Broader Impacts and Outreach Network for Institutional Collaboration (BIONIC)

Friday, August 1, 2014 to Wednesday, July 31, 2019
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Resource Centers and Networks, Informal/Formal Connections, Higher Education Programs
Undergraduate/Graduate Students | Administration/Leadership/Policymakers | General Public | Scientists
Education and learning science | General STEM
Access and Inclusion: 
Black/African American Communities
Hispanic/Latinx Communities
University of Missouri-Columbia

This project supports the Broader Impacts and Outreach Network for Institutional Collaboration (BIONIC), a national Research Coordination Network of Broader Impacts to support professionals who assist researchers to design, implement, and evaluate the Broader Impacts activities for NSF proposals and awards. All NSF proposals are evaluated not only on the Intellectual Merit of the proposed research, but also on the Broader Impacts of the proposed work, such as societal relevance, educational outreach, and community engagement. Many institutions have begun employing Broader Impacts support professionals, but in most cases, these individuals have not worked as a group to identify and share best practices. As a consequence, there has been much duplication of effort. Through coordination, BIONIC is expected to improve efficiency, reduce redundancy, and have significant impact in several areas: 1) Researchers will benefit from an increased understanding of the Broader Impacts merit review criterion and increased access to collaborators who can help them design, implement, and evaluate their Broader Impacts activities; 2) Institutions and research centers will increase their capacity to support Broader Impacts via mentoring for Broader Impacts professionals and consulting on how to build Broader Impacts support infrastructure, with attention to inclusion of non-research-intensive universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic- and Minority-Serving Institutions that may not have the resources to support an institutional Broader Impacts office; and 3) NSF, itself, will benefit from a systematic and consistent approach to Broader Impacts that will lead to better fulfillment of the Broader Impacts criterion by researchers, better evaluation of Broader Impacts activities by reviewers and program officers, and a system for evaluating the effectiveness of Broader Impacts activities in the aggregate, as mandated by Congress and the National Science Board. Through its many planned activities, BIONIC will ultimately help advance the societal aims that the Broader Impacts merit review criterion was meant to achieve.

The main goals of the project will be accomplished through the four specific objectives: 1) Identify and curate promising models, practices, and evaluation methods for the Broader Impacts community; 2) Expand engagement in, and support the development of, high-quality Broader Impacts activities by educating current and future faculty and researchers on effective practices; 3) Develop the human resources necessary for sustained growth and increased diversity of the Broader Impacts community; and 4) Promote cross-institutional collaboration and dissemination for Broader Impacts programs, practices, models, materials, and resources. BIONIC will facilitate collaborative Broader Impacts work across institutions, help leverage previously developed resources, support professional development, and train new colleagues to enter into the Broader Impacts field. This project will improve the quality and sustainability of Broader Impacts investments, as researchers continue to create unique and effective activities that are curated and broadly disseminated. BIONIC will create a network designed to assist NSF-funded researchers at their institutions in achieving the goals of the Broader Impacts Review Criterion. In so doing, BIONIC will promote Broader Impacts activities locally, nationally, and internationally and help to advance the Broader Impacts field.

This award is co-funded by the Divisions of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and Emerging Frontiers in the Directorate for Biological Sciences and by the Division of Chemistry in the Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

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Team Members

Susan RenoeSusan RenoePrincipal Investigator
Diane RoverDiane RoverCo-Principal Investigator
Kemi JonaCo-Principal Investigator
Jane HorwitzJane HorwitzCo-Principal Investigator
Kevin NiemiCo-Principal Investigator

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