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Is this just for plant associated microbes?live answered
Does specimen include dna/rna?A specimen could be DNA/RNA — the plan could apply to any permanently preserved sample
Although more (&better) requirements for specimens generated by NSF science obviously has numerous benefits as discussed today, what about the disadvantages? I think we all know researchers who choose to not do specimen-based work in US National Parks because of the seemingly onerous and perpetual paperwork requirements for those specimens. Might not this new plan actually deter some PIs from making collections intended for archiving?

Some ecologists, for example, collect, ID, count, and then destroy all their specimens. Might not this plan actually increase the likelihood of this happening? Will reviewers reject such proposals?
The "destroy all specimens" component of this is exactly what a SMP would hopefully address by prmoting the value of vouchering and making it a requirement of funding. The hope is that a SMP would not be that great of a hurdle that it would dissaude anyone from collecting. This is a collaborative discussion that will need to be had.Even without a SMP many ecologists consider preparation of a proper voucher collection from their research an undue burden. The SMP requirement would only confirm their concerns thus making them even less willing to do such science. My main question is what advice will reviewers and program managers get to identify proposals that claim a SMP is not applicable when in fact, they SHOULD be preparing voucher specimens. For example, a study using only photos to identify pollinators coming to flowers.
Will the final rules dictate that PIs must work with a biorepository vs. just keeping everything locally in their lab, like they have probably done in the past?Hopefully, yes. One of the problems an SMP will address is collectiosn that languish in labs and are not available to downstream use by other PI's or for verification/reproducible science
Please define what you mean by "curate these specimens." Does this simply mean ID and label them, or do you mean care for them? If the latter, for how long?Curation would include catalog/digitize, preserve and care for. Obviously researcher projects cannot be on the hook for funding the care of these collections in perpetuity but at least for a short period to cover initial deposition. Details of this are obviously strill to be worked out in consultation with the community. It will also vary by discipline - more for a bird or mammal than an insect e.g.Several of the US publicly accessible Algal collections use a model where they sell access to the physical strains that have been deposited in the collection (some have different rates for academics versus companies). We highlight this in proposals as part of the stable financial model we have to include in the text. This is a model that works OK for the longer term support (ie., beyond the life of a project) and could work for other collections. Comment submitted by Mike Lomas
Has anyone considered including NSF Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology group into these discussions? They already have some of this within their soliciciation but it is not *required*.

“Specimen deposition: Proposals that incorporate fieldwork or new collections of any kind should include the following: well-documented plans for fieldwork coordination and permitting, vouchering of new collections, specimen preparation, long-term specimen storage regimes that are openly accessible, specimen identifications and descriptions, georeferencing, data modeling and databasing, and rapid dissemination of data into public databases. If physical specimens are to be deposited in a repository, a statement from the repository agreeing to store the specimens should be included in the Other Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.”
That is great to know. We are eager to involve all communities in these discussions and learning from others experiences in similar requirements that are already in place.
Derek Sikes’ point about ecological samples is critical. Much ecological, taxon-based research is *not repeatable* because vouchers are viewed as unimportant. National Parks, as Sikes noted, are difficult to work with. They require specimens to be deposited in their institutions, but these specimens are largely inaccessible and not curated. As an entomologist, voucher specimens can be critical to verifying ecosystem patterns.
Can the group please discuss how this might affect funding of non-US, international collections. For example, when doing international fieldwork, the first set of specimens must remian in the home country; when working in groups were only unicates can be collected, all specimens will be housed on international, non-US collections.There would need to be some provisions for repository agreement type collecting but would provide similar guidance on collaboration with international repositories.
My concern with this is if there are enough repositories that can meet the needs of the scientific community. This is in reference to a prior question by Daren Card.“Biorepository” can be viewed largely as a functional term. (M)any collections can have a suitably sized biorepository sub-function (even and especially if this is not part of their official name, or closely physically associated with a space). So, I would think that part of the solution is functional diversification for collections, to entail some “biorepository” function.
My concern with this is if there are enough repositories that can meet the needs of the scientific community. This is in reference to a prior question by Daren Card.The simple answer to this is that why are specimens being collected if there is no inent to lodge them with a repository to vouch for the research? It is also something that NSF could use to show that ore infrastructure is needed
Research projects that do not primarily intend to collect specimens may nonetheless end up doing so, for example through accidental mortalities, bycatch, or salvage. Do we know whether SMPs would be required for a research project whose goal is not actually to collect?live answered
Research projects that do not primarily intend to collect specimens may nonetheless end up doing so, for example through accidental mortalities, bycatch, or salvage. Do we know whether SMPs would be required for a research project whose goal is not actually to collect?Unintentional collecting can nevertheless be predictable, to some degree of certainty. When and where that is the case, I could see the utility of having an SMP. We don’t know what NSF will *require*, specifically (and to start vs. years into practice).
Is it worthwhile to distinguish between aquisition and long term storage costs? Whereas a SMP can sensibly cover the aquisition and identification of specimens costs, how can the perpetual, longterm storage of specimens be funded with "finite" funding?live answered
What consideration in the SMP is there to spreading out the load of specimen management among institutions, so that it's not only the "popular" or otherwise well-known biorepositories who get contacted about depositing specimens? I think about the big institutions just continuing to get larger, whereas it would behoove the community to diversify for answered
How can one ensure that the specimens covered by an agreement are actually deposited?live answered
Another model for the community to look at is the agreements and repository costs that are involved with paleontological and archaeological mitigation. These often involve a formal agreement as to what specimen preparation needs to be done, who is doing that, what curatorial standards must be met, and what the fee will be per unit (for example, per cubic foot).
The slides are very useful- is it possible to post a pdf of them in the chat?We can certainly provide a link to the slide deck after the webinar
The current version of SMP draft proposal does not mention evidence or vouchers. Any intention behind the terminology choice?live answered
Though Addgene (where I work) does not need to spend as much money/people hours reaching out proactively to get new deposits as we used to, for many years we had people whose sole job was to solicit new deposits for the collection. For the smaller repositories who don’t have that in their budget, how will you make potential depositing scientists aware of their options, and maintain that awareness long term?There are distinct linkages here to a Collections Registry with complete metadata where PIs could find details about strengths and potential opportunities to deposit. The GBIF registry is a start of that.
Thank you, Andy Bentley, for that reminder. If your NSF-funded research requires deposition/curating in a developing country, please talk to your in-country partners or proposed biorepositories about theirs costs and their funding to receive what you collected for your research and have that conversation beforehand. Greetings from Colombia! :-)Andrew, this is a terrific point., We need to more effectively address funding collecitons and curation across borders.
Hi- would the funds available be part of the current grant proposal limits set by NSF or would extra funds just for the collections be contributed through NSF?Yet to be determined. Obviously this money all comes from the same "pot" so to speak and as such it would probably have to come from existing funds available to a directorate. However, there is potential for showing that kire funding is necessary based on an SMP.
Hi, Andy! What is that amount of time? 4 to 5 years of a grant seems insufficient.This is a discussion that needs to be had as a community. It amy also vary by discipline.
Who will set the standards for curation of collections? The few published standards for most groups are sadly answered
Is this group / BCoN / USCCN working with permitting agencies to both educate and encourage these agencies to approve research and know about these efforts? For United States, there could be a great benefit in working with US Fish and Wildlife Service and individual state agencies (Fish and Game/Wildlife) that regulate specimen collection at different levels. AFWA (the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, ) would be the most appropriate connection to make with scientists.Tom, this in an importat issue. The one model I am aware of is the Ornithological Council which is funded by a set of ornithological socieities. This is a professional with expereince in interacting with the federal agencies about permits.
Given that the massive accumulation of observation-only records (those without links to a voucher specimen in a museum/herbarium) from citizen science projects are fast overthrowing records from voucher specimens, are there ways to equally encourage citizen science collecting of voucher specimens? Or is the collecting of vouchers a task for professional collectors?live answered
When NSF will implement this SMP?It is not clear when or if NSF will implement a requirement. The Chips and Science Act states that is up to the Director to make the decision upon conferring with other federal agencies.
When NSF will implement this SMP?That is the next step in this process. We are currently trying to encourage NSF that this should be a requirement and therwafter will have to work with them to out something in place. It is however specifically mentionedin the CHIPS bill so hopefully soon :)
On the topic of standards for curation: some posted standards will be helpful, but individual repositories need to be able to define specific requirements answered
If the term voucher is not suitable for all, maybe the term « accession » can replace itThere were many such discussion even within BCoN. At this point, high level, it is possibly good to use the terminology in the CHIPS+ Bill in the main, but then contextualize for specific application communities.
Is there somewhere that the broader comminity (i.e., people on this call and others) can continue the conversation or provide more ideas/feedback?Yes, there will be a link posted after thr webinar where you will be able to provide comment or continue the discussion
Following up on Jennifer Bauer's comment re. sedimentary geology and paleo specimens, is there a reason why the current SMP wouldn't be extended to abiotic specimen collection?No, none that I can think of - just not in our current wheel house. Please encourage us to include in future iterations through commenting after the webinar
NSF has already updated individual solicitations to reflect the SMP language in the Chips & Science Act: see all BIO core solicitations (for example:
How will specimen management plans affect small, regional collections? Most small collections are underfunded, and could benefit from this funding implications stemming from this change in NSF policy. However, their longevity is difficult to ascertain, and this policy might push funding towards larger institutions.I think one strategy to consider is to work with one’s administration and explain that, in order to be competitive for future NSF funding, this (SMP) is the direction into which the sample based research community and funding agency are moving. “What is our institution’s response?”
We saw examples of depository agreements online. Maybe institutions could also have guidance for collecting vouchers.The hope is that we as a community can provide templates for these kinds of documents and the specifics thereof. Next steps
The presence of exchange visits by experts in data collection and collection management between museums, botanical gardens and research centers is considered one of the main pillars in unifying data collection and management systems, in addition to developing and improving the mechanism for managing samples, especially in museums, botanical gardens and emerging research centers
Another comment, not question: It will be helpful if the SMP includes a statement of who at the research institution has the authority to transfer ownership of specimens to an external repository such as a museum. You might be surprised at how many researchers assume that they *personally* own the specimens they have collected, and have no idea who at their institutions can sign off on depositing them elsewhere.Excellent point, Trina. Have, publish, honor an accession agreement. Generally a good thing, but reinforced by new SMP dynamics.
with citizen scientists collecting plants, I think it should be heavily considered because even people without permits to collect go out and poach plants.Poachers are not likely to consider lodging specimens :)
Per Katharina’s comment, here is the language from DEB for the Data Management Plan ( in reference to specimen management:

For projects that involve collecting or generating specimens (e.g. organisms, parts of organisms, fossils including trace fossils, microbial isolates, etc), the Data Management Plan must include a description of how the specimens and associated data will be accessioned into and maintained in an established biological collection.
Thank you, Pam!
The SMP is part of the Data Management Plan, as per Chips and Sience Act. The NSF does not have additional funds for this at the current time that are dedicated to that particular item. The costs that are associated with collections need to be included in the NSF budget. (I am a PD at NSF)Thank you!
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