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How Can I Achieve Broader Impacts with my Research?

It is often difficult for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to address the “broader impacts” on society criterion that is common to many grant applications (particularly NSF grants).  This criterion requests that research is effectively integrated with education, is communicated broadly to a large audience, encourages diversity in science and research, enhances scientific and technical understanding, and benefits society.  Not only is it unclear how exactly to address this criterion, but research projects are often very specific and not easily distributed to a broad audience.  Graduate students need guidance on how to effectively address this criterion when writing grant proposals.  Additionally, graduate students need help in developing and/or finding existing education and public outreach activities that will help them achieve broader impacts.


This site brings together resources and organizations to help UC Davis graduate students and postdocs meet the "Broader Impacts"(B.I.) criterion for NSF grant proposals.

  1. A good place to start would be to review the Broader Impacts information below
    • The "Other Resources for NSF Broader Impacts Information" page provides sites with extensive coverage of all the web resources available to you.
  2. Next, check out the various resources and organizations
    • Below you will find links to the websites of various groups (both on and off campus) whose goals mesh with Broader Impacts criteria.
    • Think creatively about how to meld your skills and interests with a Broader Impacts goal (B.I. criteria don't have to involve working with kids, for example).
    • What kind of a project will have the right balance of meaning and efficiency for you?
    • Don't forget to check with your department's or graduate group's student organization.  Often these student groups (not listed here) have volunteer or outreach activities that are more closely related to your research.  It is also a good way to meet people in your area.
  3. Other ways to distribute research/science to the public


PAST EVENTS & NOTES: including highlights and tips from the question and answer session with NSF reviewers

EXAMPLE outreach VIDEO/RAP that I made (with back-up vocal help from my wife's 2009/10 5th grade class at Anna Kyle Elementary in Fairfield, CA):


  1. Broader Impacts Information

    1. NSF Broader Impacts Document with Representative Activities
    2. Other Resources for NSF Broader Impacts Information
    3. Example successful NSF essays & tips
      1. NOTE: it is much better and easier to write about broader impacts if you have PROOF of broader impacts activities!
    4. Other funding agencies require B.I., or something similar [from Broader Impacts Toolbox]:
      1. NASA has a similar Education and Public Outreach requirement

      2. NIH has a ‘societal impact’ part of their evaluation

  2. Broader Impacts Resources and Organizations

    1. Community Engagement: general organizations
      1. Check with your department's or graduate group's student organization. 
      2. Example: Biomedical Engineering Student Association Outreach program
    2. Community Engagement: environment and wildlife conservation organizations
    3. Informal Education: volunteer opportunities at zoos, museums, etc.
    4. K-12 Educational Programs or Organizations
    5. Identifying Underrepresented Communities & Schools
    6. Undergraduate Mentoring at UC Davis
    7. Communicating Science to the Public: nearby media outlets
  3. Other ways to distribute research/science to the public

    1. Web 2.0 (social/interactive internet)

      1. Blog (need to write often to be good)

        1. Example:

      2. Website (give good chunks of info, not long text)

      3. Make videos

        1. better to be 3 minutes or less

        2. could be used for outreach, presentations, etc.

        3. see my VIDEO/RAP above: THIS IS WHY WE STAY IN SCHOOL
    2. One time events:

      1. National Engineering Week (E-Week) (every year in February)

      2. UC Davis Picnic Day (every year in April)


Other links:



Web page made/updated by Jacob Setterbo as a 2009/2010 Professors for the Future fellow. Please e-mail for comments, questions, and suggestions.  Most links compiled by Annie Leonard and Joshua Hall, 2007/2008 Professors for the Future fellows.

Unique visits since 03/12/2010: blogger statistics

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