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Writing for an NSF CAREER Award
My Personal Experience
Sandra Duni Eksioglu, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Mississippi State University
[email protected]
Monday, Feb. 6th, 2012
Short Bio
 Education
 Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, Univ. of Florida (2002)
 Professional Experience
 Asst. Prof. Ind. & Syst. Eng., MSU (2006 to now)
 Asst. Res. Prof. Ind. & Syst. Eng., MSU (2005-2006)
 Asst. Prof. of Manag., Univ. of Evansville (2003-2004)
 CAREER Proposal History
2007 – Did not submit (Had my 2nd child)
2008 – Submitted CAREER - declined
2009 – Did not submit (Had my 3rd child)
2010 – Submitted CAREER - awarded
Biomass-for Biofuel
Supply Chain Design and Management Models
Research Motivations
Biofuels Supply Chain Structure
1. The existing transportation infrastructure
cannot handle the expected increase in
production of renewable energy (9bgy in
2008 to 36bgy by 2022).
2. 18-36% of the cost of biofuels is due to
the logistics of supplying biomass.
Network Flow-Based Modeling
3. The related literature is scarce.
Research Directions
Time t
1. Supply chain design problems
2. Integrated production-distribution
3. Building sustainable supply chains
Time t +1
You Are Not Writing Another Paper!
 Research experience:
 PhD in Supply Chain Optimization
 Received funding for related research from ORED, SERC, NCIT, MDOT,
 Collaborated with faculty from Chemical Eng., Forestry, Ag. Econ. Ag &
Bio Eng., MTA, ORNL
 15 proposals I wrote did not get funded
 Research proposal writing experience:
 Attended a 6-month long proposal writing course (funded by ORED)
 Participated as a reviewer for NSF
 Attended NSF’s CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop
 Education, outreach & other activities:
Chair of BCOE Transportation Working group
Education coordinator for NCIT
Organizer of 4 annual transportation workshops at MSU
Have been involved with WIA, MSU/IMAGE, Quest summer programs
Strategic Plan
 The CAREER Award is NOT a Research Award, it IS
a Career Development award.
 Should reflect your long-term career goals.
 Have enough substance to keep you busy for the next 5 years.
 Should be innovative and fundamental science.
 Should demonstrate you have the expertise, prior experience,
collaborations necessary to make it a success.
 Should be consistent with MSU’s goals.
 Should contribute to the society at large.
Propose a strategic plan you are excited & care about.
 Your writing will reflect this excitement. It is more likely you
will do a better job when you are excited about your work.
 If successful you will be working on it for a long time.
Research Plan
 My research plan has one long term goal
 Two main research streams
 Emerging Research Topics (years 4 and 5)
 Within each research stream I discuss:
 Preliminary findings
 Computational experience
 Work plan:
Model extensions, new models, solution procedures
Education Plan
 My education plan has three components
 Education
Bring research results to the classroom using case studies; involve
undergraduate and graduate students in research
 Outreach activities (leverage on what is happening at
MSU/IMAGE Summer Bridge Program
WIA (women in action – BCOE summer program)
Quest (K-12 – BCOE summer program)
 Industry
Workshop development (CAVS-E)
On-site visits (MTA)
It Is Important To
 Live up to what you are proposing with respect to
research, education and broader impacts.
You can proudly write in your proposal “I did do …”, “I did participate …” These
surely count more than “I will do…”, “I will participate…”
 Dedicate time to write this proposal.
Do not push the writing of the proposal till July. Collaborators may be difficult to
reach bc of summer break. Your motivation goes down after a long year of
 Write for the reviewers. Do not let a reviewer guess.
Clearly state your long-term goals, objectives, rationale and importance of your
research, etc.
 Choose a research and education topic you are
passionate about.
Final Thoughts
Do not be discouraged, the success rate (although very small) it is still
a number grater than zero. APPLY.
Good luck (you will need it)!
 “NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Tips.”
By: ZJ Pen (Ed.), http://www2.imse.ksu.edu/~zpei/ (Free download)
 “ The Grant Application Writer’s Workbook.”
S. Russell and D. Morrison http://www.grantcentral.com
Special Thanks to ORED For
Providing an awesome start-up package which funded a student
for 4 years, travel, summer salary.
Organizing MSU’s proposal writing workshop.
Organizing & funding a visit to NSF for newly hired faculty.
Funding my 6-month course on proposal writing workshop.
Funding my RIP proposal.
Providing funding to cover cost share requirements for proposals
I was awarded.
Always being prompt and providing solutions to any requests I
have had with respect to proposal developments.

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