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NSF GRFP Proposal

1. Doctoral students will submit an NSF GRFP proposal that all second years will be preparing as part of MIBO8600.  Second Year PhD students should plan on submitting the final version of both your personal statement and research plan documents to your committee at the time of NSF submission (usually due in late October).  Please remember that in preparing your proposal you should provide a draft to your major professor well in advance (2 weeks) of the due date to allow them to provide feedback on your proposal.

Students who are ineligible for the GRFP program can prepare an alternate proposal for this assignment.  In that case, please also provide your committee with a description of the proposal format and requirements for the chosen program. 

Students should copy the Graduate Program Associate at when the proposal is distributed.

2. The Advisory Committee will decide whether to accept the proposal. Within two weeks, faculty should notify both the student and the graduate program associate whether the proposal is acceptable. If acceptable, the student may then proceed with preparations for the expanded formal version of the written exam.  If acceptable, faculty may simply provide a "go ahead" signal (by indicating acceptance) or faculty may provide additional comments and suggestions to the student to help with plans for the longer written document due in spring semester. If significant changes are warranted, faculty should indicate to the student and to the program associate (within two weeks of receiving the proposal) that the student must provide a new or substantially revised proposal for approval.  The committee will vote on a resubmitted proposal within two weeks of receipt by notifying the student and the graduate program associate.  It is expected that a version of the proposal be accepted by all committee members by the end of November at the latest.

You will be communicating with your committee concerning your proposal; however, you are not required to schedule a meeting during the Fall Semester of your second year.  For PhD students the first required annual meeting will be the oral component of the qualifying exam.

Important Note:  The proposal parallels the structure of the written preliminary exam.  However, for the preliminary exam, contributions from the advisor are limited.  Therefore, the proposal is an invaluable opportunity to work with the advisor on shaping a research plan.

Note to committee

The following note to the committee should be copied and pasted onto the body of the email to the advisory committee at the time of proposal submission (Click here to download in Word format):

Note to Committee: (provided as written per Microbiology program guidelines)

The Microbiology graduate program stipulates that an NSF GRFP proposal be distributed to committee members in the Fall of a students’ second year (usually due in late October).  The proposal is not typically accompanied by a committee meeting but serves as a precursor to the written and oral exams usually taken in spring of the second year, which also focus on the student’s proposed research.  Usually, the proposal is a nascent and distilled version of the anticipated written prelim.  The primary purpose of the proposal is to identify any major concerns that may exist so that the student does not move forward with a fatally flawed project; however, a rewrite may be requested for any reason.  The proposal also affords the student a chance to work more closely on developing the written proposal with their advisor, who is not allowed to help edit the written prelim.  Moreover, feedback from committee members can be invaluable in helping students avoid mistakes or confusion on their written prelims.  Evaluation of the proposal should proceed as follows:

  • Within two weeks of receiving the proposal, committee members should notify the student and the Graduate Program Associate whether the proposal is acceptable or not.
  • Faculty may simply indicate “acceptable” or they may provide additional comments and suggestions to help with the longer written prelim.  Consultation is usually done by email or one-on-one.  Typically the committee does not meet following the prospectus.
  • If significant changes are warranted, faculty should indicate to the student, his/her advisor, and the graduate program associate that the student must provide a new or substantially revised proposal.  Again, a two-week turnaround from receipt of the revised proposal to notification is expected.
  • Upon conferring with the advisor and other committee members, a meeting of the full committee to discuss the proposal may be in order.
  • It is expected that a version of the proposal be accepted by all committee members by the end of November at the latest.

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