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National Science Foundation

Dear Colleague Letter: Call for Chemistry Highlights

December 1, 2008

Dear Colleague:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemistry’s highest priority is to provide support for research and education activities in the chemical sciences.  To help us communicate the excitement, importance, and value of achievements derived from your NSF-supported project, we would like to request from you a “highlight.”  Highlights are essential to advancing the Division's mission in the following ways:

  • Communicating the value of chemistry research advances and innovations to the public and Congress. 
  • Illustrating to the public, industry, and science and technology mission agencies the Division of Chemistry’s vision, mission, and research and educational activities.
  • Justifying our budget request at the Directorate, Foundation, and Federal levels.
  • Providing evidence of NSF performance in response to the Government Performance and Results Act.

In addition to receiving information about your research accomplishments, we would also like to learn about the broader impacts of your award.  Please see "Merit Review Broader Impacts Criterion: Representative Activities" available at
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/broaderimpacts.pdf."  We are especially interested in:

  • The impact of the research on other fields of science or subdisciplines of chemistry.
  • How the project resulted in broader participation in science by underrepresented groups.
  • Outreach efforts that generated student interest in science and increased understanding of science by the public.
  • Projects that have resulted in innovation supporting economic growth, including patents or startup companies.
  • Advances in chemical education resulting from the project.

Because of the diverse uses for highlights, we ask that you consider the various audiences and provide text understandable to a general science audience (no jargon) and compelling graphics.  Consider incorporating animations, audio and video clips.  The Division of Chemistry has created guidelines titled “Best Practices for Writing and Formatting Highlights.”  The guidelines and highlight example are available at
http://www.nsf.gov/mps/che/Highlights/HighlightWebpages/highlights.jsp.  We ask that the highlight include both research results and broader impacts.

Recently, the NSF Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA) held a meeting with Public Information Officers (PIOs) from awardee institutions.  There is an opportunity for synergy among CHE Principal Investigators, PIOs and OLPA in communicating chemistry, and we urge you to copy your institution’s Public Information Officer when submitting a highlight.  The PIOs expressed the desire to become involved by facilitating the translation of more technical highlights into highlights for the general public and Congress.  These efforts would be of immense value to NSF and to chemistry.

Highlights submitted by January 12, 2009, will be most useful for our annual report.    Please email them to chemhighlights@nsf.gov.  Principal Investigators are asked to complete the Multimedia Permission and Use of Copyrighted Material Form including the title of their highlight.  The permission form is available at
http://www.nsf.gov/mps/che/nuggets/form1515.doc.  Email the completed form to chemhighlights@nsf.gov.  You may also submit a highlight at any time throughout the year to your Program Officer, if there has been a significant advance related to the intellectual merit or broader impacts of the project. 

If you are publishing a paper with science news of interest to the public, planning a news release that involves work supported by NSF, or making a major presentation of your research, please notify your Program Officer and your institution’s Public Information Officer well in advance of the event for possible inclusion as an NSF press release.  If a journal has embargo policies related to publicity on forthcoming articles, we will work with all participants involved to ensure compliance with journal policies.  Additional information regarding public affairs support is available at

Please be reminded that you are responsible for assuring that an acknowledgment of NSF support is made in any publication, including World Wide Web pages, of any material based on or developed under your NSF project.  Acknowledgment information must include the NSF award number.  NSF should be orally acknowledged during all news media interviews, including popular media such as radio, television and news magazines.  Additional information is available in Article 21, Publications, of the Research Terms and Conditions, NSF Agency Specific Requirements,

If you have questions regarding highlights, press releases or acknowledgment of NSF support, please contact the Division of Chemistry at (703) 292 – 8840.  We look forward to working with you on the very important job of communicating the value of chemical research to our various mutual stakeholders.



Dr. Luis Echegoyen, Director
Division of Chemistry
National Science Foundation

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