LSST EPO and Broader Impacts

During our LSST 2016 Workshop this week, a conversation began regarding how LSST EPO might be able to help newer professors address broader impact needs on their NSF proposals. Here are some of the ideas that surfaced (feel free to share more in the comments below):

  • Kaye Storm’s group at Stanford provides both programs and web-based guidance for broader impacts within NSF proposals: This model is commendable and may offer insights for when LSST EPO reaches the operations stage.
  • A suggestion was made of providing ready-made templates to make the broader impacts write-up easier. Sheri Klug-Boonstra (who has extensive NSF proposal experience at ASU) recommended providing multiple templates as well as template customization depending on type of proposal (e.g., early career, or more fully research-based) to avoid the “cookie cutter” effect of too many proposals listing essentially the same broader impact. In addition, the LSST EPO team would obviously want to review what is being submitted to make sure nothing is being promised that would require unfunded work and that it would pass the rigor of a review to keep the LSST EPO reputation intact.
  • Marge Bardeen suggested a format like her Fermilab-based QuarkNet. For example, interested professors would sign up for a two-day training of LSST EPO tools and resources and then commit to spending 5 cumulative days to pass along that training to at least one high school or middle school teacher in their area. This would combine LSST EPO, professors hoping to acquire NSF funding, and local secondary teachers using LSST data in the classroom to organically grow a close-knit teacher network. There are other programs that follow a similar model (NITARP, RBSE, SDSS, ASTRO, etc)
  • Sheri mentioned they have an ASU MSIP professional development program that takes the above concept and scales it utilizing remote telecommunication technology to cut down on travel costs and increase participation. This is similar to Connie Walker’s NOAO Dark Sky collaboration.

hi Ben- thx for beginning the discussion here – as you know, i’m always interested in metrics (not always easy to quantify for EPO, but worth trying), and how to figure out where best to put efforts when there are so many possibilities of ‘reaching out’.

This specific one of what young faculty can do is a general suggestion that isn’t exactly open to a ‘metrics’ issue i’d say, because of course, it really matters what the faculty do, as far as how it can be measured, so that discussion is a bit orthogonal i’d say, but – overall, great idea to get them to spread the Good Word about LSST , and help themselves at the same time!

Posted on behalf of Kaye Storm:

In case relevant to this conversation, folks from LSST may want to join NABI (National Alliance for Broader Impacts), a group of folks from universities and other institutions around the country responsible for helping their faculty and institutional representatives address NSF’s Broader Impacts requirements. NABI is new and there are not a lot of resources on their website yet but their annual summit is an excellent place to learn about how individual institutions go about doing this. Many have websites much more robust than the one offered by my office at Stanford.

One of my tasks is to help PIs with the BI section of their NSF proposals. I caution that providing templates—especially online—can get into dangerous “cookie cutter” territory, with PIs downloading and using as is. I personally prefer meeting with PIs to encourage a more personalized and original approach, exploring their interests and capabilities, and then, if appropriate, providing some boilerplate or other resources to help them.

I’m coming to this conversation without any context or knowledge of LSST, but I hope these comments are helpful.

Kaye Storm
Director, Office of Science Outreach
Stanford University