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NSF Overview. Internet2 Day @ Marquette University March 5, 2004 Douglas Gatchell. Today’s Talk. Overview of NSF Proposal Process Career Opportunities Funding Opportunities CyberInfrastructure. NSF Vision. Enabling the nation’s future through discovery, learning and innovation. NSF-3.

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NSF Overview

Internet2 Day @ Marquette University

March 5, 2004

Douglas Gatchell

today s talk
Today’s Talk
  • Overview of NSF
  • Proposal Process
  • Career Opportunities
  • Funding Opportunities
  • CyberInfrastructure
nsf vision
NSF Vision

Enabling the nation’s future through discovery, learningand innovation.


nsf in a nutshell
Independent Agency

Supports basic research & education

Uses grant mechanism

Low overhead; highly automated

Discipline-based structure

Cross-disciplinary mechanisms

Use of Rotators/IPAs

National Science Board

NSF in a Nutshell
national science board nsb
National Science Board (NSB)
  • 24 members + Director; President appoints; Senate confirms
  • 6 year terms; rotation every 2 years at May NSB meeting
  • Authority to make awards delegated through NSB to Director and flows down to grant and contract officers
national science foundation
National Science Foundation


Deputy Director

National Science Board

Inspector General

Staff Offices




& Engineering


& Physical






Social, Behavioral

& Economic


Budget, Finance

& Award


Information Resource



& Human


nsf special responsibilities
NSF: Special Responsibilities
  • Polar Programs
    • U.S. Antarctic Program
  • Science Resources Statistics
    • Data collection and analysis
    • Science and Engineering Indicators
  • International


nsf strategic outcome goals
NSF Strategic Outcome Goals
  • People - Developing “a diverse, internationally competitive and globally engaged workforce of scientists, engineers, and well-prepared citizens.”
  • Ideas - Enabling “discoveries across the frontier of science and engineering, connected to learning, innovation, and service to society.”
  • Tools - Providing “broadly accessible, state-of-the-art shared research and education tools.”
federal obligations for basic research at academic institutions fy 2002
Federal Obligations for Basic Research at Academic Institutions, FY 2002

Total Federal Distribution ($000)

NSF Share of Total Federal

Computer sciences


Social sciences

Environmental sciences


Other Sciences

Physical sciences

Biological sciences



Medical sciences


Appropriations for the National Science Foundation FY 1998 - 2004

Total Growth FY 98 – FY 04: $2.15 billion (68%)

Millions of dollars






FY’98 FY’99 FY’00 FY’01 FY’02 FY’03 FY’04 FY’05



Microbial genome sequencing

  • Ecology of infectious diseases
  • Dynamics of coupled natural and human systems
  • Coupled biogeochemical cycles
  • Genome-enabled environmental sciences and engineering
  • Instrumentation development or environmental activities
  • Materials use: science, engineering and society

Agents of change

  • Dynamics of human behavior
  • Decision making under uncertainty
  • Spatial social science
  • Modeling human and social dynamics
  • Instrumentation and data resource development

Fundamental mathematical and statistical sciences

  • Advancing interdisciplinary science and engineering
  • Mathematical and statistical challenges posed by large data sets
  • Managing and modeling uncertainty
  • Modeling complex nonlinear systems
  • Advancing mathematical sciences education

Fundamental research and education:

  • Grand challenges
  • Centers and networks of excellence
  • Infrastructure
  • Societal and educational implications

Integrated science and engineering education investment

  • K-16 faculty preparation and development
  • Focus on broadening participation
  • Research on effective learning paths

Comparison of NSF Budget, Staff, and Competitive Proposal Submission








Percentage Change

1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003

national science foundation proposal statistics
National Science FoundationProposal Statistics
  • 40,073 proposal actions
  • 207,411 reviews
  • 54,000 reviewers
  • 10,844 awards
  • 27.0% funding rate

(Fiscal Year 2003)



NSF Research Grant Profile

  • Competitive awards: 10,844
  • Average annual award: $147,208
  • Median annual award: $99,200
  • Average duration: 2.55 years

(Fiscal Year 2003)



NSF Project Funding Profile

Research Projects



& Management



& Training


Research Centers


Research Facilities


key documents
Key Documents
  • FY 2004 Federal Budget
  • FY 2004 NSF Budget Request
  • Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-2)
  • Science and Engineering Indicators
  • When in doubt –

Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)

  • Provides guidance for preparation of proposals
  • Specifies process for deviations including:
    • individual program announcements; and
    • by written approval of cognizant AD or designee
  • Describes process -- and criteria -- by which proposals will be reviewed
  • Describes process for withdrawals, returns & declinations
  • Describes the award process and procedures for requesting continued support
  • Identifies significant grant administrative highlights
what to look for in a program announcement solicitation
What to Look for in a Program Announcement/Solicitation
  • Goal of program
  • Eligibility
  • Special proposal preparation and/or award requirements
types of proposal submission
No deadlines


Target dates

Submission Windows

Preliminary proposals

Types of Proposal Submission
sections of an nsf proposal
Sections of an NSF Proposal
  • Cover Sheet
  • Project Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • Project Description
  • References Cited
  • Biographical Sketch(es)
  • Budget
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources
  • Special Information & Supplementary Documentation
a good proposal
A good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, with a clear indication of methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, making them known to all who need to know, and indicating the broader impacts of the activity.A Good Proposal
proposal development
Proposal Development
  • Key Questions for Prospective Investigator

1. What do you intend to do?

2. Why is the work important?

3. What has already been done?

4. How are you going to do the work?


proposal development strategies individual investigator
Proposal Development Strategies Individual Investigator
  • Determine your long-term research/education goals or plan
  • Develop your bright idea
    • Survey the literature
    • Contact Investigators working on topic
    • Prepare a brief concept paper
    • Discuss with colleagues/mentors
proposal development strategies individual investigator cont d
Proposal Development Strategies Individual Investigator (cont’d)
  • Prepare to do the project
    • Determine available resources
    • Realistically assess needs
    • Develop preliminary data
    • Present to colleagues/mentors/students
  • Determine possible funding sources
  • Understand the ground rules
proposal development strategies individual investigator cont d1
Proposal Development Strategies Individual Investigator (cont’d)
  • Ascertain overall scope and mission
    • Read carefully solicitation instructions
    • Determine where your project fits
    • Ascertain evaluation procedures and criteria
    • Talk with NSF Program Officer:
      • Your proposed project
      • Specific program requirements/limitations
      • Current program patterns
    • Coordinate with your organization’s sponsored projects office
budgetary guidelines
Budgetary Guidelines
  • Amounts
    • Reasonable for work - Realistic
    • Well Justified - Need established
    • In-line with program guidelines
  • Eligible costs
    • Personnel
    • Equipment
    • Travel
    • Participant Support
    • Other Direct Costs (including subawards, consultant services, computer services, publication costs)
cost sharing
Cost Sharing
  • Unless a program solicitation specifies otherwise, do not:
    • include cost sharing amounts on Line M of the proposal budget; or
    • exceed the cost sharing level or amount specified in the solicitation.
budgetary guidelines cont d
Budgetary Guidelines (cont’d)
  • General Suggestions
  • All funding sources noted in Current and Pending Support
  • Help from Sponsored Projects Office
getting support in proposal writing
NSF Publications

Program Announcements/


Grant Proposal Guide

Web Pages

Funded Project Abstracts

Reports, Special Publications

Program Officers


Former “Rotators”

Mentors on Campus

Previous Panelists

Serve As Reviewer

Sponsored Research Office

Successful Proposals

Getting Support in Proposal Writing

NSF Proposal & Award Process & Timeline

NSF Announces


Returned Without Review/Withdrawn






























Research &




Proposal Receipt

at NSF


DD Concur

90 Days

6 Months

30 Days

Proposal Receipt to Division

Director Concurrence of Program Officer Recommendation

DGA Review & Processing

of Award

Proposal Preparation Time

return without review
Return Without Review

The Proposal:

  • is inappropriate for funding by the National Science Foundation
  • is submitted with insufficient lead-time before the activity is scheduled to begin;
  • is a full proposal that was submitted by a proposer that has received a "not invited" response to the submission of a preliminary proposal;
  • is a duplicate of, or substantially similar to, a proposal already under consideration by NSF from the same submitter;
return without review1
Return Without Review

The Proposal:

  • does not meet NSF proposal preparation requirements, such as page limitations, formatting instructions, and electronic submission, as specified in the Grant Proposal Guide or program solicitation;)
  • is not responsive to the GPG or program announcement/solicitation;
  • does not meet an announced proposal deadline date (and time, where specified); or
  • was previously reviewed and declined and has not been substantially revised.
return without review2
Return Without Review
  • Per Important Notice 127, “Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements related to the Broader Impacts Criterion” --
    • Proposals that do not separately address both criteria within the one-page Project Summary will be returned without review.
nsf merit review criteria
NSF Merit Review Criteria
  • NSB Approved Criteria include:
    • Intellectual Merit
    • Broader Impacts of the Proposed Effort
what is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity
What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
  • Potential Considerations:
    • How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
    • How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.)
    • To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts?
    • How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?
    • Is there sufficient access to resources?
what are the broader impacts of the proposed activity
What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

Potential Considerations:

  • How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning?
  • How well does the activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)?
  • To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships?
what are the broader impacts of the proposed activity1
What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
  • Potential Considerations (continued):
    • Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
    • What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?
reviewer selection
Reviewer Selection
  • Identifying reviewers
  • PI reviewer suggestions
nsf sources of reviewers
NSF Sources of Reviewers
  • Program Officer’s knowledge of what is being done and who’s doing what in the research area
  • References listed in proposal
  • Recent technical programs from professional societies
  • Recent authors in Scientific and Engineering journals
  • S&E Abstracts by computer search
  • Reviewer recommendations
  • Investigator’s suggestions
  • (Letter to Program Officer)
investigator input
Proposers are invited to either suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal or identify persons they would prefer not to review the proposal.Investigator Input
role of the review panel
Role of the Review Panel
  • Quality Control
  • Budget Constraints
  • Balancing Priorities
  • Taking Risks
funding decisions
Funding Decisions
  • Feedback to PI
  • Informal and formal notification
  • Scope of work and budget discussions
reasons for funding a competitive proposal
Likely high impact

PI Career Point (tenured?/“established”/ “young”)

Place in Program Portfolio

Other Support for PI

Impact on Institution/State

Special Programmatic Considerations (CAREER/RUI/EPSCoR)

Diversity Issues

Educational Impact

“Launching” versus “Maintaining”

Reasons For Funding A Competitive Proposal
nsf reconsideration process
NSF Reconsideration Process
  • Explanation from Program Officer
  • Written request for reconsideration to Assistant Director within 90 days of decline
  • Request from organization to Deputy Director
career program objectives
CAREER Program Objectives
  • Strongly encourage new faculty, emphasizing planning of an integrated academic career
  • Develop faculty who are both highly productive researchers and dedicated, effective educators
  • Form partnership with college or university to encourage balanced career development of individual faculty
  • Increase participation of those traditionally underrepresented in technical disciplines
career guidelines
CAREER Guidelines
  • Review process varies by Directorate, and may be by mail, panel, or combination
  • Normal indirect cost rate applies
  • 5 year duration
  • Minimum Award: $400K over 5 years
career development plan
CAREER Development Plan

Should include:

  • The objectives and significance of the proposed integrated research and education activities;
  • The relation of the research to the current state of knowledge in the field and of the education activities to the current state of knowledge on effective teaching and learning in one’s field of study;
  • An outline of the plan of work, describing the methods and procedures to be used, including evaluation of the education activities;
  • The relation of the plan to the PI’s career goals and job responsibilities and the goals of his/her institution; and
  • A summary of prior research and education accomplishments
atkins report

Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure

Atkins Report
  • Ubiquitous, digital knowledge environments that are both interactive and functionally complete
  • Revolutionize and accelerate the processes of discovery, learning and innovation across the science and engineering frontier.

cyberinfrastructure characteristics
Cyberinfrastructure Characteristics
  • Community-Focused
    • virtual organizations
    • distributed,
    • collaborative
  • Scale and Scope
    • Multidisciplinary
    • International
    • Supporting data- and compute-intensive applications
    • High-end to desktop
    • Heterogeneous
  • Common Technology & Policy Platform(s)
    • Interoperability
    • Supports characteristics above
integrated ci system meeting the needs of a community of communities

Domain-specific Cybertools (software)

Shared Cybertools (software)

Distributed Resources (computation, communicationstorage, etc.)

Integrated CI Systemmeeting the needs of a community of communities
  • Applications
  • Environmental Science
  • High Energy Physics
  • Proteomics/Genomics

DevelopmentTools & Libraries

Education and Training

Discovery & Innovation

Grid Services & Middleware


the computing continuum
The Computing Continuum









The Networking Continuum



(‘smart dust”)

Regional and National Networks






Douglas Gatchell

    • International Networking Program Director
      • NSF: National Science Foundation
      • CISE: Directorate for Computer Information and Science and Engineering
      • SCI: Division of Shared Cyberinfrastructure