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WINNERS ANNOUNCED

 

The NSF 2026 Idea Machine!

NSF priorities require bold approaches, built on core research. For our long-term agenda to have the greatest effect, we must venture beyond traditional paradigms to invite input from trusted stakeholders as well as new and unconventional partners. In this way, we ensure our future research themes are inclusive, innovative and in touch with the interests and priorities of the American people. Therefore, we devised a new, creative way to engage and seek input from a broad range of contributors. In the summer of 2018, NSF invited the scientific community, industry, nonprofits, and the public at large to participate in the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. The Idea Machine encouraged individuals from all walks of life, age 14 or older, to submit pressing "grand challenges" in fundamental research or STEM education that have potential for great impact. We received about 800 entries from nearly every state in the U.S.; from established researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers on behalf of their classes, and even high school and middle school students.

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Our Winners

News Release: NSF selects 7 winners from its first-ever NSF 2026 Idea Machine prize competition

The top 100 entries are featured below, as well as the top 33, 14 and 7. The top 33 were invited to submit video pitches which were made available for public comment. Using more than 1,000 public comments as well as criteria such as potential societal and scientific impacts, originality, timeliness, and potential to grow partnerships, NSF selected 14 top entries and awarded each person on those teams a $1,000 cash prize. These 14 entries were advanced and reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel comprised of external broad thinkers who went on to recommend seven entries to be considered for the final prizes. The top seven entries and contest entrants were recognized in an official ceremony on Feb. 4, 2020 at NSF headquarters. At the ceremony, four entries received the Grand Prize of $26,000 per team and three entries were awarded the Meritorious Prize, receiving $10,000 per team. This was an out-of-the-box contest based on big ideas and foresight. From these submissions, we hope to discover compelling research questions that NSF can develop into thoughtful, cross-cutting research agendas that bridge recognized gaps in our existing knowledge. This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) invites submission of proposals for Conferences, and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGERs), following the themes that emerged in the top group of Idea Machine entries.

While the public comment phase has closed, you may still see the top 33 entries and video pitches at nsf2026imgallery.skild.com.

Consideration of these contributions in NSF's planning process and any NSF-provided public accessibility of this information does not constitute approval of the content by NSF or the U.S. Government. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the NSF or the U.S. Government. Entries are listed in alphabetical order and all affiliations were at the time of entry submission.

TOP 7

group photo of top 7

Credit: Bill Petros Photography

NSF snapshots of the top seven entries are provided below. The complete, original narrative entries can be found at nsf2026imgallery.skild.com.

 

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS


Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman

Emergence: Complexity from Bottom Up

Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman – Undergraduate Student, University of Chicago

The intricate design of a snowflake, a school of fish swimming in unison, the thought patterns of a human mind. Each of these are complex systems that began with something simple — a water molecule, a minnow, a single neuron. As groups of these elements interact, a complex structure unfolds with new characteristics. Out of chaos, a sophisticated order seems suddenly to emerge without effort or guidance. But this is far from chance. It is an efficient and versatile process prevalent throughout nature known as Emergence — a phenomenon that describes how simple components interact to form elaborate things.

Emergence is found wherever complexity is. It is a process relevant to all the sciences and the humanities — as prominent in computing or cryptography as it is in predicting traffic patterns or viral videos. Virtually every intricacy in our world depends upon Emergence, and evidence suggests that these complex systems rely on it in a similar way. That means that the more we understand how Emergence works, the more we can understand and influence all kinds of elaborate systems. Ultimately, harnessing emergent design could help us create our own complex systems or behaviors with the same efficiency as nature.

This deeper understanding of Emergence promises far-reaching impacts for science and society. It could help us to influence economic trends or to untangle the cellular interactions that lead to cancer. The efficiency of emergent design is especially useful when creating ordered systems affected by limited resources. For example, energy grids, postal services, factories, and waste-management plants could all be designed to produce more and waste less. Entire cities could be planned with greater efficiency, inviting a new era of urban design inspired, ironically, by nature.

To predict the complex behavior of emergent systems, we must understand how their components communicate and interact with each other over time. This may require analyzing massive amounts of data. Like many modern research ideas, advancements in machine learning and supercomputing stand to greatly enhance our study of Emergence, making now an optimal time to explore this idea and to build on existing efforts.

Perhaps more than any other research question, the study of Emergence has interdisciplinarity at its core. Researchers must work across scientific and social disciplines to gather and compare examples of emergent systems, helping them to understand their common elements and to develop a unified vocabulary for describing them. Through this careful but universal lens, we can begin to extract general design principles that could be applied to various fields and societal priorities.

As our challenges grow more and more complex, so too must our solutions and our understanding of complexity itself. Fortunately, in nature we have a blueprint for complexity that is both efficient and effective, promising new emergent solutions for challenges of every kind.


two men talking in the hall way

Engineered Living Materials

Neel S. Joshi – Associate Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
Anna Duraj-Thatte – Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Avinash Manjula Basavanna – Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Consider the power of a single seed. Within its tiny walls is genetic information that tells the seed how to replicate itself. As it grows, it draws energy from the sun, and its cells learn to sense and respond to changes in the environment. Over time, that tiny seed develops into a towering Redwood, knowing how to grow, to adapt to its surroundings and to propagate. This is the process nature has perfected for building and sustaining our biological world.

Unlike nature, our modern world relies on countless products and technologies, from indoor plumbing to life-saving devices. This human-made environment is composed of materials like steel, glass, concrete, and plastic – built materials that are the result of advancements in science, engineering, and manufacturing. While enabling our way of life, the production and disposal of built materials causes a significant impact to our environment, the full extent of which is still yet to be seen.

This research idea will address those challenges by harnessing the engineering power of nature and that tiny seed. It envisions a new class of materials that combine the properties of living organisms with the applications of built materials. Like organic cells, these Engineered Living Materials would have the ability to respond to changes in their environment and to heal and regulate themselves. With these properties, Engineered Living Materials could add new and powerful capabilities to the products we depend on, better serving our modern world and helping to preserve our environment.

The applications are vast — clothing made of cells that sense perspiration and help to breakdown odor. Shelters built with concrete capable of sealing its own cracks. Protective armor that detects and adapts to external pressures or bioplastics that decompose after use. Concept-proofing efforts to make materials with biological attributes are just beginning, and we have only scratched the surface of their potential. Engineered Living Materials promises to transform virtually every modern endeavor from healthcare to architecture to transportation. The result may be a new generation of technologies that achieve the same or greater functionality but with less costs or maintenance.

Recent advancements in synthetic biology have enabled researchers to engineer living cells, which are already used in the making of everyday products like, medicine, food, and biofuels. We have only just begun to apply these developments to the world of materials technology. Simultaneously, we must explore the ethical, legal, and social implications of these new materials to ensure that they are designed and used in an ethical and acceptable manner.

NSF has supported research to explore fundamental questions about the rules of life and future manufacturing, bolstered by new advancements in artificial intelligence and omics research. Engineered Living Materials builds on this progress by extending these rules beyond individual cells to more complex structures.

Advancements in materials science and technology have already shaped the course of human history, proving vital to our prosperity, security and quality of life. The development of Engineered Living Materials technology could revolutionize our future, laying the groundwork for a modern world made of sustainable, self-regenerating materials inspired by nature – the ultimate engineer.


two men talking in the hall way

From Thinking to Inventing

Matthias Scheutz – Professor, Department of Computer Science and Department of Psychology, Tufts University
Vasanth Sarathy – Graduate Student, Department of Computer Science and Department of Psychology, Tufts University

A survivor in the rubble waits. A rescue robot confronts the shifting hazards that characterize a disaster zone. As challenges arise, the robot immediately and independently evaluates strategies, experiments with solutions and ultimately finds a path forward.

The survivor is saved. No lives are risked. This is but one hopeful application of robotic reasoning that may result from the new phase of research that the project "From Thinking to Inventing" envisions.

Currently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) research focuses on enhancing human productivity and efficiency, like working in extreme weather or identifying data patterns with greater speed and accuracy. Generally, machines are tasked with rote objectives and directed by programmers. Essentially, challenges presented to machines don't yet require creative ingenuity.

But what if machines could do more than execute tasks? What if, like their inventors, machines could exhibit enough common sense to evaluate real-world problems, imagine and execute solutions? "From Thinking to Inventing" proposes a new era of AI research, where machines could learn to model human creativity and thought processes in order to evaluate, improvise and ultimately solve new and complex challenges. It asks what can machines invent and how?

NSF investments have contributed fundamentally to modern AI research. Six decades of investments have enabled AI advancements that bear impact on all aspects of society, from severe weather predictions to life-saving interventions. "From Thinking to Inventing" builds upon that foundation.

This research could revolutionize AI from pattern-matching machines to problem-solving allies. It could examine the very nature of problem-solving through computational and cognitive scientific lenses. It will aim to develop a deeper understanding of human creativity and apply that insight to the realm of AI.

Societal benefits thus include a deeper, multidisciplinary understanding of human problem-solving that can inform how we teach and advance our own ingenuity. Creative machines could catalyze scientific progress in multiple fields and lead to plethora applications. Finally, inventive AI could be a tremendous ally in addressing grand, complex societal challenges.

"From Thinking to Inventing" has important implications for the development of AI itself. Researchers ask, could machines develop the human capacity to invent and problem-solve? Could machines one day surpass human capabilities? Certainly, AI advancement toward invention will require governance. But this investment helps seize the promise of a burgeoning field and will nurture its growth into a trusted tool and partner.


two men talking in the hall way

Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Karin Pfennig – Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Many hands make light work." This phrase describes how big challenges can be made less daunting when broken down and shared by many. Global warming is one of the greatest challenges we face today. This research question asks – could the help of many hands make it lighter?

While industrialization made way for our modern world, it has also led to increased emissions of carbon dioxide, which have had enormous impact on our planet and all life on it. In response, we have worked to reduce the amount of carbon already in our atmosphere through a process called carbon capture and sequestration. Large, industrial facilities could extract and contain massive amounts of atmospheric carbon but very few exist, as they are costly and difficult to deploy. Even when combined with technologies to reduce new carbon emissions, these efforts have not been able to keep up with the increasing rate of CO2 production or to reverse the damage already done.

What if we could develop additional tools for carbon capture and storage that borrow the technology of an industrial facility and bring it to our backyards? The Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration idea aims to do just this, by developing new technologies to capture and store small amounts of carbon, that when used by many, could lead to significant reductions in CO2.

In this scenario, we could all play a small but important role in reducing atmospheric carbon. Imagine if every home had a filter system that took in carbon and locked it away. Or if trash bags were made to trap carbon and leave it in landfills where trash is buried. Consumer products, which once contributed to pollution, could be made with new materials that help control it, by extracting carbon and holding on to it once disposed of. Green plants already remove carbon dioxide; and if the plants are buried, the CO2 is not released into the atmosphere right away. There is work under way to safely engineer plants that are even better at this, particularly in their root structures. These small efforts replicated over and over could have a massive impact.

By involving individuals and communities in carbon capture and storage, this idea promises another important benefit to society – greater awareness of increasing carbon levels and its consequences. This understanding alone could result in fewer new carbon emissions, leaving less to extract. In practice, Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration also raises exciting new questions for social and behavioral scientists, presenting a unique opportunity to study how to motivate people to make small-scale changes that could lead to global impact. This may offer insight into other collaborations, inspiring a model for widespread change through mass participation.

The idea of Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration leverages the millions of Americans concerned about global warming and enlists them in the solution. It puts to new use an infrastructure already in place to engage the public in climate control. And it applies emerging and existing technologies to address a global urgency. By adding new allies and cutting-edge tools to our carbon-reducing strategy, we could come closer to reversing the damage of climate change and creating a model for other solutions, made lighter by many hands.

MERITORIOUS PRIZE WINNERS


two men talking in the hall way

Reinventing Scientific Talent

Jason Williams – Assistant Director, External Collaborations - DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

In these times of unprecedented, accelerating discovery, there is a need for new thinking about scientific talent. Will today's graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) keep pace with discoveries over the next decade? "Reinventing Scientific Talent" asks the urgent question: How will scientists, educators, and other STEM workforce professionals continue to learn throughout their careers? NSF has invested heavily in developing a large, diverse pool of STEM talent. This winning idea asks how to maximize that investment by combining the expertise acquired through a degree with novel approaches to training and learning. The goal is to empower STEM professionals to adapt and grow as discovery changes industries and academia. It envisions truly life-long, enduring STEM careers so that today's — yesterday's and tomorrow's — STEM graduates will remain full-fledged participants in the future STEM workforce.


two men talking in the hall way

Theory of Conscious Experience

Vincent Conitzer – Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of New Technologies, Department of Computer Science, Duke University

"I think, therefore I am," René Descartes wrote nearly 350 years ago. Today, understanding of how consciousness arises remains elusive. Historically, scientific research about conscious experience has been grounded, to significant extent, in neuroscientific understanding. Are there complementary approaches that might enhance progress on understanding consciousness? "Theory of Conscious Experience" imagines going beyond neuroscientific approaches by converging research on cognition, philosophical concepts, theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, computational modeling, and virtual and augmented reality to study the subjective experience of consciousness. Such a new approach could offer insight into conscious experience. It could even offer a paradigm for answering the hard problems of consciousness, such as, "If I am, does that mean I think?"


two men talking in the hall way

Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure

Juan Pablo Gevaudan – Graduate Student, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder
Chelsea Heveran – Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Montana State University

Urban growth can't rely on the fixed and aging infrastructure built in past centuries. "Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure" imagines converging approaches from materials science, robotics, computer science, civil engineering, architectural engineering, and mechanical engineering to enable the development of new building materials and automated construction systems. These new materials could exhibit properties such as self-repairing, self-healing, recycling and repurposing, in order to be able to respond to localized environmental conditions, meet globalized low-carbon demands, and interface with intelligent robotic construction. Fully automate construction systems would be self-sensing, self-localized, and self-powering, in order to operate at hazardous construction sites. Ultimately, the winning contestants envision development of next-generation infrastructure materials and construction systems that could lead to better infrastructure on Earth and in distant planets in the future.

TOP 14

Michael Timko, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
A World without Waste

"The challenge is greater than 90% reduction in waste generated from all sources, including vehicle emissions, consumer waste, and industrial waste."

Sarah Lester, Alexandra Dubel, and Andrew Rassweiler, Florida State University
Designing Ecosystems for the Future

"How can we better understand, predict, manage and design ecosystems of the future by taking a highly interdisciplinary, collaborative and convergent approach across science and engineering fields?"

Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman, University of Chicago
Emergence: Complexity from the Bottom up

"How can we understand the ways in which complex behavior emerges from simple interactions? How can we harness these design principles to efficiently understand and create complex systems?"

Neel Joshi, Anna Duraj-Thatte, and Avinash Manjula Basavanna, Harvard University
Engineered Living Materials

"Can we create a world of engineered living materials that have the characteristics of biological systems: self-replication, self-regulation, self-healing, environmental responsiveness and self-sustainability?"

Matthias Scheutz and Vasanth Sarathy, Tufts University
From Thinking to Inventing

"Alan Turing's question, 'Can machines think?' led to significant advances in computing. We propose ushering in a new phase by asking a different question: 'What can machines invent and how?'"

Konrad Gomez-Haibach, University of Nebraska Online High School
Human vs Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Gamers Helping Scientists

"Through a popular, open world game with NSF highlight challenges, gamers learn science while aiding scientists as human intelligence in simulations that typically use machine learning or AI."

Abhishek Alagaratnam, Shakifur Bhuiyan, and Ahryun Kim, St. John's University
Imagine a Life with Clean Oceans

"Given the state of the oceans, the noise, heat, and chemical pollution, and that they are essential for life on earth, how do we preserve, reverse the damage, and utilize the resources of our oceans?"

Karin Pfennig, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration

"Climate change, caused by increasing atmospheric CO2, has brought our planet to the brink of disaster. The Big Idea: develop technologies for the public to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon."

Jason Williams, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Reinventing Scientific Talent

"As the pace of scientific discovery accelerates exponentially, how will scientists, educators, and other STEM workforce professionals meet the demand for career-long learning?"

Bilinda Straight, Western Michigan University
Reversibility: Future of Life on Earth

"What mechanisms, motivators, and tipping points determine reversible versus irreversible changes - in organisms, behaviors, and systems - for the future of life on planet earth?"

Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University
The STEM Teaching and Learning Incubator

"How do we empower K-12 Educators to develop their own new approaches to teaching and learning in STEM disciplines when such innovation is often risky, expensive, and grows only with long-term support?"

Vincent Conitzer, Duke University
Theory of Conscious Experience

"Discovering models of conscious experience — not neurological models of how the brain generates conscious experience, but rather more abstract theoretical models of consciousness."

Hanadi Rifai, University of Houston
Universal Similitude Across Scales

"Can we develop universal similitude principles that describe fundamental processes in systems or humans across scales from femto to giga to enhance scientific knowledge and technological innovation?"

Juan Pablo Gevaudan, University of Colorado at Boulder; Chelsea Heveran, Montana State University
Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure

"At the intersection of automated construction and artificial intelligence, can innovative, recyclable and adaptable materials provide symbiotic infrastructure in regards to its local environment?"

TOP 33

Terri Kinzy and Lori Wingate, Western Michigan University
#WhyNotMe: STEM Diversity Drivers

"How do we get all members of our society to think of a career in STEM and ask #WhyNotMe? There is a wealth of programs, some funded by NSF, but what works and what are the barriers?"

Michael Timko, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
A World without Waste

"The challenge is greater than 90% reduction in waste generated from all sources, including vehicle emissions, consumer waste, and industrial waste."

Young Cho and Andrew Goodney, University of Southern California; Jesus Gonzalez, Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica
APPEAR EDU

"Find effective ways to integrate technology into education to provide teachers with environments that support emerging pedagogies and students with the 21st-century skills they need to succeed."

Scott Banta, Columbia University
Bioinspired Energy Utilization

"Can we develop energy utilization technologies that better mimic the highly efficient processes found in biological systems? This will allow more efficient use of future renewable energy resources."

Dean Hesterberg, Matthew Ricker, and James LeBeau, North Carolina State University; Joseph Guinness, Cornell University; Matthew Polizzotto, University of Oregon
Bridging the Atom-to-Global Scale Gap

"How can we quantitatively upscale our extensive knowledge of molecular-to-laboratory-scale mechanisms to more effectively manage and control landscape-to-global scale processes in natural ecosystems?"

James Giammona, University of California, Santa Barbara
Creating Artificial General Intelligence

"Can we build an artificial general intelligence — a 'system that outperforms humans at most economically valuable work' — which would unleash rapid progress in science, health, education and art?"

Helen Blanch, Katherine Blasik, and Nicholas Minar, NAF
Creating Sustainable Education Pathways

"How can pathway opportunities be developed and implemented so that underrepresented high school students are better prepared for university enrollment and workforce employment?"

Sarah Lester, Alexandra Dubel, and Andrew Rassweiler, Florida State University
Designing Ecosystems for the Future

"How can we better understand, predict, manage and design ecosystems of the future by taking a highly interdisciplinary, collaborative and convergent approach across science and engineering fields?"

Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman, University of Chicago
Emergence: Complexity from the Bottom up

"How can we understand the ways in which complex behavior emerges from simple interactions? How can we harness these design principles to efficiently understand and create complex systems?"

Neel Joshi, Anna Duraj-Thatte, and Avinash Manjula Basavanna, Harvard University
Engineered Living Materials

"Can we create a world of engineered living materials that have the characteristics of biological systems: self-replication, self-regulation, self-healing, environmental responsiveness and self-sustainability?"

Michael Ekstrand, Boise State University
Equity & Beneficence in Sociotech System

"For technology to promote a healthy society, it must benefit people equitably. How do we design for, evaluate, and monitor the distribution of effects, not just overall utility, in technical systems?"

Matthias Scheutz and Vasanth Sarathy, Tufts University
From Thinking to Inventing

"Alan Turing's question, 'Can machines think?' led to significant advances in computing. We propose ushering in a new phase by asking a different question: 'What can machines invent and how?'"

Ian Gould, Charlene Estrada, and Kirtland Robinson, Arizona State University
Geomimicry

"Geomimicry provides answers to the following questions: How does the Earth do chemistry? What can we learn from how the Earth does chemistry to revolutionize how humans should really be doing chemistry?"

Kim Prather, University of California, San Diego
Global Microbiome for a Changing Planet

"How do microbes regulate the health of ecosystems ranging from the scale of individual plants, animals or humans to the scale of the entire atmosphere and ocean?"

Mihai Surdeanu, University of Arizona
Globalization of Science Results with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

"A critical challenge in science is to generalize from limited observations and data. How globally significant are the processes we observe and measure? Can AI help in answering this question?"

Keivan Stassun, David Caudel, Tim Vogus, Claire Barnett, and Tiffany Woynaroski, Vanderbilt University
Harnessing the Human Diversity of Mind

"Enabling the next leap in advanced computing approaches, including artificial intelligence, through incorporation of neurodiverse modes of thinking."

Konrad Gomez-Haibach, University of Nebraska Online High School
Human vs Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Gamers Helping Scientists

"Through a popular, open world game with NSF highlight challenges, gamers learn science while aiding scientists as human intelligence in simulations that typically use machine learning or AI."

Abhishek Alagaratnam, Shakifur Bhuiyan, and Ahryun Kim, St. John's University
Imagine a Life with Clean Oceans

"Given the state of the oceans, the noise, heat, and chemical pollution, and that they are essential for life on earth, how do we preserve, reverse the damage, and utilize the resources of our oceans?"

Qi Yu, Pengcheng Shi, Linwei Wang, Rui Li, and Anne Haake, Rochester Institute of Technology
Integrated Human-Machine Intelligence

"Can we seamlessly integrate human and machine intelligence and allow the integrated intelligence to dynamically evolve as new knowledge and data are continuously added?"

Jonathan Jarvis, University of California, Berkeley
Large Landscape Resilience by Design

"How to do we design, implement, govern and maintain a resilient environment that will adapt to a rapidly changing climate and provide multiple benefits to humans and biodiversity conservation?"

Megan Condis, Texas Tech University
Mechanical Morality

"How do we teach autonomous machines from self-driving cars to smart appliances to nanobots how make ethical judgments as well as practical decisions?"

Karishma Muthukumar, University of California, Irvine
Promoting Empathy-Based Artificial Intelligence (AI)

"How can we continue to progress in the rapidly expanding field of Artificial Intelligence in a way that promotes empathy and compassion in the world?"

Karin Pfennig, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration

"Climate change, caused by increasing atmospheric CO2, has brought our planet to the brink of disaster. The Big Idea: develop technologies for the public to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon."

Jason Williams, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Reinventing Scientific Talent

"As the pace of scientific discovery accelerates exponentially, how will scientists, educators, and other STEM workforce professionals meet the demand for career-long learning?"

Alec Follmer, University of California, Irvine
Repurposing, Recycling, Renewable Energy

"Can we do better with our existing waste? How can we create new recyclable materials and create infrastructures for the repurposing of currently environmentally costly resources?"

Bilinda Straight, Western Michigan University
Reversibility: Future of Life on Earth

"What mechanisms, motivators, and tipping points determine reversible versus irreversible changes - in organisms, behaviors, and systems - for the future of life on planet earth?"

Pupa Gilbert, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Saving Coral Reef Ecosystems

"Coral reefs are economically and biologically irreplaceable ecosystems, existentially threatened by climate change. Can science and engineering save coral reefs before the end of the century?"

Adam Schultz, Oregon State University
Terraforming Earth

"Mediating climate change through reduction of CO2 and CH4 emissions is proving insufficient, with catastrophic impacts. Active geoengineering to remove greenhouse gases requires major research investment."

Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University
The STEM Teaching and Learning Incubator

"How do we empower K-12 Educators to develop their own new approaches to teaching and learning in STEM disciplines when such innovation is often risky, expensive, and grows only with long-term support?"

Vincent Conitzer, Duke University
Theory of Conscious Experience

"Discovering models of conscious experience — not neurological models of how the brain generates conscious experience, but rather more abstract theoretical models of consciousness."

Michael Levin, Tufts University
Understand Scaling of Embodied Cognition

"How do individual cells harness the laws of physics to form complex functional bodies? How is cellular information-processing & signaling machinery integrated toward building and repairing anatomy?"

Hanadi Rifai, University of Houston
Universal Similitude Across Scales

"Can we develop universal similitude principles that describe fundamental processes in systems or humans across scales from femto to giga to enhance scientific knowledge and technological innovation?"

Juan Pablo Gevaudan, University of Colorado at Boulder; Chelsea Heveran, Montana State University
Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure

"At the intersection of automated construction and artificial intelligence, can innovative, recyclable and adaptable materials provide symbiotic infrastructure in regards to its local environment?"

TOP 100

Terri Kinzy and Lori Wingate, Western Michigan University
#WhyNotMe: STEM Diversity Drivers

"How do we get all members of our society to think of a career in STEM and ask #WhyNotMe? There is a wealth of programs, some funded by NSF, but what works and what are the barriers?"

Stephen Richards and Harris Lewin, University of California, Davis; John Kress, Smithsonian Institution; Gene Robinson, University of Illinois
A 21st Century BioScience Infrastructure

"To create an infrastructure for comprehensive genetic knowledge of the species, populations, and ecosystems of the US, and use big data and machine learning to discover the rules of life."

Ramnath Sarnath, St. Cloud State University
A Constructivist Framework for STEM-Ed

"Can we build a framework for STEM education, using principles of constructivist learning, where learners engage with the discipline and construct their knowledge through transformative experiences?"

Miranda Gallagher, Chayan Dutta, and Lawrence Tauzin, Rice University
A Generation of Scientific Thinkers

"Building an entire generation of scientific thinkers: how can we leverage emerging education and research tools to create an adaptable, self-sustaining, science literate society?"

Christopher Dietrich, Illinois Natural History Survey
A Global Biodiversity Moonshot

"A globally comprehensive, massively collaborative, all-species mega-inventory is needed not only to fully document the diversity of life but also to document the interactions between species that provide the ecosystem services (clean air and water, nutrient cycling, etc.) upon which all life depends."

Kenneth Chapman, Retiree Consultant
A System to Replace the STEM Muddle

"This 'Big Idea' of A STEM SYSTEM context would reorganize content, change how teachers work, add non-academic resources to classrooms/labs, build teamwork abilities, continue teacher control, and create minimum upset."

Michael Timko, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
A World without Waste

"The challenge is greater than 90% reduction in waste generated from all sources, including vehicle emissions, consumer waste, and industrial waste."

Derek Hsen Dai Hsu, Intel Corporation
Accelerating Sci-Fi to Reality

"How do we systematically utilize the vast potential source of inspiration from science fiction literature, movies/TV shows, and other media to transform those novel technological ideas into reality?"

Richard Norris, University of California, San Diego
America's Heartbeat

"If you could see the future, what would you change? One way to change the future is to show people what could happen under present trends in our environment."

Young Cho and Andrew Goodney, University of Southern California; Jesus Gonzalez, Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica
APPEAR EDU

"Find effective ways to integrate technology into education to provide teachers with environments that support emerging pedagogies and students with the 21st-century skills they need to succeed."

Ari Trachtenberg, Boston University
Automating Scientific Research

"Formalize a computer-parseable language for representing diverse scientific results. In digital form, these results can be cross-checked, collated, and used to identify unexplored areas."

Jennifer Ross, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Autonomous Materials for Infrastructure

"Imagine a world where pipelines and bridges detect fatigue and heal themselves. Infrastructure materials of the future will have the ability to sense themselves and self-heal before they ever break."

Scott Banta, Columbia University
Bioinspired Energy Utilization

"Can we develop energy utilization technologies that better mimic the highly efficient processes found in biological systems? This will allow more efficient use of future renewable energy resources."

Nadine Gruhn, Karen Goldberg, and Wan-Yi Chu, University of Pennsylvania; Sarah Mastroianni and Takiya Foskey, Dow Chemical Company
Breaking the Energy-Commodities Nexus

"As the energy sector decarbonizes, our global economy will require development of a sustainable chemical industry in which chemical building blocks are diversified and independent of the fuel economy."

Dean Hesterberg, Matthew Ricker, and James LeBeau, North Carolina State University; Joseph Guinness, Cornell University; Matthew Polizzotto, University of Oregon
Bridging the Atom-to-Global Scale Gap

"How can we quantitatively upscale our extensive knowledge of molecular-to-laboratory-scale mechanisms to more effectively manage and control landscape-to-global scale processes in natural ecosystems?"

Allen Liu, University of Michigan
Building a Cell from the Bottom-up

"Living cells maintain a dynamic and organized molecular network. Building synthetic cells that resemble living cells in form and function is a central challenge in understanding emergent behaviors."

Thomas Theis, University of Illinois at Chicago; Matthew Eckelman, Northeastern University
Building Urban Resilience and Sustainability

Are new engineering approaches needed to couple urban service needs in the 21st century with natural capital stocks, and ecosystem service flows?

Brian Buma, University of Colorado, Denver
Carpe Disaster - Building a New World

"The world is not keeping pace with climate change. Human/environmental systems are in danger and natural disasters are increasingly damaging. How can we harness these disasters for the good?"

Michael Giamellaro, Oregon State University
Cognition in the Real & Virtual Worlds

"Much is known about thinking and learning from lab experiments devoid of the context we naturally think and learn in. How does thinking and learning happen in the complexity of the real world?"

Guy Burgess, University of Colorado
Constructive Conflict Initiative

"The proposed initiative would seek to articulate and build support for a comprehensive effort to limit the many destructive conflict dynamics that are threatening the viability of democratic society."

WenZhan Song and Maria Valero, University of Georgia
Create a Subsurface Camera

"We envision, describe and implement the framework and architecture of a subsurface camera (SAMERA) for the first time."

James Giammona, University of California, Santa Barbara
Creating Artificial General Intelligence

"Can we build an artificial general intelligence — a 'system that outperforms humans at most economically valuable work' — which would unleash rapid progress in science, health, education and art?"

Helen Blanch, Katherine Blasik, and Nicholas Minar, NAF
Creating Sustainable Education Pathways

"How can pathway opportunities be developed and implemented so that underrepresented high school students are better prepared for university enrollment and workforce employment?"

Ayush Noori, Phillips Exeter Academy
Deciphering the Neural Code

"How does the brain encode information? Specifically, how does neural structure produce both concrete and abstract function, from basic biological activity to character and consciousness?"

Sarah Lester, Alexandra Dubel, and Andrew Rassweiler, Florida State University
Designing Ecosystems for the Future

"How can we better understand, predict, manage and design ecosystems of the future by taking a highly interdisciplinary, collaborative and convergent approach across science and engineering fields?"

Simge Uzun, Kathleen Maleski, Genevieve Dion, Yuri Gogotsi, and Richard Vallett, Drexel University
Designing Every Fiber with a Function

"How can all electronic devices and functionalities in everyday life be seamlessly integrated into smart garments and transform today's digital era to the age of wearable information and communication?"

Lizz Ridge, Michael Laabs, and Margaret McGrath, University of Scranton
Did You Know that Global Warming Doesn't Exist?

"The unprecedented challenge of science illiteracy now affects many aspects of American culture, including our opinions, politics, and our science funding. How can we better educate America?"

Abraham Herzog-Arbeitman, University of Chicago
Emergence: Complexity from the Bottom up

"How can we understand the ways in which complex behavior emerges from simple interactions? How can we harness these design principles to efficiently understand and create complex systems?"

Laine Mears, Clemson University
Emotional Manufacturing Systems

"How can automation systems generate and codify emotional information from interfacing humans, fuse it with their own internally-generated information, and use the result to improve performance?"

Neel Joshi, Anna Duraj-Thatte, and Avinash Manjula Basavanna, Harvard University
Engineered Living Materials

"Can we create a world of engineered living materials that have the characteristics of biological systems: self-replication, self-regulation, self-healing, environmental responsiveness and self-sustainability?"

Cheryl Thompson, University of Illinois
Ensuring America's Competitiveness

"Science has a trust problem, where the credibility of scientists and results are being questioned. We propose research to deepen our understanding of trust and what makes science trustworthy."

Michael Ekstrand, Boise State University
Equity & Beneficence in Sociotech System

"For technology to promote a healthy society, it must benefit people equitably. How do we design for, evaluate, and monitor the distribution of effects, not just overall utility, in technical systems?"

David Burghardt, Hofstra University; Deborah Hecht, The City University of New York
Families First

"Meaningfully empower families. Enhance STEM engagement and retention by strengthening the intersection between formal and informal education in fundamental and lasting ways."

Matthias Scheutz and Vasanth Sarathy, Tufts University
From Thinking to Inventing

"Alan Turing's question, 'Can machines think?' led to significant advances in computing. We propose ushering in a new phase by asking a different question: 'What can machines invent and how?'"

Prasanth Prahladan and Max Hollingsworth, University of Colorado, Boulder
Future of Autonomous Self

"What is the optimal architecture of a cyber-physical infrastructure that empowers individuals to maintain their autonomy in the digital, the physical and socio-physical realms?"

Ann Austin, Michigan State University; Kerry Brenner and Heidi Schweingruber, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Mark Rosenberg, Florida International University; Noah Finkelstein, University of Colorado, Boulder
Future of Undergraduate STEM Learning

"In a dynamic, rapidly changing world with constant advances in scientific understanding, what vision can guide undergraduate STEM education for the 21st century and how can it be brought to fruition?"

Michael Knoblauch, Washington State University
Generating Holistic Analysis Platforms

"Controlling data overflow, the menace of the information age, by highly intuitive multidimensional platforms for data processing that are structured like the real object (world map principle)."

Daniel Forrest, Edward Tekwa, Malin Pinsky, and Katrina Catalano, Rutgers University
Geography of Diversity

"What are the spatial and temporal relationships between physical, biological, and human diversities, from elements to microbes to human societies?"

Ian Gould, Charlene Estrada, and Kirtland Robinson, Arizona State University
Geomimicry

"Geomimicry provides answers to the following questions: How does the Earth do chemistry? What can we learn from how the Earth does chemistry to revolutionize how humans should really be doing chemistry?"

Kelsey Gray, Emory University
Global Collaboration in STEM Education

"Preparation for working in globalized society has been passive and informal. Our challenge is to intentionally and actively integrate cross-cultural and international experiences in STEM education."

Kim Prather, University of California, San Diego
Global Microbiome for a Changing Planet

"How do microbes regulate the health of ecosystems ranging from the scale of individual plants, animals or humans to the scale of the entire atmosphere and ocean?"

Janet English, El Toro High School
Global Teacher-Researcher Initiative

"How can the expertise of the international K-12 STEM teaching community be leveraged to inform educational research, policy and practice to optimize STEM learning for all?"

Mihai Surdeanu, University of Arizona
Globalization of Science Results with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

"A critical challenge in science is to generalize from limited observations and data. How globally significant are the processes we observe and measure? Can AI help in answering this question?"

Francesca Casadio and Sarah Molina, Art institute of Chicago; Marc Walton, Northwestern University; Admir Masic, MIT; Marcoi Leona, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Going at Full STEAM: Art and Science

"Shifting the paradigm in science education by focusing research practice on the science of aging of cultural materials; promoting innovation in communities through the preservation of cultural heritage."

Keivan Stassun, David Caudel, Tim Vogus, Claire Barnett, and Tiffany Woynaroski, Vanderbilt University
Harnessing the Human Diversity of Mind

"Enabling the next leap in advanced computing approaches, including artificial intelligence, through incorporation of neurodiverse modes of thinking."

Perry Williams and Franco Biondi, University of Nevada, Reno
Harnessing the Power of Airborne Pollen

"Atmospheric pollen is an untapped data source containing information on human health, climate, and forensic palynology. How do we harness this data to solve questions of (inter)national importance?"

Konrad Gomez-Haibach, University of Nebraska Online High School
Human vs Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Gamers Helping Scientists

"Through a popular, open world game with NSF highlight challenges, gamers learn science while aiding scientists as human intelligence in simulations that typically use machine learning or AI."

Abhishek Alagaratnam, Shakifur Bhuiyan, and Ahryun Kim, St. John's University
Imagine a Life with Clean Oceans

"Given the state of the oceans, the noise, heat, and chemical pollution, and that they are essential for life on earth, how do we preserve, reverse the damage, and utilize the resources of our oceans?"

Patrick Sullivan, University of Alaska, Anchorage
Industrial Photosynthesis

"Can we industrialize photosynthesis in order to manage atmospheric CO2 and limit climate change? Can we produce, as by-products, building materials (like wood) and/or fuel (like hydrocarbons)?"

Qi Yu, Pengcheng Shi, Linwei Wang, Rui Li, and Anne Haake, Rochester Institute of Technology
Integrated Human-Machine Intelligence

"Can we seamlessly integrate human and machine intelligence and allow the integrated intelligence to dynamically evolve as new knowledge and data are continuously added?"

Jonathan Karr, Arthur Goldberg, John Sekar, Balazs Szigeti, and Yin Chew, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Integrative Whole-Cell Models

"Predicting the behavior of cells using integrative computational models of every gene, protein, and reaction."

Jonathan Jarvis, University of California, Berkeley
Large Landscape Resilience by Design

"How to do we design, implement, govern and maintain a resilient environment that will adapt to a rapidly changing climate and provide multiple benefits to humans and biodiversity conservation?"

Alvis Fong, Western Michigan University
LASSCOM: Home3 Subterranean Communities

"LASSCOM: Livable And Sustainable Subterranean COMmunities. Can we design and build subterranean communities that can sustain life quasi-permanently? Would people want to live, work, play there?"

Lena Vincent and David Baum, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Life 2.0+

"The challenge is to build alternative forms of life that are not bound by the structural and functional specifics of Life 1.0 but are capable of self-propagation and adaptive evolution."

Josh Sturtevant, University of Nevada, Reno
Losing Ground

"The transfer of energy throughout our physical world has left us with the ground we stand on. As we move forward into an increasingly dynamic environment stability of that ground comes into question."

Shawn Walker, Louisiana State University
Machine Learning for Better Government

"How do you assemble a diverse and massive amount of publicly available data, mine that data, and process it into a useful form for public decision makers and the general population?"

Benjamin Bagozzi, University of Delaware; Ore Koren, Indiana University
Measuring the Future 'Nation State'

"Interconnectedness, the data revolution, and environmental stressors are rapidly rewiring the 'nation state.' How do we measure the modern nation state, and what will it look like over the next 100 years?"

Isaac Russell, Maddie Souder, Jean-Marc Fellous, and Allison Edwards, University of Arizona
Measuring Thoughts

"We have thousands of thoughts per day. Thoughts have power because we are the sum of what we think. The challenge is: develop a method to detect and measure thoughts to improve individuals and society."

Megan Condis, Texas Tech University
Mechanical Morality

"How do we teach autonomous machines from self-driving cars to smart appliances to nanobots how make ethical judgments as well as practical decisions?"

Bradley Rava and Neelesh Tiruviluamala, University of Southern California
Navigating the Human AI Interface

"How will humanity's intellectual habitat evolve with the maturation of artificial intelligence (AI)?"

Y. George Zheng, University of Georgia
Precision Biology Coming into Play

"Precision biology is the next grand round of investigation in chemistry and biology. The challenge is to target any biological process or molecule of interest with spatial and temporal precision."

Forrest Masters, University of Florida; Julio Ramirez, Purdue University
Preempting Natural Catastrophe

"The impact of extreme geophysical events on society is both acute and chronic. Can we reinvent design and construction to future-proof society from natural disasters?"

Karishma Muthukumar, University of California, Irvine
Promoting Empathy-Based Artificial Intelligence (AI)

"How can we continue to progress in the rapidly expanding field of Artificial Intelligence in a way that promotes empathy and compassion in the world?"

Karin Pfennig, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Public Carbon Capture and Sequestration

"Climate change, caused by increasing atmospheric CO2, has brought our planet to the brink of disaster. The Big Idea: develop technologies for the public to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon."

Ziming Yang, Oakland University
Recycling Wetland Methane

"The compelling question is how can we understand and control wetland methane production and how to recycle large quantities of methane for future energy use."

Jason Williams, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Reinventing Scientific Talent

"As the pace of scientific discovery accelerates exponentially, how will scientists, educators, and other STEM workforce professionals meet the demand for career-long learning?"

Lawrence Bank, Research Foundation of The City University of New York
Repurposing for Our Future

"How do we repurpose and renew the industrialized products and system that we have developed over the past 200 years and focus our much needed attention on the science and engineering of the future?"

Alec Follmer, University of California, Irvine
Repurposing, Recycling, Renewable Energy

"Can we do better with our existing waste? How can we create new recyclable materials and create infrastructures for the repurposing of currently environmentally costly resources?"

Paul Ganichot, e-Planet llc
Rethink Electric Energy!

"The U.S. electric energy generation, distribution, and consumption principles need to be redefined holistically in order to maximize efficiency, mitigate climate change, and enhance resilience."

Laura Markley and Caitlin Eger, Syracuse University
Rethinking Waste in the Anthropocene

"STEM advances society but generates tons of waste: single-use medical products, e-waste, chemical byproducts, even space trash! How can innovative cradle-to-cradle methods solve our waste problem?"

Bilinda Straight, Western Michigan University
Reversibility: Future of Life on Earth

"What mechanisms, motivators, and tipping points determine reversible versus irreversible changes - in organisms, behaviors, and systems - for the future of life on planet earth?"

Pupa Gilbert, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Saving Coral Reef Ecosystems

"Coral reefs are economically and biologically irreplaceable ecosystems, existentially threatened by climate change. Can science and engineering save coral reefs before the end of the century?"

Eric Dickson, New York University
Science Communication and Polarization

"In an era of polarization and skepticism about 'experts', how can scientific research be communicated to the public in a way that is credible, comprehensible, and beneficial to society?"

Robert Stern, University of Texas, Dallas
SE US Coastal Plain Subsidence Studies

"We need to better understand the rates and causes of subsidence of the coastal plain in the southeast US, to help plan for and mitigate future hazard from storm surge and flooding."

Vincent Duffy, Eckhard Groll, and Alexander Laskin, Purdue University
Smart Geoengineering Systems

"Can modern geoengineering methods be supplemented by systems and smart approaches to provide relief as humanitarian intervention for impact on an increasing number and severity of catastrophic events?"

Clio Andris, Pennsylvania State University
Social Life in Environmental Planning

"Do new infrastructure building projects demolish the surrounding 'tight-knit' social community? How do we harness, measure and map new spatial data to avoid harming relationships as we plan projects?"

Elizabeth Gross, University of Hawaii; Danielle Amethyst Brake, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
Solving the Nonlinear World

"Linear computations are at the heart of nearly all recent scientific advancements. On the hand, future challenges will be intrinsically nonlinear. How can we solve large-scale nonlinear systems?"

Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island
STEM Education in the 21st Century

"As improvement in technology makes human physical delivery of STEM content redundant, how will future STEM education be defined in terms of its structure, accessibility, and equitable outcomes?"

Sharon Locke, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
STEM Education Transitions

"What types of educational systems not yet imagined promote effective STEM learning in complex transitional spaces, such as learners moving across grades, disciplinary boundaries, or into the virtual?"

Steven Benner, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution
Synthetic Darwinian Systems

"Create synthetic systems that reproduce features valued in biology... on entirely different and optimized molecular platforms, not the suboptimal biopolymers from prebiotic chemistry and Darwinism."

Adam Schultz, Oregon State University
Terraforming Earth

"Mediating climate change through reduction of CO2 and CH4 emissions is proving insufficient, with catastrophic impacts. Active geoengineering to remove greenhouse gases requires major research investment."

Samantha Dubrow, George Mason University
The Future of Crisis Management

"Responding to public safety crises requires complex coordination between organizations who need reliable, technology-driven data to inform interagency training and real-time learning during events."

Volker Sick, University of Michigan
The Global CO2 Initiative

"How can we use atmospheric CO2 as a valuable resource to make products in a sustainable and economically successful manner to counter the effects of increased CO2 levels and to create a new economy?"

Britt Raubenheimer and Steve Elgar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The Nearshore System and Extreme Storms

"The Challenge: Understanding the interactions among the coastal ocean, aquifer, land, and biological processes, the built environment, and socio-economics that determine the response to major storms."

Saraswati Sridhar, Southwestern Educational Society
The Quantum Mechanics of Biology

"To consider every aspect of complex life in energetic terms, to gain new insights into how it was built, and harness the quantum-level systems that lie at the heart of biological processes."

John Drake, University of Georgia; Eamon O'Dea, Ana Bento, and Pejman Rohani, University of Georgia
The Science of Science

"Can science itself tell us how 21st century science should be organized to accelerate its trajectory of profound insight into the structure of nature and technological transformation of society?"

Todd Ellis, Western Michigan University
The STEM Teaching and Learning Incubator

"How do we empower K-12 Educators to develop their own new approaches to teaching and learning in STEM disciplines when such innovation is often risky, expensive, and grows only with long-term support?"

Vincent Conitzer, Duke University
Theory of Conscious Experience

"Discovering models of conscious experience — not neurological models of how the brain generates conscious experience, but rather more abstract theoretical models of consciousness."

Andreas Mueller, Columbia University
Unbreaking Software Development

"While the importance of software development grows, current practices and tools are in complete disarray, and much less understood and supported than similarly important pieces of infrastructure."

Michael Levin, Tufts University
Understand Scaling of Embodied Cognition

"How do individual cells harness the laws of physics to form complex functional bodies? How is cellular information-processing & signaling machinery integrated toward building and repairing anatomy?"

Hanadi Rifai, University of Houston
Universal Similitude Across Scales

"Can we develop universal similitude principles that describe fundamental processes in systems or humans across scales from femto to giga to enhance scientific knowledge and technological innovation?"

Erich Schwarz, Cornell University
Unlocking Human Intelligence

"Can we make it possible for anybody to raise their intelligence with the help of population genomics, neuroscience, epigenetics, and systems biology?"

Kennedy Rubert-Nason, University of Maine at Fort Kent
Unlocking Scientific Discovery

"How can data-driven approaches to science education, communication, and application maximize the benefits of scientific discovery to society and Planet Earth?"

Juan Pablo Gevaudan, University of Colorado at Boulder; Chelsea Heveran, Montana State University
Unlocking the Future of Infrastructure

"At the intersection of automated construction and artificial intelligence, can innovative, recyclable and adaptable materials provide symbiotic infrastructure in regards to its local environment?"

Rachel Kim and Territa Poole, Juniata College; Assel Shardarbekova, University of Washington
Unvacuuming Science

"Can we actually do science with a stronger eye towards morality? It is essential that we recognize the societal implications of science when it is done in a vacuum."

Kimani Toussaint, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Urban Renewal through STEM

"Can science and technology be used as vehicles for creating viable economic opportunities for Americans living in concentrated poverty?"

Mandë Holford, Hunter College, The City University of New York; Marymegan Daly, The Ohio State University; Ashlee Rowe, University of Oklahoma
Venoms - Agents of Change and Innovation

"The evolution of venom transformed and empowered diverse organisms, our challenge is to leverage this power to advance basic science, technology, engineering and education, to transform human lives."

Tom Pace, University of Kentucky
Virtual Chemistry

"Search for breakthrough computational algorithms that can accurately and quickly simulate the fundamental chemical processes in biology, medicine, materials science, and renewable energy."

Amy Marshall-Colon and Matt Turk, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Virtual Plants for Real Food Security

"Crop production is in critical decline. Extant varieties can't cope with rapid climate change. Can we synthesize technologies to accelerate development of new varieties to meet food and fuel demands?"

Matthew Fitzsimmons and Lassana Diawara, St. John's University
Virtual Reality: Entering the Experiment

"How can scientists incorporate virtual reality to expand research opportunities and answer questions beyond the scope of a physical laboratory?"

CONTACT US

The NSF 2026 Idea Machine
National Science Foundation
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nsf2026IM@nsf.gov