Special Programs

GPG Contents | Kit Contents | Previous | Next

A. Research Instrumentation/Facilities

The Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) assists in the acquisition or development of major research instrumentation by US institutions that is, in general, too costly for support through other NSF programs. The MRI program is designed to improve the condition of scientific and engineering equipment for research and research training in our Nationís academic institutions. This program seeks to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering, and to foster the integration of research and education by providing instrumentation for research-intensive learning environments. For more information, see the program solicitation or contact the Office of Integrative Activities. (See Appendix A.)

In addition, NSF occasionally provides assistance for the acquisition of specialized facilities. Examples include supercomputers, oceanographic research vessels, polar research facilities and national astronomy centers.

Most NSF programs will consider proposals that include funds for facility construction, renovation or improvements where required for the proposed research, in competition with other proposals received. It is, however, NSF policy that the principal responsibility for providing facilities for research and education rests with the proposing organizations. Preliminary inquiry should be made before preparing a formal proposal. (See Section VII.D for additional information on equipment.)

B. Conferences, Symposia and Workshops

NSF supports conferences, symposia and workshops in special areas of science and engineering that bring experts together to discuss recent research or education findings or to expose other researchers or students to new research and education techniques. NSF encourages the convening in the US of major international conference, symposia and workshops. Conferences will be supported only if equivalent results cannot be obtained at regular meetings of professional societies. Although requests for support of conferences, symposia and workshops ordinarily originate with educational institutions or scientific societies, they may also come from other groups. Shared support by several Federal agencies, States or private organizations is encouraged. Because proceedings of such conferences normally should be published in professional journals, requests for support may include publication costs. Requests should generally be made at least a year in advance of the scheduled date. Conferences or meetings, including the facilities in which they are held, funded in whole or in part with NSF funds, must be accessible to participants with disabilities.

A conference, symposium or workshop proposal (that complies with the page and font size instructions in Section II.C) must be assembled in the following sequence:

  • Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF Form 1207)
  • Summary of one page or less indicating the objectives of the project.
  • Statement of the need for such a gathering and a list of topics.
  • Recent meetings on the same subject, including dates and locations.
  • Names of the chairperson and members of organizing committees and their organizational affiliations.
  • Information on the location and probable date(s) of the meeting and the method of announcement or invitation.
  • Statement of how the meeting will be organized and conducted, how the results of the meeting will be disseminated and how the meeting will contribute to the enhancement and improvement of scientific, engineering and/or educational activities.
  • Estimated total budget for the conference, together with an itemized statement of the amount of support requested from NSF. The budget may include participant support for transportation (when appropriate), per diem costs, stipends, publication and other conference-related costs. Participant support costs must be excluded from the indirect cost base. (See Section II.D.7.e.) (NSF Form 1030, Summary Proposal Budget, should be used to submit the budgetary information.)
  • Support requested or available from other Federal agencies and other sources. (NSF Form 1239, Current and Pending Support, may be used to submit this information.)

For additional coverage on allowability of costs associated with meetings and conferences, proposers should consult GPM Section 625.

Back to top

C. International Cooperation Activities

In addition to the international projects funded and managed by the disciplinary divisions, the Division of International Programs (INT) provides support for bilateral and regional cooperative science and engineering projects to foster and facilitate cooperation between US investigators and their foreign colleagues in joint activities of mutual interest and benefit. Grants may be made for the US portion of the costs of the initial phases of cooperative research, joint seminars and workshops, planning visits, programs to enhance the international perspectives of the next generation of US scientists and engineers, and for fellowships, summer programs and research participation. Information on proposal requirements and award selection procedures is contained in the Program Announcement of the Division of International Programs. The box for "International Cooperative Activities" should be checked and the countries identified on the NSF Form 1207. (For telephone numbers and program contacts by region, see Appendix A, under listings for SBE Directorate.) The program announcement is available electronically on the Division of International Programs Web site at: <https://www.nsf.gov/sbe/int/9614rev.htm>. Investigators planning to add a new international dimension to an existing NSF supported project are encouraged to explore the possibility of an INT-funded supplement to their on-going NSF award.

D. International Travel Grants

Proposals for travel support for US participation in international scientific and engineering meetings held abroad are handled by the NSF organizational unit with program responsibility for the area of research interest.

Group travel awards are encouraged as the primary means of support for international travel. A university, professional society or other non-profit organization may apply for funds to enable it to coordinate and support US participation in one or more international scientific meeting(s) abroad. Group travel grants may include as compensation for the grantee a flat rate of $50 per traveler for general administrative costs of preparing announcements, evaluating proposals and handling travel arrangements customarily associated with this type of project. (See GPM Section 765.) Group travel grantees are required to retain supporting documentation that funds were spent in accordance with the original intent of the proposal. Such documentation may be required in final reports and is subject to audit.

E. Doctoral Dissertation Research

NSF awards grants in support of doctoral dissertation research in some disciplines, primarily field research in the environmental, behavioral and social sciences. Support may be sought through those disciplinary programs and, in cases involving research abroad, through the Division of International Programs. The thesis advisor or concerned faculty member submits proposals on behalf of the graduate student. Further information can be obtained from the cognizant program office.

Back to top

F. Human Resources Development

The Foundation supports a range of activities to increase participation by women, minorities, persons with disabilities and by faculty from minority institutions and predominantly undergraduate institutions. Programs that have a strong focus on underrepresented communities are:

  • Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education
  • Research Planning Grants and Career Advancement Awards for Minority Scientists and Engineers
  • Program for Persons with Disabilities
  • Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology
  • Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation
  • Research Opportunity Awards
  • Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities
  • Faculty Early Career Development
  • Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring
  • Program for Gender Equity
  • Model Institutions for Excellence
  • Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and Supporting Activities in Biological, Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
  • Minority Graduate Education
  • Historically Black Colleges & Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP)
  • Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology

In some cases, additional information may be required as part of a proposal. Program announcements describing these activities are available on the NSF Web site at: <https://www.nsf.gov> or from the NSF Clearinghouse. General information may be obtained from the NSF Information Center at 703.306.1234.

G. Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities encourage participation in NSF programs by scientists and engineers (investigators or other staff, postdoctoral associates, student research assistants, and awardees and honorable mention recipients for Graduate Fellowships) with disabilities. This effort provides funds for equipment or assistance specifically required for performance of research on a NSF-supported project. Requests for support may be included in new proposals submitted to any NSF program or in requests for supplements to existing grants. The box for "Facilitation for Scientists/Engineers with Disabilities" should be checked on the NSF Form 1207.

H. Research Opportunity Awards (ROAs)

A faculty member at an organization with limited research opportunities may arrange to work with a PI at another organization that holds or is applying for a NSFresearch grant. If supplemental funds are required to cover additional costs, the PI should make preliminary contact with the cognizant Program Officer. The formal ROA request letter, endorsed by the organization and addressed to the program office, should be received at least three months before funds will be needed. It must include: a description of the arrangements and the work to be performed by the ROA visitor, a statement of the contribution of this work to the NSF project and to the visitorís future research and home organization, a budget (NSF Form 1030) with appropriate explanatory information; a biographical sketch of the visitor, and any additional information specified by the Program Officer. The box for "Research Opportunity Award" should be checked on the NSF Form 1207. (See the Research in Undergraduate Institutions program announcement for further details.)

I. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)

REUs provide opportunities for talented undergraduate students to participate in active research in mathematics, science and engineering. Awards are of two types:

  • Sites – grants to initiate and support undergraduate research participation sites. These projects could be carried out during the summer months, the academic year or both. NSF expects that an appropriate number of students will be involved, and proposals involving fewer than four to six students are discouraged.
  • Supplements – to ongoing NSF research grants provide research-training experiences for one or two additional undergraduates. Funds will normally be available for up to two students, but exceptions will be considered for training additional minority and women students and students with disabilities.

See the program announcement for more information.

Back to top

J. Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI)

NSF supports two Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure that provide access to a variety of high performance computing platforms. These include parallel and vector supercomputers, visualization facilities and data storage capabilities. User access is available at the leading edge sites of the Partnerships and at some of the partner institutions. A national committee of computation scientists that meets twice a year reviews major requests for allocations. Smaller, local allocations are handled by each Partnership on a quarterly basis. For more information on PACI resources, and how to obtain an allocation see <http://www.npaci.edu/>.

K. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The Small Business Innovation Research Program is a highly competitive three-phase process that provides eligible small businesses with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet specific research and development (R&D) needs of the Federal Government. Phase I is a six-month effort to determine the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed concept or idea, and establishes the eligibility for Phase II. Phase II is a two-year effort that further develops the proposed concept and demonstrates the potential for commercialization and establishes the eligibility for the Phase IIB Option. The Phase IIB Option requires third party matching funds. Phase IIB Option is a one year research supplement to Phase II to help bridge the gap in funding between Phase II and Phase III. Phase III is the commercialization phase and is funded by non-SBIR sources, normally from the private sector. For more detailed information regarding the SBIR Program, proposers should consult the NSF SBIR solicitation.

L. Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

The Small Business Technology Transfer Program is a pilot program encouraging technology transfer through jointly conducted research between small business concerns and non-profit research organizations. The program follows the same three-phase process as the SBIR Program except for the Phase IIB Option. Proposals must be submitted by the small business. Phase I is a 12-month effort to determine the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed concept or idea, and establishes the eligibility for Phase II. Phase II is a 24-month effort that further develops the proposed concept and demonstrates the potential for commercialization. Phase III is to pursue commercialization from the Government-funded research with non-STTR funds, primarily from the private sector. For more detailed information regarding the STTR Program, proposers should consult the STTR section of the NSF SBIR solicitation.

Back to top

  GPG Contents | Kit Contents | Previous | Next