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The National Science Foundation
Directorate for Biological Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the United States Government. The agency’s vision is to enable the nation’s future through discovery, learning and innovation in science, engineering, mathematics and technology. It seeks to realize this vision through investment in people, ideas, and tools as articulated in NSF’s Strategic Plan (available for download at NSF makes awards that total more than $5 billion annually with most support provided to researchers and educators who have submitted proposals that undergo merit evaluation based on peer review.

The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) is one of seven NSF directorates and is organized into five divisions -- Biological Infrastructure; Environmental Biology; Emerging Frontiers; Integrative Biology and Neuroscience; Molecular and Cellular Biosciences -- and the Plant Genome Research Program. The Directorate employs approximately 124 employees and administers a budget of approximately $497 million for the five divisions and $89 million for the Plant Genome Research Program. The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) supports varied activities that provide the infrastructure for contemporary research in biology. DBI is organized in two clusters -- research resources supports a range of activities including multi-user instrumentation, development of instruments with new capabilities, upgrades to biological field stations and marine laboratories, living stock collections, biological databases, and research collections; human resources centers on training scientists for the future, broadening participation and fostering integration of research and education through such activities as IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training), postdoctoral fellowships, RET (Research Training for Teachers), and REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates). The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) supports fundamental research on populations, species, communities, and ecosystems. DEB is organized in four clusters -- ecosystem science which supports investigations of whole-system ecological processes and relationships in ecosystems across a diversity of spatial and temporal scales; ecological biology which supports studies of community ecology and population interactions that reveal causal mechanisms and patterns for a wide range of habitats and taxa; population and evolutionary processes which supports studies of population properties that lead to variation within and among populations; and systematic biology and biodiversity inventories which supports the general science of systematics, including the inventory of global species diversity and studies of predictive classification systems that reflect the history of life. Emerging Frontiers is a virtual division that supports multidisciplinary research opportunities and networking activities that arise from advances in disciplinary research, and includes such activities as FIBR (Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research), RCN (Research Coordination Networks), BE (Biocomplexity in the environment) and NSE (Nanoscale Science and Engineering). The Division of Integrative Biology and Neuroscience (IBN) is organized in three clusters -- developmental mechanisms, neuroscience, and physiology and ethology -- and supports research and related activities for the study of how complex organisms -- plants, animals, microbes -- work, with an emphasis on an integrative understanding of organisms as fundamental units of biological organization. The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) is organized in three clusters -- biomoleuclar systems, cellular systems, and genes and genome systems -- and supports research that contributes to a fundamental understanding of life processes at the molecular, sub-cellular, and cellular levels. Proposals involving microbial biology, plant biology, and theoretical and computational aspects of molecular and cellular studies are particularly encouraged. The Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) is part of a national plant genome research initiative established by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The long-term goal of this program is to understand the structure, organization and function of plant genomes important to agriculture, the environment, energy and health.

The Assistant Director for Biological Sciences provides leadership and direction to National Science Foundation programs which support research and education in all fields of the biological sciences. The incumbent is responsible for planning and implementing programs, priorities, and policy within the framework of statutory and National Science Board authority. He or she must have outstanding leadership abilities; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the opportunities and challenges facing the biological sciences in research and education; and a commitment to the goals and strategies of the National Science Foundation.

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