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Merit Review Process Fiscal Year 2013 Digest

Major Research Instrumentation ProgramCrosscutting Programs NSF Wide Flag

The Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) catalyzes new knowledge and discoveries by empowering the Nationís scientists and engineers with state-of-the-art research instrumentation. The MRI Program enables research-intensive learning environments that promote the development of a diverse workforce and next generation instrumentation, as well as facilitates academic/private sector partnerships. Among the goals of the MRI Program are:

  • Supporting the acquisition of major state-of-the-art instrumentation, thereby improving access to, and increased use of, modern research and research training instrumentation by a diverse workforce of scientists, engineers, and graduate and undergraduate students;
  • Fostering the development of the next generation of instrumentation, resulting in new instruments that are more widely used, and/or open up new areas of research and research training;
  • Enabling academic departments, disciplinary and cross-disciplinary units, and multi-organization collaborations to create well-equipped research environments that integrate research with education;
  • Supporting the acquisition and development of instrumentation that contributes to, or takes advantage of, existing investments in cyberinfrastructure, while avoiding duplication of services already provisioned by NSF investments;
  • Promoting substantive and meaningful partnerships for instrument development between the academic and private sectors. Such partnerships have the potential to build capacity for instrument development in academic settings and to create new products with wide scientific and commercial impact.


If you are interested in submitting a proposal to the Major Research Instrumentation program, the FY2015 MRI Solicitation (NSF 15-504) and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available. Proposals from women and under-represented minorities are particularly encouraged.


In FY 2014, NSF reviewed 811 MRI proposals and made 205 awards (a success rate of 25%).  Of these approximately one quarter were for development projects and three quarters were for acquisition projects.  Development and acquisition proposals had similar success rates (just under 26% for acquisition proposals and 24% for development proposals).  Approximately one eighth of the proposals requested budgets of greater than $1 million.  The success rate for these was 20%.    The success rates broken down by the directorate that was most closely aligned with a proposal’s intellectual theme were as follows:  Biological Sciences 20%; Computer and Information Science and Engineering 45%; Engineering 20%; Geosciences 32%; Mathematical and Physical Sciences 25%; Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences 37%.  (Several factors can cause variations in success rates.  Some directorates co-fund MRI awards with non-IA program funds while others do not.  Whether an award is funded with a budget reduced below the amount originally requested depends on the details of the budget proposed and so the proportion of awards with reduced budgets typically varies between directorates and from year to year.)


Program Information:    

Email: mri@nsf.gov



MRI Program Officers:
Dr. Stephen Meacham   Phone: 703-292-7599
Dr. Randy Phelps  

Phone: 703-292-5049


2000 COV

Report Response Summary  
2005 COV Report Response Update (2009)  
2010 COV * Report Response    

*The 2010 Major Research Instrumentation Committee of Visitors (MRI COV) Meeting had been held from June 10 through June 11, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia.


Award Lists
2012 2011 2010 2009* 2008 2007 2006 2005      
2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997        


* Projects funded under ARRA are included with this link.

**One time only, awards made in response to the Gulf of 2010 Mexico oil spill.

The NSF-wide MRI Webpage can be accessed here.


QEM MRI Workshop Presentation (November 2, 2012)

MRI Program Overview Webcast (December 6, 2011)

Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) Brochure




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