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Scoring better on the NSF GRFP March 29, 2010

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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Having combed over the criteria and talked to several people who have served as reviewers, I will give a few tips on the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GFRP) application.

There are two main areas, technical and non0technical. The first looks at your proposal (for chemists and other laboratory scientists AND at your position and potential to be a good researcher. So not only is the research proposal graded on scientific merit, but you are on whether you show the maturity, resourcefulness, creativity, curiosity, doggedness to do high-level research. If you just write about the science and not your passion and drive, you hurt yourself. The reviewers want to know if you have what it takes to do the project at a high level. This means not just following a professor’s or postdoc’s directions. You ought to be solidly versed in the concepts, open-minded (meaning mentioning contingencies and alternatives is not a bad thing).

About yourself, do not just say “I want to be a research professor at a good university and mentor the next generation of scientists. Duh! Almost everybody applying can say that. What drives you? What are more tangible goals? Why go through all the BS of grad school and research projects that only work sometimes? Definitely do not say that your work will benefit anyone working in that field as your main or only goal.

On the nontechnical areas, outreach to young people, or to under-represented groups will gain attention. The NSF afterall is a government agency that gets funding from Congress and has to pay attention to diversity. Tutoring and teaching are good experiences to describe, as are involvement in community groups, environmental activities, and other efforts. Enthusiasm and a passion for the science and for positive benefits to society sound altruistic and kind of namby]pamby, but those are one of the things of value in this competition – yes, you are competing with some very accomplished people.

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1. Scoring Better on the Nsf Grfp « Phd Health Ethel Kathy - April 7, 2010

[…] Having combed over the criteria and talked to several people who have served as reviewers, I will give a few tips on the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program ( NSF GFRP) application. There are two main areas, …This Blog […]


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