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COVID-19 Impacts: A message from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences to the research community

February 24, 2021

The Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) in the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) at the National Science Foundation recognizes the major impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on the scientific community, especially students at all levels, postdoctoral research associates, and technicians, whose salaries depend primarily on NSF funds. In this context, EAR wishes to call attention to the opportunity to submit supplemental funding requests to support personnel in the Earth sciences community whose EAR supported activities have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before inquiring about supplemental funding, PIs are expected to have explored all other available options to address personnel support, including reallocation of funding. As articulated in a letter from the Earth Sciences Division Director on December 4th, supplements will only be awarded to meet unmet demands after these options have been exhausted.

EAR will prioritize funds for supplements for salary, fringe, and indirect costs to support three categories of personnel:  1) students at all levels; 2) technicians; and 3) postdoctoral researchers. The goal of the supplemental support is to provide bridge funding to directly address existing personnel appointments that have been interrupted, delayed, or otherwise disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We suggest that supplement requests be submitted by March 31, 2021 for consideration in FY21. The intention is to make recommendations on supplement requests within a few weeks of receipt. Please refer to the PAPPG (VI.E.4) for guidelines for supplement requests.

We encourage principal investigators who are interested in pursuing a supplement to first contact the managing program officer. The following information should be included both in the initial communication and in the official supplement request:

1.      Names of the students, postdoctoral researchers, and/or technicians who are to be supported by the supplemental award and the nature of their current appointment.

2.      Amount originally awarded for these salaries, fringe, and related indirect costs, specifically, as well as the total award amount (including fringe and indirect costs) for all personnel.

3.      A summary of the current budget remaining in the award (unspent funds) and how funds will be reallocated for the remainder of the award, including redistribution of funds to increase personnel support.

4.      A statement of how the pandemic has impacted the progress of research being conducted by the student, postdoctoral researcher, or technician, and how an extension of the appointment would support the research objectives of the award and any diversity and inclusion impacts of the award.

Additional supplement requests, including those for costs beyond those outlined here, are not precluded by this opportunity.

Dr. Steven Goldstein
Director, Division of Earth Sciences
National Science Foundation


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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