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Chemistry's Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)

January 5, 2021

Research Opportunities:

The Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate through the Division of Chemistry (CHE) and the Engineering Directorate (ENG) through the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) at NSF are coordinating efforts to promote strong partnerships among academic scientists, national laboratory researchers, and industrial practitioners to enable more efficient technology transfer that helps to maintain global economic competitiveness, improves the sustainability of the chemical industry, and better prepares the chemical workforce.  With this DCL, CHE is encouraging submissions of Planning or Phase I proposals to build a portfolio of CHE-centered IUCRCs in response to the recent release of the new IUCRC solicitation (NSF 20-570). All CHE-supported research areas are encouraged, with special emphasis on research foci that align with the Industries of the Future (IotF) topics, such as Advanced Manufacturing (including Sustainable Chemistry), Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, and Quantum Information Science.

The deadline for Planning Grant preliminary proposals is March 10, 2021 for FY 2021 funding consideration (see NSF 20-570 for more details on the IUCRC Program, its structure, and requirements). 


NSF has posted a request for information about new opportunities, at the interface of neuroscience and other science and engineering disciplines, that are poised to reshape brain research and its applications. As detailed in Dear Colleague Letter NSF 21-31, NSF invites your input describing these new interdisciplinary frontiers and the perspectives and interactions needed to pursue the new opportunities most effectively. Responses to this request will inform future NSF investments that address the opportunities identified. Individual researchers, collaborating groups or networks, and organizations are all welcome to respond.

For further information, please see, which includes a link to the official submission form. Contributions must be received by March 31, 2021. Questions should be directed to”


With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), NSF draws attention to the opportunity for supplemental funding to help researchers, who are confronted with a short-term increase in dependent care responsibilities, ensure that the research activities supported by an NSF award can continue. Historical information about CLB may be found on the Foundation's website for this initiative:

NSF recognizes that primary dependent care responsibilities and other family considerations pose unique challenges to the STEM workforce. The purpose of this DCL is to announce NSF's continued interest in CLB supplemental funding requests, with two key changes from CLB DCLs issued in FY 2013: 1) an increase in the amount and duration of salary support that may be requested; and 2) an extension of the opportunity to Principal Investigators (PIs) and co-PIs of all active NSF grant or cooperative agreements.


The National Science Foundation recognizes that veterans represent a potential underutilized workforce for America's research and industrial communities. The Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), including the Division of Chemistry (CHE), at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is now accepting supplemental funding requests to support one (additional) Ph.D. student per award, as long as the student is a United States (U.S.) veteran. The proposed MPS-GRSVs will afford veterans an opportunity to conduct research towards a doctoral degree with an NSF MPS Directorate active awardee. Please see DCL for additional information.

Submission Deadline: There is no deadline for submissions; supplemental requests may be submitted at any time.


NSF continues to promote growth of a globally competitive and diverse research workforce and advances the scientific and innovation skills of the Nation. As part of this effort, NSF will consider supplemental funding requests for up to an additional six months of graduate student support on active NSF grants. Principal Investigators supported by NSF Division of Chemistry awards are advised to consult with their cognizant NSF program director prior to submitting a supplemental funding request.

Supplemental funding requests may be submitted at any time with a target date of April 15th for each Fiscal Year.


  • Dear Colleague Letter (DCL): Pilot Projects to Integrate Existing Data and Data-Focused Cyberinfrastructure to Enable Community-level Discovery Pathways (NSF 20-085)

CHE encourages proposals for pilot projects that explore the scientific and technical challenges facing big data standardization, storage, dissemination and repurposing in electrochemistry, including electrosynthesis, electrocatalysis, electrochemical sensor, and battery development. The research areas in electrochemistry have seen growing interest in recent years for their potential in renewable energy, chemical manufacturing, environmental remediation, and sensing. The large volumes and heterogeneity of data generated in experimental and computational design of electrode materials, catalysts, and synthetic pathways provide a natural testbed to develop data workflows and identify common needs across different areas for full-scale deployment of data-driven CI in chemistry. Proposals are welcome for data CI pilot projects in electrochemistry that can serve as an initial proving ground for the development of wider chemistry community data CI, and that address best practices and scalable approaches for areas including, but not limited to, acquisition, storage, accessibility, dissemination, transparency and openness applied to both legacy and new large-scale data. The successfully competed pilot projects will facilitate exploration of new research areas, reuse of legacy data for emerging applications, (re)evaluation of new and previous findings, and comparison of data with future models. In preparing their proposals, proposers are encouraged to consult the findings and recommendations from the 2017 NSF-funded workshop on Framing the Role of Big Data and Modern Data Science in Chemistry and the 2019 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Workshop on Advances, Challenges, and Long-Term Opportunities of Electrochemistry: Addressing Societal Needs - A Chemical Sciences Roundtable Workshop.

CHE proposals are requested by February 1, 2021 and will be considered for potential funding in FY 2021, pending the availability of funds.


The Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) has long promoted efforts to recruit and retain students from underrepresented groups in all areas of the mathematical and physical sciences. AGEP-GRS is a mechanism by which a current MPS research awardee is able to support one (additional) Ph.D. student in an ongoing MPS-funded research project.  The goal is to create an opportunity to engage additional students in research, to develop a positive learning environment for students, and to improve diversity and retention at the doctoral level within the mathematical and physical sciences.  This opportunity is available to PIs with current MPS research awards whose institutions and/or academic units are either currently participating in the EHR-sponsored AGEP program; or whose institutions and/or academic units have participated in the AGEP program in the past (AGEP Legacy institutions).  Such PIs may apply to MPS for a supplement to defray the costs for: stipend, tuition, benefits, and indirect costs for a graduate research student working on the MPS-funded research.

While the main focus of the AGEP-GRS program is support of graduate students in a doctoral program, the program will also consider support for a graduate student in a Master’s degree-only granting program, provided that the student is both a) doing a research - based masters project and b) planning on joining a doctoral program within 12 months. Such support is limited to the last year of the Master's student's work.

There is no deadline for submissions; supplemental funding requests may be submitted at any time.  For additional detail, please refer to the web site and the contacts listed there.


  • Dear Colleague Letter: Enabling Quantum Computing Platform Access for National Science Foundation Researchers with Amazon Web Services, IBM, and Microsoft Quantum (NSF 20-073)

NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) support supplemental funding requests for active awards to enable the use of quantum-computing cloud platforms. NSF's supplemental funding will support graduate-student time to work on these platforms. In parallel, Amazon Web Services, IBM, and Microsoft Quantum intend to make platform use available to recipients of these supplemental awards at no financial cost, pending a mutually agreeable arrangement between the principal investigators (PIs) and a given company.



Archived Dear Colleague Letters

  • Dear Colleague Letter: International Collaboration Supplements in Quantum Information Science and Engineering Research (NSF 20-063)

With this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF invites requests for supplemental funding from existing quantum information science and engineering research awardees to add a new -- or strengthen an existing -- international dimension to their award. International collaboration should advance fundamental knowledge and discovery in quantum fields and enhance the NSF Principal Investigator's (PI) own research and/or education objectives as outlined in the existing NSF award.

For consideration in a given fiscal year (running from October 1 to September 30), requests must be received before May 1 of that fiscal year.


  • Dear Colleague Letter: Critical Aspects of Sustainability (CAS): Micro- and Nanoplastics (MNP) (NSF 20-050)

In the environment, plastics eventually break down as a result of mechanical weathering and/or photodegradation, forming micro- and nanoplastics - plastic fragments < 5 millimeters and < 100 nanometers, respectively, in diameter. Microplastics have also been manufactured for use in personal care products, though this usage was banned by the United States in 2015. Current water treatment cannot completely remove micro- and nanoplastics. The degradation pathways of micro- and nanoplastics through photochemistry, ingestion, or microbial interactions are incompletely understood. Additionally, micro- and nanoplastics may adsorb and concentrate hazardous pollutants or acquire coatings of biofilms that affect their fate. Sustainable solutions to the plastic waste problem require creative approaches from many scientific disciplines, to reduce the burden and harmful effects of micro- and nanoplastics and ensure our ability to track their fate in the environment.

EAGER and RAPID proposals may be submitted to CHE at any time; however, for consideration in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, submission by June 1, 2020 is strongly recommended. Proposers must contact their cognizant CHE Program Officer before submission.


  • NSF Dear Colleague Letter: 2020 CHE International Supplement (NSF 20-013)

The Division of Chemistry is inviting requests for supplemental funding from its existing awardees who may wish to add a new, or strengthen an existing, international dimension of their award when such collaboration advances the field of chemistry and enhances the U.S. investigator's own research and/or education objectives. Principal Investigators supported by NSF Division of Chemistry awards are advised to consult with their cognizant NSF program director prior to submitting a supplemental funding request.

Proposal Deadlines:
May 1, 2020, 5 p.m., submitter's local time.


  • NSF Dear Colleague Letter, Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) Supplemental Funding Opportunity (NSF 18-102)

NSF continues to promote growth of a globally competitive and diverse research workforce and advances the scientific and innovation skills of the Nation. As part of this effort, a supplemental funding opportunity is available to provide support for non-academic research internships for graduate students to support career opportunities in any sector of the U.S. economy. The PI of an active NSF award may request supplemental funding for one or more graduate students to gain knowledge, skills and experiences that will augment their preparation for a successful long-term career through an internship in a non-academic setting, including with for-profit industry laboratories or industry research and development groups, start-up businesses, government agencies (all levels) and National Laboratories, policy think-tanks; and non-profit organizations. Principal Investigators supported by NSF Division of Chemistry awards are advised to consult with their cognizant NSF program director prior to submitting a supplemental funding request.

Proposal Deadlines:
June 8, 2020, 5 p.m., submitter's local time.


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 2021 budget of $8.5 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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