National Science Foundation
The NSF Graduate Research
Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Basic Information and Tips for Those Interested in Applying
Ryan Makinson: [email protected]
Graduate Research Fellowship Program Operations Center
Presenter Background
2011 B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from
Emory University
Current Grad Work: Studying the effects of chronic
stress on gene expression in the brain
Undergrad Research Experience:
Center of Disease Control (CDC)
IRES Fellow with the Liver Immunology Group, University of
Sydney Australia
SIRE Fellow with Dr. Charles Nemeroff at Emory U.
Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Research supported by
the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Initiative Scholar Fellowship
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Research Assistant
Presenter Background
Volunteer/Leadership Experience
Resident Advisor at Emory
Undergraduate Biology Teaching Assistant
Assistant Scout Master with Boy Scouts of America
Health Sciences Graduate Student Association (HSGA)
Community Service and Outreach Chair
University of Cincinnati Program in Neuroscience Student
Other outreach organizations
One first author research publication plus many
poster presentations and colloquiums
Questions We Had
• What is the NSF?
Government agency which focuses on improvement of
American science & engineering interest and strength
• What is the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program?
Prestigious fellowship for American citizens with great benefits.
• Why should I apply?
Why not? Paid Schooling, Networking, Not Restricted to
Particular Research Area
• How is this fellowship different than others?
Extremely flexible, Research Freedom, Financial Stability
Quick GRFP statistics
• $32,000 stipend with $12,000 tuition for 3 years of
• 2700 new awards annually
• 2 current fellows at UC
• 14 fellows at UC since 1990
• Top universities in U.S. clean up, e.g. Stanford University
had 70 winners in 2012
Presentation Outline
Intro Materials
NSF GRFP Information
• Goals, History, and Successes of the Program
• Financial Support and Other Resources
• Eligibility
• Award/Program Cycle & Statistics
• Application
• Review Criteria
• General
• Tips
NSF Resources
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Program Goals
• To increase the Nation’s human capacity
in science and engineering by providing
fellowships for early-career graduate
students who pursue research-based
master’s and doctoral degrees in NSFsupported disciplines
• To support the development of a
diverse and globally engaged US science
and engineering workforce
GRFP History & Successes
• 48,500 Fellowships awarded since 1952
• 30 Nobel Laureates
• 440 members of the National Academy of
• Founders of corporations to authors of books
• Higher Ph.D. completion rates
• Enhanced diversity
Financial Support and Other
• Five Year Award – $126,000
• Three years of support
• $32,000 Stipend per year
• $12,000 Educational allowance to
• International research opportunities
• Access to XSEDE
cyberinfrastructure resources
GRFP General Eligibility
• U.S. citizens, nationals, and
permanent residents
• Early-career students
• Pursuing research-based
MS or PhD in NSF fields
• Enrolled in accredited U.S.
institution by Fall 2013
• Applicants must self-certify in
the application that they meet
the GRFP Eligibility criteria
GRFP Supported Disciplines
Computer and Information Science
and Engineering
Life Sciences
Materials Research
Mathematical Sciences
Physics and Astronomy
Social Sciences
Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics Education (researchfocused)
Not Supported by NSF GRFP
• Business administration or
• Social work/Counseling
• Medical, dental, law, or public health
• Joint science-professional degree
programs, e.g., MD/PhD, JD/PhD, etc.
• Education (except research-focused
STEM Education programs)
• See Solicitation (
Award/Program Cycle & Statistics
• Application: Available online late August
• Deadlines: Mid-November (varies by field)
• Awards: Announced late March to early April
• Best Time to Start Preparing: Now
2,000 Awards
12,064 Applications
~ 17% Success
Complete Application
NSF FastLane
• Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals
Statement (3 pages)
• Graduate Research Statement (2 pages)
• Transcripts, uploaded into FastLane
• Three letters of reference required
• Additional information required for some candidates
See Solicitation for eligibility requirements (available
Review Criteria
Two National Science Board-approved Review
• Intellectual Merit
• Broader Impacts
Intellectual Merit
•How important is proposed activity to advancing
knowledge and understanding within its own field or
across different fields?
•How well qualified is the proposer to conduct the
•To what extent does the proposed activity suggest
and explore creative, original, or potentially
transformative concepts?
•How well conceived and organized are proposed
•Is there sufficient access to resources?
•If international activities are proposed, are they
relevant and do they benefit applicant?
Intellectual Merit Assessment
• Academic performance
• Research plan
• Appropriate choice of
• References
• Research experience
Broader Impacts
•How well does the activity advance discovery and
understanding while promoting teaching, training
and learning?
•How well does the proposed activity broaden
participation of underrepresented groups?
•To what extent will it enhance infrastructure for
research and education?
•Will results be disseminated broadly?
•What may be the benefits of proposed activity to
Broader Impacts Assessment
• Prior accomplishments
• Future plans
• Individual experiences
• Potential to reach diverse
• Potential benefit to society
Read This:
Preparing a competitive application
Proposed Research Plan (Limit: 2 Pages)
• Present a complete plan for a research project that
you plan to pursue, demonstrating your understanding
of research design and methodology
• Explain the relationship to your previous research, if
• Address the Intellectual Merit and Broader
Impacts of your proposed plan (close to 50/50)
• Research topics in your proposed plan must be in
fields within NSF’s mission (
Personal, Relevant Background and
Future Goals Statement (3 pages)
• How do you envision graduate school preparing you for a
career that allows you to contribute to expanding scientific
understanding as well as broadly benefit society? Describe
your personal, educational and/or professional experiences that
motivate your decision to pursue advanced study in science,
technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Include specific
examples of any research and/or professional activities in which you
have participated. Present a concise description of the activities,
highlight the results and discuss how these activities have prepared
you to seek a graduate degree. Specify your role in the activity
including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as
part of a team. Describe the contributions of your activity to
advancing knowledge in STEM fields as well as the potential for
broader societal impacts (See Solicitation, Section VI, for more
information about Broader Impacts)
Preparing a competitive application
Reference Letters
• Choose at least three reference writers
• Give them ample time to prepare their letters
• They should know you as a scientist and personally
• Share your application materials and the merit review
criteria (good letters BOTH judging criteria)
• Track letter submission using FastLane; you must have 3
letters for a complete application
Preparing a competitive application
1. Read the Solicitation carefully
2. Address the two NSF Merit Review Criteria (Intellectual Merit and
Broader Impacts)
3. Check for spelling and grammatical errors
4. Verify essays and transcripts uploads
5. You must certify that this is your own original work
6. You must self-certify your eligibility according to the criteria in the
7. Make sure you Press “Submit” button
8. Regularly check application status for # of reference letters
9. Make sure you are enrolled in graduate school by Fall 2014
Panelists & Evaluation of Apps.
• Panelists are academic and research experts in general
discipline, not necessarily in your research topic
• Panelists rate your application using the two Merit Review
Criteria, Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts
• NSF requests panelists to provide constructive comments
(applicants may view)
• Panels make recommendations to NSF
• NSF awards fellowships and honorable mentions
Key Essentials For Applicants
• Strong grades (nothing less than 3.5)
• Research experience (could depend on
• Papers & Patents
• Passion for making a difference
• Talent in the area of research
• Supportive Environment
• Passionate about outreach activities
• Demonstration of successful leadership
If you want to give it a shot…
• Figure out what you want to research
and who you want to do it for/with
• Do some independent homework
– Gamble Paper:
– Jennifer Wang:
– Many others too
Application Tips: General
• Start early: read old solicitation, talk with winners, do
homework, etc.
• Complete first draft of materials at least one month prior
to submittal
• Need to write for PhD
• Have many audiences read your materials, especially
research plan
• Frequently visit fastlane to ensure things are
done/progressing in application
Application Tips: Letters of
• Reference letters should come
from different organizations, i.e.
not all UC professors
• Ask about writing the letter early
• Explain the tone of the letter, i.e.
personal and addresses
intellectual merit and BI
• Offer to write a draft letter so
review criteria is met
Application Tips: Research Plan
• Make Broader Impacts a priority and cover ALL
• Follow formatting
• Include visual aid where applicable
• Enhance readability with defined sections/headers
• Strong methodology
• Relevant, somewhat newer sources and strong
citation use
Application Tips: Personal Statement
• Tell a story of why you entered the science profession,
e.g. NASA, Star Wars, parent influence
• List/explain your goals
• Explain how the NSF GRFP will help you achieve your
research goals
• Discus broader impact activities and why you do them
• Address recent/active leadership roles and
involvement in organizations while at UC
Application Tips: Research Statement
• Need to convince reviewers that previous experience will
aid in proposed work
• Link experience with proposed work
• Explain roles in work, outcome, and if done individually
or in a team
• Use headings for readability
• BI difficult to tie in here, but do address if appropriate
Example Material and Review
Ask for sample essays or reviews:
[email protected]
I’d also be more than happy to review your essays or
answer any questions.
Also ask UC’s other winners:
Adam Hehr: [email protected], Eng.
Andy Schriner: [email protected], Eng.
Angela Reitler, [email protected], Social Sciences
Dan Divelbiss, [email protected], Environ. Eng.
Prof. Aimee Frame, [email protected], Mech. Eng.
NSF GRFP Website (
• Solicitation
• FAQ and Guide links
• Online application, user guides, official
Phone and email
• 866-NSF-GRFP (673-4737)
[email protected]
Resources at
• Tips for applying
• Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
• Find GRFP contacts
• Important links for the GRFP
• Panelist registration
• NSF for amazing award and template for this
• Megan Tischner for organizing and promoting
• Pam Person for promoting event.
Thank you!

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship www.nsf