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NSF 11-045

Dear Colleague Letter for New Zealand and Japan

This document has been archived.

Dear Colleagues:

The February 21, 2011, earthquake in New Zealand and the March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami and nuclear power plant crises have shown us Nature's enormous destructive capacity, once again. This letter is to remind you that NSF has mechanisms in place to respond to immediate research and education needs that arise from such unexpected events.  For example, such mechanisms were used to support activities compelled by the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010, the Chinese Wenchun earthquake in 2008, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

The Rapid Response Research (RAPID) mechanism is used to support activities having a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to, data, facilities or specialized equipment, including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events.  Another mechanism is for a Principal Investigator (PI) to request supplemental funds to add an international dimension to an existing NSF grant. Supported activities are not limited to on-site research, and could include research conducted remotely via the use of information and communication technologies, temporarily hosting databases on behalf of affected institutions, and providing temporary laboratory space for researchers and students from affected institutions.

Individual NSF directorates and offices may provide specific guidance.  General guidelines for RAPID and supplement requests are described in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (NSF 11-001) at and, respectively.  PI(s) must contact the NSF program officer(s) whose program is most germane to the proposal topic before submitting a RAPID proposal or supplement request. PI(s) are also encouraged to contact the appropriate country contact in the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering (see

Submitted proposals should address access to expertise, facilities, and resources at the New Zealand or Japanese sites. Whenever feasible or applicable, the proposal should demonstrate true collaboration with host country counterparts.

Given the scale of physical damage, areas in New Zealand and Japan may not be accessible to foreign investigators in the near term.  Proposals should include detailed research plans that incorporate specific details about country entry, if required, and logistics for data collection.  Grantees are responsible for obtaining required visas for foreign travel and research permits and clearances.  Awardees are expected to adhere to U.S. State Department guidance regarding travel and stay in New Zealand and Japan:

For RAPID proposals, the budget should include travel costs for one trip to the Arlington, Virginia area to present results of the RAPID research at a workshop open to the public.  The workshop is anticipated to be held within a year.

The number of projects supported by NSF will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. While not a deadline, for timely consideration, submission of RAPID proposals electronically via the NSF FastLane system or and supplement requests electronically via the NSF FastLane system by Friday, April 15, 2011, is encouraged.

NSF looks forward to continuing to work with the research community on responses to these devastating events.


Subra Suresh