This solicitation has been archived and replaced by NSF 18-521.

NSF/CASIS Collaboration on Combustion and Thermal Transport Processes Research on the International Space Station to Benefit Life on Earth

Program Solicitation
NSF 17-517

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Engineering
     Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems

CASIS      logo



Center for the Advancement of Science in Space

Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     February 20, 2017 - March 10, 2017

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

Appropriateness of Proposals for the NSF-ISS Program:

NSF-ISS is not intended to be used for proposals that are appropriate for existing funding mechanisms or that continue well-established practices.

Prospective proposals will be subject to a feasibility review for operational feasibility and terrestrial economic benefit, both conducted by CASIS and completed before the submission of the full proposal. See the CASIS guidelines for further details on these reviews at http://www.iss-casis.org/Opportunities/Solicitations/CBET.aspx. Before submitting a full proposal, potential PIs or teams should consult as early as possible with the CASIS Operations team (opsinfo@iss-casis.org) for feedback regarding feasibility and compliance with flight requirements and capabilities. Submitted proposals that pass the initial operational and economic review will be eligible for evaluation by NSF. Documentation from the CASIS team confirming approval to submit a proposal after the operation and economic reviews must be provided as a Single Copy Document in FastLane or Grants.gov when the full proposal is submitted.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 17-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 30, 2017. Please be advised that proposers who opt to submit prior to January 30, 2017, must also follow the guidelines contained in NSF 17-1.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Combustion and Thermal Transport Processes Research at the International Space Station to Benefit Life on Earth (NSF-ISS)

Synopsis of Program:

The Division of Chemical, Bioengineering and Environmental Transport (CBET) in the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is partnering with The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to solicit research projects in the general field of combustion and thermal transport processes that can utilize the International Space Station (ISS) National Lab to conduct research that will benefit life on Earth. U.S. entities including academic investigators, non-profit independent research labs and academic-commercial teams are eligible to apply.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Song-Charng Kong, Combustion and Fire Systems Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8695, email: skong@nsf.gov

  • José Lage, Thermal Transport Processes Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-4997, email: jlage@nsf.gov

  • Jonathan Volk, Program Director, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, telephone: (321) 751-5137, email: jvolk@iss-casis.org

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 43.007 --- Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
  • 47.041 --- Engineering

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 6

Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,800,000

NSF Funding (total) available under this solicitation is $1.8 million distributed in FY 2017. Requests may be for up to $300,000 total and up to three years in duration. The award size and duration should be consistent with the project scope.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Funding for ISS Experiments

NSF awards under this solicitation will provide PIs with support to conduct fundamental and translational research, to prepare experiments for onboard the ISS, to collaborate with service providers as necessary, to provide preliminary analysis to conduct the experiment, to analyze and interpret data, and to disseminate results broadly. CASIS will assist grantees in translating ground-based experiments and technologies into the space-appropriate hardware offered in this solicitation where possible. All costs associated with the translation of the proposed experiments to experiments onboard the ISS, including training of ISS crews, hauling equipment to the ISS, and conducting experiments at the ISS, will be covered by CASIS. For information on available flight hardware for this solicitation, please see: www.iss-casis.org/files/CBET-Hardware-Offerings-Descriptions.pdf.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • For-profit organizations: U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
  • GOALI proposals, where academe and industry partner on a research project, are encouraged (see GOALI proposal requirements in the PAPPG and in Section V.A. of this solicitation)
  • CASIS strongly encourages all potential proposers to consider industry collaboration.

Who May Serve as PI:

The PI(s) must be eligible to submit NSF proposals, as described in the PAPPG. Projects can be collaborative and collaborations with industry and relevant costs for their participation are allowed.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

The PI and co-PI may participate in only one proposal submitted under this solicitation. It is the responsibility of the submitting institution to insure that the PI and all co-PIs are participating in only one proposal. If more than one proposal is submitted by the PI or co-PI, NSF reserves the right to return without reviewing the last proposal received or all proposals received from the PI or co-PI.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not required
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required
  • Full Proposals:

    • Full Proposals submitted via FastLane: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
    • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide)

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements:

    Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

    Not Applicable

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:

    Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         February 20, 2017 - March 10, 2017

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:

Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements:

Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is an IRC Section 501(c)(3) entity responsible for management of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory under a Cooperative Agreement with NASA (NNH11CD70A). Per Section 504 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, the purpose of CASIS is to maximize the value of the investment the U.S. government made in the ISS National Lab and demonstrate the scientific and technological productivity of the ISS National Lab over the next decade. CASIS seeks to advance scientific research, technology development, and education in conjunction with utilization of the ISS, managing a diverse research, technology, and education portfolio across a broad range of scientific fields.

Because NSF and CASIS have a common interest in research and development in transport, thermal and fluid phenomena at microgravity conditions, NSF and CASIS have developed a collaboration to jointly support research that can take advantage of the opportunities afforded by conducting experiments in the ISS.

In 2016, Program Solicitation NSF 16-518 was focused on the fluid dynamics component of the transport, thermal and fluid phenomena. The funded proposals can be found on the website of the Fluid Dynamics Program of the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems. This solicitation is focused on combustion and thermal transport processes research.

The purpose of this solicitation is to attract proposals that make use of the ISS National Lab for flight research projects in the fields of combustion and in thermal transport processes. Responsive applications will describe using the ISS National Lab for development and testing of combustion and thermal transport physics processes and phenomena that will lead to Earth-based applications and increase the return on the U.S. investment in the ISS National Lab. CASIS goals are to advance science research and technology development, expand human knowledge, inspire and educate the next generation, foster the commercial development of space, and demonstrate scientific capabilities in space for Earth benefit. Fundamental research to study combustion and thermal transport phenomena and processes, where the results will have direct terrestrial benefit but will involve flight research utilizing the ISS, is solicited.

The collaboration seeks to exploit the complementary missions of (i) research and development for NSF, and (ii) stimulation, development and management of U.S. national uses of the ISS National Lab by U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and private firms for CASIS. Proposals must seek to exploit the ISS National Lab for combustion and thermal transport studies to support applications on Earth. The proposal must include a description of project benefits for life on Earth. Proposals focused on research and technology development supporting only space exploration-related goals do not fall within the scope of the NSF and CASIS mission, and will be considered non-responsive to this solicitation. For example, this program does not support research strictly focused on space propulsion.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The unique high quality and long duration microgravity environment on the ISS National Lab has many benefits.

  • The strong hindrance of processes, such as natural convection and sedimentation, and of those driven or affected by hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy, for instance, can all contribute to the change in the behavior of a substance in space. The effect on these variables allows phenomena of interest to be studied with minimal gravitational interference.

Example phenomena may include:

    • Combustion of gas, liquid and solid
    • Fire safety
    • Low-temperature combustion chemistry
    • Convective (forced) flow
    • Phase change
    • Radiation
    • Diffusion
    • Interfacial behavior
    • Surface tension
    • Biological and physiological transport
  • Microgravity can influence the crystal growth process and the molecular structure of a material during phase change.
  • Microgravity may also enable the measurement of certain physical/chemical properties, involving multicomponent transport and flame dynamics, which have been shown to be difficult to measure sufficiently well in Earth-based labs.
  • The long term exposure to microgravity is also important in many combustion and thermal transport studies. Longer time scales (e.g., for fully developed flow profiles or weakly-driven flows to occur) are often needed for experimentation, which cannot occur in parabolic flights or drop towers, thus the necessity for the ISS National Lab.

To receive funding as an NSF-ISS-appropriate project, a flight experiment should be proposed. Selected projects must be flight ready within 18 months of the award and final reports must be completed by six months postflight. If flight schedules change, investigators may modify proposed timelines, subject to review and approval by the CASIS Operations team.

This Solicitation is not intended to be used for projects that can be accommodated within other NSF funding mechanisms. In addition, this Solicitation is not intended to be used for projects that can be conducted in their entirety with ground-based research.

Collaborative proposals can also be submitted. In these cases, if the PIs are at different institutions and have complementary skills and facilities, submission of separately submitted collaborative proposals is required. See PAPPG Chapter II.D.3.b for information about submission of a collaborative proposal from multiple organizations.

Prospective proposals will be subject to a feasibility review for operational feasibility and terrestrial economic benefit, both conducted by CASIS. See the CASIS guidelines for further details on these reviews at www.iss-casis.org/files/CBET-Feasibility-Evaluation-Criteria.pdf. The solicitation seeks to increase use of the ISS National Lab for combustion and thermal transport studies to benefit industries on Earth and to promote ISS and existing facility/technology utilization. Costs such as preparatory work, including but not limited to design of experimental prototypes and numerical simulations, data acquisition, and post-flight data analysis, can be included in the budget. CASIS can cover costs of modifications of flight equipment, if necessary. Ideal proposals will describe a commercial, civil, or academic project to achieve research or technology development objectives that will directly impact areas including (but not limited to):

  • Clean energy
  • Carbon emissions and capture
  • Manufacturing
  • Machinery
  • Consumer Products
  • Oil & Gas
  • Electronics
  • Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals
  • Microfluidics

Prospective proposers should read the payload synopses and technical data on the CASIS website at www.iss-casis.org/files/CBET-Hardware-Offerings-Descriptions.pdf to understand the basic capabilities of the offered payload facilities and instrumentation. NSF will offer grants to research proposals that develop fundamental and translational research and CASIS will assist grantees in translating ground-based experiments and technologies into the space-appropriate hardware offered in this solicitation where possible. An ideal proposal will demonstrate investigator’s knowledge of the significant challenges and importance of the proposed research and how ISS utilization will allow their research goals to be achieved. All proposers should read this online material to clearly understand the hardware platform and capabilities on the ISS.

CASIS also encourages prospective proposers to learn about the availability and capability of flight hardware and integration services by directly communicating with the implementation partner and the CASIS Operations team (opsinfo@iss-casis.org). CASIS encourages proposers to initially see if the desired hardware can be utilized in its current form before investigating modifications.

Prospective proposers should read the CASIS guidelines, which include ISS payload synopses at: http://www.iss-casis.org/Opportunities/Solicitations/CBET.aspx

Proposals that do not follow the CASIS guidelines will be deemed non-responsive to this Solicitation.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 6

Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,800,000

NSF Funding (total) available under this solicitation is $1.8 million distributed in FY 2017. Requests may be for up to $300,000 total and up to three years in duration. The award size and duration should be consistent with the project scope.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Funding for ISS Experiments

NSF awards under this solicitation will provide PIs with support to conduct fundamental and translational research to prepare experiments for onboard the ISS, to collaborate with service providers as necessary, to provide preliminary analysis to conduct the experiment, to analyze and interpret data, and to disseminate results broadly. CASIS will assist grantees in translating ground-based experiments and technologies into the space-appropriate hardware offered in this solicitation where possible. All costs associated with the translation of the proposed experiments to experiments onboard the ISS, including training of ISS crews, hauling equipment to the ISS, and conducting experiments at the ISS, will be covered by CASIS.

Both organizations will jointly manage the project reviews. All NSF awards will be made via a Standard Grant mechanism. In addition, NSF awardees shall be required to negotiate separate conditions with CASIS for ISS utilization support via a contract mechanism.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • For-profit organizations: U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
  • GOALI proposals, where academe and industry partner on a research project, are encouraged (see GOALI proposal requirements in the PAPPG and in Section V.A. of this solicitation)
  • CASIS strongly encourages all potential proposers to consider industry collaboration.

Who May Serve as PI:

The PI(s) must be eligible to submit NSF proposals, as described in the PAPPG. Projects can be collaborative and collaborations with industry and relevant costs for their participation are allowed.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

The PI and co-PI may participate in only one proposal submitted under this solicitation. It is the responsibility of the submitting institution to insure that the PI and all co-PIs are participating in only one proposal. If more than one proposal is submitted by the PI or co-PI, NSF reserves the right to return without reviewing the last proposal received or all proposals received from the PI or co-PI.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.5 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

See Chapter II.C.2 of the GPG for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions.

The following instructions supplement the guidance in the PAPPG and NSF Grants.gov Application Guide:

  • The project title on the proposal Cover Sheet will be preceded by the prefix "ISS:" to distinguish the submission from a regular proposal that would go through a regular review process.
  • All investigators who wish to submit a proposal in response to this solicitation must submit a completed CASIS Feasibility Review Form. The CASIS Feasibility Review Form will be available on the CASIS website at:

http://www.iss-casis.org/Opportunities/Solicitations/Combustion.aspx

An example form indicating the required fields for the Feasibility Review Form is available at http://www.iss-casis.org/files/2016-Combustion-Thermal-Example-Preliminary-Proposal-Form.pdf.

This CASIS Feasibility Review Form should be completed and submitted to CASIS via the CASIS website as early as possible, to allow time for a response and time to prepare the full proposal. CASIS officers will respond to a Feasibility Review Form within four weeks after submission.

Documentation from the CASIS team confirming approval to submit a proposal after the operation and economic reviews must be provided as a Single Copy Document in Fastlane or Grants.gov. A proposal submitted without the required authorizations will be returned without review.

  • A proposal that passes the operational and economic reviews represent CASIS’s preliminary judgment that the project might be appropriate for consideration under this initiative; it is not a commitment to recommend support of a proposal with program funds. Documentation from the CASIS team confirming approval to submit a proposal after the operation and economic reviews must be provided as a Single Copy Document in Fastlane or Grants.gov. A proposal submitted without the required authorizations will be returned without review. For a description about the CASIS operational and economic review criteria, please see www.iss-casis.org/files/CBET-Feasibility-Evaluation-Criteria.pdf.
  • The proposal must explicitly address how the project will utilize the ISS capabilities and how the research will benefit life on Earth.

Additional Instructions for Submission of a GOALI Proposal

When preparing a GOALI proposal, select this program solicitation number and then select “GOALI” as the Type of Proposal. The project title on the proposal Cover Sheet should begin with “ISS: GOALI:”. The proposal must be prepared in accordance with the GOALI specific instructions in Chapter II.E.4 of the PAPPG and the additional instructions contained in this solicitation.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing:

Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Other Budgetary Limitations:

Inclusion of a fee in the proposal budget and/or any subaward budget is unallowable.

C. Due Dates

  • Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

         February 20, 2017 - March 10, 2017

Due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time.

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

Proposers that submitted via FastLane are strongly encouraged to use FastLane to verify the status of their submission to NSF. For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov. After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the GPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning.

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i. contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal.) Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i., prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

CASIS will facilitate investigators in identifying service providers, in assessing possible hardware and experimental modifications, and in developing a realistic budget and time frame for the project.

In addition to the standard NSF criteria for evaluating proposals, reviewers will be asked to evaluate the proposal on the following content.

  • Proposals should explain clearly the necessity of the ISS National Lab in the proposed project.
  • Proposals should list implementation partners or, if partners have not been identified, describe the services needed to complete the proposed research.
  • Proposals should specify existing flight hardware to be used in the project, and any modifications that are necessary to the hardware to achieve the research objectives.
  • Proposals should describe the investigators’ capabilities and related experience relevant to the proposed project.

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Panel Review.

The review process and panel will be administratively managed by NSF. Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. The NSF and CASIS Program Officers will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation to their respective management teams.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

After programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1)*; or Research Terms and Conditions* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

  • Song-Charng Kong, Combustion and Fire Systems Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8695, email: skong@nsf.gov

  • José Lage, Thermal Transport Processes Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-4997, email: jlage@nsf.gov

  • Jonathan Volk, Program Director, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, telephone: (321) 751-5137, email: jvolk@iss-casis.org

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

  • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

IX. OTHER INFORMATION

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.

About the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is an IRC Section 501(c)(3) entity responsible for management of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory under a Cooperative Agreement with NASA (NNH11CD70A). Per Section 504 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, the purpose of CASIS is to maximize the value of the investment the U.S. government made in the ISS National Lab and demonstrate the scientific and technological productivity of the ISS National Lab over the next decade. CASIS seeks to advance scientific research, technology development, and education in conjunction with utilization of the ISS, managing a diverse research, technology, and education portfolio across a broad range of scientific fields.

CASIS Goals

1. Stimulate, develop, and manage U.S. national uses of the ISS National Lab by U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and private firms.

2. Develop tools and techniques to communicate the value of uses of the ISS research platform, and increase the return on the U.S. investment in the ISS National Lab.

The Center for Advancement of Science in Space may be reached at:

6905 N. Wickham Road, Suite 500, Melbourne, FL 32940, Phone: (321) 253-5101

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111

PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton
Reports Clearance Officer
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230



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