The essential roles that microbes play in deep-sea ecosystems are at risk from the potential environmental impacts of mining, a new paper (C-DEBI Contribution 481, Orcutt et al.) in Limnology and Oceanography reports. The study reviews what is known about microbes in these environments and assesses how mining could impact their important environmental roles.
Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Predicting Phenotype is one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas and is focused on predicting the set of observable characteristics (phenotype) from the genetic makeup of the individual and the nature of its environment. The development of new research tools has revolutionized our ability to manipulate and investigate the genome and to measure multiple aspects of biological, physical, and social environments. The opportunity now is to assimilate this new information into causal, mechanistic, and/or predictive relationships among the genomic and epigenetic makeup, the environmental experience, and the phenotypic characteristics of biological systems. These relationships are the basis for the Rules of Life – the theoretical constructs that explain and predict the characteristics of living systems, from molecular and sub-cellular components, to cells, whole organisms, communities and biomes. Successful projects of the URoL:Epigenetics Program are expected to use complementary, interdisciplinary approaches to investigate how epigenetic phenomena lead to emergent properties that explain the fundamental behavior of living systems. Full proposal deadline: February 6, 2020.
The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. Strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged. NRT especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society. Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects. Full Proposal Deadline Date: February 6, 2020; February 6, Annually Thereafter.
Authors: T.C. Onstott, B.L. Ehlmann, H. Sapers, M. Coleman, M. Ivarsson, J.J. Marlow, A. Neubeck, P. Niles
Abstract: Here we review published studies on the abundance and diversity of terrestrial rock-hosted life, the environments it inhabits, the evolution of its metabolisms, and its fossil biomarkers to provide guidance in the search for life on Mars. Key findings are (1) much terrestrial deep subsurface metabolic activity relies on abiotic energy-yielding fluxes and in situ abiotic and biotic recycling of metabolic waste products rather than on buried organic products of photosynthesis; (2) subsurface microbial cell concentrations are highest at interfaces with pronounced chemical redox gradients or permeability variations and do not correlate with bulk host rock organic carbon; (3) metabolic pathways for chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms evolved earlier in Earth’s history than those of surface-dwelling phototrophic microorganisms; (4) the emergence of the former occurred at a time when Mars was habitable, whereas the emergence of the latter occurred at a time when the martian surface was not continually habitable; (5) the terrestrial rock record has biomarkers of subsurface life at least back hundreds of millions of years and likely to 3.45 Ga with several examples of excellent preservation in rock types that are quite different from those preserving the photosphere-supported biosphere. These findings suggest that rock-hosted life would have been more likely to emerge and be preserved in a martian context. Consequently, we outline a Mars exploration strategy that targets subsurface life and scales spatially, focusing initially on identifying rocks with evidence for groundwater flow and low-temperature mineralization, then identifying redox and permeability interfaces preserved within rock outcrops, and finally focusing on finding minerals associated with redox reactions and associated traces of carbon and diagnostic chemical and isotopic biosignatures. Using this strategy on Earth yields ancient rock-hosted life, preserved in the fossil record and confirmable via a suite of morphologic, organic, mineralogical, and isotopic fingerprints at micrometer scale. We expect an emphasis on rock-hosted life and this scale-dependent strategy to be crucial in the search for life on Mars.
The USSSP Onboard Outreach Program gives formal and informal educators, artists, writers, videographers and other participants the opportunity to spend an entire expedition with an IODP shipboard party and translate their experiences for students and the general public via blogs, videos, social networking sites, live ship-to-shore video events and development of educational resources. Onboard Outreach Program participants are selected through a competitive application and interview process. All expenses for Onboard Outreach Program participants, such as travel to and from the ports of call, and a $10,000 stipend, are paid by USSSP. The selected individual(s) will also be flown to a three-day training session prior to their expedition. Non-US applicants will be directed to their country’s IODP Program Member Office but are still encouraged to apply. Deadline: February 10, 2020.
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Data Manager (DM) is a technical leader with a high degree of knowledge in geo-sciences and recognized expert in scientific ocean drilling. The incumbent will apply extensive knowledge as a research professional with an in-depth understanding of scientific data, statistics and analysis of on site data recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks and will monitor sub-seafloor environments. As needed, act as a team lead in scientific ocean drilling and multidisciplinary research collaboration of broad scope and complexity. In addition, the position will support on-going efforts to improve data management procedures and the development of decision support tools. The position will contribute and lead scientific journal publications. In collaboration with the Executive Director/Principal Investigator of the Science Support Office, the DM serves a critical and visible role in the IODP management structure. Provide consultation, direction, and advice to research teams and proposal authors, who comprise over one thousand researchers affiliated with about 200 institutions worldwide, in developing and evaluating scientific data sets that support IODP drilling proposals. Formulate strategies to ensure the quality and timely review of site characterization data submitted to the IODP Site Survey Data Bank (SSDB) and serve as the primary Subject Matter Expert (SME) on data in meetings of the IODP Facility Boards and their subsidiaries. Formulate and administer policies and processes in the main Task Areas of the IODP Science Support Office and independently interact with the eight international IODP Program Member Offices to manage their participation in the IODP advisory structure. Filing Deadline: January 27, 2020.
The UNOLS Council has the standing goal of improving the quality and capability of existing ocean science facilities and the quality, reliability and safety of their operation. Many improvements have been made over the past decade, including the addition of new research vessels. UNOLS Council would also now like to turn attention to improving the quality of life and morale while working at sea, for both the permanent crew and itinerant scientists. For example, technological improvements in satellite internet connections have changed and enhanced life at sea, enabling those onboard to attend to personal business and maintain family connections, but these technological improvements often come with high financial costs. Simpler, less expensive efforts can also improve morale and quality of life at sea, such as cook outs on the deck or swim calls (long ago …). Please help us improve the quality of life at sea by filling out this brief three question survey. Please complete the survey by February 28, 2020.
Growing Convergence Research (GCR)at the National Science Foundation was identified as one of 10 Big Ideas. Convergence research is a means for solving vexing research problems, in particular, complex problems focusing on societal needs. It entails integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. GCR identifies Convergence Research as having two primary characteristics: 1) Research driven by a specific and compelling problem. Convergence Research is generally inspired by the need to address a specific challenge or opportunity, whether it arises from deep scientific questions or pressing societal needs. 2) Deep integration across disciplines. As experts from different disciplines pursue common research challenges, their knowledge, theories, methods, data, research communities and languages become increasingly intermingled or integrated. New frameworks, paradigms or even disciplines can form sustained interactions across multiple communities. A distinct characteristic of convergence research, in contrast to other forms of multidisciplinary research, is that from the inception, the convergence paradigm intentionally brings together intellectually diverse researchers and stakeholders to frame the research questions, develop effective ways of communicating across disciplines and sectors, adopt common frameworks for their solution, and, when appropriate, develop a new scientific vocabulary. Research teams practicing convergence aim at developing sustainable relationships that may not only create solutions to the problem that engendered the collaboration, but also develop novel ways of framing related research questions and open new research vistas. Full proposal deadline: February 3, 2020.
The goals of the Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations (AccelNet) program are to accelerate the process of scientific discovery and prepare the next generation of U.S. researchers for multiteam international collaborations. The AccelNet program supports strategic linkages among U.S. research networks and complementary networks abroad that will leverage research and educational resources to tackle grand scientific challenges that require significant coordinated international efforts. The program seeks to foster high-impact science and engineering by providing opportunities to create new collaborations and new combinations of resources and ideas among linked global networks. This solicitation invites proposals for the creation of international networks of networks in research areas aligned either with one of the NSF Big Ideas or a community-identified scientific challenge with international dimensions. AccelNet awards are meant to support the connections among research networks, rather than supporting fundamental research as the primary activity. Each network of networks is expected to engage in innovative collaborative activities that promote synergy of efforts across the networks and provide professional development for students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career researchers. There are two proposal categories covered by this solicitation: Catalytic and Full-Scale Implementation. Full proposal deadline date: January 31, 2020.
The Enabling Discovery through GEnomic Tools (EDGE) program supports genomic research that addresses the mechanistic basis of complex traits in diverse organisms within the context (environmental, developmental, social, and/or genomic) in which they function. The EDGE program also continues to support the development of innovative tools, technologies, resources, and infrastructure that advance biological research focused on the identification of the causal mechanisms connecting genes and phenotypes. EDGE is designed to provide support for (1) the development of tools, approaches, and infrastructure aimed at testing cause and effect hypotheses between gene function and phenotypes in diverse plants, animals, microbes, viruses, or fungi for which these methods are presently unavailable, and (2) hypothesis-driven research that tests cause and effect relations between genotype(s) and phenotypes in non-model plants, animals, microbes, viruses, or fungi. Proposals accepted anytime.
The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries. The RCN-UBE program originated as a unique RCN track to “catalyze positive changes in biology undergraduate education” (NSF 08-035) and is now supported by the collaborative efforts of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). It has been responsive to the national movement to revolutionize undergraduate learning and teaching in the biological sciences as described in the “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” report. The RCN-UBE program seeks to improve undergraduate biology in different areas by leveraging the power of a collaborative network. The theme or focus of an RCN-UBE proposal can be on any topic likely to advance the goal of enhancing undergraduate biology education. Collectively, the program has contributed to developing and disseminating educational research resources and modules, to forging of new collaborations, and to sharing of best practices and ideas for scalability and sustainability of activities. These efforts have involved a large cadre of faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Proposed networking activities directed to the RCN-UBE program should focus on a theme to give coherence to the collaboration. Full proposal deadline: January 21, 2020.
The University of Southern California (USC) is excited to host the 17th annual Southern California Geobiology Symposium. The symposium will be held on April 4th, 2020. Information about registration/abstract submissions, program details, and specific location will be available in January 2020. The SoCal Geobiology Symposium is an annual student-organized symposium for scientists interested in astrobiology, climate science, ecology, geochemistry, geology, microbiology, oceanography, and paleobiology. We welcome scientists from all levels of academia and both those living in Southern California and from around the world. Undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs are encouraged to submit abstracts for posters or talks to share their research.
The Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is seeking graduate student applications. We have a rich geology, environmental science, and astrobiology program, as well as data science/ geoinformatics. Applications are welcome at any time.
A hearty congratulations to C-DEBI Senior Scientist Steve Finkel on his election to President of the American Society for Microbiology!
Despite centuries of discovery, most of our planet’s biodiversity remains unknown. The scale of Earth’s unknown diversity is especially troubling given the rapid and permanent loss of biodiversity across the globe. The goal of the Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign is to transform how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. This campaign promotes novel integrative 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 focuses on the intersection of genetic, phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity. Successful proposals must integrate these three dimensions to understand interactions among them. The 2020 Dimensions of Biodiversity program is restricted to projects supported by international partnerships with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) of Brazil, and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa. Full Proposal Deadline: March 27, 2020.
Join us for a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored workshop focused on the integration of Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) data into undergraduate teaching of oceanography themes and concepts. Participants will explore a collection of Data Labs created by oceanography professors who attended the 2019 OOI Data Lab summer workshops. Learn from your peers lessons learned on how to effectively teach with data. Participants will share new teaching resources and brainstorm new ideas for how to integrate OOI data into introductory oceanography and Earth and environmental science courses. Professors who teach introductory (100 and 200 level) oceanography courses are encouraged to attend. Participants will receive a $300 stipend (issued post-workshop) along with complimentary light breakfast and lunch. Attendance is limited to 35 people. We will accept online submissions until January 15, 2020 or capacity is reached, whichever is sooner.
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply. Full proposal deadline: July 27, 2020.
Stories from the Cores is a series of video games