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Mathematical Sciences Innovation Incubator  (MSII)

Name Email Phone Room
Lora  Billings (703) 292-9970  1025 N  
Kevin  Clancey (703) 292-4870  1025 N  
Pedro  F. Embid (703) 292-4859  1025 N  
Gabor  Szekely (703) 292-8869  1025 N  


The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) aims to enhance the synergistic relationships between the mathematical sciences and other NSF-supported disciplines through the Mathematical Sciences Innovation Incubator (MSII) activity.  The MSII activity encourages and supports new research collaborations among mathematical scientists and other scientists and engineers working in NSF-supported research areas of high national priority by:

  • facilitating DMS co-review and co-funding of multi-disciplinary research collaborations involving mathematical scientists;
  • providing leverage for investments of non-DMS NSF programs in projects that include mathematical scientists; and
  • providing a uniform mechanism through which collaborative research teams involving mathematical scientists can request DMS co-review.

The ideas, tools, and language of mathematics and statistics play important roles in every area of science and engineering research supported by the National Science Foundation, and it is widely recognized that interactions between the mathematical sciences and other fields catalyze developments in both.  The Division of Mathematical Sciences wishes to foster the participation of more mathematical scientists, from every area of mathematics and statistics, in such important interdisciplinary work.  In support of this goal, the MSII activity provides funding to catalyze the involvement of mathematical scientists in research areas where the mathematical sciences are not yet playing large roles.

The MSII activity emphasizes scientific research areas of high national priority that would benefit from innovative developments in mathematics and statistics.  For example, modern communication, transportation, medicine, manufacturing, security, and finance all depend on the mathematical sciences.  Success in meeting crucial challenges currently facing the nation in these areas will rest on advances in mathematical sciences research.  The increasingly important challenges of deriving knowledge from huge amounts of data, whether numerical or experimental, of simulating complex phenomena accurately, and of dealing with uncertainty effectively are some of the areas where the mathematical sciences will play a central role.  Other promising areas where mathematical scientists could play larger roles include research on the power grid, the brain, and optics and photonics.  Collaborative research projects involving mathematical scientists have the potential to transform the nation’s ability to respond to these and many other challenges.

Areas of national high-priority scientific research in fiscal year 2017 (U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy memorandum M-15-16, "Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2017 Budget") include those listed below (accompanied by examples of relevant NSF programs in which mathematical scientists could play larger roles).  By facilitating the participation of mathematical scientists in such high-priority research, the MSII activity is supportive of the NSF long-range agenda "Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments."

The MSII activity will support research projects in these and other areas of national priority that are managed by NSF programs outside of DMS and that involve mathematical scientists in the research.  Proposals submitted to these programs outside of DMS are eligible for support through the MSII activity.  (Proposals submitted to DMS are not eligible for MSII funding.) 

To apply for MSII support, after submitting a proposal to a non-DMS program for a research project that involves mathematical scientists, the Principal Investigator must send an e-mail message specifying the name(s) and affiliation(s) of the mathematical scientist(s) and the NSF proposal ID to the address [].  (Please note that the Proposal ID begins with two digits reflecting the fiscal year, e.g., 17xxxxx for fiscal year 2017 proposals.)  Transmission of this e-mail message will constitute a request that DMS consider the proposal for co-funding through the MSII activity. 

MSII funding recommendations will be based on the intellectual merit and broader impact of the proposed research, with particular emphasis on:

  1. likely impact of the involvement of mathematical scientists in the project;
  2. the extent to which the mathematical sciences play an essential role in the proposed research project;
  3. novelty of the proposed collaboration or research topic; and
  4. potential for impact of the research project in furthering mathematical sciences research.

Because the goal of the MSII activity is to encourage and support new research collaborations among mathematical scientists and other scientists working in NSF-supported research areas, MSII funds will not be allocated for support of ongoing or renewal projects in which mathematical scientists previously have been supported by non-DMS NSF programs.

Mathematical scientists are encouraged to consider establishing research collaborations with researchers in other NSF-supported disciplines and to make collaborators aware of the possibility of MSII support for the activity. 


What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Activity, with Abstracts)