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  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on June 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NSF announces major investment in spectroscopy to advance critical imaging technologies", Establishment of a geographically distributed Network for Advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance., National Science Foundation (US)   

    From National Science Foundation (US) : “NSF announces major investment in spectroscopy to advance critical imaging technologies” 

    From National Science Foundation (US)

    June 16, 2021
    Media Affairs, NSF
    (703) 292-7090
    media@nsf.gov

    1
    Proteins play important roles in cellular signaling. The image shows a structural model of a protein enzyme bound to its target molecule as part of the process to modulate the signaling. NMR spectroscopy was used to identify the bipartite binding interface between the enzyme and its substrate. The ultra-high field NMRs planned for the NAN will provide even better resolution, speed, and sensitivity for similar analyses leading to new understandings in structural biology. Credit: Irina Bezsonova, Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, UCONN Health.

    The U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing biomolecular research through the establishment of a geographically distributed Network for Advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. This investment of $40 million is made through NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure II program, an NSF-wide effort to meet the research community’s needs for modern research infrastructure to support science and engineering research.

    The network will allow researchers to have access to ultra-high field nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers to study the structure, dynamics and interactions of biological systems and small molecules. Understanding how these facets interact and how life has evolved and adapted, including under extreme conditions and environments, will advance the scientific community’s understanding of biology and may result in the development of new materials, battery components, pharmaceutical ingredients, nanomaterials, surface coatings and catalysts. These new materials can further advance fields such as biology, medicine, engineering, electronics and manufacturing.

    “This new infrastructure, along with the network of scientists to support it, will help advance research in biological sciences across the country through innovative experimentation and new biological insights,” said NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences Joanne Tornow. “This project can help us understand more about the world around us and how life has adapted to that world, allowing us to harness those adaptations to biotechnologies and to enable a future vibrant U.S. bioeconomy.”

    The project creates a centralized network led by the University of Connecticut (US) School of Medicine in partnership with the University of Georgia (US) and University of Wisconsin (US). Through this network, a broad geographic range of researchers across disciplines will have access to nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Researchers who currently do not use this technology but whose work could benefit from it will be given the opportunity to engage with this cutting-edge field and expand their research. Remote users at any institution will be able to bring or send their samples to take advantage of the program. Expanding the availability of ultra-high field nuclear magnetic resonance resources in the U.S. will allow scientists to conduct innovative science and studies in partnership and on par with researchers in other countries.

    The network will also broaden participation in STEM by providing technological resources, training and access to collaborators to students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM and those at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The network will also engage in community outreach and create a set of online tutorials, protocols, and additional technical materials.

    For decades, NSF has funded cutting-edge infrastructure that allows scientists to push the frontiers of science and engineering. Through the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure program, NSF supports experimental research capabilities that have strong scientific merit, respond to an identified need of the research community, demonstrate technical and managerial readiness for implementation, include a well-developed plan for student training in the design and implementation of mid-scale research infrastructure, and involve a diverse workforce in mid-scale facility development.

    More information about the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-2 program and the Network for Advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance project can be found at http://www.nsf.gov.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) (US) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:17 pm on April 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NASA’s Minority University Research and Education program, , National Science Foundation (US), NSF and NASA sign collaborative agreement to expand activities for broadening participation in engineering", NSF’s Broadening Participation in Engineering and NSF INCLUDES   

    From National Science Foundation (US) and From National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) : “NSF and NASA sign collaborative agreement to expand activities for broadening participation in engineering” 

    From National Science Foundation (US)

    From National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)

    April 26, 2021

    1
    The U.S. National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the framework for collaborative efforts to broaden participation in engineering. Credit: Stock Rocket/Shutterstock.

    The National Science Foundation (US) and National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the framework for collaborative efforts to broaden participation in engineering.

    The collaboration will involve NASA’s Minority University Research and Education program, which engages underrepresented populations through a wide variety of initiatives, and NSF’s Broadening Participation in Engineering and NSF INCLUDES programs. NSF INCLUDES supports national infrastructure for collaborations that broaden participation in STEM fields for historically underrepresented groups. NSF’s Broadening Participation in Engineering program supports research to develop a diverse, inclusive and well-prepared engineering workforce.

    “The goal with this new agreement is to leverage NASA and NSF programs to build coalitions of public and private organizations who use evidence-based concepts for broadening participation of underrepresented groups in engineering,” said NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources Karen Marrongelle. “NSF’s investments in engineering research and education build and strengthen a national capacity for innovation that leads to greater prosperity and a better quality of life. Through this partnership with NASA, NSF aims to build on and scale up broadening participation programs in engineering to reach underrepresented populations nationwide, a much-needed effort to build the STEM workforce of the future.”

    Under the new agreement, NSF and NASA intend to collaborate on a common agenda and joint review of proposals; the agreement also provides more flexibility to support research, education, and workforce development proposals of mutual interest to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in engineering.

    “NASA and NSF have benefited from a partnership spanning decades that advances space and science research,” said NASA Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement Mike Kincaid. “This new collaboration enables NASA to leverage substantial NSF INCLUDES investments for the next generation of future explorers and innovators. Working together, our agencies can further strengthen a diverse STEM workforce that will achieve missions beyond our imaginations.”

    The new partnership aims to broaden participation in engineering by expanding opportunities for institutions and organizations to engage students and researchers through NSF and NASA programs. Activities may include educational experiences for students from kindergarten through college, professional development of educators, new course and curriculum development, and workforce inclusion research.

    “This exciting collaboration between NSF and NASA brings together our complementary activities and connections,” said NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Dawn Tilbury. “As partners, we can significantly improve our ability to grow a diverse, equitable and inclusive engineering workforce and create innovations that benefit society.”

    NSF’s long-standing partnership with NASA dates back to the creation of NASA in 1958. Earlier this year, the agencies signed an agreement reaffirming their commitment to advance mutually beneficial research programs ranging from astrophysics to earth system science to ocean and climate monitoring activities, with special emphasis on those activities that use NSF-managed facilities, including those in the Antarctic.

    For information about NSF’s broadening participation efforts and agency programs, visit nsf.gov. For information on NASA’s programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) (US) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "10 NSF funded studies that show the challenges and complexities of climate change", National Science Foundation (US)   

    From National Science Foundation (US) : “10 NSF funded studies that show the challenges and complexities of climate change” 

    From National Science Foundation (US)

    April 20, 2021

    In a complex dance, Earth’s climate affects, and is affected by, the sky, land, ice, sea — and by life, including people. To understand climate change, which scientists believe may be one of the most important challenges humankind has ever faced, we need to comprehend Earth’s natural and human systems and how they interact. The answers may determine the future of life on our planet. For Earth Day, we look at 10 recent discoveries from U.S. National Science Foundation-funded climate change research and what they tell us about a warming planet.

    1
    Many protected areas do not take into account the potential long-term effects of climate change. Photo Credit: Mandy Choi via Unsplash.

    1. Climate change forcing a rethinking of conservation biology planning.

    Creating and managing protected areas is key for biodiversity conservation. With changes in climate, species will need to migrate to maintain their habitat needs. Those that lived in protected areas 10 years ago may move outside those zones to find new areas that provide the climate and food they need to survive. Researchers looked at the amount of new protected areas in several regions, including areas where climate change is projected to be slower; areas where the terrain can shelter a high number of species; and areas that increase connectivity between protected zones, which allow species to move between them to escape adverse climate conditions. The study suggests that countries have not fully taken advantage of the potential of protected areas.

    2
    In the Mojave Desert, burrowing mammals are weathering hotter, drier conditions. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Murray Foubister.

    2. In a desert seared by climate change, burrowers fare better than birds.

    In the arid Mojave Desert, small burrowing mammals such as the cactus mouse, the kangaroo rat and the white-tailed antelope squirrel are weathering the hotter, drier conditions triggered by climate change better than their winged counterparts. Over the past century, climate change has pushed the Mojave’s searing summer temperatures ever higher; the blazing heat has taken its toll on the desert’s birds. However, the research team that documented the birds’ decline also found that small mammal populations have remained relatively stable since the beginning of the 20th century. Using computer models to simulate response to heat, the researchers showed that small mammals’ resilience is likely due to their ability to escape the sun in underground burrows and their tendency to be more active at night.

    3
    IODP researchers work aboard the ocean drillship JOIDES Resolution. Photo Credit: International Ocean Discovery Program.

    3. Scientists solve climate change mystery.

    Scientists have resolved a key climate change mystery, showing that the annual global temperature today is the warmest in the past 10,000 years. The findings challenge long-held views on the temperature history of the Holocene era, which began about 12,000 years ago and continues to the present. Using fossils of single-celled organisms from the ocean surface to reconstruct the temperature histories of the two most recent warm intervals on Earth, the researchers found that the first half of the Holocene was colder than in industrial times due to the cooling effects of remnant ice sheets from the previous glacial period. The warming was caused by an increase in greenhouse gases, as predicted by climate models.

    4
    Meltwater lakes on Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf in January 2020. Photo Credit: Thomas Simons.

    4. Extreme melt on Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf.

    Antarctica’s George VI Ice Shelf experienced record melting during the summer season of 2019-2020 compared with 31 previous summers. The extreme melt coincided with record-setting stretches when local air temperatures were at or above the freezing point. The scientists studied the 2019-2020 melt season using satellite observations that can detect meltwater on top of the ice and in the near-surface snow. They observed the most widespread melt and greatest total number of melt days of any season for the northern George VI Ice Shelf. Understanding the impact of surface melt on ice shelf vulnerability can help researchers more accurately project the future influence of climate on sea level rise.

    5
    The central fissure of the Laki volcano in Iceland. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    5. Tree rings and Iceland’s Laki volcano eruption: A closer look at climate.

    By reading between the lines of tree rings, researchers reconstructed what happened in Alaska when the Laki Volcano erupted in 1783 — half a world away in Iceland. Laki spewed more sulfur into the atmosphere than any other Northern Hemisphere eruption in the last 1,000 years. The Inuit in North America tell stories about the year summer never arrived. Benjamin Franklin, who was in France at the time, noted the “fog” that descended over much of Europe and reasoned that it led to an unusually cold winter on the continent. What happened to climate from the eruption reflects a combination of the volcano’s effects and natural variability. The research is helping fine-tune future climate predictions.

    6
    By the late 21st century, the number of people suffering extreme droughts will double. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    6. By the late 21st century, the number of people suffering extreme droughts will double.

    Scientists are undertaking a global effort to offer the first worldwide view of how climate change could affect water availability and drought severity in the decades to come. By the late 21st century, the global land area and population facing extreme droughts could more than double — increasing from 3% during 1976-2005 to 7%-8%. More people will suffer from extreme droughts if a medium-to-high level of global warming continues and water management is maintained in its present state. Areas of the Southern Hemisphere, where water scarcity is already a problem, will be disproportionately affected. The researchers predict this increase in water scarcity will affect food security and escalate human migration and conflict.

    7
    Paleoecologist Sora Kim studies ancient shark teeth to learn about Earth’s history. Photo Credit: University of California – Merced (US).

    7. Shark teeth offer clues to ancient climate change.

    A character in the movie “Jaws” said that all sharks do is “swim and eat and make little sharks.” It turns out they do much more than that. Sharks have roamed Earth’s oceans for more than 400 million years, quietly recording the planet’s history. If a researcher like paleoecologist Sora Kim of the University of California, Merced, wants to “read” those records to learn about major global changes that took place 50 million years ago, she must decode the information stored in what remains of ancient sharks: their teeth. Teeth from the long-extinct sand tiger shark are providing new information about global climate change and the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates.

    8
    Researchers stand at the entrance to a cave in Mallorca. Photo Credit: University of South Florida (US)

    8. Scientists reconstruct 6.5 million years of sea level in the Western Mediterranean.

    The pressing concern posed by rising sea levels has created a need for scientists to predict how quickly the oceans will rise in coming centuries. To gain insight into future ice sheet stability and sea level rise, new findings draw on evidence from past periods when Earth’s climate was warmer than today. To reconstruct past sea levels, researchers used deposits found in caves on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. The scientists determined that the extent of these unique deposits corresponds with the fluctuating water table, providing a way to precisely measure past sea levels.

    9
    The great purple emperor butterfly is one of countless insect species needing human assistance.  Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Peeliden.

    9. Unsure how to help insect declines? Researchers suggest some ways.

    Florida Museum of Natural History entomologist Akito Kawahara’s message is straightforward: We can’t live without insects; they’re in trouble; and there’s something all of us can do to help. Kawahara’s research has focused on answering questions about moth and butterfly evolution, but he’s increasingly haunted by studies that sound the alarm about plummeting insect numbers and diversity. One of the culprits? Climate change. In response, Kawahara has turned his attention to boosting appreciation for some of the world’s most misunderstood animals. Now, Kawahara and his colleagues outline easy ways to contribute to insect conservation, including mowing less, dimming the lights, using insect-friendly soaps and sealants, and becoming insect ambassadors.

    10
    A satellite image of a dust plume crossing the Korean Peninsula. Photo Credit: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.

    10. Will warming bring a change in the winds? Dust from the deep sea provides a clue.

    The westerlies — or westerly winds — play an important role in weather and climate locally and on a global scale by influencing precipitation patterns, affecting ocean circulation, and steering tropical cyclones. Assessing how they will change as climate warms is crucial. The westerlies usually blow from west to east across the planet’s mid-latitudes, but scientists have noticed that over the last several decades, these winds are moving toward the poles. Research suggests this shift is due to climate change. Scientists developed a new way to apply paleoclimatology, the study of past climate, to the behavior of the westerly winds and found evidence that atmospheric circulation patterns will change with climate warming. This breakthrough in understanding how the winds changed in the past may show us how they will continue to in the future.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) (US) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:23 pm on April 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "7 cool NSF-funded robots that are advancing science and helping society", "SLOBS" might help develop robots that can work with little communication to accomplish tasks in the real world., , National Science Foundation (US), NSF-supported researchers are examining how California blackworms move and form collective aggregations called 'blobs"., , The scientists created a swarm of nanobots called "Smarticle" (smart active particle) blobs or "SLOBS"   

    From National Science Foundation (US) : “7 cool NSF-funded robots that are advancing science and helping society” 

    From National Science Foundation (US)

    4.8.21

    Whether microscopic or human-sized, inspired by tree-dwelling mammals or pasta, the family of U.S. National Science Foundation-funded robots captures the incredible innovation possible with cross-disciplinary collaboration across STEM fields. The critical research NSF supports enables advances in the physical aspects of robotic systems and how they “think” and understand the world around them. Scientists and engineers are training robots to support the workforce; training the workforce that will use them; and studying how the world understands and interacts with these autonomous systems. The following are seven projects featuring amazing new robots and highlighting the exciting ways in which robots could benefit individuals, industry and society.

    1
    Researchers developing the Smarticle robots also created comics in multiple languages to help engage students. Credit: Lindsey Leigh.

    1. Swarming Nanobot SLOBS

    Understanding how organisms move, eat, breathe and interact with their environments — and how those actions are affected by their genes, musculature and brains — is critical to advancing the understanding of adaptation and evolution. This can lead to advances in robotics, prosthetics and vehicles. NSF-supported researchers are examining how California blackworms move and form collective aggregations called blobs, that protect individual worms and enable actions that would be impossible for single worms alone. The scientists created a swarm of nanobots called “Smarticle” (smart active particle) blobs or “SLOBS”, to model and better understand this behavior. Eventually the SLOBS might help develop robots that can work with little communication to accomplish tasks in the real world. The researchers also created comics in multiple languages to help engage kids in the science.

    2
    Researchers aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson preparing to deploy a Global Ocean Biogeochemistry (GO-BGC) float. Credit: Andreas Thurnerr.

    2. Global Robotic Network

    Robotic profiling floats equipped with sensors are helping scientists measure and sense changes in the ocean, including in places humans can’t easily reach, like the deep sea. Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array floats — the first 12 of which will be launched over the next month — will carry chemical and biological sensors to take measurements from a depth of 2,000 meters to the surface and will report every 10 days for the next several years via satellite communications systems. The measurements will transform the ability to observe and predict, at the global scale, the effects of climate change on the ocean and the many organisms that call it home. Each float was also adopted and named by a grade school class.


    Tumbling Magnetic Microrobots In Vivo.

    3. Micro Back-Flipping Robot

    Robots also can go inside — inside humans, that is! NSF funding helped develop the mechanics and computing necessary to create microbots that can travel within the human body and provide insight into the state of internal organs or help deliver drugs to hard-to-reach locations. Directly administering drugs to specific sites can help avoid harmful side effects, including hair loss or stomach bleeding. One such robot is the size of a few human hairs and can do back (and side) flips to help deliver medicines to the colon and other organs that have rough terrain. The flips are created by applying a rotating external magnetic field. The robot has been tested in experiments in animal models, and the researchers hope human use is on the horizon.

    4
    Nina Sinatra with ultra gentle soft robotic fingers and jellyfish. Photo Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University(US).

    4. Soft Robotic Fingers

    Robots can serve as crucial tools for conducting research on living specimens, especially undersea creatures sensitive to human contact. NSF-funded scientists developed a tool that resembles soft robotic linguine fingers for use in handling jellyfish. Specimens that were handled by the robotic grippers showed far less stress than those touched by human hands. These soft robots will also enable researchers to better study sensitive coral formations and other organisms to understand how they evolve and adapt without damaging them. On land, the robotic fingers could be used to harvest fruit without bruising it or rehabilitate the muscles of stroke patients — things rigid robots can’t do.

    5
    EMAR (center) with Elin Björling (front row, 3rd from right) and the team that developed the robot. Photo Credit: Dennis Wise/UW.

    5. WALL-E Meets Big Hero 6

    It’s not easy being a teenager. According to the Pew Research Center, anxiety and depression are rising among U.S. teens, with potentially large-scale negative consequences for their education, development and overall health. As any parent or teacher knows, getting teenagers to talk about their mental state can be a challenge. Enter EMAR, the Ecological Momentary Assessment Robot, designed by NSF-funded scientists to explore the idea of using robots to accurately measure stress levels in teenagers. An intentionally lo-fi mashup of the movie characters Wall-E and “Big Hero 6’s” Baymax, EMAR is exploring whether schools can incorporate robots aimed to help understand and address health issues common in students in the U.S. The research team also led a design challenge where teens from local high schools designed their own social robots.


    Georgia Tech deploys SlothBot in Atlanta Botanical Garden.

    6. SlothBot

    While many robots are envisioned as a means to perform tasks more quickly and efficiently than humans, some robots perform better by moving slowly. SlothBot, a slow-moving and energy-efficient robot, lingers among the trees to monitor animals, plants and the environment. Created by engineers under the Robotarium project at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, SlothBot mimics the low-energy lifestyle of its namesake, sloths. Powered by solar panels and using innovative power management technology, the robot was tested at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where it monitored temperature, carbon dioxide levels and other information. SlothBot, which moves on a cable strung between two trees, is programmed to only move for essential reasons, such as locating the sun used to power it. By conserving its energy, the robot can perform tasks for longer periods of time. The researchers envision SlothBots having roles in climate monitoring and species protection as well as precision agriculture.


    Solo12 Reactive Stepping in New York / NYU.

    Robots that mimic the movement capabilities of four-legged animals can go where wheeled robots cannot, making them ideal for use in many applications. However, existing quadruped robot research platforms are expensive to build and maintain, putting them out of reach for many startups, small labs and educational institutions. With support from NSF, teams of engineers in the U.S. and Germany have created a relatively low-cost, easy-to-assemble platform called Solo 8 as an accessible research testbed. The robot’s torque-controlled motors and actuated joints provide the functionality of more expensive legged robots, allowing it to take multiple configurations, move with a variety of gaits, jump, make sharp changes in direction, and right itself if overturned. Additionally, all of Solo 8’s construction files are freely available online, enabling scientists to customize the configuration for their own innovative purposes and develop their own technology.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) (US) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:52 pm on February 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Stars Within Us", , , , , , , Creation of heavier elements requires more extreme environments usually triggered by the end of a star’s life in a supernova., , How the Elements Inside You and Everything Were Forged., Intense heat and pressure fused hydrogen atoms to form helium and lithium., , National Science Foundation (US), , Within a few hundred million years after the Big Bang clouds of hydrogen gas condensed into the first stars., Within the first three minutes following the Big Bang the fundamental building blocks of matter formed and merged into the first element–hydrogen.   

    From National Science Foundation (US): “The Stars Within Us” 

    From National Science Foundation (US)

    1
    Credit: Nicolle R. Fuller/NSF.

    Humans have always looked to the stars and studied them. Over the past century, science has revealed the fundamental role stars play for nearly everything in existence, including the elements on the Periodic Table.

    Periodic Table from
    International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry 2019.

    The birth, life and death of every star creates and disseminates the elements of the Periodic Table throughout the universe, a cycle that began nearly 14 billion years ago and repeats continuously today.

    Without it, the Earth and everything on it – air, water, soil, plants, wildlife, and human life – would not exist.


    The Stars Within Us: How the Elements Inside You, and Everything, Were Forged.

    Within the first three minutes following the Big Bang, the fundamental building blocks of matter formed and merged into the first element–hydrogen. Within a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, clouds of hydrogen gas condensed into the first stars. In the cores of those stars, intense heat and pressure fused hydrogen atoms to form helium and lithium.

    Recently, astronomers from several U.S.-based universities detected a signal from the birth of those early stars. Since the stars are too distant to be seen with telescopes, the astronomers searched for indirect evidence, such as a tell-tale change in the background electromagnetic radiation that permeates the universe, called the cosmic microwave background [CMB].

    CMB per ESA/Planck.

    Supported for more than a decade by the U.S. National Science Foundation, researchers placed a radio antenna not much larger than a refrigerator in the Australian desert and found clear evidence of these massive blue stars.

    EDGES telescope in a radio quiet zone at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

    More chaos, more elements

    The normal functions of a star—those that make it shine brightly and burn at temperatures of thousands of degrees—create the simplest and lightest elements. Creation of heavier elements requires more extreme environments, usually triggered by the end of a star’s life in a supernova.

    After the hydrogen in a star’s core is exhausted, the star fuses helium to form progressively heavier elements, such as carbon and iron. As this fuel runs out, the star either explodes into a supernova, seeding the universe with those elements, or violently collapses, creating neutron stars and black holes. In such violent implosions, star collisions, and the extreme environments around black holes, the heavier elements are forged and then spread far across interstellar space.

    2
    Artist’s now iconic illustration of two merging neutron stars. The beams represent the gamma-ray burst while the rippling space-time grid indicates the isotropic gravitational waves. Credit: A. Simonnet/National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University.

    In 2017, for the first time in history, researchers using the twin detectors of NSF’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected gravitational waves created by the collision of two neutron stars.

    Localizations of gravitational-wave signals detected by LIGO in 2015 (GW150914, LVT151012, GW151226, GW170104), more recently, by the LIGO-Virgo network (GW170814, GW170817). After Virgo (IT) came online in August 2018.

    The researchers worked with the Europe-based Virgo gravitational wave detector and some 70 ground- and space-based telescopes across the globe to track and record the gamma radiation, X-rays, light, and radio waves that cascaded from the explosion.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo at Hanford, WA (US), Livingston, LA, (US) and VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy.

    The observations revealed signatures of recently synthesized elements, including gold and platinum, solving a decades-long mystery of how nearly half of all elements heavier than iron are produced.

    Some of the heaviest elements, such as uranium, are forged near black holes and in the powerful jets that can emanate from them, such as those that surge away from “feeding” black holes, like blazars, an active galactic nucleus with a relativistic jet composed of ionized matter.

    3
    The timeline of the universe, with the first stars emerging by 180 million years after the Big Bang and black holes another 70 millions years after. Photo Credit: N.R.Fuller/National Science Foundation.

    The NSF-supported Event Horizon Telescope presented the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole in 2019, and NSF’s Ice Cube detector has worked with collaborating observatories to trace a cosmic neutrino to its blazar source.

    EHT map.

    Messier 87*, The first image of the event horizon of a black hole. This is the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 87. Image via JPL/ Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration released on 10 April 2019.

    These extreme environments in space are where the heaviest elements are formed, but because they have such short half-lives, scientists have yet to directly witness their formation, and they have not survived to be found on Earth today.

    This is where researchers in the laboratory have built upon what we have learned from studying the cosmos.

    Filling the Periodic Table

    On Earth, ancient cultures were first to isolate a handful of elements, such as copper and mercury, though in recent centuries, scientists have identified and isolated more than 100 more. They are categorized using the Periodic Table—first published in 1869 by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. The initial Periodic Table contained 28 elements, and Mendeleev predicted the existence of unidentified elements, leaving gaps for future scientists to fill.

    Laboratory experiments have expanded the Periodic Table to include 118 known elements. For some, particularly the heaviest, they were only discovered when physicists crafted them from the fusion of lighter elements. The heaviest known element is oganesson, which holds 118 protons in its nucleus, although only for fractions of a millisecond.

    Like the stars that constantly recycle and distribute elements throughout space, researchers in all disciplines continue their efforts to expand the Periodic Table and deepen the understanding of the atoms from which we are constructed. This is an ongoing process, and future generations of scientists are just now making their initial observations or conducting their first experiments that will expand the knowledge about the universe and ourselves.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) (US) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

     
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