Biological Sciences (BIO)
The mission of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) is to enable discoveries for understanding life. BIO-supported research advances the frontiers of biological knowledge, increases our understanding of complex systems, and provides a theoretical basis for original research in many other scientific disciplines.
Areas of Support (also see interactive org chart)
The Directorate for Biological Sciences supports research to advance understanding of the principles and mechanisms governing life. Research studies extend across systems that encompass biological molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems up to and including the global biosphere. Comprehensive concepts that bridge and unify the diverse areas of biology include complexity, robustness, communication, resilience, adaptability and cooperation. Achieving a coherent understanding of the complex biological web of interactions that is life is a major challenge of the future. This challenge will require that knowledge about the structure and dynamics of individual biological units, networks, sub-systems and systems be compiled and connected from the molecular to the global level and across scales of time and space. Integral to all activities across the directorate is a commitment to integrate research and education, broaden participation, and promote international partnerships.
NSF/BIO plays a major role in support of research resources for the biological sciences including living stock centers, systematics collections, biological field stations, computerized databases including sequence databases for plants and microorganisms. NSF/BIO is also the nation's principal supporter of fundamental academic research on plant biology, environmental biology and biodiversity.
The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) supports varied activities that provide the infrastructure for contemporary research in biology. These broadly include instrumentation-related activities, research resources, and training opportunities.
The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) supports fundamental research on the origins, functions, relationships, interactions, and evolutionary history of populations, species, communities, and ecosystems.
The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) supports research aimed at an integrative understanding of organisms as units of biological organization, with particular emphasis on systems-level approaches to the study of their development, function, behavior, and evolution.
The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) supports research and related activities that contribute to a fundamental understanding of living systems at the molecular, subcellular, and cellular levels.
The Emerging Frontiers (EF) Division supports innovative interdisciplinary activities that expand the frontiers of biological research. EF invests in novel research development and review mechanisms such as "Ideas Labs" that build bridges and promote synthesis across disciplines, and enable development of new conceptual frameworks. By encouraging synergy across disciplines, EF provides mechanisms by which new initiatives will be fostered and subsequently integrated into BIO's core activities.
BIO also supports the Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP), which is part of the National Plant Genome Initiative established by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The long-term goal of the PGR Program is to understand the structure, organization and function of plant genomes important to agriculture, the environment, energy, and health. NEON is a continental-scale program of experimental and observational research that will focus on the major environmental challenges that face our nation.
Coordinated support for research and education in the biological sciences is provided in a number of specifically designed programs for that purpose including: the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) for the early development of academic faculty as both educators and researchers; research participation grants for undergraduates (REU sites and supplements); the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Program (IGERT); postdoctoral research fellowships; and doctoral dissertation improvement grants (in selected areas). The Biology Directorate is committed to broadening participation in biology by historically underrepresented minorities through programs such as Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.
The Assistant Director for Biological Sciences is John C. Wingfield. See http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/mmg_disp.cfm?med_id=57250&from=es for additional information and photo.
John Wingfield shares his goals for BIO in an online conversation.
Organization chart effective October 2012