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NSF Awards Battelle Cooperative Agreement to Continue Managing NEON

September 22, 2023

The National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, comprises terrestrial, aquatic, atmospheric, and remote sensing measurement infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure that deliver freely available, standardized, calibrated data to the scientific community through an openly accessible data portal. NEON infrastructure is geographically-distributed across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and will generate data for ecological research over a 30 year period.

NEON is designed to enable the research community to ask and address questions on regional to continental scales around the environmental challenges identified as relevant to understanding the drivers and impacts of climate change, land-use change and invasive species patterns on the biosphere.

The U.S. National Science Foundation awarded Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle) a single award as a cooperative agreement with a duration of five years for $416 million. Battelle has been managing the operation and maintenance of NEON since 2016 and oversaw the completion of the Observatory in 2019 followed by its operationalization later that year. Under this cooperative agreement Battelle will continue to operate and maintain the NEON systems at all 81 sites, implement sample analysis and curation, implement assignable asset plans and procedures, and effective engagement with the user community.

“NEON helps foster NSF and BIO priorities of advancing research, increasing accessibility and inclusivity by providing open data, and workforce development opportunities, and acting as a global leader in, and model of, infrastructure that supports science, engineering, and education. The Directorate of Biological Sciences is thrilled to make this award to Battelle Memorial Institute to operate and maintain BIO’s major facility for the next five years,” said Dr. Susan Marqusee, Assistant Director of the Directorate of Biological Sciences (BIO).

"NEON is the first observatory network of its kind in the biological sciences. It is a is a research-catalyzing platform that leads the world in pushing the scientific frontiers of environmental biology by enabling integration from the microbiome and the organism to biomes and the continent, and across disciplines, to address current national environmental challenges. This award for the Operations and Maintenance of NEON will ensure that NEON’s mission, to foster and enable advances in the basic understanding of the complexities of life on Earth, from organisms and populations to the biosphere, and from seconds to decades, by providing standardized data and infrastructure to the research community, decision makers, and community at large, continues to advance," commented Dr. Charlotte Roehm, managing Program Officer for the award.  

The NSF NEON program, which is part of the Centers, Facilities and Additional Research Infrastructure (CFARI) Cluster in the Division of Biological Infrastructure within the Directorate of Biological Sciences, manages the NEON award in collaboration with the NSF Large Facilities Office and the NSF Division of Acquisition and Cooperative Support.

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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