Grants for Vertical Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE) NSF 97-155 (New)<BR> NSF 97-155 (New)


Program Solicitation



Grants for Vertical
Integration of Research and Education in the
Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE)

The Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) announces a program of grants to institutions with a PhD-granting department in the mathematical sciences to carry out innovative educational programs at all levels that are integrated with the research activities of the department. The goals of the Grants for Vertical Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE) program are: (1) to prepare undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for a broad range of opportunities available to individuals with training in the mathematical sciences; and (2) to encourage departments in the mathematical sciences to consider a spectrum of education activities and their integration with research. This program is in accord with the recommendations of numerous reports. See, for example: the NSF report, Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (1995); the National Research Council (NRC) report, Mathematical Sciences, Technology and Economic Competitiveness (1991); the NRC report, Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States (1992); and the NRC report, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (1995). These publications may be obtained via the World Wide Web at or


The intent of the VIGRE program is to support the development of a community of researchers and scholars in which there is interaction among all the members. This would not only provide meaningful educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students, but also encourage continuing professional development at the postdoctoral level and beyond. These experiences should take place in an environment in which research and education fit together naturally and reinforce each other and in which interaction takes place among all participants. This is called vertical integration and refers to programs in which research and education are coupled and in which undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty are mutually supportive. Every VIGRE proposal should have as its core a coherent plan for the vertical integration of:

Undergraduate Research Experience: In this solicitation, the term "research experience" is interpreted broadly to include all activities that introduce undergraduates to the thrill of discovery and excite them about the mathematical sciences. Examples of research experiences may include faculty directed projects, internships in industry, business or government laboratories, and participation in interdisciplinary teams. These experiences may range from group activities to an individual faculty member mentoring an undergraduate. These experiences should include exposure to the many opportunities for careers in the mathematical sciences and the development of communication skills. This latter is expected to include the presentation of mathematical concepts in both written and oral format.

Graduate Traineeships: These traineeships are intended as a mechanism for: broadening graduate education; shortening the average time-to-degree for the doctorate; improving communication skills; and expanding career opportunities. The program is meant to be a year-round program so that there is additional time for research, experiences in industry, business, government laboratories, or other science/engineering departments, or additional course work to broaden the student's knowledge. An individual student can receive up to 33 months of non-teaching support from a VIGRE award. One of the goals of the VIGRE program is to shorten the average time-to-degree to five years. The years of non-teaching support should be tied to this goal. In addition, graduate trainees are expected to have a significant teaching experience funded by the institution. This should include a minimum of one year of supervised teaching with at least one term in which the student has substantial responsibility for a class. The university is expected to financially support this activity. The development of communication skills should be an integral part of the traineeship. This is expected to include the presentation of original mathematical research in written and oral format and the ability to place the research in context.

Departments are expected to utilize the traineeships to improve the quality, not the size, of the graduate program. In particular, the traineeships are not meant to increase the size of the graduate program by enabling departments to hire additional teaching assistants, nor are they meant to replace current university funding of fellowships or scholarships.

Postdoctoral Fellows: For postdoctoral fellows, the goal of the program is to produce professionals ready to begin an academic career. (For postdoctoral fellows interested in careers in industry and commerce, see University-Industry Cooperative Research Program in Mathematical Sciences NSF 94-100.) It is the intention that each postdoctoral fellow be supported for three years; support should begin within 18 months of completion of the PhD. At the conclusion of the postdoctoral program, fellows should have developed an independent research program, teaching skills at various levels, a broader perspective of their field, and a comprehension of the responsibilities of the profession. The structure of the postdoctoral program should be flexible; it could include an interdisciplinary research experience in other academic departments and programs, industry, business, or government laboratories. The development of communications skills should be an important part of the program. This is expected to improve the presentation of mathematical ideas in written and oral format over a range of levels, e.g. preparing papers for publication in professional journals, giving colloquium level talks, and preparation of research proposals. As a component of this development, each fellow is expected to prepare a research proposal for submission to a funding agency. Postdoctoral fellows are expected to teach each term while in residence at the university; this teaching should include a broad variety of experiences. It would be appropriate to spend a year in industry or at an Institute.

Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Review: The careful consideration of the graduate and undergraduate curriculum should be a natural facet of a VIGRE proposal. The curriculum should prepare the students for a broader range of careers than has been the case in recent times and the probable need to change careers over one's working life. It should also emphasize discovery learning, especially in the undergraduate program, involve graduate students in research earlier, and develop analytic and communications skills. The preparation of future K-12 teachers in the mathematical sciences is an important responsibility of mathematical sciences departments and might require the design of appropriate curriculum and courses. Departments should describe a general mechanism for the review of the current curriculum in light of the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral components of the program.

Proposals must indicate the interactions among these four components and the envisioned benefits. Proposals must also discuss efforts for enhancing the participation of women and members of underrepresented groups.

It is strongly suggested that a VIGRE proposal include one or both of the following two additional components:

Curriculum/Instructional Materials Development: Departments may be prepared to propose curriculum development in their VIGRE proposal or the curriculum review described above may lead in a natural way to appropriate reform. Efforts may have components in either or both of the following two categories: (1) adaptation/implementation of materials and practices developed elsewhere, or (2) development of learning materials with the potential for national dissemination. Mathematical sciences departments also have an important role in the undergraduate and graduate education of future K-12 teachers. Activities devoted to the preparation of future K-12 teachers, such as curriculum development and research experiences, are considered appropriate. K-12 teacher preparation projects and instructional materials development projects concerned with undergraduate education will be jointly considered with the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). For further information on the type of projects funded by DUE, see Division of Undergraduate Education: Program Announcement and Guidelines (NSF 97-29).

Outreach: Activities that form and strengthen linkages to K-12 education, industry, government laboratories, and other academic or private sector areas are considered desirable objectives of this program. These might include teacher enhancement, informal education, and involvement in state, urban, and local systemic initiatives. Teacher enhancement provides professional development opportunities to broaden and deepen the mathematical science knowledge and pedagogical skills of practicing (or in-service) K-12 teachers. This could involve the development of instructional materials for K-12 and research experiences for K-12 teachers and/or students. Informal education refers to activities that provide stimulating contexts and experiences for individuals of all ages, interests, and backgrounds to increase their appreciation for and understanding of the mathematical sciences. Both the teacher enhancement and informal education components will be considered in conjunction with the Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education (ESIE). For further information on the type of projects funded by ESIE, see Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education: Program Announcement and Guidelines (NSF 97-20).

These additional components must be consistent with the goals of the other components of the project.


Academic institutions in the United States and its territories are invited to submit proposals on behalf of departments that grant the PhD and have programs in the mathematical sciences at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Each institution may submit at most one proposal from a given department in any fiscal year. Stipend recipients must be citizens, nationals or permanent residents of the U.S.


Awards will be made in amounts up to $500,000 per year (including direct and indirect costs), from VIGRE funds, to support the core components of the program for a duration not to exceed five years. Although proposed projects should describe a five year program, initial grants will be for a three year period. NSF will conduct an in depth review in the third year. Subject to favorable review and availability of funds, projects may be funded for an additional two year period. Up to an additional $100,000 per year may be awarded to support each of the curriculum and outreach components of the program. These funds may also be requested as a supplement at a later date. The number and size of awards will depend on the advice of reviewers, the availability of funds, and NSF's determination. The Division of Mathematical Sciences anticipates making up to 10 awards in each of the first two years of the program.


The proposed project should have a five year duration. The proposal must describe: the vision, scope, objectives, and anticipated impact of the program on the department, its students, trainees, and postdoctoral fellows; the research components and educational elements that will be interwoven to effect a coherent program, including the specific roles of the undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in each component; the management plan with the names of principal participants (if known); a budget and its justification; consortial arrangements or partnerships; and a performance evaluation plan. The proposal must further state the efforts that will enhance diversity among the students and postdoctoral fellows.

The proposal should be prepared following the guidelines contained in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG, NSF 98-2) and the instructions below. The proposal must be typed or printed single-spaced on a single side of the page using margins, fonts, and spacing consistent with requirements described on page 3 of the GPG. Proposals that do not strictly adhere to the specified page limitations (given below), including those in required or permitted appendices, will be ineligible for consideration and will be returned. Each proposal must contain the following elements in the order indicated:

1. NSF Cover page (NSF Form 1207). Clearly indicate that the proposal is for consideration by the VIGRE program in the appropriate box.

2. Table of Contents. Provide a Table of Contents with page numbers for each section and for major subdivisions of the project description (see below).

3. Summary. On a separate page, provide a brief (200 words or less) description of the training program, including the research theme, education features and objectives.

4. VIGRE Program Description. Particular attention must be paid to the following in preparing the description:

5. Recruitment and Retention. Plans for the recruitment and retention of students and postdoctoral fellows should be described. Specific provisions for recruitment of women and members of groups underrepresented in the mathematical sciences must be included. This section should not exceed 2 pages.

6. Organization and Management Plan. The plans and procedures for the development and monitoring of all components of the project, for the proposed duration, should be described. If the program involves industrial or international internships or arrangements with government laboratories, businesses, and other departments, then the proposal should discuss existing arrangements, the mechanisms for expanding these arrangements if needed, and the personnel involved in managing these linkages. Procedures to assure mentoring at all levels should be discussed. This section must not exceed 3 pages.

7. Performance assessment. Each proposal should describe a performance evaluation plan that includes goals, objectives, indicators, and specific measurements for assessing the progress toward the achievement of the goals. This plan will form the basis of the required annual progress reports as well as an in depth review to be conducted by NSF during the third year. Examples of indicators that may be useful are shortening time-to-degree, broadening career opportunities, assessment of the postdoctoral fellows' and graduate trainees' performance, impact of the research experience on the career plans of undergraduates, placement of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows upon completion of the program, and the participation of women and members of underrepresented groups. This section must not exceed 5 pages.

Each proposal should include an appendix (Appendix 1) indicating (a) the number of baccalaureate degrees in the mathematical sciences in the past five years, (b) the number of full-time graduate students for each of the previous five years, (c) the PhD recipients during the past five years, their placements, and thesis advisors, (d) the names of postdoctoral fellows (e.g. holders of named instructorships) during the past five years and their mentors and placements, (e) the dollar amount of non-teaching support of graduate students supplied by the university for each of the previous five years, and (f) the anticipated size of the graduate program should this award be received. This information will provide baseline data to be used in subsequent performance assessments.

8. Funding Categories. The major portion of awarded funds must be used for training and educational activities for undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. In particular, VIGRE awards will not contain funds for senior faculty salary.

9. Budget. A budget for each year of support requested should be provided as well as a separate, cumulative budget for all five years. NSF Form 1030 must be used. Indirect costs on awards are limited to 8%, except that no indirect costs will be allowed on funds for cost-of-education allowance.

10. Budget Justification. A brief justification for funds in each budget category should be provided. This section should not exceed 3 pages.

Appropriate documentation of commitments by the institution and other sources should be provided in an appendix (Appendix 2). If industrial internships are planned, the willingness of the industrial organization and of individual industrial mentors (if known) to participate should also be documented in this Appendix.

11. Biographical Sketches and Individual Support. A curriculum vitae or short biographical sketch should be provided for each of the key personnel. This should include a list of up to 10 publications, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows supervised, and the names of individuals with whom the faculty member has collaborated within the last 48 months. The information may not exceed 2 pages for each individual. See p.8 of GPG, NSF 98-2. This information should be supplied only for key participants in the project, not for every member of the department.

12. Appendices. Only the appendices described above in sections 7 and 10 are allowed.

13. Additional Information. One completed copy of Information about Principal Investigators/ Project Directors, NSF Form 1225, must be provided and should be attached to the copy of the proposal that bears the original signatures. This item is for NSF internal use only.


One-page abstracts of each proposal being submitted in response to this solicitation must be sent by e-mail to no later than January 14, 1998 for the February 11, 1998 deadline and no later than August 4, 1998 for the September 1, 1998 deadline. The abstract must contain: the title, a brief description of the project, the names of the principal investigators, and the name of the institution.

The formal proposal, clearly identified as a VIGRE proposal, must be submitted no later than February 11, 1998 for the first competition and not later than September 1, 1998 for the second competition. All required information must be submitted together. The PI is responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the proposal as submitted. Unless requested by the NSF, additional information may not be sent following proposal submission.

Mail ten (10) copies of each proposal, including one copy bearing original signatures to:

Solicitation NSF 97 - 155
Proposal Processing Unit (PPU)
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room P60
Arlington, VA 22230


Proposals will be evaluated through a competitive external merit review process that may consist of a combination of mail and panel review. Reviewers will be requested to base their comments on the selection criteria below. Based on this initial review, a number of proposals that appear most promising will be identified for site visits. Although the site visit review will focus on all aspects of the proposal, Foundation staff will indicate what additional information may be needed in advance of the review.

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be subject to the NEW merit review criteria approved by the National Science Board on March 28, 1997 (NSB97-72)(1). The new merit review criteria are:

What is the intellectual merit and quality of the proposed activity?

The following are suggested questions that the reviewer will consider in assessing how well the proposal meets this criterion. Each reviewer will address only those questions that he/she considers relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.

How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field and across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

The following are suggested questions that the reviewer will consider in assessing how well the proposal meets this criterion. Each reviewer will address only those questions that he/she considers relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.

How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Optional language for announcements that supplements the NSB approved criteria:

In addition to the above generic review criteria, reviewers will be asked to use the following criteria when reviewing proposals that respond to this solicitation. These criteria, not necessarily in the order of importance, are:

COMPLEMENTARY PROGRAMS Programs related to VIGRE that might be of interest include the following. Descriptions of these programs can be found on the World Wide Web at the NSF web site,


Questions about the program should be addressed to


Awards made as a result of this announcement are administered in accordance with the terms and conditions of NSF GC-1, "Grant General Conditions," or FDP-III, "Federal Demonstration Partnership General Terms and Conditions," depending on the grantee organization. Cooperative agreements are subject to NSF Cooperative Agreements General Conditions (NSFCA-1). Copies of these documents are available at no cost from the NSF Forms and Publications Unit, telephone (703) 306-1130, or via e-mail (Internet). More comprehensive information is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (NSF 95-26, July 1995), for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20404. The telephone number at GPO is (202) 783-3238 for subscription information.


Upon completion of the project, a Final Project Report (NSF Form 98A), including Part IV Summary, will be required. NSF will send the form with Part I information preprinted to the Principal Investigator (Project Director) approximately one month prior to the grant's expiration date. Applicants should review the sample form in the GPG prior to proposal submission so that appropriate tracking mechanisms are included in the proposal plan to ensure that complete information will be available at the conclusion of the project. The Foundation provides awards for research in the sciences and engineering. The awardee is wholly responsible for the conduct of such research and preparation of the results for publication. The Foundation, therefore, does not assume responsibility for the research findings or their interpretation.

The Foundation welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists and engineers and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in any of the research related programs described here. In accordance with federal statutes, regulations, and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from the National Science Foundation.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF projects. See the program announcement (NSF 91-54) or contact the program coordinator at (703) 306-1636.

Privacy Act and Public Burden. The information requested on proposal forms is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. It will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals and may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the review process; to applicant institutions/grantees; to provide or obtain data regarding the application review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers, and researchers as necessary to complete assigned work; and to other government agencies in order to coordinate programs. See Systems of Records, NSF 50, Principal Investigators/Proposal File and Associated Records, and NSF-51, 60 Federal Register 4449 (January 23, 1995). Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records, 59 Federal Register 8031 (February 17, 1994). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of your receiving an award.

Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Herman G. Fleming, Reports Clearance Officer, Division of Contracts, Policy, and Oversight, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230.

The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf) capability, which enables individuals with hearing impairment to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment, or general information. To access NSF TDD, dial (703) 306-0090; for FIRS, 1-800-877-8339.

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance category 47.049
(Mathematical and Physical Sciences).

FOOTNOTE:1 For additional information on NSF's new merit review criteria, see the Merit Review Task Force Final Report on the NSF Home Page at nsbmr975.

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NSF 97- 155 (new)