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NSF 17-144

Dear Colleague Letter: Announcing Realignment of the Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events (IMEE) Program and Change in Program Name to Humans, Disasters and the Built Environment (HDBE)

September 26, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

The Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI), within the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Engineering, announces a realignment of the Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events (IMEE) program. Consistent with realignment, the program name has changed to Humans, Disasters and the Built Environment (HDBE).

IMEE will no longer accept proposals; active awards in IMEE will be managed by the HDBE Program Director and will remain eligible for supplements and extensions.


The HDBE program supports fundamental, multidisciplinary research on the interactions between humans and the built environment within and among communities exposed to natural, technological and other types of hazards and disasters. The program seeks proposals that enrich understanding and explore implications of these interactions, whether through theoretical, methodological or empirical advances, thereby contributing to society's capabilities to learn from, prepare for and respond to hazards and disasters.

The program's context is provided by ongoing and emerging changes in three interwoven elements of a community: its population, its built environment (critical infrastructures, physical and virtual spaces, and buildings and related structures) and the hazards and disasters to which it is exposed. The HDBE program seeks research that integrates these elements and that can contribute to theories that hold over a broad range of scales and conditions. Examples include but are not limited to unified frameworks and theoretical models that encompass non-hazard to extreme hazard and disaster conditions, theoretical and empirical studies that consider how interactions between a community's population and its built environment may suppress or amplify hazard exposure or its effects, and studies that seek to inform scholarship through the development of shared data and related resources. In these and other areas funded through the HDBE program, research that challenges conventional wisdom on the interactions among humans, the built environment and hazards and disasters is particularly encouraged. Given the richness of the phenomena under study, the HDBE program seeks research that advances theories, methods and data within and across diverse disciplines, whether in engineering, the social sciences, computing or other relevant fields. Ultimately, research funded through this program is expected to inform how communities can cultivate and engage a broad range of physical, social and other resources to ensure improved quality of life for their inhabitants.

Full program details are available at:


The HDBE program is concerned with interactions between humans and the built environment as manifested in the context of hazards and disasters. Proposals focusing exclusively on human aspects of hazards and disasters may be better suited to programs in NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. Proposals focusing exclusively on the built environment may be directed within CMMI to the Engineering for Civil Infrastructure (ECI) program, which supports fundamental research in architectural, coastal, construction, geotechnical, infrastructure materials, and structural engineering, or to the Civil Infrastructure Systems (CIS) program, which supports system-based research on civil infrastructure. Research on natural hazard characterization is supported through programs in the NSF Directorate for Geosciences.

Investigators are strongly encouraged to discuss proposal ideas with the cognizant HDBE program officer prior to submission.

Dawn M. Tilbury
Assistant Director
Directorate for Engineering