Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The goal of the RCN-UBE program is to link biological research discoveries with innovations in biology education to improve the learning environment in undergraduate biology classrooms. The program seeks to improve undergraduate education by leveraging the power of a collaborative network recognizing that new educational materials and pedagogies can simultaneously teach biological concepts while creating a supportive and engaging learning environment for all. The RCN-UBE program supports groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and education. The theme or focus of an RCN-UBE proposal can be on any topic likely to advance this goal, and activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries are encouraged. Acknowledging that students’ educational pathways vary, networks that include under-resourced institutions as full, equitable partners are highly desired. Understanding that people from diverse backgrounds bring different experiences and viewpoints, the RCN-UBE program is interested in proposals that include individuals from traditionally underrepresented in biological research and education as members of the steering committee. Lastly, the RCN-UBE program is also interested in developing, testing, and sharing best practices that can transform the online learning environment. 

These efforts supported by RCN-UBE are responsive to the national movement to revolutionize undergraduate learning and teaching in the biological sciences as described in the 2009 “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” report.   Collectively, the RCN-UBE program has contributed to developing and disseminating educational research resources and modules, to forging new collaborations, and to sharing best practices and processes for scalability and sustainability of activities. These efforts have involved a large cadre of faculty, students, and other stakeholders.  

In accord with other RCN awards, RCN-UBE awards provide opportunities to address interdisciplinary topics, to explore innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies, to explore collaborative technologies, and to develop community standards. RCN-UBE awards do not support existing networks or the activities of established collaborations.

Note: Because it addresses undergraduate biology education, the RCN-UBE program is offered in alignment with the NSF-wide undergraduate STEM education initiative, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE). More information about IUSE can be found at the end of the Program Description section of this solicitation and the NSF IUSE solicitation (NSF 21-579). Depending on the scope and nature of the project, investigators should consider applying to IUSE or RCN-UBE.

Deadline: Jan. 23, 2024;  Fourth Tuesday in January, Annually Thereafter

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

An individual may be listed as a PI or co-PI on no more than one full proposal. This restriction does not apply to incubator proposals.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 8 to 12; varies across disciplinary research programs and RCN tracks.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $6,500,000 to $8,000,000, pending availability of appropriations. Past RCN-UBE awards can be found on the RCN program page at:

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

January 23, 2024