AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES $792,030,000
(Millions of Dollars)
The FY 1999 Budget Request for the
Mathematical and Physical Sciences Activity is $792.03 million, an increase
of $76.32 million, or 10.7 percent, over the FY 1998 Current Plan of $715.71
The Mathematical and Physical Sciences
(MPS) Activity supports a strong and diverse portfolio of research and
education in mathematics, astronomical science, physics, chemistry, and
materials research. The purpose of this work is both to deepen our understanding
of the physical universe, and to use this understanding in service to society.
In addition, the mathematical and physical
sciences underpin many other scientific endeavors and serve as the training
ground for at least half of all doctoral scientists now employed in U.S.
industry. Supporting areas of inquiry that are critical for long-term U.S.
economic strength and security, MPS provides a substantial portion of federal
funding for fundamental research at academic institutions in these areas,
and in some of the subfields accounts for most of the federal investment.
The new opportunities are many. Research
at the atomic level will result in a period of discovery which could be
termed a "molecular revolution." The study of complex chemical and physical
systems offers critical insights into climate change and other natural
phenomena. Biological systems can be understood and controlled via powerful
mathematical and physical techniques, such as the creation of algorithms
critical for drug design and for the development of biopolymers, gels,
and other biomolecular materials. New tools critical to scientific progress
– from advanced magnets, to novel sensors, to more powerful telescopes
– are being developed and refined, and will make possible the understanding
of physical phenomena at a much more profound level. Essential to achieving
these goals is the development of new mathematical tools and algorithms
for modeling and simulation of physical and biological phenomena.
MPS places a high priority on multidisciplinary
work and on partnerships. The Multidisciplinary Activities Subactivity
is designed to catalyze efforts in emerging areas of research and education
at disciplinary boundaries. By fostering closer connections with other
federal agencies, state governments, and industry, MPS investigators can
enhance the impact of their efforts and increase the return on NSF investments.
International partnerships are critical
to progress, both intellectually and financially, especially in the areas
of astronomy, physics, and materials research, all of which require the
use of large facilities. An example is the strong international cooperation
that the Astronomy Subactivity has generated in support of the Gemini Observatories.
Another is the collaboration with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office
of Energy Research and with the European Organization for Nuclear Research
(CERN) that the Physics Subactivity has pursued toward the development
of detectors for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
World leadership in science is a critical
objective for MPS. Receipt of Nobel Prizes by MPS-supported investigators
is a strong indicator of the long-term importance of MPS research. The
1997 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Steven Chu of Stanford University,
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji of the College de France and the Ecole Normale Superieure
in Paris, and William Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and
Technology for their work in applying laser techniques to the cooling and
trapping of atoms. Chu's work on laser cooling at Stanford University has
been supported by the Physics Subactivity. It has had a seminal effect
on atom manipulation and control, and has enabled many other major discoveries,
including the development of atom tweezers, the experimental discovery
of the Bose-Einstein condensate, and demonstration of the basics of an
In FY 1999, MPS will provide support
for the Foundation-wide priority multidisciplinary areas of Knowledge and
Distributed Intelligence (KDI), Life and Earth’s Environment (LEE), and
Educating for the Future (EFF).
Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence.
MPS will provide an increment of $14.97 million for KDI. Plans will include:
Life and Earth’s Environment.
MPS will provide an increment of $10.64 million for LEE. Plans will include:
Knowledge Networking: MPS will
provide an increment of $2.0 million to support increased activity in data
mining and analysis of large, distributed, heterogeneous data bases of
Learning and Intelligent Systems:
MPS will provide an increment of $2.0 million to support research in the
development of smart instrumentation, control theory, statistical learning
theory, machine learning algorithms, and learning in many cognitive domains
such as language and vision.
New Computational Challenges: MPS
will provide an increment of $10.97 million to support the modeling and
simulation of both very complex physical systems and sophisticated instrumentation.
This will allow physical scientists to predict accurately the properties
and functions of new light-weight materials, drugs to immoblize viruses,
and the detailed performance of very costly and complex instruments.
Educating for the Future. In FY
1999, MPS will provide an increment of $19.65 million for EFF. EFF includes
a range of programs supporting innovative approaches to meeting the challenge
of educating students for the twenty-first century. Major emphasis for
FY 1999 include:
Life in Extreme Environments (LExEn):
MPS will provide an increment of $4.70 million for two focus areas in LExEn.
One involves investigations requiring expertise in surface chemistry; for
example, understanding microbial interactions at mineral surfaces, development
of chemical sensors, or development of new analytical methods for micro-quantities
of biological materials. The second area involves development of a model
for the origin of the universe that will provide information on planetary
development useful in models of atmospheric behavior and for prediction
of solar influences. These studies could provide clues to the requirements
for a life-sustaining environment .
Urban Communities: MPS will provide
an increment of $2.21 million for the development of new materials for
urban infrastructure. Durable, corrosion-resistant, and light-weight structural
materials are needed particularly for environments that are subject to
effects of pollution and constant use. If they are available at lower cost,
this can affect important economic-ecological tradeoffs made by decision-makers.
This also contributes to mitigation of the impacts of natural disasters.
Systems: MPS will provide an increment of $1.5 million to increase
support for research, in collaboration with EPA, on technologies for a
sustainable environment, primarily alternative synthetic methods for chemicals
and materials that are more environmentally benign. In addition, development
of sensors, surface studies, novel materials, and industrial ecology (recycling,
biomimetic processing, etc.) will receive increased support.
Global Change: MPS will provide
an increment of $570,000 to enhance support for studies of greenhouse gas
dynamics, global troposphere, and some mathematical modeling of atmospheric
Integrated Research Challenges:
MPS will provide an increment of $1.66 million for Integrated Research
Challenges. The interdisciplinary issues to be addressed will benefit significantly
from the expertise of mathematical scientists, chemists, and materials
researchers. In addition, support will increase for the Environmental Molecular
Science Institutes, which involve extensive cross-disciplinary work and
Key Program Functions
CAREER: MPS will provide an increment
of $3.90 million for the Faculty Early Career Development program, to target
young investigators and to increase participation of underrepresented minority
groups. MPS fields of research accounted for one-fourth of the Foundation’s
CAREER awards in FY 1997.
IGERT: MPS will provide an increment of
$2.24 million for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training
program to broaden graduate education, providing students with training
beyond the boundaries of a single discipline, thus preparing them for a
wider spectrum of career opportunities.
REU: MPS will provide an increment
of $1.76 million for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program,
to enhance opportunities for undergraduate students to experience hands-on
participation in research or related scholarly activities. MPS supports
over half of NSF’s REU sites, involving over 1,500 undergraduates. Between
one-third and one-half of these undergraduates are women, and one-eighth
are from underrepresented minority groups.
VIGRE: MPS will provide an increment
of $4.50 million for the Vertically Integrated Grants for Research and
Education in the Mathematical Sciences program, an undergraduate, graduate
student and postdoctoral activity designed to improve and reform the research
and educational opportunities in the mathematical sciences.
Learning Technologies: MPS will
provide an increment $2.0 million as part of the Foundation-wide initiative
on Research on K-12 Education and Training Technologies, a partnership
with the Department of Education. Funding will support efforts such as
basic research on educationally relevant technologies; research aimed at
developing educational software and technology-enabled pedagogy; and studies
to determine the most effective educational approaches and practices.
K-8 Mathematics Initiative: MPS
will participate in an initiative in partnership with the Department of
Education, providing $3.0 million to support efforts such as teacher training
and enhancement, curriculum development, and the creation of instructional
materials and technology-based systems.
Other program activities: MPS will
provide $1.0 million to support new education and outreach activities for
K-12 teachers and students, new opportunities that will help to bring the
excitement of science to the classroom and to engage K-12 science teachers
and students. MPS will enhance efforts aimed at broadening the training
of young physicists to address multidisciplinary problems which are outside
the usual scope of the field, by increasing FY 1999 funding by $750,000.
In addition, MPS will increase funding of a joint effort conducted with
the EHR Activity to support collaborative research projects between university
faculty and industry scientists coupled to curriculum improvements, as
well as provide increased support for digital libraries.
MPS supports its ongoing and new activities
through the following key program functions:
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Includes only
costs charged to the R&RA Appropriation.
The types of activities supported varies
widely across the MPS Subactivities. For example, awards to individual
investigators and small groups range from less than forty percent of the
budget in Astronomical Sciences to over ninety percent in the Mathematical
Sciences. Identifying and maintaining an appropriate balance is essential
for the health of each field, and MPS works in close partnership with the
research communities to identify and implement a balanced, forward-looking
investment portfolio. Approximately 4,300 awards are made each year, with
a median award size of $63,000 and an average duration of 2.8 years.
Research Project Support
Research Project Support provides funding
for research projects and centers that span all the mathematical and physical
science disciplines. Research projects account for two-thirds of the MPS
Activity, while centers account for an additional ten percent. These awards
range from support of single investigators to group or center awards designed
to meet the research needs of a collaboration. These award mechanisms promote
the competition of ideas, rapid innovation arising from new scientific
opportunities, and flexible approaches to complex scientific problems.
In FY 1999, MPS will implement efforts
to address the Foundation-wide concern about grant sizes by increasing
the average size and duration of awards and providing more support for
researchers with particular attention to new investigators. These efforts
will also contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation’s merit
review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and
the university community.
Within Research Project Support, funding
for research projects will increase in FY 1999 by $40.98 million, to total
$519.26 million. MPS will participate in a new Foundation-wide initiative
on Research on K-12 Education and Training Technologies, a partnership
with the Department of Education. MPS will provide $2.0 million to support
efforts such as basic research on educationally relevant technologies;
research aimed at developing educational software and technology-enabled
pedagogy; and studies to determine the most effective educational approaches
In terms of ongoing efforts, MPS will
increase its investments in the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison
with Industry (GOALI), to a total of $12.60 million, and in the Faculty
Early Career Development (CAREER) program, to a total of $21.26 million.
MPS will also increase support for undergraduate education for Research
Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Research at Undergraduate Institutions
(RUI), to levels of $12.37 million and $9.36 million, respectively. MPS
will continue to support Collaboratives to Integrate Research and Education
(CIRE), a jointly funded program initiated during FY 1998 with the EHR
Activity to establish long-term research and education relationships between
minority-serving institutions and NSF-supported centers and facilities.
Multidisciplinary areas of interest include astrophysics, computational
science and engineering, nanoscience and engineering, optical science and
engineering, plasma science and engineering, environmental research, and
research related to biological systems.
The MPS disciplines require a wide
variety of state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation to make scientific
and educational progress. In addition, instrument development to open new
frontiers of scientific endeavor is an important aspect of MPS-supported
research. For example, the development of adaptive optics enables new types
of astronomical observations; chemical and materials research depend critically
on synchrotron radiation beam lines and advanced lasers to study structures
at the atomic scale; and the molecular synthesis and processing of novel
complex molecules and advanced participation in materials requires techniques
of ever-increasing sophistication. All of the MPS disciplines increasingly
rely on computers to carry out simulations and visualizations, and to aid
in the analysis of large data sets. In FY 1999, MPS support for equipment
and instrumentation acquisition and instrument development will increase
by $9.78 million, to $95.70 million. Instrumentation accounts for approximately
12 percent of the MPS budget, and includes MPS's participation in the NSF-wide
Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program.
In FY 1999, increased funding will
focus on areas that include the following:
the Research Project Support Key Program Function, MPS supports a number
Fundamental and Applied Mathematics: The
mathematical sciences continue to play essential roles in both independent
discovery and in support of other fields of research; indeed, mathematics
enables tomorrow's science, engineering, and technology. From modeling
heart valves and other biological processes; to predicting environmental
change; to signal processing and high-speed magnetic-resonance imaging;
to understanding massive data sets and transportation webs; to enabling
communications quality, speed and security; to understanding the stability
of matter in the universe, the mathematical sciences -- linked with science
and engineering -- provide the computation, visualization, algorithms,
models, and theoretical foundations of discovery. MPS support of this effort
will increase substantially in FY 1999, by an estimated $6.0 million.
Origins of the Universe: Research in this
area seeks to answer some of the most intriguing questions of all: How
did the universe begin? How did matter, planets, stars, and galaxies form?
Did life exist elsewhere in the universe? Does it now? We still do not
know exactly how the chemical elements form, and how galaxies, stars, and
planetary systems are born and evolve. We do not completely understand
the Sun's impact on processes here on Earth. These important questions
require many complementary contributions from astrophysics, particle physics,
nuclear physics, exobiology, and chemistry. Ground-based telescopes, such
as the Gemini Observatories currently under construction and accelerators
such as the LHC and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL),
all contribute to the solution of these questions, as do companion efforts
in theoretical physics and chemistry. Increased support for research projects
– an estimated $4.0 million – as well as for facilities will be provided
for this work in FY 1999.
The Quantum Realm: To capitalize on recent
discoveries and technological advances, support for study of the quantum
realm -- where the laws of quantum mechanics play a decisive role -- will
increase in FY 1999. This area of research is as broad as it is bold, covering
such diverse topics as the fundamental makeup of the world around us, the
basic nature of the chemical reactions that control our environment, and
the development of new materials. On the cosmic scale, there is increasing
evidence that much of the matter in the universe is not the ordinary matter
of which the earth and the living things upon it are made. On the atomic
scale, the use of very precise lasers now allows us to slow, trap, and
manipulate single atoms. On the scale of elementary particles, the LHC
will enable research at the smallest length scales ever probed. In the
realm of mathematics, researchers are finding important links between quantum
theory and fundamental mathematics that have been beneficial to both areas.
Increased support in FY 1999 for study of the quantum realm is estimated
at $9.0 million.
Molecular Connections: The understanding
of phenomena at the molecular level continues to grow in importance. The
enhanced capabilities to synthesize, characterize, and model complex systems
provide an intellectual bridge by which MPS works with other disciplines
to solve important problems in biology, geology, and engineering. Recent
research ventures have resulted in new models for abiotic production of
organic molecules under adverse conditions that may mimic those of the
young Earth or other planets; in models that describe the role of microbes
in the composition and dissolution of mineral surfaces; and in the discovery
of supramolecular films that may find utility as de-icing layers or coatings
for artificial blood vessels. MPS will emphasize molecular research in
FY 1999 by continuing its support of work that explores the synthesis and
properties of nanostructures (associations of molecules smaller than 50
nanometers) and by participating in the Foundation’s cross-disciplinary
nanotechnology programs. Research in this area is expected to lead to advances
in protective coatings, electronic components, and biomedicine. It is estimated
that increased support for molecular research in FY 1999 will total $16.0
Integration of Research and Education:
MPS activities have played a key role in integrating science and education,
and in helping people of all ages experience the thrill of "discovering
science." MPS activities currently support more than 5,000 graduate students
and 2,000 post-doctoral appointees each year; this training involves them
in the most timely and important research. Over the last decade the number
of undergraduates who spend part of each year on MPS-sponsored research
has risen sharply under the REU Program. This has significantly broadened
undergraduate education in the mathematical and physical sciences, and
has blurred the distinction between undergraduate and graduate education.
MPS-sponsored activities, particularly the larger ones based on centers
and facilities, have an increasing number of outreach programs that help
bring the excitement of the most current scientific discoveries into K-12
teaching, to help all students become scientifically literate. Moreover,
the collaboration of researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and student assistants
working together on a research project is a natural integration of research
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Includes National
High Field FT-ICR Mass Spectrometry Center and the Center on Human Dimensions
of Global Change.
Center-based research brings together
scientists from diverse disciplines to work on complex problems, often
in partnerships with other academic institutions, national laboratories,
and industry. Centers are strongly committed to the integration of research
and education, at levels from pre-college to postdoctoral, and they maintain
sophisticated experimental facilities generally accessible to a broad range
In FY 1998, MPS supports ten Science
and Technology Centers (STC) and 24 Materials Research Science and Engineering
Centers (MRSEC). The research activities of STCs cover a broad range, from
advanced materials, to particle astrophysics, to ultrafast optical science.
In the MRSECs, researchers from many disciplines, including engineering,
the mathematical and physical sciences, and biology focus on a wide range
of materials types, structures, and fundamental processes.
Interdisciplinary groups at a number
of MRSECs and STCs are working in close partnership with teachers and educators
to bring materials science alive for pre-college students in a variety
of programs. For example, the MRSEC at Northwestern University has worked
with pre-college teachers to develop its educational Materials World Modules
program for schools. The program is now in use in several states in the
U.S., and will be distributed internationally. The program features hands-on
student learning of scientific principles using materials related modules.
Centers play a significant role in
attracting women and other groups that are underrepresented in the scientific
workforce to careers in science. The MRSECs support more than 1,700 faculty
members and students. Of these, about 350 are women and 160 are from other
underrepresented groups. Efforts by the MRSECs to increase the participation
of women and underrepresented minorities will be further enhanced.
An increase in FY 1999 of $3.78 million,
to a total of $51.71 million, will support the establishment of up to four
A decrease in FY 1999 of $2.61 million,
to a total of $19.05, is planned for STCs in accordance with the scheduled
phasing out of funding for the centers that were established in 1989.
Additional support will be also be provided
in FY 1999 for instrumentation at the National High Field FT-ICR Mass Spectrometry
Center and to support statistical modeling at the Center on Human Dimensions
of Global Change.
Advances in astronomy, physics, and
many areas of materials research depend heavily on user facilities that
provide state-of-the-art capabilities, including instrumentation, that
enable research at the cutting edge of science. The investment in facilities
not only supports ongoing operations and maintenance, but also periodic
upgrades that may be needed to provide continued research opportunities
at the forefront of science.
(Millions of Dollars)
1 Includes the
Indiana University Cyclotron Facility, the Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation
Center, the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source, the Center for High-Resolution
Neutron Scattering, the National Nanofabrication Users Network, the National
Center for Atmospheric Research, and planning funds for the Spallation
In FY 1999, major facilities support includes
Education and Training
An increase of $12.48 million, to a total
of $19.78 million, for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
(LIGO). These funds provide for operating staff and infrastructure as commissioning
activities move towards initial observations. Construction funding provided
through the Major Research Equipment account will be completed in FY 1998.
For additional information, see the Major Research Equipment account.
An increase of $720,000, to a total of
$6.98 million, for the Gemini Observatories to support operation of the
observatory sites. The northern observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, expects
first light in December 1998. First light at the southern site observatory
at Cerro Pachon, Chile is scheduled for FY 2000. For additional information,
see the Major Research Equipment account.
A decrease of $400,000, to a total of
$17.90 million, for the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR). This reflects
completion of FY 1998 funding for the CESR upgrade and includes increased
support for operations. CESR serves a broad user community and continues
to be a world-leading center for study of the B-meson and its relation
to the electro-weak force and to understanding the matter-antimatter asymmetry
in the universe.
An increase of $2.0 million, to a total
of $13.74 million, for Michigan State University’s National Superconducting
Cyclotron Laboratory. The increment supports the radioactive ion beam upgrade
project, which will continue until FY 2001. This upgrade will provide important
research opportunities for hundreds of users of the NSCL, with particular
emphasis on nuclear astrophysics, a high priority within nuclear science
Funding for the National High Magnetic
Field Laboratory (NHMFL) will remain at $17.50 million. The NHMFL continues
to provide world leadership in high magnetic field capability, supporting
research needs of hundreds of materials scientists and other researchers
in a broad spectrum of science and technology. The NHMFL is operated by
the Florida State University, the University of Florida, and the Los Alamos
National Laboratory, and is funded through a partnership between NSF, DOE,
and the State of Florida.
Funding for the three major national astronomy
facilities – the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the National
Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), and the National Optical Astronomy
Observatory (NOAO) – will increase by $4.0 million to $70.13 million. An
increase of $2.0 million for NOAO will provide for upgrading of instrumentation,
continued operation of the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG), and
continued construction of instruments for the Synoptic Optical Long-term
Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS). An increase of $2.0 million for NRAO
will provide for enhanced operations and maintenance and development of
new instrumentation at the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline
In FY 1999, MPS will significantly
increase investments in education and training that ensure preparation
of a diverse, broadly trained and globally competitive scientific workforce,
and that help to develop a scientifically literate populace. These investments
will support innovative activities in education and training at all levels
from K-12 through the postdoctoral experience. Funding identified in the
table below includes only dedicated education and training activities and
excludes education and training activities supported through research awards
and those taking place at centers and facilities.
(Millions of Dollars)
The FY 1999 increase for education
and training activities in MPS will be $13.89 million.
Administration and Management
At the K-12 level, a $4.05 million increase
will support Web-based and other informal science education and teacher
enhancement through cooperative interactions with other MPS-supported research
sites. MPS will also participate in the K-8 Mathematics Initiative, a NSF
partnership with the Department of Education. As part of this increase,
MPS will provide $3.0 million to support efforts such as teacher training
and enhancement, curriculum development, and the creation of instructional
materials and technology-based systems.
Investment in undergraduate education
activities will increase by $1.85 million that will provide students with
broadened curriculum content and laboratory experiences and will stimulate
the vertical integration of undergraduate students into the teaching and
learning environment that extends upward to the graduate and postdoctoral
levels and reforming materials research and education. In addition, increased
funding will support new efforts to reform material research and education.
At the graduate level, MPS will provide
increased funding of $7.99 million. Increased funding will provide enhanced
support for the Foundation-wide, multidisciplinary Integrative Graduate
Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program and the Grants for Vertical
Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE)
program. These traineeship activities are broadening significantly graduate
education, increasing diversity, and are expected to lead to a shortening
of the time to the Ph.D. degree and to produce graduates well versed in
both research and teaching and who are prepared for a wide spectrum of
career opportunities. An initiative within the Physics Subactivity aimed
at ensuring that young physicists are equipped with the appropriate skills
and vision essential to addressing problems that reach into disciplines
beyond the usual boundaries of the field will receive increased support
of $750,000 in FY 1999. Additional funding of $1.20 million will also be
provided to support new efforts to reform material research and education
that build upon existing activities.
MPS will provide an increment of $600,000
for increased support of postdoctorals both through focused postdoctoral
programs and through the VIGRE activity that is cooperatively supported
by the Mathematical Sciences Subactivity and the Education and Human Resources
The Administration and Management key
program function includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments
and contractors performing administrative functions.