Catalysis Meetings

**Please note that a special call for proposals related to evolutionary medicine has been issued. To learn more, visit the Evolutionary Medicine Catalysis Meetings page.

These one-time meetings bring together ~30 scientists from diverse disciplines to focus on a major question or research area in evolutionary biology.  Catalysis meetings are intended

  • to focus on a theme that is grand enough to excite and inspire,
  • to increase the scale and ambition of our scientific vision,
  • to design avenues for scientific synthesis,
  • to identify classes of primary data that must be collected before grand-scale synthesis is possible,
  • to initiate a dialogue across disciplinary boundaries,
  • to influence the research programs of potential collaborators,
  • and to facilitate the assembly of scientific networks.

Examples of recently supported catalysis meetings can be found on NESCent’s supported project page.

Meetings should focus on synthetic scientific or educational research in evolutionary science. Meetings will be held at NESCent in Durham, North Carolina. Support includes travel, lodging and per diem. No salary support is provided, and no overhead is allowed. Awardees do not receive an actual budget; NESCent will handle the budgetary needs for all meeting expenses (hotel, airfare, meals, break food, shuttles, taxis, parking, etc.). Specific guidelines will be provided with award information.

Before You Apply

Applicants may contact Allen Rodrigo, Director of NESCent, or Susan Alberts, Associate Director of Science and Synthesis, for feedback on project ideas.  For more information about educational programs at NESCent, please contact Brian Wiegmann, Associate Director for Education and Outreach. You may find the following sources of information useful with respect to NESCent’s policies: Catalysis Meeting Best Practices, Reporting Requirements, Travel Guidelines, and the Data and Software Policy.


Please note that the earliest date of the meeting for applications submitted for the July 10th deadline would be November 1st and for applications submitted for the December 1st deadline would be April 15th. 

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for catalysis meetings are short, not to exceed 5 single-spaced (12-pt type) pages (not including CVs).

Proposals should be organized as follows:

  1. Title (80 characters max)
  2. Short title (25 characters max)
  3. Name and contact information for Project Leader, and any Co-Leaders
  4. Project Summary (250 words max)
  5. Public Summary (250 words max) - written for the public and visible on the NESCent web site
  6. Central Theme - Justify the importance of the Central Theme, and why it will capture the attention and imaginations of the participating scientists.
  7. Rationale for NESCent support - Why can this activity be most effectively conducted through NESCent? Demonstrate that this group of scientists has not met previously. Typically, proposals that have been selected for support by NESCent are those that explicitly capitalize on NESCent's in-house community, its linkages locally, nationally, and internationally, and the IT and logistic resources that are available.
  8. Collaborations with other NESCent Activities – We greatly encourage synergy between sabbatical scholars, short-term visitors, working groups, catalysis groups, and postdoctoral fellows.  If you plan for such collaboration please provide specifics.
  9. Participating Fields and Partial List of Proposed Participants - NESCent encourages groups that go beyond existing collaborations and that include multiple disciplines, emerging scientists including graduate students, and international linkages.  Named individuals should be committed to participating in the project if funded. For each participant please include explicit information about career stage, discipline, institution, and institutional location. A supplementary table (not included in the 5 page limit) may be appended for this purpose.
  10. Outcomes-Proposals should include a statement about the expected outcomes of the meeting.  Also, briefly describe your plans to make resulting data and software available (if applicable); including any conditions that might limit your ability to make these available.These outcomes may include, but are not restricted to:
    • An inventory of new research questions and themes
    • A list of projects that may be suitable for working groups
    • An ontology of unified concepts
    • One or more publications, including review and opinion pieces on how the field can develop.
    • The development of a grant proposal to enable/insure future work in the area (e.g., NSF Research Coordination Networks grants or NESCent Working Groups)
  11. Short CV of Project Leaders (2 pages for each). Do not include talks, society memberships, or papers in preparation.

Proposal Submission

Proposals will be accepted in digital format only as a pdf file. Graphics should be embedded directly into the proposal document. Note that proposals should be submitted as a single pdf file including all of the components listed above, including CVs. Proposals are submitted electronically. Please login first if you have already created a profile. For technical support, write to

Data, Software and Publication Policy

The open availability of data, software source code, methods, and results is good scientific practice and a key ingredient of synthetic research. NESCent expects that all data and software created through NESCent-sponsored activities be made publicly available no later than one year after the conclusion of the NESCent award, or immediately upon publication of an associated article, whichever comes earlier. For more information please visit our Data, Software and Publication Policy.