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NSF GRFP 2016


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FYI-The 2016 solicitations are up! They've moved the due dates up a bit, also. All applications are due in October this year. I've been working on my proposal all summer, so I'm going to make sure it still fits the requirements and get it submitted asap.

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Yay I'm so excited!! Earlier today I did all the boring stuff -- filling out the easy bits of the application, uploading transcripts, etc. Now time to attempt to remain calm and craft the most kickass statements possible!

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Are we tied to the topic we propose in an NSF grant if we get the award? I'm a first-year student still doing rotations so I'm not sure what kind of lab I'll end up in, and I'm trying several different topics.

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Are we tied to the topic we propose in an NSF grant if we get the award? I'm a first-year student still doing rotations so I'm not sure what kind of lab I'll end up in, and I'm trying several different topics.

Nope, not tied up at all! As far as I'm aware, the only time you have to notify a change of research plans is if your primary field completely changes, which is unlikely. Actual fellows should respond though :)

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Are we tied to the topic we propose in an NSF grant if we get the award? I'm a first-year student still doing rotations so I'm not sure what kind of lab I'll end up in, and I'm trying several different topics.

There's actually a part about this in the instructions.  This is what the NSF GRFP application says, it only says it once you start the application and get to the part where you choose your topic:

 

Changing fields of study as Graduate Research Fellows: If awarded a fellowship, Fellows are allowed some leeway in changing their graduate study and proposed institution. It is acceptable for Fellows to shift the focus of their research while remaining in the same field. However, Fellows are expected to pursue graduate study in the general field designated on their application. Changing fields of study during the first year of the fellowship is generally not permitted. All changes of field must comply with the eligibility requirements in the Program Solicitation.

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Are we tied to the topic we propose in an NSF grant if we get the award? I'm a first-year student still doing rotations so I'm not sure what kind of lab I'll end up in, and I'm trying several different topics.

 

If you could spend an hour reading the previous NSF-GRFP threads, you would see 99% of the questions, including yours, already answered.

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There's actually a part about this in the instructions.  This is what the NSF GRFP application says, it only says it once you start the application and get to the part where you choose your topic:

 

Changing fields of study as Graduate Research Fellows: If awarded a fellowship, Fellows are allowed some leeway in changing their graduate study and proposed institution. It is acceptable for Fellows to shift the focus of their research while remaining in the same field. However, Fellows are expected to pursue graduate study in the general field designated on their application. Changing fields of study during the first year of the fellowship is generally not permitted. All changes of field must comply with the eligibility requirements in the Program Solicitation.

 

That's a change in field, not a change in topic- completely different thing. Change in field is if you win an NSF award for a Chemistry PhD, and you switch fields to Molecular Biology or Chemical Engineering.

 

Changing topic but staying within the field is fine.

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Does anyone else have experience doing the mixed primary field? My research is pretty interdisciplinary and I'm having a hard time committing to one.

Also- is it better to have 3 LORs from graduate school profs, or should I include one of my old research advisors? I've heard conflicting ideas on the situation.

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Does anyone else have experience doing the mixed primary field? My research is pretty interdisciplinary and I'm having a hard time committing to one.

Also- is it better to have 3 LORs from graduate school profs, or should I include one of my old research advisors? I've heard conflicting ideas on the situation.

No experience with the first question, but insofar as LORs go, on my successful round I used 2 grad school profs and my main undergrad/honors thesis PI.  

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So, I've been reading a lot of funded proposals, and well... does anyone else feel that no matter what they do or plan or write, they have no chance of succeeding?

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So, I've been reading a lot of funded proposals, and well... does anyone else feel that no matter what they do or plan or write, they have no chance of succeeding?

Just do your best. You have a small chance of succeeding (many apply; few win), but there is still a chance. I submitted 5 fellowship applications in my first two years of graduate school (including two rounds of NSFGRF) and was awarded one of them (not the NSFGRF). 

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Here's hoping for the best.

I've spent the last year working on my proposal. It's an awfully small document considering how many hours has gone into its production. At this point I think it's probably the best it can be. I just have to organize all my documents and get them ready for submission.

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So, I've been reading a lot of funded proposals, and well... does anyone else feel that no matter what they do or plan or write, they have no chance of succeeding?

I thought I had no chance of succeeding.  Then I won it.  Self-doubt tends to creep in, but don't let it rule what you do!

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I also have a question about LORs. I'll have two good ones -- one from my undergrad thesis advisor, and one from my new PhD advisor. But I'm stuck on who I should ask for the third. My other two grad school application letter writers aren't super relevant to the research I'm doing now (plus I'm not on good terms with one of them, long story). Should I pick a different undergrad professor? A new grad school professor who doesn't know me that well? I'm torn...

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There's actually a part about this in the instructions.  This is what the NSF GRFP application says, it only says it once you start the application and get to the part where you choose your topic:

 

Changing fields of study as Graduate Research Fellows: If awarded a fellowship, Fellows are allowed some leeway in changing their graduate study and proposed institution. It is acceptable for Fellows to shift the focus of their research while remaining in the same field. However, Fellows are expected to pursue graduate study in the general field designated on their application. Changing fields of study during the first year of the fellowship is generally not permitted. All changes of field must comply with the eligibility requirements in the Program Solicitation.

What "topics" are available? I'm a first year in a neuroscience program (currently rotating), and my undergraduate research was in developmental biology. Are those different topics/fields by GRFP standards, or do they both fall within the same topic?

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What "topics" are available? I'm a first year in a neuroscience program (currently rotating), and my undergraduate research was in developmental biology. Are those different topics/fields by GRFP standards, or do they both fall within the same topic?

You should visit the official page if you haven't yet:

http://www.nsfgrfp.org/applicants/application_components/choosing_primary_field

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I thought I had no chance of succeeding.  Then I won it.  Self-doubt tends to creep in, but don't let it rule what you do!

You know, part of me wonders if a chunk of the people who apply for these simply don't take them seriously enough to win. I've heard of more than a few grad students simply whipping one up in the last week or two just for the sake of attempting it.

It's just an assumption on my part, but if you take due care in proposal's production, I think the odds are better than what's statistically evident, even if only slightly.

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I agree. I've been working on my proposal since February, and although chances are still low, I feel very good about what I've put together. If nothing else, I have an excellent start on my dissertation proposal!

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You should visit the official page if you haven't yet:

http://www.nsfgrfp.org/applicants/application_components/choosing_primary_field

Thanks. I started working on this today so I'm still getting acquainted with the process and expectations. I'm still a little confused, though. The application is asking for my primary field of study -- my undergrad work (which I am writing about, as if I were continuing onward with it) was in developmental biology. I am enrolled in a Neuroscience program. Is this going to be a problem? Those are two separate fields (but both within Life Sciences).

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Thanks. I started working on this today so I'm still getting acquainted with the process and expectations. I'm still a little confused, though. The application is asking for my primary field of study -- my undergrad work (which I am writing about, as if I were continuing onward with it) was in developmental biology. I am enrolled in a Neuroscience program. Is this going to be a problem? Those are two separate fields (but both within Life Sciences).

You should definitely try and state the exact program, or as close to the exact program, that you are going to be studying during graduate school.  If you're going to be doing Neuroscience, I suggest making your proposal about Neuroscience a little bit so that you don't have to change later.  You don't want to say that you're doing one graduate program when it's evident that you're actually doing something else.  This will show in your proposal, as well as in your letters of recommendation.  That's just my 2 cents at least.

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You should definitely try and state the exact program, or as close to the exact program, that you are going to be studying during graduate school.  If you're going to be doing Neuroscience, I suggest making your proposal about Neuroscience a little bit so that you don't have to change later.  You don't want to say that you're doing one graduate program when it's evident that you're actually doing something else.  This will show in your proposal, as well as in your letters of recommendation.  That's just my 2 cents at least.

Ah, I get it. For whatever reason I thought I HAD to use the research I did prior to grad school as inspiration.

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