Dear Colleague Letter: NSF Accepting Proposals Related to Hurricane Irma

Friday, September 29, 2017

NSF 17-135

September 18, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

With the second major hurricane – Hurricane Irma – to strike the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its staff remain strongly committed to supporting the people and institutions affected by these storms. Now that the consequences of these disasters are upon us, new science and engineering questions are being raised. Through this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF encourages the submission of proposals that seek to address the challenges related to Hurricane Irma. NSF also will support fundamental science and engineering research projects whose results may enable our country to better prepare for, respond to, recover from, or mitigate future catastrophic events. Research proposals relating to a better fundamental understanding of the impacts of the storm (both physical, biological and societal), human aspects of natural disasters (including first responders and the general public), emergency response methods, and approaches that promise to reduce future damage also are welcome.

With NSF support, researchers have a long history of advancing understanding and knowledge about natural and built environments, as well as the relationship between humans and their environments in the context of large-scale disasters. Fundamental science and technological advancements are vital to our continued improvement of disaster preparation and restoration. For example, NSF-funded research has advanced understanding of the mechanisms that cause levee failures, gained new knowledge on the performance of critical infrastructure, and supported efforts to improve flood water decontamination. Researchers also have improved our ability to better predict, with longer lead times, the path of tropical cyclones. NSF support for researchers has led to the deployment of underwater rescue robots in an effort to safeguard emergency workers, developed real-time flood potential models, conducted effectiveness assessments of oil plume dispersants, assessed and advised better hazard-resistant buildings, and developed liquefaction mitigation methods in response to earthquakes. In addition, NSF-funded researchers have made ground-breaking discoveries about the long-term psychological and emotional impacts of national disasters.

Multiple proposal mechanisms are available to conduct new research related to Hurricane Irma.

  • RAPID: Proposals focusing on projects with severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural disasters. RAPID proposal project descriptions are expected to be brief and may not exceed 5 pages, with a maximum request of $200K for one year, although many are much smaller. See the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter II.E.1 for instructions on preparation of a RAPID proposal. (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/pappg_2.jsp#IIE1).
  • EAGER: Proposals to conduct fundamental research representing exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This research may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. EAGER proposal project descriptions are expected to be brief, and may not exceed 8 pages. Requests may be up to $300K and with a maximum award duration of two years. See PAPPG Chapter II.E.2 for instructions on preparation of an EAGER proposal (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/pappg_2.jsp#IIE2).
  • Supplements to existing awards: Small amounts of supplemental funding to existing awards may be requested. See PAPPG Chapter VI.E.4 for instructions on preparation of a supplemental funding request (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/pappg_6.jsp#VIE4).

To submit a RAPID, EAGER or supplemental funding request, investigators must contact the NSF Program Officer most closely related to the proposal topic before submitting, to determine if the proposed activities meet NSF's guidelines for these types of submissions or whether the proposed work is more suitable for submission as an unsolicited proposal. The contact people listed below, one from each NSF directorate, can help investigators identify the appropriate Program Officer.

Proposals submitted pursuant to this DCL may request the use of NSF-funded advanced computing resources such as Blue Waters or Stampede2. In these cases, investigators must contact the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) prior to submission of the proposal.

Proposals may be submitted at any time.

Investigators with general questions are advised to contact one of the following Directorate liaisons:

BIO: Elizabeth Blood, eblood [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-4349

CISE: David Corman, dcorman [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-8745

EHR: David Campbell, dcambel [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-5093

ENG: Joy Pauschke, jpauschk [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-7024

GEO: Mike Sieracki, msierack [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-7585

MPS: John Gillaspy, jgillasp [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-7173

OAC: Ed Walker, edwalker [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-4863

SBE: Robert (Bob) O'Connor, roconnor [at] nsf [dot] gov, (703) 292-7263

Signed by:

James Olds, AD BIO

James Kurose, AD CISE

James Lewis, AD EHR

Dawn Tilbury, AD ENG

William Easterling, AD GEO

James Ulvestad, AD MPS

Fay Cook, AD SBE

Suzanne Iacono, Office Head, OIA

Dear Colleague Letter: Research on Methodologies for STEM Education

Monday, September 25, 2017

NSF 17-136

September 19, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

The EHR Core Research (ECR) program of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) wishes to notify the community of the intention to support fundamental research on methodologies that support valid inferences in STEM education. This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) calls for research proposals to be submitted to the ECR program (NSF 15-509) that will develop and rigorously test new methodologies and grow the community's collective capacity to conduct rigorous research and evaluation on STEM learning and learning environments, workforce development, and broadening participation.

With this DCL, ECR invites proposals on the development, application, and extension of formal models and methodologies for STEM education research and evaluation, including methods for improving statistical modeling, qualitative modeling, measurement, replication, and learning analytics. This includes research on methodological aspects of new or existing procedures for data collection, curation, and inference in STEM education. Similarly, ECR seeks proposals related to collection of unique databases with cross-boundary value, particularly when paired with innovative developments in measurement or methodology (standard statistical modeling, qualitative research, measurement, replication and learning analytics). Proposers must demonstrate how advances in the methodology will support important theoretical insights in STEM education research or evaluation. Proposers are encouraged to explore a wide range of fundamental research projects (in the areas of quantitative, qualitative, measurement, replication, and learning analytics methodologies) that may address, but are not limited to, such topics as:

  • Methodologies to study developmental trajectories of student learning of STEM content;
  • Models and methodologies that increase external validity of STEM research results;
  • Advances in research on evaluation in STEM education;
  • Mediation and moderation analysis as they play out in clustered field settings to support STEM learning;
  • Advances in quantitative research involving growth and interruptions to that growth (e.g., repeated measures designs);
  • Advances in metasynthesis of qualitative research in STEM education;
  • Advances in linguistic analysis applied to STEM education;
  • Advances in construct validity;
  • Advances in network analysis for use in STEM education;
  • Advances in item level factor analysis;
  • Development of models and methodologies to improve and build replication in STEM education research;
  • Advances in the measurement of STEM human and social capital;
  • Advances in methodologies to automate and validate the coding of video data in STEM settings;
  • Advances in Bayesian or computational modeling of STEM education data;
  • Advances in the application of machine learning approaches to STEM education;
  • Improving methods for data sharing for STEM education research;
  • Advances in scientometrics and citation analysis in relation to STEM education research;
  • Improvements in the study of the diffusion of innovation in STEM education.

As described in the ECR program announcement, three levels of funding are available and should align with the maturity of the proposed work, the size and scope of the empirical effort, as well as the capacity of the research team to conduct the proposed research: (1) Level I proposals have a maximum award size of $500,000 and a maximum duration of 3 years; (2) Level II proposals have a maximum total award size of $1,500,000 and a maximum duration of 3 years; (3) Level III proposals have a maximum award size of $2,500,000 and a maximum duration of 5 years. Most, if not all, awards will be funded as Level I studies.

In addition, NSF is interested in supporting capacity building proposals through synthesis projects, conference proposals, and Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals.

Synthesis proposals seek support for synthesis of methodological knowledge on a topic of critical importance to STEM learning and for the diffusion of research-based knowledge to the STEM research community. An example of a synthesis project in this area could include the clarification of the status of research relative to growth modeling and how these models are taken up in STEM learning research with a specific emphasis on directions for new research (i.e., unanswered methodological questions and how answers to these questions would support the evidentiary warrants of STEM education research). Maximum award size for Synthesis proposals is $300,000 for a duration of up to two years.

Conference proposals seek support to conduct highly-focused conferences (or workshops) related to the research goals of the ECR program. Investigators are encouraged to propose workshops as one way to diffuse the research-based knowledge (perhaps developed through a synthesis award). The involvement of, and dissemination to, STEM education researchers is an important aspect of this work. Information about the preparing Conference Proposals is contained in the PAPPG Chapter II.E.7.

The EAGER funding mechanism may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives. Potential investigators must contact an NSF program officer whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic prior to submission of an EAGER proposal. Requests may be for up to $300,000 and of up to two years duration. Information about the preparing EAGER Proposals is contained in the PAPPG Chapter II.E.2.

The annual deadline for submission of proposals to ECR is the second Thursday in September. Conference and EAGER proposals may be submitted throughout the year. The NSF also strongly encourages early career faculty to submit proposals.

Principal investigators interested in submitting proposals (or with other questions pertaining to this DCL) may contact one of the program directors:

Finbarr Sloane, fsloane [at] nsf [dot] gov
Program Director, EHR/DRL
ECR program, ECR [at] nsf [dot] gov

Dear Colleague Letter: Enabling New Collaborations Between Computer and Information Science & Engineering (CISE) and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Research Communities

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

NSF 17-019

With this DCL, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is announcing its intention to build upon the success of previous EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGERs) in the areas supported by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program (see NSF 16-580) and to encourage the submission of additional EAGER proposals that foster novel interdisciplinary research carried out in new collaborations between one or more Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) researchers and one or more Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) researchers. Note that this DCL is focused on new collaborations; research teams with a history of collaborating together should instead submit directly to the SaTC solicitation, pursuant to the proposal preparation guidelines specified therein.

Many scientific and practical challenges of security, privacy, and trust have sociotechnical dimensions, and thus it is important to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers from the disciplines represented in NSF’s CISE and SBE directorates, and on topics that draw on the strengths of each researcher.

Below are some examples of the types of topics that might benefit from collaborations between CISE and SBE researchers under such an EAGER project. This list is by no means intended to be directive or complete. Many important problems demand strong research reflecting integrative perspectives.

  • Ethical, political, legal, cultural, or societal dimensions of security and privacy technologies and their impacts.
  • Security/privacy in the context of social media, including topics such as data aggregation and algorithmic filtering.
  • Addressing online behavioral risks to security, safety, and/or privacy, including trolling, spamming and cyberbullying.
  • Interaction design research on how to accommodate individual and/or collective privacy values and concerns.
  • Inclusive security or privacy mechanisms that adapt to the needs and abilities of underrepresented or disabled individuals or groups.
  • Research on education, training, and awareness around security and privacy for both users and developers of secure and trustworthy systems.
  • Understanding and supporting responses to cyberattacks, ranging from the individual to national scales.
  • Security/privacy at the level of families, groups, communities, and other understudied levels/units of analysis.
  • Organizational strategies, investments, or governance effects on security/privacy, and approaches for improvement.
  • Studies of economic dimensions of security or privacy decision-making, including cost-benefit analyses, incentive structures, and/or mechanism design.
  • Methods for modeling intentions and/or behaviors relevant to cybersecurity. For example, methods could include social network analysis, crowdsourcing, and inter-organizational policy analysis, and combinations thereof.

Proposals submitted pursuant to this DCL must include one or more PIs from the fields supported by the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate, and one or more PIs from those areas supported by the Social, Behavioral, and Economic sciences (SBE) directorate. Proposals should describe how intellectual merit and broader impacts will benefit from the contribution from each discipline. Proposals where one side is mainly in service of the other are not appropriate. Ideally, the research will be interdependent and integrated-sharing visions, models, methods, or discoveries. Such integration may require extra effort in leadership, regular communication, and cross-training. Proposals must also describe how the collaboration will work in the planning, research, and dissemination stages.

Two rounds of submissions are anticipated, with approximately five EAGERs awarded during each round, subject to the availability of funds. The anticipated deadlines for submission of EAGER proposals are December 1, 2016, and April 1, 2017, for the first and second rounds, respectively.

Submission of EAGER proposals will be via Fastlane or Grants.gov. EAGER submissions should follow the NSF's Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). As noted in the PAPPG, EAGER is a funding mechanism for supporting exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. Thus, proposals must talk about why they are appropriate for an EAGER (for instance, proposals that respond to this solicitation may be “high-risk, high-reward” through involving radically different approaches, applying new expertise, or engaging novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives).

An investigator may be included in only one submission (across both rounds) pursuant to this DCL; if more than one is submitted, only the first one submitted will be considered. Submission pursuant to the previous CISE/SBE SaTC EAGER DCLs does not preclude submission in response to this DCL.

For further information, please contact the following SaTC program directors: Drs. Sara Kiesler (skiesler [at] nsf [dot] gov), Nan Zhang (nanzhang [at] nsf [dot] gov), and Dan Cosley (dcosley [at] nsf [dot] gov).


Jim Kurose
Assistant Director, CISE

Fay Lomax Cook
Assistant Director, SBE

NIFA, NSF Announce $6 Million in Available Funding to Develop, Enable Breakthrough Technologies for Plant, Animal Phenomics and Microbiomes

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

View this announcement on the NIFA website.
Media contact: Kelly Flynn, (202) 720-6133

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) today announced $6 million in available funding to support the development of transformative plant and animal phenomics and microbiome technologies.

This USDA-NIFA, NSF-BIO Joint Activity is soliciting Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that address the development of innovative approaches for phenotyping and microbiome characterizations, as well as for elucidating the role of microbiomes in plants and animals. This activity addresses critical gaps in tools available for characterizing plant and animal phenotypes and microbiomes, in part to more fully realize the potential of low-cost high throughput sequencing and genotyping technologies. Types of projects that might be appropriate include but are not limited to:

  • Technologies that increase the accuracy and throughput of existing phenotypic and microbiome data acquisition
  • Extending the diversity of phenotypes that can be measured
  • Automation or mechanization, including robotics and sensors, for phenotyping
  • Standardization of ontologies, interoperability of platforms and systems, and integration of datasets
  • Technologies that would identify the metabolic activities specific to particular microbes within a microbiome as well as facilitating elucidation of biochemical communication between microbes, and between microbes and their hosts
  • Novel modeling approaches that address problems in phenotyping or microbiome structure and function

Proposed studies should be potentially transformative and may be considered "high-risk, high-payoff", and be compatible with the budget and time limits ($300,000, 2 years) of the EAGER funding mechanism.

Summaries are due May 12. Please see the Dear Colleague Letter for more information. For more information on EAGERs, please review the NSF Grant Proposal Guide.

Since 2009, NIFA has invested in and advanced innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, controlling water availability, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.