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NSF 02-161

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4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230


Dear Colleague:

On behalf of the Division of Chemistry at NSF, I am writing to alert you to an important change in the review of NSF proposals and to provide chemistry-related perspectives on this change. As described in the attached Notice No. 127, there is a significant modification associated with the Project Summary. Since 1997, proposals have been evaluated by two criteria: intellectual merit and broader impact. The January 2002 issuance of the Grant Proposal Guide now specifies that principal investigators must address each of these two National Science Board-approved merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This change is intended to give separate emphasis to the two criteria. Beginning October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria in the Project Summary.

Some general guidance regarding broader impacts can be found at The chemistry community is demonstrating that there are many ways to address this criterion. These include training students to be future professionals; presenting seminars; organizing workshops and symposia; designing new routes to commodity and fine chemicals; preparing new compounds of industrial, medical, and environmental significance; identifying more effective ways to use energy resources; developing new devices and methodologies for national security; forming start-up companies for disseminating new technologies; writing scholarly review articles and articles describing research to non-specialist audiences; forging links to other scientific disciplines; sharing laboratory methods, instrumentation, software for data analysis, and samples of compounds; devising safer laboratory procedures and more economical research practices; creating websites enhanced by engaging animations and movies; consulting with industrial and government colleagues; establishing collaborations with scientists from around the world; hosting students, teachers and other professionals, including many from under-served demographic groups; updating the curriculum by writing texts and developing new classroom instructional materials and laboratory experiments; working with science centers on new exhibits; assisting journalists with their stories on technical topics; and developing new art forms for communicating science to wider audiences. In essence, our community is demonstrating a creativity in its broader impact activities that is fully commensurate with its creativity in its research activities.

We hope that this information provides helpful guidance, but feel free to contact me or other members of the Division of Chemistry if you would like to discuss the broader impacts associated with your project. Broader impact activities are a critical element of the long-term health, vitality, and infrastructure of our discipline. They contribute to our professional development and that of our co-workers, to wide dissemination of our research breakthroughs, to recruitment of our future workforce, and to effective communication with non-specialist audiences. Collectively, the broader impact of our work represents a great success story for the chemical sciences that should be widely shared.

Thank you for promoting this important objective.


Arthur B. Ellis
Director, Division of Chemistry