Research Project Support develops intellectual capital through support for researchers in disciplinary and cross-disciplinary fields of research, emphasizing the discovery of new knowledge as well as contributing to education and training. Research Project Support includes funding for both Research Projects and Centers.

(Millions of Dollars)

Research Projects

FY 1998 support for Research Projects totals $1,668 million, an increase of about $50 million, or 3.1 percent, over FY 1997. Support for Research Projects includes funding for researchers as well as postdoctoral associates and undergraduate and graduate assistants. Funds are provided for items necessary for performing research, such as instrumentation and supplies, and for related costs for travel and conference support. NSF seeks out and supports excellent proposals from groups and regions that traditionally have not fully participated in science, mathematics, and engineering.

The requested increment will intensify NSF-supported research efforts in such areas as: microbial biology; plasma science and engineering; Human Capital initiative; Life in Extreme Environments; U.S. Weather Research Program; human-centered systems such as intelligent human/computer interfaces; human dimensions of the Arctic system; and initial testing for arctic science applications of the new U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy. Support for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, which involves undergraduate students in research activities, increases by more than 10 percent.

Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) is a Foundation-wide effort that draws on past advances made in networking, supercomputing, and learning and intelligent systems. In FY 1998, NSF plans a focused, multidisciplinary program of activities in support of KDI research that builds on a base of related on-going projects.

University/industry partnerships within an integrated education/research environment will be supported through expansion of the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program. A new Industry-University Environmental Chemistry Institute will be initiated in FY 1998. In addition, $50 million will be used to continue support for an NSF-wide instrumentation program.

Over $100 million in support is targeted for young investigators and for increasing participation of women and minority researchers. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program, which was initiated in FY 1995, will increase by 21 percent to almost $83 million in FY 1998. CAREER supports junior faculty within the context of their overall career development and combines, in a single program, the integrated support of quality research and education.

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a State-NSF partnership, will continue to support improvements in academic research competitiveness. In FY 1998, funding for EPSCoR totals more than $38 million. Linkages between EPSCoR and other NSF-supported research and education and training activities is expected to result in an additional $8-10 million directed to research in EPSCoR states.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is supported at the mandated level of at least 2.5 percent of extramural research. The program will total approximately $54 million, an increase of about $3 million over the $51 million for SBIR in FY 1997.


NSF supports a variety of individual centers and centers programs. The centers play a key role in furthering the advancement of science in the U.S., particularly through their encouragement of interdisciplinary research and the integration of research and education. While the programs are diverse, the centers share a commitment to:

The centers and center programs are listed below.

(Millions of Dollars)

FY 1998 support for centers is $204 million, a decrease of less than 1 percent from FY 1997. NSF supported 179 centers during FY 1996. In FY 1998, funds realized from the planned phase-down of six Engineering Research Centers will be used to initiate three to four new Engineering Research Centers. In addition, there will be up to three new Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers supported. NSF will also prepare for the possible initiation of a new Science and Technology Center competition.

In order to move into new areas of science, some existing programs will be eliminated or phased out. The Land Margin Ecosystems Research program in the Geosciences and Biological Sciences Activities will be phased out in favor of a collaborative effort to support up to two new coastal Long Term Ecological Research (cLTER) sites. There is also a planned phase down in support of several of the State Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers in the Engineering Activity. Funds will be redirected to support small group research efforts aimed at strengthening university-industry-state partnerships.

Additional information for selected centers supported by NSF is provided below:

1996 Estimates for Selected Centers

(Millions of Dollars)

Number of Participating Institutions: all academic institutions which participate in activities at the centers.
Number of Partners: total number of non-academic participants, including industry, states, and federal agencies, at centers.
Total Leveraged Support: funding for centers from sources other than NSF.
Number of Participants: the total number of people who utilize center facilities; not just persons directly supported by NSF.

Research Project Support:

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