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Directorate for Geosciences
Crosscutting Programs and Activities


As part of the Directorate for Geosciences' fundamental goal—"to advance the scientific understanding of the integrated Earth systems through supporting high-quality research" (NSF Geosciences Beyond 2000, NSF 00-27;—a new program has been initiated to develop research in the biogeosciences more fully. The Biogeosciences Initiative evolves from a wealth of recent planning between the Directorate and the scientific community, as well as from planning activities within the Atmospheric Sciences (ATM), Earth Sciences (EAR), and Ocean Sciences (OCE) Divisions in NSF’s GEO Directorate. Biogeosciences explores how organisms influence—and are influenced by—the Earth's environment. The emergence of this field is characterized by conceptual and technological advances, opening new avenues of research and the development of shared methods, paradigms, and vocabulary that are bridging disciplinary differences.

Collaborations in Mathematical Geosciences (CMG)

The CMG Program is jointly funded by the Divisions of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM), Earth Sciences (EAR), and Ocean Sciences (OCE) (in NSF’s GEO Directorate) and by the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) (in NSF’s MPS Directorate). The goals of the CMG activity are (a) to enable collaborative research at the intersection of mathematical sciences and geosciences and (b) to encourage cross-disciplinary education through summer graduate training activities. Research topics under (a) should fall within one of the following two broad themes: (1) mathematical and statistical modeling of large complex geosystems or (2) representing uncertainty in geosystems. Research projects supported under this activity should be essentially collaborative in nature. Research groups should include at least one mathematical scientist and at least one geoscientist. Projects under category (a) should be of 3 to 4 years in duration. It is not the intent of this activity to provide general support for infrastructure. Projects under category (b) are not restricted to topics (1) and (2).

Earth System History (ESH)

The ESH competition is a coordinated paleoscience research initiative of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) that is jointly supported by the NSF Directorate for Geosciences’ Divisions of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM), Earth Sciences (EAR), and Ocean Sciences (OCE); by NSF’s Office of Polar Programs (OPP); and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Global Programs. The goals of the ESH competition are (1) to encourage innovative research on the natural variability of the Earth's climate system from records preserved in geobiologic archives and (2) to provide a comprehensive understanding of Earth's changing climate with regard to forcing mechanisms, interactions, and feedbacks.

Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID)

The EID Program is jointly funded by the NSF Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The EID program encourages development of predictive models and discovery of principles for relationships between anthropogenic environmental change and transmission of infectious agents. To that end, research should focus on understanding the ecological determinants of transmission by vectors or abiotic agents, the population dynamics of reservoir species, and transmission to humans and other hosts. Proposals may focus on terrestrial, freshwater, or marine systems and organisms.

Integrated Carbon Cycle Research (ICCR)

The ICCR Program reflects the Directorate for Geosciences' commitment to a national effort aimed at significantly increasing our understanding of the processes that regulate the transport and transformation of carbon within and among the terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric environments of the Earth. The program solicits innovative proposals from U.S. academic institutions to conduct basic research in the scientific aspects of the global carbon cycle, including studies of the chemical, biological, ecological, and physical processes driving carbon distribution; transformation; and transport within and between terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic environments.

Water Cycle Research (WCR)

The WCR Program encompasses research that contributes to an enhanced understanding of water cycle processes. The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has placed high priority on research into the water cycle. Specific recommendations are detailed in A Plan for a New Science Initiative on the Global Water Cycle (USGCRP, 2001, Federal agencies other than NSF bear primary responsibility for developing and maintaining an observational infrastructure required for the day-to-day assessment of water distribution, movement, and quality. The water cycle research envisioned for support by NSF focuses on fundamental processes and interactions to which NSF can contribute basic understanding that complements the other activities in the total federal program.

Other Programs and Activities

The Directorate for Geosciences also participates in the following Foundation-wide programs and activities:

  • Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE)
  • Environmental Research and Education (ERE)
  • Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
  • Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12)
  • Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI)
  • Human and Social Dynamics (HSD)
  • Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)
  • Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)
  • Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NSE)
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