I have 50 days (~7 weeks) to complete my NSF graduate research fellowship program application.
The application is simpler than I imagined, and hinges mostly on two statements: a “personal, relevant background and future goals” statement, and a “graduate research plan” statement. The former is a summary of what I’ve done so far. The latter is my plan of action for the next few years. Both need to demonstrate “intellectual merit” and “broader impact.” Simple, right?
Here’s what I’m working on currently:
- Create NSF user account and complete all the basics. (Done.)
- Ask for letters of recommendation. (Done, though still waiting to confirm one.)
- Write my personal statement:
- “Please outline your educational and professional development plans and career goals. 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. 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. NSF Fellows are expected to become globally engaged knowledge experts and leaders who can contribute significantly to research, education, and innovations in science and engineering. The purpose of this statement is to demonstrate your potential to satisfy this requirement.”
- Write my research statement:
- “Present an original research topic that you would like to pursue in graduate school. Describe the research idea, your general approach, as well as any unique resources that may be needed for accomplishing the research goal (i.e., access to national facilities or collections, collaborations, overseas work, etc.) You may choose to include important literature citations. Address the potential of the research to advance knowledge and understanding within science as well as the potential for broader impacts on society.”
- What is the potential for the proposed activity to: a. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and b. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
- To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
- Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
- How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
- Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?
Stay tuned for more updates!