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NSF Stimulus Spending Taking Shape

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Science Foundation is preparing the details of how it will parse out much of the $3 billion it received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will include funding for standard grants, cutting-edge research, some previously declined proposals, and research infrastructure.

In a recent speech to employees about how the NSF will separate and spend the stimulus funds, Director Arden Bement said that the foundation will use those and other programs to distribute the $2 billion that is available for research.

These will be awarded swiftly, Bement explained, in order to maintain the jobs preservation and creation mandate of the ARRA package. All of the research grants will be standard grants with durations of up to five years, which will enable NSF to structure its portfolio in a sustainable way.

NSF said it plans to fund CAREER grants that support research education activities of junior faculty, and IGERT grants that support interdisciplinary research and training for grad students. Some of the funds also will go to the Major Research Instrumentation program and to the Academic Research Infrastructure program, with solicitations for both of these to be issued soon.

NSF will place an emphasis on funding high-risk, high-return research programs when it gives awards for new principal investigators, said Bement.

Proposals that were declined on or after Oct. 1, 2008, also will be considered, with reversals being based on the quality of their reviews and the lack of available funding at the time to support such projects.

The agency also is currently developing a solicitation for a Science Masters Program, which would be a new activity under the ARRA.

In addition, some of the stimulus funds will support the Robert Noyce Scholarship program and the Math and Science Partnership program following merit review of proposals already submitted.

Bement said that NSF does not plan to provide any supplements to existing grants through the ARRA.

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