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International Research in Materials Science

    A. General Guidance on International Engagement

This information is intended to convey the guiding principles for preparation of proposals with an international dimension for submission to NSF's Division of Materials Research (DMR). It is not intended to supersede NSF's Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

The NSF Division of Materials Research (DMR) welcomes proposals from U.S. organizations that involve collaboration and cooperation with counterparts from other nations and/or may provide opportunities for U.S. students and postdoctoral researchers to gain an international research and/or education experience. Proposers are encouraged to address the following aspects of the collaboration, as applicable:

  • anticipated mutual benefits to the collaborating partners, as evidenced in true intellectual collaboration with complementary responsibilities and contributions,
  • benefits to be realized from the expertise and specialized skills of the collaborators,
  • any unique facilities, sites and/or resources available through the international collaboration, and
  • whether active research engagement of students and early-career researchers at the international site would occur.

Proposals are advised to include a two page biosketch with the name and organization of any key international collaborators. This information may be uploaded in the Special Information and Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.

Exchanges. For proposals involving exchanges of researchers and/or students, reciprocal arrangements are encouraged, with adherence to the overall principle that each side supports equivalent costs. Funding guidelines for involving international collaborators allow the following expenses to be included in the NSF budget:

  • travel expenses for U.S. scientists and students participating in exchange visits when they are an integral part of the project;
  • limited project-related expenses for international partners to engage in research activities while in the U.S. as project participants; and
  • project-related expenses for U.S. participants to engage in research activities while abroad.

International Support. DMR funding typically supports the U.S. participants on a collaborative project, while international partners are to be supported directly by their own funding sources. Further, researchers who are based at organizations outside the U.S. may not submit proposals to DMR. DMR funds may not be used to support research and training activities or the salaries of international scientists and students at their home organization. DMR encourages proposers and their international collaborators to seek support for these aspects from other non-NSF sources. Proposers are also encouraged to seek non-NSF sources for funds that would enable sustained research collaboration after the DMR support has ended.

International Travel and Visas. DMR typically supports individual requests for international travel as part of a regular research proposal and will not consider separate proposals to support an individual's international travel to conferences or workshops. In general, funding to support participation in conferences should be commensurate with the overall objectives and scope of the proposed project. Proposers are responsible for obtaining any required visas for foreign travel and, through their U.S. organization, for providing documentation in support of U.S. visas for foreign collaborators.

Compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR). If the proposed topical area has obvious dual use in both military and civilian sectors, then proposers need to be cognizant of appropriate Department of State regulations, specifically the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and Department of Commerce regulations, specifically, Export Administration Regulations (EAR). If relevant to the technology proposed, the proposer should indicate awareness and compliance with the ITAR and EAR regulations in the proposal where international collaboration is described. Awardee organizations are responsible for ensuring compliance with the applicable regulations. Proposers are encouraged to include any necessary permits, authorizations, and/or agreements in the Special Information and Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.

    B. Funding Opportunities for International Collaboration

NSF. NSF's Office of International and Integrative Activities, International Science and Engineering Section, provides additional guidance and funding opportunities for international collaboration.

NSF-wide Mechanisms and Programs for International Research
  • Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE): Supports bold, exceptional proposals that may be at a disadvantage in a standard NSF review process given their interdiscplinarity; INSPIRE proposals may include international.

  •  EArly Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER): See Section II.D.2 of GPG: Supports exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches; EAGER proposals may include international.

  • Supplemental Support: Supports addition of an international dimension to an existing award or an expansion of geographic focus to include a new international collaborator.

  • Research Coordination Networks:  Advances a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries.

  • Science and Technology Centers:  Supports innovative, potentially transformative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term awards through partnerships among academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private entities, and via international collaborations, as appropriate.

  • Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI): Supports collaboration among teams of NSF-supported U.S. researchers and their international partners wish to form virtual institutes (also has Workforce Development relevance).     

  • Catalyzing New International Collaborations (CNIC):  Provides seed funding to start new international collaborations with a goal of full proposals being submitted to NSF's directorate programs.

  • Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE): Supports mid-scale awards in which advances in research and education could not occur without international collaboration (also has Workforce Development relevance).

Workforce Development
External. The following links may provide links to additional resources for U.S. researchers who are engaged in international collaboration.
  • Newton's List:  An online platform for funders and grantseekers who are interested in collaborative international research and education in the basic sciences.

  •  PEER Science: Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science is a competitive grants program that invites scientists in developing countries to apply for funds to support research and capacity-building activities on topics of importance to USAID and conducted in partnership with their NSF-funded collaborators.

  • Institute of International Education: Portal for international educational opportunities.

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