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Dear Colleague Letter: NSF Graduate Research Fellows Nordic Research Opportunity

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Credit: Astri Luihn (; Bird: Uria lomvia ('penguin of the north')

Dear Colleague:

The Division of Graduate Education and the Office of International Science and Engineering announce a new international research opportunity, available as a Supplemental Award, for NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRFs) to enable Fellows to gain international research experience and establish collaborations with counterparts at Norwegian or Finnish research institutions.  Through a pilot collaboration, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Research Council of Norway (RCN), and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES) will support on a competitive basis research visits of between two and twelve months to Norway, or between three and twelve months to Finland, respectively.  This international research opportunity is intended to enrich the GRF experience by exposing Fellows to leading Nordic scientists and institutions, thus enabling them to develop early-career collaborations with European research partners.  Results are expected to expand opportunities for innovation and add an international dimension to GRF research projects. 

A list of potential host institutions/laboratories in Norway and in Finland may be found at:
for Norway and at: for Finland. Interested Graduate Fellows are encouraged to contact potential host institutions for detailed information on current research activities at that site.  For Norway, proposed activities at Norwegian Centers of Excellence and Norwegian Centers for Research-based Innovation are strongly encouraged.   


Graduate Research Fellows on tenure selected for the Nordic research experience will continue to receive their GRF stipend from NSF through their home U.S. institution.  Awardees will receive NSF supplements of $5,000 U.S. to cover costs such as travel to and from Europe, and an additional mobility supplement of NOK 12,000 per month from the Research Council of Norway (double rate for those bringing spouses or dependents).  The Finnish host institutions are prepared to cover the Fellow’s living costs, typically as salary, as well as the costs related to the research to be conducted in Finland.  According to the tax convention between U.S. and Norway, income from the Norwegian supplement under this program will be exempt from Norwegian income tax.  Salary paid by the Finnish organization will be subject to Finnish tax laws.  The GRF stipend will be subject to U.S. tax laws. Fellows on reserve for any or all of the research experience period will not receive the GRF stipend while on reserve, but will be eligible to receive the NSF and Nordic supplements, including travel funds.


Supplement Request Deadline Date and Time: January 15, 2009, 5 p.m. submitter’s local time.  Announcement of supplement awards will be made in early April, 2009.  Successful applicants may commence their research stay as early as June 1, 2009 by mutual consent with the host Nordic institution.

The anticipated timeline is as follows:

  1. November 2008 – January 2009. Contact proposed host institution and secure a letter of collaboration that includes a plan for the stay in Norway or Finland, and a Biographical Sketch of the responsible professor/researcher at the host institution.
  2. January 15, 2009. Deadline for receipt of a Nordic research opportunity supplemental funding request from the Graduate Research Fellow through FastLane, as a supplement to the host U.S. institution’s GRFP award.
  3. February, 2009. NSF panel review of supplemental funding requests.
  4. March, 2009. Final review of supplemental funding requests by NSF and the Research Council of Norway (for applicants proposing to work in Norway) or the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (for applicants proposing to work in Finland).
  5. April 3, 2009. Announcement of supplemental Nordic Research Opportunity awards.

All supplemental awards are subject to the availability of funds, review of the quality of proposals, and acceptance by the NSF and the RCN or TEKES.


The Nordic Research Opportunity is open to all NSF Graduate Research Fellows who will be active Fellows (on tenure or reserve) during the period of time proposed for the research activity in Norway or Finland. 


Applications for supplemental funding to the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Nordic Research Opportunity are submitted via FastLane as a request for a supplement to the graduate institution’s current GRFP award.  Fellow access to FastLane (not the GRFP portion of FastLane) to upload text or complete sections of the proposal module may require the assistance of the GRFP Coordinating Official (CO), the student’s faculty advisor, or the Office of Sponsored Projects at the institution.  The Graduate Fellow must be included as a non Co-PI Senior Personnel on the supplement request. 

The request must include the following elements:

  1. Project Summary.  A one page summary addressing the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts of the work to be accomplished in the time period proposed for study and research in Norway or Finland.   
  1. Project Description.   Limit: 5 pages.  A concise, substantive summary of the proposed plan for research and general interaction between the Fellow and the proposed Nordic partners, including justification for the length of the proposed time period for the visit, and the expected scientific/engineering and mutual international benefits to be derived from the project. 

The Project Description must include: the research objectives and methodology of the proposed project, the rationale for selection of the host scientist and institution in Norway or Finland, and details of the proposed collaboration.  The Description must address the expected impact on the research career of the Fellow.  The proposed start date and duration of the visit must be included and supported by the proposed plan for research and the description of the role of the foreign institution/country in the graduate student’s thesis and career objectives.  A plan for dissemination of the results is also required, as is a description of the Broader Impacts of the proposed work.

  1. Budget and Budget Justification:

The budget should consist of a $5,000 request for Participant Support Costs.  The Budget Justification should include a reference to airfare (estimated) and relocation costs (the remainder of the amount requested) for the project.

  1. Supplementary documents:

    • A letter of endorsement from the faculty advisor of the student, describing the anticipated research benefits of the Nordic visit for the Fellow’s graduate program and the anticipated impact on the Fellow’s career.  Limit: 2 pages.

    • A letter of collaboration from the Nordic host scientist, describing the research opportunities and networking activities to be provided at the host institution.  The letter must include a tentative plan for the research stay including research activities, seminars, courses for doctoral training (if any), and other relevant activities.  Limit: 2 pages.

    • The Biographical Sketch of the proposed Nordic host scientist. Limit: 2 pages.


Supplemental funding requests for this Nordic Research Opportunity will be reviewed by panels of disciplinary and interdisciplinary experts with international research experience, using the National Science Board approved merit review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.  In addition, the following criteria will be used by reviewers and NSF staff in evaluating proposals:

  • The potential for true intellectual collaboration with the Nordic research partner, utilizing the expertise and specialized skills, facilities, and/or resources of the Nordic collaborator;
  • The potential for effective research and career development opportunities for the Graduate Research Fellow applicant.

Final selection of awardees will depend on agreement between the NSF and the Research Council of Norway, or NSF and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. 


Within six months after completion of the visit to Norway or Finland, Graduate Fellows are expected to submit a report through NSF FastLane that details the experience and accomplishments of the trip. This reporting requirement is in addition to any established by the Research Council of Norway or the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. 

National Science Foundation Contacts:
William Hahn, phone: 703 292-8545, email:
Gisele Muller-Parker, phone 703 292-7468, e-mail:

Contacts at the Research Council of Norway (RCN):
Terje Emblem, phone: +47 22 03 72 27, email:
Martin Ewan Jaever, phone: +47 22 03 72 55, email:

Contacts at the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES):
Peter.Westerstråhle, phone: 202 298-5842, email:
Erja Ämmälahti, phone: +35 85 05 57 74 22, email: