The Problems:At the Animal Behavior Society Summit 2000, there was concern among participants that the study of animal behavior is viewed by researchers and the public alike, as a discipline far from cutting edge of science. The reason for this perception seems to be that investigators in animal behavior work on diverse animal systems and tend to conduct their investigations on small budgets. That is, animal behavior is not viewed as big science.
There was concern too that there are few opportunities for researchers in animal behavior to gain training in new molecular, genetic, developmental or neurobiological techniques, or to present their work at meetings primarily attended by scientists with these emphases. There was further concern that funding opportunities available to researchers in these fields were not usually available to animal behaviorists.
Lastly, there was concern that researchers in well-funded model systems often conduct their research without a detailed understanding of the behavioral repertoires of their model species. Individuals trained in animal behavior could make significant contributions to these large-scale research projects if they knew where to send proposals for behavioral investigations.
Steps Toward a Solution: At the request of ABS Secretary Steve Shuster, Fred Stollnitz and Gene Bruce of NSF provided the following suggestions to address these issues. Each section below briefly summarizes these individuals' view of how researchers with behavioral interests can seek funding in these areas. When they are available, URLs are listed to assist researchers in finding more information. This page will be updated regularly to provide researchers with information on additional funding sources as they become available. ABS members who independently identify funding sources not listed here are encouraged to contact the ABS Webmaster (Shan Duncan) to add these sources to this site. Interested individuals should check the NSF web pages regularly to see if new initiatives in addition to those listed below are forthcoming.
Biocomplexity and the Environment:
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry:The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Early Career Award, sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC); formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association, provides up to $100,000 to encourage persons beginning their professional careers to conduct research on topics related to ecosystem dynamics, environmental exposure, and ecological risk assessment and management. The program is sponsored by ACC's Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI), and is intended to enhance career development for investigators early in their careers at 4-year academic institutions in North America, encourage innovative research, and strengthen the dialogue between the ACC and the research community. The funds may be used to defray a variety of costs associated with research investigations. For example, funds can be used to pay salaries of investigators, students, and technicians, as well as support for sample analyses, travel, equipment, supplies, and costs associated with publishing. Project duration is not limited; multi-year projects are encouraged. Background information regarding the prioritized environmental topics of current interest as part of the ACC LRI program are posted on the ACC web site (currently, www.americanchemistry.com)
Genomics: There is a very large step from the gene to behavior and it will be difficult to bridge this gap, although ultimately, this bridge is needed. One place to begin such studies is from the application of predictive methologies such as mathematical modeling and population genetic approaches. There is a growing interest in the Biology Directorate in applying mathematical techniques to some fields that have not utilized those approaches.
Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology (IRCEB): Another special competition with a similar focus on behaviors at multiple scales is Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology (IRCEB). For this competition the focus is explicitly on environmental biology and the impact of animal behavior on the environment is an appropriate topic Studies investigating the impact of the environment on animal behavior areb also appropriate for this competition. Again, this competition is for teams of investigators addressing broad environmental problems.
LTER/NEON: Although there are not specific provisions for animal behavior research in long-term ecological research projects, collaborative research with individuals working on such projects is likely to be a productive approach. Examples of coastal LTER research can be found at this site:
NSF plans for NEON research are summarized at:
NSF Cross-Directorate Activities: Another set of opportunities can be found
in NSF's cross-directorate activities, many of which support career development
in one form or another (http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/publicat/nsf97150/cross.htm).
Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB): Related to REU is an activity of the Biological Sciences Directorate called Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB). A different sort of opportunity that may be of interest to some is grants for Small Business Innovation Research.
Women in Science and Engineering: a new program to facilitate advancement of women scientists and engineers in academia is being planned for the next fiscal year. Many of the programs I've listed, as well as the core programs in Animal Behavior, Behavioral Neuroscience, Sensory Systems, etc., can provide support for the kinds of training mentioned above.
URLs for Program Announcements: Program announcements for all of these are available on the NSF Web site (www.nsf.gov). ROA is included in the program announcement for Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI). The RUI announcement (NSF 94-79), MRPG/MCAA announcement (NSF 94-147), and CAREER guidelines (NSF 00-89) are under Crosscutting Programs, as is the SBIR solicitation (NSF 00-48); postdoctoral fellowships and UMEB (NSF 00-8) are described on the Biological Sciences pages. Program announcements for REU, RUI, and UMEB are being revised; the new versions should be on the Web this month or next.