University of Southern California


NSF-15-576: Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC)

Slots:                                                    1. Only one Thematic Collections Networks (TCN) proposal may be submitted by any one organization as the lead organization. Organizations may be involved in more than one collaborative effort as a non-lead proposal. Please specify that you are submitting for a TCN proposal when submitting to the OOR.

LOI:                                                      N/A

Internal Deadline:                          Contact the Office of Research if interested.

External Deadline:                         October 9, 2020

Award Information:                        Type:  Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 4 to 12

Anticipated Amount: Approximately $10,000,000 total amount available across all awards in this program for FY2016, pending availability of funds.

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                        

Who May Serve as PI:                    There are no restrictions or limits.


Digitizing and mobilizing the Nation’s biological and paleontological collections represents a grand challenge and will require development of both technical and human resources to support the creation of an enduring digital alliance of collections and institutions. In all cases the primary focus of the digitization effort should be the physical specimens owned by the collection.

Proposals that address the goals of specimen digitization through innovative plans, strong collaborations among large and small institutions, and mechanisms to build upon existing digitization projects are strongly encouraged. Proposals that increase efficiency and numbers of specimens digitized will have a stronger priority for funding (e.g. by reducing the time and cost per specimen, or by developing new workflows). Current practices cannot achieve a goal of digitizing the existing collections within a ten year period and if this goal of the community strategic plan is to be achieved, there must be new approaches applied to the effort.

Proposals for Thematic Collections Networks (TCNs): LIMITED

Thematic Collections Network (TCN) proposals will be submissions for two-to-four year awards to digitize existing specimens based on a particular research theme. This research theme may be a grand challenge for biodiversity, a part of a grand challenge, or another important research theme requiring information from existing collections. Specimens to be digitized should be of critical importance to the research theme and the criteria for the specimen assessment should be indicated in the proposal. The collaborating institutions will conduct the actual digitization of the specimens (including imaging and mobilization of the data).

Proposals for Partners to Existing Networks (PENs): NOT LIMITED

Proposals to partner with and further the efforts of ongoing NSF-funded TCNs are encouraged. The new partners must increase the number of specimens digitized in the ongoing project and fill gaps not addressed by the specimens in the existing TCN. Since the existing TCNs are working to integrate data via the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections: Integrated Digitized Biocollections at the University of Florida (iDigBio), a list of active or sustained projects is available through the iDigBio website

General Items:

For both TCN and PEN proposals, priority will be given to innovative projects that 1) fill gaps in the effort to provide online access to specimen data for existing biological and paleobiological collections, 2) integrate with other ongoing digitization activities and 3) increase the efficiency and lower the cost of digitization.

Both TCN and PEN proposals should include:

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.

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