The Research Office hosted presentations and workshops on April 13, 2011, for faculty and staff to learn about the National Science Foundation.  NSF representatives shared information that is specific about NSF, yet much of it is applicable in seeking sponsorship from other organizations.

Edited recordings of much of the event are available at


Mark Leid, Associate Dean for Scholarship of  OSU’s College of Pharmacy, said, “The event was really helpful, especially in learning how to tailor grants for NSF –  which is very different than what I usually do for NIH. I learned that the ‘broader impact’ piece for NSF is on equal footing with the science.  I realized we have to learn more about broader impact, and we need to gather the information about how much of that we already do.  The Directorate session I went to was lead by someone who is temporarily an NSF Program Officer, but primarily a university professor himself, so his perspective was helpful. ”

Some other take-home messages heard by OSU attendees are summarized below:

  • NSF returns many proposals unread  – because of avoidable errors
    When developing a proposal, read and heed the instructions for submission

    • This year’s instructions may be new – don’t go by old information
    • Carefully follow those instructions
  • “The best way to learn to write proposals for NSF is to review proposals for NSF”
    Consider becoming a reviewer. NSF needs thousands of them each year.
  • Consider reviews as mentoring  –   Persistence is important
    Only 15%   of proposals to NSF are accepted their first time.
    Many more are successful
    upon resubmission – after the first review, and the suggestions are heeded.
  • Think big
    In its merit review process, NSF values “creativity, originality, and transformative potential”  –  projects that change the fundamental way we think.
  • Think broader impact.
    One of NSF’s two merit review criteria: ” What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?”
    Proposals must address this separately  within the Project Summary and Project Description.
    [Note: one OSU resource about opportunities broader impact is available from Pre-College Programs [download pdf]– an upcoming entry in this Blog will address this issue more fully]


from OSU ( numbers of participants by College or other)

BUS 2     CAS 28      COS 35     COAS 7     COF 16     COE 18     CLA 14     PHARM 3     CoED 4     HHS 7
Centers 7    Library/IS 2     Admin 15

from Other Institutions

UO 8     PSU 11     WOU 6     OIT 5     EOU 1     OUS 1
Willamette 4   Lewis & Clark 3   U Portland 1   Linfield 2
Princeton 1     NCSU 1     UNev-Reno 1     USDA – ARS 1

Live streaming was accessed remotely by 53 computers, and several people submitted questions via the on-line chat.

Access to Information and Resources

Edited recordings of some of the sessions are available at

The Research Office continues to be a resource for assistance and consultation on proposal development and submission.

Thanks to Media Services for audio and visual support, and to Donna Williams of CH2MHill Alumni Center for event coordination



The Research Office and its various units continue to be a resource for assistance and consultation on proposal development and submission [link to RO website]

about the event would help spread the word. If Rick, Rich, and Pat would each please give me a brief impression –

What are 2 – 4 of the most important take-home messages for OSU faculty that you got from this day?

Mine might be (not worded well – just drafted here)

· Read the instructions for submission – this  year’s, not old ones

o Then Follow those instructions – many proposals are returned unread because of what the NSF director calls “stupid” mistakes

· Consider becoming a reviewer. “the best way to learn to write proposals for NSF is to review proposals for NSF”

· Consider reviews as mentoring – only 15%   of proposals are accepted their first time – %0% when re-submitted after review suggestions – persistence is important

· In their merit review process, NSF is valuing “creativity, originality, and transformative potential”  –  projects that change the fundamental way we think

I will include a link to the recordings of the sessions on the blog.

I’ve asked the recorders for data on how many people live-streamed, and where they were from

If any photos were taken at yesterday’s sessions, I would appreciate them to possibly add to blog

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2 thoughts on “NSF at OSU

  1. Thanks for hosting this workshop and providing the video recordings. I thought it was worthwhile to get more information about NSF structure and review of proposals, and also meet NSF personnel face to face.

    I hope there are more educational opportunities on campus in regard to potential funding sources, partnerships, and grant-writing.

    Also great that the Research Office now has a blog!

  2. I’m glad that you found value in the NSF visit and appreciate your feedback on it. There will definitely be future workshops, presentations, and other ways to keep the OSU community up-to-speed on the wide range of opportunities and processes related to research. Today’s Willamette Angel Conference, as a matter of fact, is one example of relevant activity sponsored by the Research Office.
    Thanks again for joining the conversation.

    – Rick Spinrad, VP for Research

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