State PIs notification for submission of “Full Proposal” by FAPESP

3rd April 2014 : Closing date for submission for Full Proposal (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

June 2014: Publication of the results for selected proposals

7. Duration of the research project:

The duration of the research project must be 5 years with possibility of extension for up to 12 additional months, in exceptional condition, as justified and approved by the corresponding agency.

8. Funding principles:

8.1. Up to two 5-year US-São Paulo Collaborative Research Project awards will be funded at a level of up to $2,000,000 by FAPESP, to the researchers in the State of São Paulo and at a level of up to $2,000,000 by NSF to the U.S. researchers, for a total project cost of up to $4,000,000 over 5 years. All awards are contingent on availability of funds and the quality of proposals.

8.2. The joint proposals need not request equal funding from FAPESP and NSF, however, the proposals should have budgets adequately balanced in terms of participation of scientists from each region. The only requirement is that the funding rules of each agency must be followed.

8.3. In addition to eligible items financed by FAPESP and NSF (for details see and, respectively), the following expenses are allowed: mobility expenses (travel costs, living allowances, and health insurance costs) for scientists and students participating in exchange visits integral to the project; project-related expenses for international partners to engage in research activities as project participants while in the United States and SP, and project-related expenses for participants to engage in research activities while abroad.

NSF funding guidelines for involving international collaborators allows the following expenses to be included in the NSF budget by the US PI: i) travel expenses for US scientists and students participating in exchange visits integral to the project; ii) project-related expenses for international partners to engage in research activities while in the United States as project participants and iii) project-related expenses for US participants to engage in research activities while abroad.

As a condition of funding of the US component of the research proposal, by NSF, any software, image, and/or digitized data of physical specimens from this project must be made available through to the online National Resource for Digitized Collections (, located at the University of Florida and funded by the ADBC program at NSF.

9. Proposal characteristics:

9.1 Pre-Proposal

Researchers from the State of São Paulo must send a pre-proposal, in English, which must include the following documents and information:

i) Sao Paulo State PI´s CV;

ii) the title and summary of the collaborative research project;

iii) the name of the US collaborative PI and institution.

The Pre-proposals should be submitted to FAPESP, by 21/February/ 2014:

i) as printed copy to Rua Pio XI, 1500, Alto da Lapa, CEP 05468-901 – São Paulo/SP. All proposals submitted to FAPESP should be clearly marked “BIOTA-FAPESP/DIMENSIONS-NSF 2014” to distinguish them from other program submissions;

ii) as digital copy to the E-mail address Please identify the message with the subject: “BIOTA-FAPESP/DIMENSIONS-NSF 2014”.

Proposals submitted by any other means will not be accepted.

9.2 Full proposals: For the selected State of Sao Paulo pre-proposals by FAPESP, the corresponding full proposals should be also prepared in English. The full proposal must be submitted to both agencies by 03rd April 2014. Other specified in this Call, the proposals should be prepared, formatted and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines of FAPESP and NSF. Each proposer must prepare its proposal using the cover sheet and application form of the corresponding agency.

9.2.1 For the US-SP cooperative research project, an identical (single) scientific research project description must be prepared jointly by the US and SP PIs, and submitted to FAPESP, by the researcher in the State of São Paulo and to NSF by his/her U.S. collaborator(s), as specified below:

i) Project Title: The title of the Research Project should begin with "Dimensions US-BIOTA São Paulo:" followed by the substantive title;

ii) Project Summary: The one-page Project Summary must address three aspects under the following three headings:

ii.1) Intellectual Merit

ii.2) Broader Impacts

ii.3) Integration. The project summary must explicitly summarize how the project integrates the three dimensions of biodiversity as defined in this solicitation. In addition, if the proposal includes the use of satellite remote sensing, this fact should be noted in the project summary,

Proposals that do not address all three aspects in the project summary will be returned without review.

iii) Project Description: The project description must include, within the maximum 15 pages:

iii.1) a description of how the project integrates the three dimensions of biodiversity as defined in this solicitation;

iii.2) details about why the work represents an innovative approach to biodiversity research;

iii.3) information about how the work will rapidly increase understanding of biodiversity;

iii.4) identification of the substantial gap(s) in biodiversity knowledge that will be filled by the proposed research.

iv) A summarized description of results from prior FAPESP (for SP proposers) and NSF (for US proposers) support: If any PI or co-PI on the project has received FAPESP or NSF funding, respectively, in the past five years, information on prior award(s) is required. Each PI and co-PI who has received more than one prior award (excluding amendments) must report on the award most closely related to the proposal. Reviewers will be asked to comment on the quality of the prior work described in this section of the proposal. Please note that the results may be summarized in fewer than five pages, which would leave the balance of the 15 pages for the Project Description.

9.3 For FAPESP:

i) The proposal must be submitted as a Thematic Research Project: with the exception of specific rules described in this Call, the proposal must abide the rules for Thematic Projects (;

ii) A PDF copy of the documents of the US collaborator (Application form, CV, budgetary sheets, letters etc) should be included in the SP proposal as Supplementary Documents (see details in section 9.6);

iii) For the proposals submitted to FAPESP, the core of the proposal, submitted in English, shall contain:

1) Research Proposal form customized for this Call and Researcher’s Registration form. The SP proposer should use the application form customized for this Call as a cover sheet to submit the proposal to FAPESP. All documents required for the proposal, including the ones described in this Call, are listed in the last page of the Research Proposal form;

2) Summary of the PI and Co-PI’s CV (FAPESP’s instructions);

3) Research project (as specified in section 9.2);

4) Budget worksheets specifically designed for this Call conforming to FAPESP standards;

5) Team description (description worksheet BIOTA-Dimensions-NSF);

6) BIOTA Membership: The SP proposer must fulfill and sign the BIOTA´s Membership Form (“Formulário de Adesão”), agreeing to comply with the programs rules (

9.4 For NSF:

i) The proposal must be submitted as described in the Dimensions of Biodiversity solicitation (;

ii) The documents of SP collaborators (Application form, CV, budgetary sheets, letters etc) should be included in the US proposal as Supplementary Documents (see details in section 9.5).

9.5 For FAPESP and NSF:

As specified in this section, the following documents should be provided by the SP PI and his/her U.S. Collaborator, to both proposals (to FAPESP and NSF), as Supplementary Documentation.

Information of the U.S. portion of the proposal should be included as Supplementary Documents in the Sao Paulo proposal to FAPESP. Similarly, comparable information of SP portion of the proposal should be included as Supplementary Documents in the proposal submitted to NSF. That information should include the following, and only the following:

i) Proposal Application Forms:

i.1) A PDF version of the NSF cover page, completed and submitted to NSF by the US PI should be included as a Supplementary Document in the proposal submitted to FAPESP by the SP PI;

i.2) Similarly, a PDF version of the FAPESP Application Form, completed and submitted to FAPESP by the SP PI, should be included as a Supplementary Document in the proposal submitted to NSF;

ii) Senior Personnel Biographical Sketches:

ii.1) A PDF version of the U.S. Senior Personnel Biographical Sketches following the format required by NSF should be included as a Supplementary Document in the proposal submitted to FAPESP;

ii.2) Similarly, a PDF version of the SP Senior Personnel Biographical Sketches, following the format required by FAPESP, should be included as a supplementary document in the proposal submitted to NSF.

iii) Budget worksheets:

iii.1) A PDF version of the NSF budget worksheets containing the cost for U.S. components of the project should be included in the FAPESP proposal as a Supplementary Document;

iii.2) Similarly, a PDF version of the FAPESP budget worksheets containing the cost for SP components of the project should be provided as a Supplementary Document for the proposal submitted to NSF by the U.S. PI. Except for justification of the requested budget, this document SHOULD NOT include any additional project information. All such information should be included in the Project Description;

iv) Data Management Plan :

Each proposal must include, as a supplementary document, a data management section with the specific details of data standards, accessibility, electronic dissemination, and preservation. Of particular logistical importance (if applicable) are: plans for data collection and analysis; details of collaborative efforts; information about import, export and collecting permits; plans for the distribution and long term storage of voucher specimens; plans for digitization of all specimens following international standards such as Darwin Core; agreements with existing collections for archiving and maintaining voucher specimens and (shared with iDigBio) digitized images of those specimens; and information about access to resources that are not immediately under the investigator's control (e.g., museum collections, research sites, computing facilities). The data management plan must not exceed two pages. Proposals that do not comply with this requirement will be returned without review.

v) Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan : Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a supplementary document, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. The mentoring plan must not exceed one page. Only one Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan should be submitted for each project, even if it is a collaborative project. Proposals that do not comply with this requirement will be returned without review.

For SP PIs and Co-PIs, the proposal that requests funding to support doctoral, scientific initiation and technical training fellowships must include, as supplementary documents, a description of the mentoring activities for each application as specified in the rules for the Thematic project published at;

vi) Letters of Collaboration:

This section may include letters of collaboration from individuals or organizations that will play an integral role in the proposed project (e.g., individuals or organizations who will provide materials, data, or analytical capabilities). Letters of collaboration should focus solely on affirming that the individual or organization is willing to collaborate on the project as specified in the project description of the proposal. No additional text, especially elaboration of the nature of activities to be undertaken by the collaborator and endorsements of the potential value or significance of the project for the collaborator, may be included. The template that must be used for the preparation of letters of collaboration is provided below. Letters of collaboration should not be provided for any individual designated as a principal investigator or senior personnel, nor are letters of collaboration required for any organization that will be a subawardee in the proposal budget. Each letter of collaboration must be signed by the designated collaborator. Requests to collaborators for letters of collaboration should be made by the PI well in advance of the proposal submission deadline, because they must be included at the time of the proposal submission. Letters deviating from this template will not be accepted and may be grounds for returning the proposal without review.

Letters of collaboration from U.S. scientists are required . These letters must be restricted to a statement of intent to collaborate only. Additional information on the nature of the collaboration and the roles of the investigators should be included in the Project Description.

Similarly, letters of collaboration from Sao Paulo scientists must be included, as a supplementary document, in the proposal submitted to NSF by the U.S. PI.

Template to be used for letters of collaboration:

To: BIOTA/FAPESP-NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity Programs

From: ___________ (Printed name of the individual collaborator or name of the organization and name and position of the official submitting this memo)

By signing below (or transmitting electronically), I acknowledge that I am listed as a collaborator on this proposal, entitled "__ (proposal title) __," with _ (PI name) _ as the Principal Investigator. I agree to undertake the tasks assigned to me or my organization, as described in the project description of the proposal, and I commit to provide or make available the resources specified therein.

Signed: _______________________

Organization: ________________________________

Date: _________________________

vii) Institutional certification of the submission (endorsement):

For the proposal submitted to FAPESP, an institutional certification of the submission should be included as a Supplemental Document. This certification must be a signed letter from an authorized Sao Paulo state institutional representative, and should consist of the following text: "I confirm on behalf of [insert name of institution] that the US-Sao Paulo Collaborative proposal between [insert name of SP PI and institution] and [insert name of U.S. PI] is endorsed and has been submitted by [name of Research Office]."

Similarly, an institutional certification of the submission must be included as a Supplemental Document in the proposal submitted to NSF. This certification must be a signed letter from an authorized U.S. institutional representative, and should consist of the following text: "I confirm on behalf of [insert name of institution] that the US-Sao Paulo Collaborative proposal between [insert name of US PI and institution] and [insert name of Sao Paulo PI] is endorsed and has been submitted by [name of Research Office]."

viii) Suggested Reviewers:

Names and contact information for 4-8 individuals who have expertise appropriate to review the proposal should be provided as a single document in both proposals (SP and US). Names of people with whom the proposer have conflicts must not be included as suggested reviewers;

ix) Conflicts of Interest:

For the PI, all Co-PIs, and all Senior Personnel, including the US collaborators and SP collaborators, all persons or institutions with which there is a conflict of interest must be listed, using an alphabetized spreadsheet with the following column headers: full name (last name first), institutional affiliation, and type of conflict (e.g., advisor, advisee, co-author in last 48 months, collaborator, institutional). The names of people with the proposer do not have conflicts, must not be included as this may unnecessarily limit qualified reviewers. In addition, all sub-awardees who would receive funds through the Dimensions award should be listed. A single list containing the conflicts of interest should be prepared by the SP and US proposers, being included in both proposals (to FAPESP and to NSF).

10. Proposal Preparation and submission Instructions:

10.1. The proponents must submit their proposals before the closing date set in the item 6 of this Call. No proposal will be accepted after the closing date for submission, nor will any addendum or explanation be accepted, unless those explicitly and formally requested by FAPESP or the NSF.

10.2. The proposal submitted by the State of São Paulo PI to FAPESP (including the documents of his/her US collaborator) shall be sent to FAPESP in printed copy to the following address:

Rua Pio XI, 1500, Alto da Lapa, CEP 05468-901 – São Paulo/SP.

All proposals submitted to FAPESP should be clearly marked “BIOTA-FAPESP/DIMENSIONS-NSF” to distinguish them from other program submissions. Proposals submitted by any other means will not be accepted.

All the documents listed in the FAPESP Research Proposal Form are required as components of the proposal, being essential for the merits analysis by NSF and FAPESP. It is recommended that, before submission, the SP PI verify if all documents are included in the proposal. Proposals with any missing document will be returned to the PI without review.

10.3. U.S. proposals should be submitted via FastLane (

10.4. Compliance with these requirements is critical in determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure in submitting all these information may delay processing.

11. Proposal Processing, Review Information Criteria and procedures:

The US-São Paulo Collaborative Research Projects will be reviewed by NSF in accordance with NSF policies and procedures as described below. Proposals will be shared with FAPESP during the review process. NSF will solicit suggestions for appropriate external reviewers from FAPESP, but will independently manage the review of proposals in accordance with its policies and procedures. Reviews willbe shared with FAPESP, but reviewer names will be redacted.

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the Dimensions of Biodiversity NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal.

11.1. NSF Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgments.

i) What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?

How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

ii) What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g. gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF website at:

Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project, as described in a one-page supplementary document, will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion.

iii) Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria:

For research proposals, reviewers will also be asked to evaluate whether the proposal defines a bold agenda that will use innovative approaches to integrate examination of the three dimensions of biodiversity as defined in this document. Strong plans for integration of the information and results from the project with other global data should be clearly detailed in the proposal.

São Paulo-US Collaborative Research Projects will also be reviewed with respect to the extent to which they demonstrate substantial collaboration between São Paulo and US or and enhance research on the dimensions of biodiversity. The most competitive projects will be those in which the international collaboration brings substantial additional value to the project.

The reviewers will consider: mutual benefits, true intellectual collaboration with the foreign partner(s), benefits to be realized from the expertise and specialized skills, facilities, sites and/or resources of the international counterpart, and active research engagement of U.S. and SP students and early-career researchers, where such individuals are engaged in the research activities.

NSF staff also will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

i) Integration of Research and Education

One of the principal strategies in support of BIOTA´s and Dimension´s goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and the activities they support at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researcher, educator, and/or student and where all can engage in joint efforts that blend education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.

ii) Integrating Biodiversity into FAPESP and NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities:

Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

12. Review and Selection Process:

The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents.

13. Result of the analysis: Notification of the Award:

Final results will be announced on FAPESP and NSF web portals and by means of communication to the proposers by both agencies. Copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, will be sent to the Principal Investigator. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

Notification of the U.S. award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the NSF Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program.

14. Grant cancellation:

FAPESP or NSF may cancel funding if, during grant implementation, a fact is established of sufficient gravity to justify cancellation, at the Scientific Board of Directors’ discretion, without prejudice of any other appropriate actions.

15. Reporting Requirements:

For US-São Paulo Collaborative Research projects, FAPESP awardees are subject to FAPESP and NSF reporting and administration requirements as appropriate and outlined in and the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at Annual and final reports of these projects should describe activities of the entire collaborative effort being submitted to FAPESP and NSF.

For FAPESP, together with the report above mentioned, the PIs must also fulfill and submit the BIOTA’s Project Progress Form (

For NSF, the U.S. Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. Within 90 days after expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

All projects must ensure that data and biological materials are collected, archived, digitized, and made available using methods that allow current and future investigators to address new questions as they arise. Funded projects must disseminate project data broadly, using widely accepted electronic data standards. Rapid online access to data via existing resources (e.g. Genbank, Dryad, iDigBio, MorphBank, TREEBASE) is strongly encouraged. All PIs will be expected to adhere to appropriate standards where they exist (e.g., for taxonomic, geospatial, ecological, gene and genome sequence data). Community coordinated development of a cyber infrastructure will enable efficient and effective access to shared, cross-disciplinary data, tools, and services.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports or the project outcomes report will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

U.S. PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on activities and findings, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and contributions.

16. Agency contacts:

All questions related to this Call for Research Proposals must be directed to:


Dr. Regina Costa de Oliveira, FAPESP Biological and Agronomical Sciences Area Director. E-mail address:  


Simon Malcomber, BIO/DEB, telephone: (703) 292-8227, email:

George W Gilchrist, BIO/DEB, telephone: (703) 292-7138, email:

Matt Kane, BIO/DEB, telephone: (703) 292-7186, email:

Samuel M. Scheiner, NSF BIO/DEB, telephone: (703) 292-7175, email:

Anne M Maglia, BIO/DBI, telephone: (703) 292-7380, email:

Michael P. Lesser, GEO/OCE, telephone: (703) 292-8143,email:

Scott Heckthorn, telephone: (703) 292-8420, email:

Leslie Rissler, BIO/DEB, telephone: (703) 292-7836, email: