Biological Sciences        Page 2


Highlights and Priorities

   The FY 1999 request provides over $2.1 billion, a 12.0 percent increase, for investments in research project support across NSF’s appropriations. Education and training activities across the Foundation increase by 10.7 percent to a level of $737 million. Funding priorities throughout this request are shaped by NSF’s ongoing strategic planning process which identifies research and education activities to advance science and engineering across all fields and disciplines.

   NSF will provide significant resources for efforts to address serious concerns about grant sizes. The substantial increase will enable NSF to support forefront research activities across the Foundation by increasing award sizes and award durations, with particular attention to new investigators. These efforts will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation’s merit review process and achieving greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and the university community.

   Among the priorities for FY 1999 are activities associated with the areas of Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI), Life and Earth's Environment (LEE), and Educating for the Future (EFF). These represent areas for focused investment which combine exciting opportunities in research and education with immense potential for benefits to society.

   Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence. The explosive growth in computing power and communications connectivity has brought forth unprecedented opportunities for providing rapid and efficient access to knowledge and information, for studying complex systems, and for advancing our understanding of learning and intelligent behavior. KDI is a Foundation-wide effort that aims to improve our ability to discover, collect, represent, transmit, and apply information.

   The FY 1999 request includes an increase of almost $78 million to substantially enhance specific activities that relate to Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence. Key emphases in FY 1999 include research on knowledge networking, learning and intelligent systems, and new challenges to computation. Also included are activities related to the Next Generation Internet to increase basic understanding and usability of networks. The request also continues investments in the very high-speed Backbone Network Service, which has brought new levels of networking capabilities to the nation's research universities.

   Life and Earth's Environment. The FY 1999 request includes an increment of more than $88 million for specific activities that relate to the theme of Life and Earth's Environment. LEE encompasses a wide range of activities designed to foster research on the complex interdependencies among living organisms and the environments that affect, sustain, and are modified by them.

   FY 1999 investments will emphasize research on life in extreme environments, urban communities, environmental technologies, global change, integrated environmental research challenges, and environmental observatories. Within LEE, funding for the U.S. Global Change Research Program increases by 12 percent, with emphases on climate modeling, earth system history, human dimensions of global change, and global ecology.

Educating for the Future. The request includes continued support for innovative approaches that are intended to meet the challenge of educating students for the 21st Century. NSF's FY 1999 investments in EFF activities increase by $107 million and include:
  • $25 million to initiate a program on Research on Education and Training Technology—a joint research initiative with the U.S. Department of Education.
  • This program is a direct outgrowth of the recommendations by the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) for a research program focused on "the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of technology use within our nation's schools."
  • The program will include support for efforts such as basic research on educationally relevant technologies, research aimed at developing new forms of educational software, and studies to determine the most effective educational approaches and practices.
  • A $28 million increase for a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Education in K-8 mathematics education to focus on the professional development of teachers and on the implementation of standards-based instructional materials.
  • Nearly $9 million to initiate a Children's Research Initiative that focuses on children's cognitive development and readiness to learn.
  • Significant increases for NSF-wide programs that stimulate the integration of research and education including a 14.5 percent increase for the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program, a 16 percent increase for the CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) program, and a nearly 35 percent increase for the IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training) program.

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