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News Release 12-135

NSF Announces New INSPIRE Awards

Bold, interdisciplinary research grants span science, engineering and education

Illustration of a DNA abstract.

NSF's INSPIRE awards were announced today.

July 18, 2012

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

NSF today announced the first set of new awards that will be given out under INSPIRE, which, when all are distributed under this fiscal year, will total about $30.4 million. Eleven awards were released today, and the total number of awards is expected to reach 40 over the next few weeks. The maximum size for an INSPIRE award this year is $1 million.

INSPIRE, which stands for Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education, was established to address some of the most complicated and pressing scientific problems that lie at the intersections of traditional disciplines.

"INSPIRE is a great example of the vital role NSF plays in supporting highly innovative research and education projects at the intersections of traditional disciplines in science and engineering," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "Through INSPIRE and other NSF programs, I encourage our nation's scientists and engineers to submit to NSF their most innovative ideas for interdisciplinary research."

In FY12, NSF established INSPIRE to fund interdisciplinary, potentially transformative research. Once fully implemented, INSPIRE will complement other NSF efforts with a suite of new, highly innovative NSF-wide activities and funding opportunities. INSPIRE awards are co-funded between the Office of Integrative Activities and other NSF offices and directorates. INSPIRE aims to widen the pool of prospective discoveries by supporting proposals that may be viewed as falling outside of other NSF programs and funding mechanisms.

The awards made under INSPIRE include research on resorbable electronics, modeling and optimization of DNA manufacturing processes, statistical mechanics of natural climate variability, wireless sensor networks in experimental biology research, and scalable toolkit for transformative astrophysics research.

A complete list of awards made today is listed below.

In FY13, INSPIRE will expand to include larger "mid-scale" research awards up to $3.0 million. This new mid-scale opportunity will provide researchers with a novel funding mechanism to consider research questions that might be beyond the scope of standard NSF programs due to funding limitations.

PIPI InstitutionTitleAmountCo-funders
Dankowicz, HarryUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignAsynchronous communication, self-organization, and differentiation in human and insect networks

Iskarous, KhalilUniversity of Southern CaliforniaDynamical Principles of Animal Movement

$973,963SBE/BCS, BIO/IOS
Kaiser, HartmutLouisiana State UniversitySTAR: Scalable toolkit for Transformative Astrophysics Research

Minai, AliUniversity of CincinnatiThe Hunting of the Spark: A Systematic Study of Natural Creativity in Human Networks

Misra, SatyajayantNew Mexico State UniversityTowards Ubiquitous Adoption of Wireless Sensor Networks in Experimental Biology Research

Omenetto, FiorenzoTufts UniversityResorbable Electronics--Materials, Manufacturing, and Modeling

$1,000,000MPS/DMR, ENG/CMMI
Onuchic, JoseRice UniversityMolecular Underpinnings of Bacterial Decision-Making

Paerl, HansUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillAn Ecologically-Driven Strategy for Ensuring Sustainability of Anthropogenically and Climatically Impacted Lakes$450,709ENG/CBET, BIO/DEB, OISE
Peccoud, JeanVirginia TechModeling and optimization of DNA manufacturing processes

Weiss, JeffreyUniversity of Colorado, BoulderNonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics of Natural Climate Variability: Sea-Surface Temperature and Ocean Heat Content

Woodbury, NealArizona State UniversityMimicking the Functional Complexity of Biology with Man-Made Systems



Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, email:

Program Contacts
Thomas F. Russell, NSF, (703) 292-4863, 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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