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A Timeline of NSF History

NSF History by Decade: 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s


1990 - October 1: NSF announces the first planning grants for the Alliances for Minority Participation Program (AMPP), an effort to bring together academia, government and the private sector to increase the number of minority scientists and engineers.

1991 - March 4: Walter E. Massey becomes director of NSF. (Massey biography)

1991 - July 22: NSF joins with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Department of Education to support the development of new college courses and curriculum, which link the humanities and the sciences.

1991 - October 24: New Directorate for Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences is announced.

1992 - January 22: NSF awards its first Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics grants, focusing on the production cycles of marine zooplankton populations, tiny animals that play a huge role in marine ecosystems.

1992 - February 19: Two sites for the Laser Interferometer Gravitation-Wave Observatory (LIGO) are announced.

1993 - April 2: NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology agree to coordinate research programs in order to boost the technological competitiveness of some of the country's most important domestic industries.

1993 - October 7: Neal F. Lane is confirmed as director of NSF. (Lane biography)

1994 - August 24: NSF announces the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, an effort to improve the education of technicians in technologically advanced fields.

1994 - September 27: NSF joins the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in funding new technologies for digital libraries, making more information available over the Internet.

1995 - January 27: NSF-funded research shows that snowfall rate, not visibility, is the key in aircraft crashes caused by icing, a major step in allowing airlines to assess icing risk.

1995 - April 30: NSFNET Backbone is decommissioned, a major step in the privatization of the Internet.

1996 - May 17: NSF's policy to maintain confidentiality of reviewers upheld in court.

1996 - December 3: Fastlane, NSF's on-line proposal submission and grant administration system, a major step in e-government, receives a National Information Infrastructure Award for excellence and innovation.

1997 - March 28: New merit review criteria are approved by the National Science Board for proposals to NSF. Representing the first change in 16 years, the new criteria balance intellectual merit with concerns for broader impacts.

1997 - October 19: NSF announces the first grants to study the long-term ecology of urban environments.

1998 - February 13: Rita R. Colwell nominated to be director of NSF. (Colwell biography)

1998 - September 1: The first Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant is made. This is a program to support the development of new multidisciplinary programs that bridge traditional organizational barriers and provide the skills that scientists and engineers will need in the future.

1998 - September 28: NSF announces major support for plant genome research. Included in the funding is support for research on economically important crops like corn, soybean, tomato and cotton.

1999 - January 8: Publication of NSF-supported research that shows how the anti-cancer drug Taxol kills tumor cells. A serendipitous result of research on molecular structures related to cell division, this is perceived as a major step in the development of anti-cancer drugs.

1999 - October 21: NSF announces a major initiative to fund technological development in housing for the 21st century.