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StemQueries

NSF GRFP 2016-2017

207 posts in this topic

On the FastLane page, I see:
Fellow Status: Awardee

Fellowship Status: Awarded

Organization: Harvard University

What does "Organization" mean? Is it the university that is in charge of coordinating my fellowship?
 

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10 minutes ago, bioinformaticsGirl said:

On the FastLane page, I see:
Fellow Status: Awardee

Fellowship Status: Awarded

Organization: Harvard University

What does "Organization" mean? Is it the university that is in charge of coordinating my fellowship?
 

Is that the university you listed as where you wanted to get your Ph.D.? My "organization" is the university I currently attend. (I'm a first-year). If you'll not be attending Harvard after all, I believe you can make that change under "View Fellowship Status Details/Request Fellowship Status Change."

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3 minutes ago, Levon3 said:

Is that the university you listed as where you wanted to get your Ph.D.? My "organization" is the university I currently attend. (I'm a first-year). If you'll not be attending Harvard after all, I believe you can make that change under "View Fellowship Status Details/Request Fellowship Status Change."

I'm not sure... I'm an undergrad, so I might have just put a random PhD Program that I was applying to. I don't have anything under "View Fellowship Status Details/Request Fellowship Status Change" nor do I see a button to change anything, but perhaps I need to accept the award before I can make any changes?

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27 minutes ago, bioinformaticsGirl said:

I'm not sure... I'm an undergrad, so I might have just put a random PhD Program that I was applying to. I don't have anything under "View Fellowship Status Details/Request Fellowship Status Change" nor do I see a button to change anything, but perhaps I need to accept the award before I can make any changes?

After you accept you'll have to submit a "declare fellowship status plans" form that lets you change institution and field of study. 

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Posted (edited)

Anyone know if we have any recourse at all in the event of one reviewer who was clearly... off? 

I got E/E E/E VG/F, with some serious BS feedback, including a "The applicant has no academic publications (I do, under review at the time) at her (I am a man) graduate institution yet." The reviewer also said I have little STEM/minority outreach, yet Reviewer 2 said "The candidate has been extensively involved in STEM outreach activates as both an UG and GR student. His commitment to STEM education is evident by his development of educational content for outreach activities, as well as an undergraduate mentor and a TA." and cited "consistent involvement/leadership with respect to STEM outreach."

I'm under no pretenses that they'll just snap their fingers and give me an award, but anything that might affect position in the HM pile might be worthwhile for the low chance of late awards. Hell, it would be nice even just to get some sort of acknowledgment for peace of mind. It's a really crappy feeling knowing it came down to dumb luck with a bad reviewer. 

EDIT: And congrats to all the winners - such an honor and you guys and girls all deserve it. 

Edited by commodork

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2 hours ago, commodork said:

Anyone know if we have any recourse at all in the event of one reviewer who was clearly... off? 

I got E/E E/E VG/F, with some serious BS feedback, including a "The applicant has no academic publications (I do, under review at the time) at her (I am a man) graduate institution yet." The reviewer also said I have little STEM/minority outreach, yet Reviewer 2 said "The candidate has been extensively involved in STEM outreach activates as both an UG and GR student. His commitment to STEM education is evident by his development of educational content for outreach activities, as well as an undergraduate mentor and a TA." and cited "consistent involvement/leadership with respect to STEM outreach."

I'm under no pretenses that they'll just snap their fingers and give me an award, but anything that might affect position in the HM pile might be worthwhile for the low chance of late awards. Hell, it would be nice even just to get some sort of acknowledgment for peace of mind. It's a really crappy feeling knowing it came down to dumb luck with a bad reviewer. 

EDIT: And congrats to all the winners - such an honor and you guys and girls all deserve it. 

it almost seems as if one of the reviewers put the wrong feedback. It really seems as if they should double check the feedback if one is clearly lower than the others

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E/E, VG/E, VG, G - Awarded- Life Sciences- Ecology

Last year of eligibility.

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VG/VG, VG/VG, VG/E- Awarded- Geosciences-Tectonics

Senior Undergrad 

Talked to my advisor yesterday who used to sit on a board for NSF, and she told me there are many problems with the system they use to quantify "the quality" of applications. She said something about it being easy for panelists to spot a "quality student" and a "quality application", but it's hard to actually define on a quantity scale what that means resulting in "intangible" components of the application. She said someone wrote a whole book on this concept... 

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Posted (edited)

On 3/20/2017 at 8:51 AM, Levon3 said:

@neuroslice Also, fastlane is back up, so you should now be able to log in and see your decision. 

I got the fellowship! Incredibly excited :lol: I ended up logging into the website once it was back online - still not sure why I never got an email, but it all worked out in the end

E/E E/VG E/E

Edited by neuroslice

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17 minutes ago, neuroslice said:

I got the fellowship! Incredibly excited :lol: I ended up logging into the website once it was back online - still not sure why I never got an email, but it all worked out in the end

E/E E/VG E/E

Wooohooo! Congratulations!

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16 hours ago, theigloo87 said:

VG/VG, VG/VG, VG/E- Awarded- Geosciences-Tectonics

Senior Undergrad 

Talked to my advisor yesterday who used to sit on a board for NSF, and she told me there are many problems with the system they use to quantify "the quality" of applications. She said something about it being easy for panelists to spot a "quality student" and a "quality application", but it's hard to actually define on a quantity scale what that means resulting in "intangible" components of the application. She said someone wrote a whole book on this concept... 

Congratulations!!! 

This is interesting, and doesn't surprise me at all. I really feel like I won the lottery with this fellowship. I'm sure more than half of the people who apply are of "high quality." And reading some of the comments on this forum, it seems like some applications really just hit bad luck with over-worked and tired reviewers. One of my cohort-mates had five E's and one P, and got HM--but I feel like she deserved it more than me, with so much more research experience and publications! The last reviewer just seemed to miss her bold-faced "broader impacts" section and gave her a P.  

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17 hours ago, busybee said:

Congratulations!!! 

This is interesting, and doesn't surprise me at all. I really feel like I won the lottery with this fellowship. I'm sure more than half of the people who apply are of "high quality." And reading some of the comments on this forum, it seems like some applications really just hit bad luck with over-worked and tired reviewers. One of my cohort-mates had five E's and one P, and got HM--but I feel like she deserved it more than me, with so much more research experience and publications! The last reviewer just seemed to miss her bold-faced "broader impacts" section and gave her a P.  

I completely agree. A friend and I worked together very closely on our apps, sending drafts back and forth, running things by each other, etc. and I ended up getting the award and he ended up with a HM :/ I think our essays were of similar quality and we had similar levels of research experience/publications, but I thought he had much better broader impacts from his extracurriculars. With so many qualified applicants, I guess it just devolves into a crap shoot

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E/E E/E E/E
Awarded 
Engineering - Computer Engineering

All I had was a conference presentation lol.

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What is the most polite way to broach the topic of receiving the fellowship with a potential graduate program? I want to let them know that I am a recipient and also ask some logistical questions, but I also don't want to sound like I'm trying to hit them up for additional money or something. Any tips? 

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3 hours ago, CozyEnzymes said:
 

What is the most polite way to broach the topic of receiving the fellowship with a potential graduate program? I want to let them know that I am a recipient and also ask some logistical questions, but I also don't want to sound like I'm trying to hit them up for additional money or something. Any tips? 

Feel free to ask them questions, like if you'll get the travel grant stipend from it, if any amount can be allocated to your own small project, whether you can activate it in your third year, etc. But unless policy is clearly stated that you get some sort of "bonus" or anything else for getting a grant, programs tend to just absorb the money to keep the program afloat and make up for students that don't get the award (as most programs require their trainees to apply to the NSF, so they already have internal metrics that it's a crapshoot to get, and to make it fair for everyone they tend not to award extra bonuses for it).

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On 3/17/2017 at 11:15 PM, 123456fg said:

I never post here, but have had such a frustrating day due to this!!

So I got an honorable mention...Which would be fine, if it weren't for the fact that my reviews were E/E E/E E/E

Field was cognitive neuroscience.

I feel like they shouldn't have this ranking system if it doesnt actually mean anything in terms of outcomes -__________-

Just venting because I'm salty I guess. But I almost would have rather gotten a bad review. Because at least then it would make more sense. 

I'm a first year grad student so can't apply again next year either. Ugh

Same thing happened to me. All E/E E/E E/E in Life Sciences- Physiology. Honorable mention. I'm so disappointed.

 

Can anyone explain the Scores? I know that E is excellent, but what are the others (VG, G, etc.)?

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11 minutes ago, bearhat said:

Same thing happened to me. All E/E E/E E/E in Life Sciences- Physiology. Honorable mention. I'm so disappointed.

 

Can anyone explain the Scores? I know that E is excellent, but what are the others (VG, G, etc.)?

This is a good summary of the review process: https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/presentations/lh/MRev_DOE_EERE1_26_10.pdf

There are 5 different ratings you can get, which correspond to E/VG/G/F/P:

Excellent Outstanding proposal in all respects; deserves highest priority for support

Very Good High quality proposal in nearly all respects; should be supported if at all possible

Good A quality proposal, worthy of support

Fair Proposal lacking in one or more critical aspects; key issues need to be addressed

Poor Proposal has serious deficiencies

Other people on the forum said that you are actually given a raw score which is converted to the 5 categories listed above. Even if you get all E's, if you are on the lower end of the E category, your total "point" score can be less than someone who doesn't have all E's. I haven't seen anything to verify this, so it may or may not be true!

However, according to their website, the reviews only make up part of the decision. The Program Officers have the final decsision and consider other "external factors" such as

  •  different approaches to significant research and education questions
  •  potential (with perhaps high risk) for transformational advances in a field
  •  capacity building in a new and promising research area
  •  achievement of special program objectives

The Program Officers are recommended by NSF to support riskier proposals, and particularly noes that are different in some aspect to what has/is currently being funded.

 

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On 3/18/2017 at 1:34 AM, spectastic said:

2. do all the applications get reviewed at the same time? eg. undergrads, first, 2nd years all get looked at the same time. Or does are the rewards given different priorities to different categories such as research field, classifications?

3. what does a 2nd year usually have to do that's above and beyond from the others that would help distinguish the application? surely, they will be held at a higher standard than undergrads or first years.

 

On 3/18/2017 at 0:06 PM, Plantguypete said:

2.) Rewards are not prioritized based on where the student is at in their career. This year there were roughly 750 undergraduates funded, 1250 graduates funded. There were 13,000 applications (fewer than previous years, but likely because there are no more second chances unless you don't get funded from an undergraduate application first shot). They are all reviewed at the same time (within the submission deadline until they make decisions). I do not believe it goes undergrads then grad students or vice versa. I think it is more or less randomized and applicants are reviewed by people who are in the same general field (mine was life sciences - Evolutionary Biology). With all that being said, there does seem to be affirmative action going on (which is wonderful! This is coming from a white male too! Screw Trump! haha). This year there was a much higher proportion of females and underrepresented ethnicities than many previous application seasons. One other thing I think happens is that the NSF does not like to read about curing diseases or human health. That is what the NIH is for. In fact, it seems as those the preliminary reviewers will kick back the application before actually fully reviewing proposal. In other words, you will find out a couple weeks after submission that the reviewers will not be reviewing the application. 

3.) It is my understanding that both undergrads and grad students are held to the same standard. If it was different, one would expect there to be an even amount of both undergrads and grad students awarded (to even the playing field if you will). The only difference that I could imagine is that a 2nd year would already be settled into a lab and have a project in mind. I think it would actually be harder for an undergraduate to get the award because an undergraduate carried more risk. The reviewers do not know whether or not an undergraduate has been accepted somewhere at the point of application and awarding. An undergraduate would have to really convince the reviewers that he or she is a competent scientist (NSF could potentially waste 34K+12K every year for 3 years). Whereas a graduate student has the ability to know exactly what he or she will be doing and is able to express some expertise in their proposal. My proposal was based on what my undergraduate research was on and what would happen if I continued that research. 

As of last year (and I don't believe this has changed), each class of eligible student competes only against the same class for the available awards. That is, undergrad seniors compete only against undergrad seniors, first year grad students compete only against first year grad students, etc. This information comes from the Office of External Fellowships at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose director has served as a panelist for several years, and Bill Hahn, who recently served as the director of the NSF GRFP and who gave a workshop on applying for an NSF GRF at UIUC in 2015. I do not know how it is decided how many awards are given to each class of student, but I suspect it is based (at least in part) on how many students from that class applied for an award. I suspect this also plays a significant role in how awards are distributed across scientific fields.

With this in mind, to be competitive as a second year grad student, you need to ask yourself what it is you need to do to stand out from your peers in your particular field and your particular year. You should have more research results than an undergrad or first year grad student. This should manifest as a higher quality research proposal and more publications and conference presentations than less advanced applicants. You should also have richer experience with outreach/service and leadership activities than less advanced applicants. Please note that this doesn't mean you should have a greater number of such experiences. It means your experiences should be deeper and more impactful.

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Paranoid question: I received an email today reminding me to complete the Annual Activities Report, declare fellowship status etc. I declared my fellowship status, but as brand-new recipients, we don't have to complete an AAR, right? I'm 99% sure this is the case, but thought I should double-check. 

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, bearhat said:

Same thing happened to me. All E/E E/E E/E in Life Sciences- Physiology. Honorable mention. I'm so disappointed.

 

Can anyone explain the Scores? I know that E is excellent, but what are the others (VG, G, etc.)?

That is odd... I was VG/VG, E/VG, E/E in Physiology and won the award...

ETA: Which is easily explained by @bioinformaticsGirl's comment

Edited by Kaede

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18 hours ago, bearhat said:

Same thing happened to me. All E/E E/E E/E in Life Sciences- Physiology. Honorable mention. I'm so disappointed.

 

Can anyone explain the Scores? I know that E is excellent, but what are the others (VG, G, etc.)?

:( Yeah it's super frustrating. Mine all had like paragraphs saying nice things too. My PI was very confused, he told me to email them to ask lol.  I dunno. I'm a minority too: hispanic female immigrant haha (not that this should affect anything but you know how they encourage underrepresented people to apply or whatever).

But basically what it comes down to is that the ratings arent the only determinant. it goes to another person after that. and then they decide what is in the NSFs best interest to fund. So what other people said: making sure theyre funding a lot of different types of proposals, etc etc 

Honorable mention is still great though so congrats :) 

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Congratulations to all of the awardees and Honorable Mentions!

Talked to my advisor yesterday who used to sit on a board for NSF, and she told me there are many problems with the system they use to quantify "the quality" of applications. She said something about it being easy for panelists to spot a "quality student" and a "quality application", but it's hard to actually define on a quantity scale what that means resulting in "intangible" components of the application.

Sure, that's true. But you could say that about any application process - NIH and NSF grants, applications to graduate school, other fellowships, etc. In any process where the applications are based on qualitative components, there are going to be difficulties defining and quantifying what's or worthy of a fellowship. It will always come down to intangibles, and that will be true throughout a science career, both in and outside of academia.

The other thing to remember is that there are so many high-quality, talented applicants. So many!

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On 3/23/2017 at 6:43 PM, Levon3 said:

Paranoid question: I received an email today reminding me to complete the Annual Activities Report, declare fellowship status etc. I declared my fellowship status, but as brand-new recipients, we don't have to complete an AAR, right? I'm 99% sure this is the case, but thought I should double-check. 

Did you ever figure out the answer to this question? I was wondering the same thing!

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29 minutes ago, StemQueries said:

Did you ever figure out the answer to this question? I was wondering the same thing!

I heard from a second-year that we do not have to do this. I didn't call and ask though. 

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1 hour ago, StemQueries said:

Did you ever figure out the answer to this question? I was wondering the same thing!

Don't have to do an AAR until you're on fellowship. Since even if you accept the fellowship it (likely) won't start until September, you're not currently on the NSF and as such don't have to do an AAR. 

Not an official source, but I didn't do one the year I got it, and no one else I know did either. 

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