Mathematical and Physical Sciences $941,570,000
The FY 2003 Budget Request for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Activity is $941.57 million, an increase of $21.12 million, or 2.3 percent, over the FY 2002 Current Plan of $920.45 million.
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
The Mathematical and Physical Sciences Activity (MPS) supports a strong and diverse portfolio of research and education in astronomical sciences, chemistry, materials research, mathematical sciences and physics. The purpose of this work is threefold: to deepen our understanding of the physical universe; to use this understanding in service to society; and to prepare the next generation of scientists who are essential for continued progress. The mathematical and physical sciences underpin many other scientific endeavors and serve as the training ground for at least half of all doctoral scientists now employed in U.S. industry. The MPS Activity supports areas of inquiry that are critical for long-term U.S. economic strength and security, providing a substantial portion of federal funding for fundamental research at academic institutions in these areas, and in some subfields, provides for most of the federal investment.
The new opportunities are many. Research at the atomic level will result in a period of discovery that could be termed a "molecular revolution." The study of complex chemical and physical systems offers critical insights into climate change and other natural phenomena. Biological systems can be understood and controlled via powerful mathematical and physical techniques, such as the creation of algorithms critical for drug design and for the development of biopolymers, gels, and other biomolecular materials. Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics is leading to profound new understandings of the physics of the universe. New tools critical to scientific progress - from advanced magnets, to novel sensors, to quantum computers, to more powerful telescopes - are being developed and refined, and will make possible the understanding of physical phenomena at a much more profound level. Essential to achieving these goals is the development of new mathematical tools and algorithms for modeling and simulation of physical and biological phenomena.
MPS places a high priority on multidisciplinary work and on partnerships. The Multidisciplinary Activities Subactivity is designed to catalyze efforts in emerging areas of research and education at disciplinary boundaries. By fostering closer connections with other federal agencies, state governments, industry, and other countries, MPS investigators enhance the impact of their efforts and increase the return on NSF investments.
International partnerships are critical to progress, both intellectually and financially, especially in the areas of astronomy, physics, and materials research, all of which require the use of large facilities. An example is the strong international cooperation that the Astronomy Subactivity has generated in support of the Gemini Observatories. Another is the collaboration with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science and with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) that the Physics Subactivity has pursued toward the development of detectors for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
World leadership in science is a critical objective for the Foundation. Receipt of Nobel Prizes by MPS-supported physical scientists and Fields Medals by MPS-supported mathematical scientists is a strong indicator of the long-term importance of MPS research. The 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three researchers - Eric Cornell of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) & the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT, and Carl Wieman of the University of Colorado - for their achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates. The Bose-Einstein Condensate is regarded as a new state of matter in which all the constituents, by virtue of their near-absolute zero low temperature, are in the same quantum state, much as the light from a laser for which all the light is emitted with a single lock-step phase, e.g. coherent. For this new state of matter, the corresponding atom waves are coherent, such that when two separate condensates are allowed to overlap, the resulting intensity pattern shows light and dark interference fringes rather than simple additive densities. Current speculation suggests that this new level of "control" of matter is going to bring revolutionary applications in such fields as precision measurement and nanotechnology.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001 was awarded to William S. Knowles, Monsanto (retired); Ryoji Noyori, Nagoya University; and K. Barry Sharpless, Scripps Research Institute for their development of catalytic techniques for asymmetric chemical synthesis. In nature, many molecules are found in mirror image, right-handed or left-handed, forms. Often only one of these asymmetric forms is biologically active. Sharpless developed highly efficient catalytic synthetic techniques to selectively produce only one of these mirror image forms. These techniques have allowed pharmaceutical companies to synthesize only the mirror image form that they want. The catalytic techniques developed as a result of this basic research, supported by MPS since the 1970s, are now used by pharmaceutical companies to produce, for example, beta-blocker medication to control blood pressure.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the United States, and our nation's response to them, it is important to consider the dramatic effects that the U.S. investment in fundamental physical sciences and mathematics has had - and will have - on preparing the national defense.
It is a remarkable fact that U.S. casualties in the Gulf War, in Bosnia, and so far in Afghanistan have been almost non-existent, even though in each of these conflicts basic U.S. objectives were achieved. These results are not by accident, and have come about because of our ability to fight a war "remotely". In significant measure this is due to such recent advances as:
Tools such as these have had an enormous positive impact on national security. Each of these developments is the outgrowth of many years of fundamental research, without which none of them would have been conceived of as an initial objective. In the future we will need new advances such as these, most of which cannot be envisioned today.
In FY 2003, MPS will support research and education efforts related to broad, Foundation-wide priority areas in Biocomplexity in the Environment, Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Learning for the 21st Century Workforce, and Mathematical Sciences.
Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE): In FY 2003, the MPS request includes $4.70 million for Biocomplexity in the Environment, a decrease of $650,000 from the FY 2002 Current Plan. MPS continues to support a variety of activities aimed at understanding environmental processes at the molecular level, adapting advanced statistical techniques to analyze environmental data, and developing environmentally benign materials and processes. Examples of MPS supported research includes the development of efficient catalysts for the removal of noxious species from combustion exhaust, development of statistical models to describe spatial and temporal variations of pollutant concentrations, and the development of sensitive and specific techniques for sensing chemical and biological agents in the environment.
In FY 2003, activities will be supported to integrate molecular level studies already under way with global studies of geochemical and geophysical cycles. Support will continue for the development of new or adaptation of existing instrumentation for monitoring the environment. MPS will also support the development of mathematical and statistical techniques to aid in the analysis of environmental data and the extrapolation of the data in time and space. A critical aspect of MPS supported research in this area will be the development of a skilled, multidisciplinary workforce and the creation of an informed public.
Information Technology Research (ITR): All of the MPS Subactivities contribute to the national effort in ITR. Large-scale computational science, as practiced by researchers in astronomy, chemistry, materials research and physics, has dramatically improved our understanding of fundamental scientific phenomena at all time and length scales. Today, computation is increasingly being used to provide a quantitative comparison with experiment, as a predictive tool when analytic theory cannot be applied or to generate needed data where experiment is difficult or impossible to perform. Algorithms, imaging methods, and cryptographic techniques that are needed across an enormous spectrum of activity in science, engineering, national defense, and business have been developed or refined by MPS researchers. In addition, the need for increasingly sophisticated techniques for gathering, transmitting, manipulating, storing and analyzing experimental data in the physical sciences has compelled MPS researchers to venture into new and unexplored areas of information science. In many cases, these have grown naturally from MPS research in various areas which have the potential of bringing about entirely new ways of computing, such as quantum or biological (DNA) based computing. In the former area, the rules of quantum mechanics are exploited to expand our ability to store and process information while in the latter, the molecular complexity of bio-molecules is used to manipulate and store information.
MPS support for ITR will total $35.52 million in FY 2003, an increase of $2.46 million over the FY 2002 Current Plan. This investment will focus on specific thrusts that include:
Nanoscale Science and Engineering: In FY 2003, the MPS request includes $103.92 million for nanoscale science and engineering, an increase of $10.84 million over the FY 2002 Current Plan. MPS grantees have contributed significantly to many of the exciting advances made over the past year, which illustrate both the scientific fascination and the technological potential of nanoscale phenomena and structures. For example, at the extreme nanoscale limit, artificial atoms and molecules can now be fabricated. Researchers at Cornell University are exploring the fundamental physical processes at work in this new regime, including how individual quantum states can be manipulated for sensor and memory applications.
In FY 2003, MPS will continue to play a major role in the NSF contribution to the interagency National Nanotechnology Initiative. MPS participation will be especially critical in the area of Nanoscale Structures, Phenomena and Quantum Control. MPS support will also contribute significantly to the overall NSF effort including Multi-scale, Multi-phenomena Modeling and Simulation at the Nanoscale; Nanostructures in the Environment; Biosystems at the Nanoscale; Manufacturing; and Device and Systems Architecture. An integral component of this priority area includes the preparation and training of the future workforce for this technologically pivotal field.
Mathematical Sciences: In FY 2003, the MPS request includes $47.39 million for the Mathematical Sciences priority area, an increase of $17.39 million over the FY 2002 Current Plan. Science and engineering are becoming more dependent on mathematical and statistical methods, not only in the physical, engineering and informational sciences, but also the biological, geophysical, environmental, social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Hence, progress in science and engineering is fundamentally linked with advances across the mathematical sciences and thus the mathematical sciences play a crucial role in reshaping modern science and engineering. Primarily through the Division of Mathematical Sciences, MPS plays a central role in the support of the mathematical sciences.
The mathematical sciences priority area encompasses interdisciplinary efforts between mathematics and all areas of science, engineering and science education. The MPS investments in the priority area will fall into three primary components: (1) fundamental mathematical and statistical sciences, (2) interdisciplinary research connecting the mathematical sciences with science and engineering, and (3) mathematical sciences education.
The fundamental mathematical sciences are essential not only for the progress of research across disciplines, but they are also critical in training a scientific workforce for the future. MPS will provide improved support for mathematical sciences through focused research groups and individual investigator grants, as well as through institute and postdoctoral training activities.
Built upon a $30.0 million investment for interdisciplinary mathematics in FY 2002, MPS will initially emphasize three broad interdisciplinary research themes for FY 2003:
To enhance research in these areas of science and engineering that depend on crosscutting themes in the mathematical sciences, MPS support will encompass such efforts as interdisciplinary focused research groups, interdisciplinary cross-training programs, and partnership activities with other NSF Activities and Federal Agencies. Education and training activities will support the advancement of mathematical skills and the mathematical sciences workforce, with support for undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training coupled with curriculum reform.
Learning for the 21st Century Workforce: MPS support for this priority area in FY 2003 will total $5.97 million, an increase of $970,000 over the FY 2002 Current Plan. This includes continued support for the GK-12 program, the Digital Library program, the Centers for Learning and Teaching program, and for the Interagency Education Research Initiative, a collaborative program with the Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health.
MPS's support for ongoing and new activities contributes to NSF efforts to achieve its strategic goals, as well as to the administration and management activities necessary to achieve those goals. MPS's investment in NSF's strategic goals is as follows:
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
People are NSF's most important product. At NSF, placing research and learning hand-in-hand is our highest priority, and the people involved in our projects represent the focus of our investments. Across its programs, MPS provides support for approximately 20,000 people, including teachers, students, researchers, post-doctorates, and trainees. Support for programs specifically addressing NSF's strategic outcome of People - "developing a diverse, internationally competitive and globally-engaged workforce of scientists, engineers and well-prepared citizens" totals more than $116.53 million in FY 2003, an increase of $16.12 million, or 16.1 percent, over FY 2002.
A well prepared, broadly trained, and internationally capable workforce that draws from the nation's entire talent pool is critical to U.S. security and to its technological and economic leadership. This workforce will be responsible for bringing forth the ideas and discoveries that expand the frontiers of understanding, for developing and using the new tools that enable discovery and learning in this new millennium, and for strengthening the educational systems and processes that will prepare future generations of scientifically literate citizens. Through its investment in research and education activities of individual investigators, groups, centers, and facilities, MPS enables the development of this critically important workforce.
Moreover, about 45 percent of the funding for research grants -- an amount approaching $260 million in FY 2003 -- provides support for researchers and students, including approximately 12,000 post-doctorates, trainees, and graduate and undergraduate students. Although MPS spends approximately one-third of its budget on graduate education and postdoctoral training, funding identified in the table below includes only dedicated education and training activities supported by MPS alone and in partnership with other Activities, and excludes the much more extensive education and training activities supported by MPS through research awards and those taking place at centers and facilities.
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
MPS programs such as Research Experiences for Teachers, an effort of high school outreach by individual investigators, centers and facilities, and Research Sites for Educators in Chemistry enable improved mathematics, science, and technology skills at the K-16 level and enhanced understanding of science by the public. Increased diversity in the science and technology and instructional workforce is facilitated through MPS support of partnerships between minority-serving institutions and MPS centers and facilities, through the more than 200 MPS-supported REU Sites (whose participant cohort is over 50% female and more than 15% minority), and through a spectrum of developmental workshops and conferences.
MPS also promotes the global engagement of science and engineering professionals through support of cooperative international research projects and international research fellowships, advanced study institutes, and disciplinary workshops.
The FY 2003 MPS investments in People include:
MPS supports a broad range of research activities aimed at addressing some of the most fundamental questions that can be asked about the universe in which we live as well as activities that provide the understanding necessary for the development of new capabilities that enhance mankind's ability to survive and flourish in this environment. MPS-supported scientists are investigating the origins of the universe and solar system, and they are developing theories of why matter exists. They are also developing the techniques necessary to design and synthesize new materials with useful and predictable chemical and physical properties. In addition they are applying sophisticated mathematical and statistical techniques to areas as diverse as medical imaging and voting behavior. Support for Ideas accounts for about two-thirds of the funding in the MPS Activity. Awards range from support of single investigators to centers or groups of investigators.
An increasing number of interesting and important research activities are found at the intersection of the mathematical and physical and other sciences such as biology and the geological sciences. Problems in these areas require expertise from a number of disciplines for their solution. In a continuation of activities initiated in FY 2002 MPS is joining with the Biological Sciences Activity (BIO) to jointly review and fund proposals in this boundary area. MPS will also be joining with the Geosciences Activity (GEO) to develop mechanisms for responding to research opportunities in the new and evolving multidisciplinary areas at this boundary.
Funding for fundamental research will be supported at $597.11 million in FY 2003, an increase of $8.51 million over FY 2002. Interdisciplinary research is becoming an increasingly important aspect of progress in all of the sciences. In FY 2003, funding will focus on the following areas characterizing a large portion of the MPS portfolio:
In FY 2003, MPS will continue its efforts to address the Foundation-wide concern about grant sizes by increasing the average size and duration of awards. MPS will also continue to emphasize competitive research grants for new investigators and investigators who are members of underrepresented groups.
In support of the increasingly complex and multidisciplinary nature of research, MPS also supports a number of centers:
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
Center-based research brings together scientists from diverse disciplines to work on complex problems, often in partnerships with other academic institutions, national laboratories, and industry. Centers are strongly committed to the integration of research and education at levels from pre-college to postdoctoral, they maintain sophisticated experimental facilities generally accessible to a broad range of users, and they play an important role in developing human resources in science and mathematics.
In FY 2003, MPS will support four Science and Technology Centers (STC); about 28 Materials Science and Engineering Research Centers (MRSEC) depending on the outcome of the open MRSEC competition in FY 2002; up to three International Materials Institutes as a result of the FY 2002 competition; approximately 20 Chemistry Centers pending the outcome of competitions in FY 2002; up to four new Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC); and up to three Mathematical Sciences Research Institutes (MSRI). Six Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSECs) established in FY 2001 are supported in whole or in part by MPS.
MPS Centers integrate cutting-edge research with a broad spectrum of educational and outreach activities; they help to bring science and engineering to a wider audience and to foster international cooperation in research and education. For example, 450 undergraduates participated in summer research programs at the materials research centers in FY 2001, while 900 pre-college teachers participated in various MRSEC activities including the MPS-sponsored Research Experience for Teachers program. MPS Centers can also help to enhance minority participation in science and mathematics; for example, a new masters' program in materials physics, the first graduate program at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, has been developed through collaboration with the MRSEC at the University of Pennsylvania.
In FY 2003, support for centers will include:
Support for international center-to-center collaboration in materials research and education will be enhanced by up to $1.0 million. The International Materials Institutes will foster interaction in materials research and education between U.S. and foreign investigators.
At least three additional Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC) will be established in addition to the four started in FY 2001. Total support for PFCs will increase from $12.0 million to $13.0 million. These centers will serve as focal points to help catalyze new fields, with the resources and infrastructure to enable development of the new tools and techniques needed, and to facilitate exploration of new directions in a way that is not practical in individual investigator awards.
An increase of $1.17 million will establish up to three new interdisciplinary Mathematical Sciences Research Institutes (MSRI). The MSRIs address diverse challenges and opportunities facing the nation to which the mathematical sciences can contribute, and promote the integration of research and education.
Support decreases by $3.20 million to $10.39 million for Chemistry Centers, but the planned phase-out of some established centers will allow approximately 1-2 new Chemistry Centers in advanced molecular characterization and in environmental molecular science. Chemistry Centers serve to develop interdisciplinary collaborations in areas of chemistry ranging from environmental molecular research to femtosecond molecular structure characterization to the development of new techniques for rapid sequencing of proteins.
Today the pace and breadth of scientific discovery is growing at an unprecedented rate, driven by numerous revolutions in tools for science; and the U.S. has a leadership role in this process. Tools have allowed a stunning view into nature that has captured the imagination of the world - from the far reaches of the universe and the beginnings of time to the fundamental makeup of matter and the workings of life. Today's scientific agenda involves phenomena at or beyond the limits of our measurement capabilities, and can only be studied with new generations of powerful, complex, and costly tools. While the needed investment will have great scientific payoff, investment in instrumentation has many other payoffs, such as the training of our workforce and the next generation of leaders in science. This training is critical to our national security - in terms of our economic security, our energy security, and our technological and industrial base that supports homeland security and national defense.
Continued advances and leadership in astronomy, physics, and many areas of materials science depend critically on the availability of state-of-the-art user facilities to enable research and education at the cutting edge of science for large communities of university faculty and students. Investment in facilities necessarily requires support for ongoing operations, maintenance, and periodic upgrades to the core facility as well as to ancillary instrumentation that may be needed to provide continued forefront research opportunities to these users.
R&D towards new capabilities at existing facilities and for new facilities to meet the needs of the MPS disciplines is essential. Such activities include: R&D toward the next generation LIGO detectors, future accelerators at the energy frontier, and new capabilities at the national astronomy centers. In addition, MPS manages the U.S. Large Hadron Collider (LHC) detector construction project jointly with the Department of Energy and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) construction project jointly with international partners. Both projects represent the highest priorities within their respective user communities - the astronomy community and the elementary particle physics community. Both are funded through the Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (MREFC) Account. For additional information, see the MREFC Account section.
(Millions of Dollars)
1Includes the Indiana University Cyclotron
Facility, Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center, Cornell High-Energy
Synchrotron Source, NIST Neutron Scattering Facility, National Nanofabrication
Users Network, National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National
High Field Mass Spectrometry Center, and Digital Library.
In FY 2003, major facilities support includes the following:
Funds are being spent for early planning, design and development of potential future facilities projects, listed below.
Although any facility project undertaken will be categorized as a Tool, early planning and development investments may fall within Ideas and will be funded within the Research and Related Activities Account. Whether a project ever becomes a candidate for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account is determined by a systematic planning and review process to determine its scientific merit, feasibility, and readiness.
Administration and Management
Administration and Management provides for administrative activities necessary to enable NSF to achieve its strategic goals. Requested funding for FY 2003 is $5.44 million, an increase of $600,000 over FY 2002. This includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments and contractors performing administrative functions, as well as administration and management of transferred programs.
Number of People Supported in MPS Activities
MPS Funding Profile
|Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004|
The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA