Strategies for responding to NSF proposal reviews

Workshop Summary

Receiving a proposal rejection is dispiriting, but the reality is that most proposals are rejected, and every successful scientist has received numerous rejection notices. Carefully interpreting proposal reviews and responding to them effectively can drastically increase the likelihood of future funding success!

This workshop will include an introduction to the merit review process at the National Science Foundation, a “field guide” to the documents that accompany an NSF decision letter, and strategies to help you analyze your proposal reviews and plan for resubmission. Attendees will apply these strategies to their own reviews and should leave the workshop ready to revise their proposals with confidence.

Learn about the whole fall series here

Goals of the Workshop

  1. Learn how proposals are reviewed at NSF.
  2. Learn about the types of documents that NSF provides to PIs when merit review is complete, and how to “read between the lines” of these documents.
  3. Practice strategies for identifying the most important points to address in a revised proposal and the corollary: determining what to ignore.
  4. Participants should leave this workshop with a thorough understanding of how to interpret proposal review documents and a plan for revising their own proposals for resubmission.


Enrollment is free and is limited to 12 participants per workshop. Workshop size is limited to allow sufficient time for review analysis activities and personal interaction.

Priority is given to current HSI faculty and staff who are revising previously declined proposals for resubmission to any NSF program. Admission priority is given to faculty within the first 10 years of their first academic tenure-track appointment. Applicants should be aware that the selection process strives for diverse geographical and institutional representation.  The selection decision is final and summary reviews are not provided.


Submit your application at this link:

 Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, attendees will understand how:

  1. NSF’s merit review process works.
  2. To interpret proposal reviews, panel summaries, and context statements.
  3. To distinguish substantive points from outliers in reviewer comments.
  4. To communicate with NSF staff to gain additional insight into the review of their proposal.
  5. To effectively address reviewer critiques in proposal revisions.

Pre-Workshop Homework:

Attendees should bring the documents received from NSF in relation to the declination of a proposal that they would like to revise. Typically, these documents include a panel context statement, panel summary, and individual proposal reviews (proposal types that are reviewed internally such as RAPID and EAGER will not have these documents). Review documents can be downloaded from FastLane and/or by following the instructions in the decision email from NSF.

Please watch these two videos produced by NSF about merit review and the panel process:

Merit review (6:12):

Panel review process (14:31):

Workshop Details

  • Workshop Description

    This workshop will provide faculty with the background and skills to strategically revise a declined NSF proposal for resubmission.

  • Workshop Dates:

    03/04/2022 | 9AM PDT – 2PM PDT

  • Who should attend?

    Faculty and staff who have received their NSF reviews and intend to resubmit in the next 12 months.

  • Cost

    The workshop is free to all attendees

  • Flyer

    Click to Download PDF

Workshop Speakers

Dr. Karen Mabry, Associate Professor of Biology, New Mexico State University.

Dr. Karen Mabry, Associate Professor of Biology, New Mexico State University.

Karen Mabry earned her Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis. Her research program at NMSU focuses on the behavior and ecology of animals in environments that vary across space and time; much of this work has been supported by NSF awards. From 2017-2020, she was a Program Officer in the Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation, where she managed the merit review process for the Animal Behavior Program and interacted with researchers concerning all aspects of proposal submission and review.

Workshop Sponsors and External Links

Logo - National Science FoundationLogo - HSI Stem HubLogo - NM State University - Crimson and White

Workshop Attendees

September 17, 2021

  • Dr. Catherine Swift – Grant Coordinator, University of Houston – Victoria
  • Celia Jenkins – Director of Grants Management, Cochise College
  • Eric Bubar – Associate Professor of Physics, Marymount University
  • John Montgomery – Assistant VP for Research and Graduate Dean, Eastern New Mexico University
  • Monica Trujillo – Associate Professor of Biology, Queensborough Community College
  • Taffeta Elliott – Assistant Professor, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  • Ruby Riley – PK-12 Initiatives Manager, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

November 5, 2021

  • Faiza Peetz – Adjunct Assistant Professor, CUNY/ College of Staten Island
  • Aryzbe Najera – Post Doctoral, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Victor Burgos – Chief Learning Officer, AMBE Academy, Inc. 501 (c)(3)
  • Irma Torres-Catanach, Ph.D. – Post Doctoral Researcher, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Waleska Sanabria Leon – Chair Social Science and History Department, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
  • Hui Cai – Assistant Professor, University of California – Merced
  • Ji Kim – Assistant Professor, Guttman Community College – CUNY

March 4, 2022 

  • Abdul Malmi Kakkada – Assistant Professor, Augusta University
  • Alejandra I. Huerta – Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University
  • Chantale Damas – Associate Professor, QCC
  • Dimah Dera – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • German Moreno – Associate Professor, Dona Ana Community College
  • Guoxiang Hu – Assistant Professor, Queens College of the City University of New York
  • Haoyuan Chen – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Mari Langford – Program Manager, NMSU
  • Melanie Bauer – Grant Writing Manager, Nova Southeastern University
  • Paul Marchese – Professor, CUNY – Queensborough Community College
  • Soyoon Kum – Assistant Professor, Angelo State University
  • Wenjie Che – Assistant Professor, New Mexico State University
  • Ahmed Ibrahim Sr. – Education Research Consultant, Johns Hopkins University
  • Ali Ashraf Assistant – Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Ana Cadavid – Professor, CSUN
  • Aryzbe Najera – Postdoctoral, the University of Texas at El Paso – Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Boris Ricks – Faculty, CSUN
  • Clara Choi – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • David Lockett – K-16 Outreach/Grant Development, Meharry SACS
  • David Quintero – Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University
  • Deana Jaber – Associate Professor of Chemistry, Marymount University
  • Donna Stokes – Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Student Success, University of Houston
  • Dr. David Han – Associate Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Elizabeth Dvorsky – Professor, PI UPR- Rio Piedras
  • Erik Chumacero – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Erron Gonzalez – STEM Academic Program Director, Palo Alto College
  • Gabriel Camacho – Assistant Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
  • Gabriela D Solis-Cavazos – STEM Coordinator, Laredo College
  • Ilhuiyolitzin Villicana Pedraza – Faculty, Dona Ana Community College NMSU
  • Jose Munoz Associate – Professor, CSUSB
  • Keith Schloeman – Mathematics Instructor, Chemeketa Community College
  • Loyda B Mendez – Associate Professor, Universidad Ana G. Mendez – Carolina
  • Magda L Rodriguez – External Resources Officer, Inter American University of Puerto Rico
  • Manar Shoshani – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Marina Martinez – NSF-HSI Grant Program Director, Saint Xavier University
  • Maryanne Long – Post-Doctoral Researcher, New Mexico State University
  • Matthew d’Alessio – Professor, CSU Northridge
  • Naoko Kada – Assessment Coordinator, University of California, Merced
  • Nathalia Holtzman – Interim Associate Provost, Queens College, CUNY
  • Raquel Warley – Associate Professor & Program Director, Mercy College
  • Satya Aditya Akundi – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Vanessa A Sansone – Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Victor M Burgos – Contract Faculty, Texas State Technical College
  • Wen Cheng – Assistant Professor, Eastern New Mexico University
  • Yanxing Wang – Assistant Professor, New Mexico State University
  • Yi Yang – Assistant Professor, Northeastern Illinois University
  • Yooseob Song – Assistant Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Yujuan Liu – Assistant Professor, California State University, Sacramento
  • Yulia Kumar – Lecturer, Kean University