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News Release 09-096

NSF To Help Improve Academic Research Facilities

$200 million funding provided under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Photo of the zooplankton laboratory at SFSU's Romberg Tiburon Center.

NSF's ARI program funded renovation of the zooplankton laboratory at SFSU's Romberg Tiburon Center.

May 11, 2009

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a new solicitation in a program to fund repairs and renovations at the nation's academic research facilities. The grant program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Recovery Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in February, designated $200 million for competitive grants to be administered by NSF as part of its Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) program.

"The President is depending on NSF to help lead the nation to a new era of discovery and innovation," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. "Investments in research and education build a stronger economic foundation for the country."

The solicitation is modeled after competitions NSF held in the 1990s for academic research facilities modernization. The current goal is to rapidly strengthen the research facilities used by tens of thousands of scientists, engineers and students across the nation.

Fundamental science and engineering are widely acknowledged to be vital to future U.S. economic growth. NSF is one of the federal agencies designated to apply ARRA funds to ensure that America remains a leader in science and engineering research and education.

In today's announcement, NSF emphasized its goal is to ensure that existing research facilities are state-of-the-art, providing next-generation scientific infrastructure and better integrating researchers with shared resources, such as remote instruments, remote research platforms, data repositories, and national computing facilities.

The solicitation invites proposals for projects of up to $10 million each for the repair or renovation of existing academic research facilities. 

Proposals are invited from all institutions of higher education, including community colleges, together with non-profit research museums, research institutions and research consortia.

NSF encourages proposals for improving shared space where research activities take place. Such research space may be traditional "brick-and-mortar" buildings, mobile research spaces or virtual facilities that exploit modern broadband-based technologies to bring together diverse teams of researchers tackling challenging research questions. Improvements in infrastructure used for research training that will promote the development of a diverse workforce, better prepared to meet the needs of the 21st Century economy, are also encouraged.

Proposed projects, which may be for the improvement of research facilities used in any of the subject areas in NSF's investment portfolio, will undergo NSF's merit review process.

The ARI program is coordinated by NSF's Office of Integrated Activities (OIA) in partnership with NSF's other research directorates and offices. OIA funds emerging, cross-disciplinary research and education centers and programs that enhance scientific discovery and workforce development. OIA's portfolio includes Science and Technology Centers, Major Research Instrumentation and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Organizations interested in submitting proposals will have an opportunity to ask questions during an interactive webcast planned for later in May.

Additional information about the ARI solicitation and webcast is available on the OIA ARI website at The deadline for full proposals is August 24, 2009, with letters of intent due on July 1, 2009.


Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, email:

Program Contacts
Stephen Meacham, NSF, (703) 292-7599, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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