American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

Letter to the NSF about the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant Program

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France Córdova
Director, National Science Foundation

James Olds
Assistant Director, Directorate of Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation

Dear Director Córdova and Assistant Director Olds,

As representatives of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists, we are writing to urge NSF to reinstate the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) program in the Division of Environmental Biology and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems.  DDIGs are a strategic investment in the future of our fields, contributing to the development of independent research skills in the junior cohorts who will be the next innovators.

DDIGs offer graduate students independence in their research, mentorship opportunities, and resources to network and disseminate their findings. Having their own financial resources permits students to prioritize their research goals and invest in directions they find most promising, directly supporting the development of scientific creativity and leadership for the future of the country.

Students who have received DDIGs have had valuable training in grant writing, administering grant funding, crafting independent research programs, and mentoring.  These are all essential skills that represent the essence of our goals for training students in our fields.  There are few other avenues whereby students can obtain such valuable experience, and DDIGs offer unusually high return on the modest financial investment.  Without the DDIG program, the junior members of our societies and in related fields will be denied valuable opportunities for their intellectual and professional development.  The termination of the DDIG program will have long-lasting adverse consequences to the intellectual development of young scientists in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology.  

Representing the thousands of members in our respective societies, we offer to help find solutions to support the DDIG program and maintain a sound, fiscally responsible, and efficient program in support of student research. The DDIG program is a very important investment in the scientific future of the country.


Kathleen Donohue
President, The American Society of Naturalists

Sarah Otto
President, Society for the Study of Evolution

Luke Harmon
President, Society for Systematic Biologists