DoED Announces New GAANN Competition

The Department of Education has just issued a notice inviting applications for the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Program. You can find the Federal Register notice here.  Four broad areas of national need have been identified:

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Rebuilding the Nation's Infrastructure
  • National Civic Leteracy
  • Workforce Development

See the announcement for details on degrees that qualify.  Applications are due Aug. 29, 2018.

DoED FY 2019 Research Funding Webinars Available On Demand

The Department of Education's research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has just posted a series of on-demand webinars related to research funding opportunities for FY 2019 (many of which have proposal deadlines in August 2018). These include an IES Basic Overview, an IES Grant Writing Workshop, National Research and Development Centers, and Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice in Special Education. If you are new to any of these programs, or if you'd like to know about recent changes, be sure to check these out. A critical step in developing a competitive proposal is to get to know your agency and your program. These webinars are a great way to start that process.

AIP Reports on White House Planned Science Agency "Reforms"

On its website, the American Institute of Physics provides an informative overview of the impact on R&D programs of the White House's recently released blueprint outlining over 80 recommendations for reorganizing the federal government. Among the recommendations related to R&D:

  • Consolidate DOE's applied R&D programs (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Nuclear Energy, and Fossil Energy) as well as ARPA-E into a new "Office of Energy Innovation." (The administration has been hostile to ARPA-E, so this may be a stealth way to eliminate it.)
  • Consolidate "smaller" federally funded graduate research fellowships under NSF
  • Eliminate the EPA STAR program
  • Consolidate AHRQ, NIOSH and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research under NIH
  • Merge the Department of Education and the Labor Department

           and much more.  If you or your faculty pursue funding from the mission agencies, be sure to keep a close eye on this!

DoED IES Webinars on Grant Writing

The Institute for Education Sciences (which is the research arm of the Department of Education) is hosting a webinar as well as a webinar series for new and early stage investigators to help PIs write better proposals to IES. While the webinars focus on proposals related to reading, writing, and language development, it's likely that much of the advice will also apply to other proposals to IES.  The offerings are described below:

NSF ENG Drops Deadlines for Core Proposals

NSF had released a Dear Colleague Letter announcing that, effective August 15th, NSF's Directorate of Engineering (CBET, CMMI, ECCS, and EEC) will no longer have proposal windows or target dates for core (investigator-initiated) proposals to their disciplinary programs. This does not apply to targeted solicitations such as CAREER, MRI, ERC, etc.  As a part of this change, they  will also implement a guideline in which a declined proposal (or substantively similar proposal/topic by the same PI) is ineligible for resubmission until a minimum of one year has passed from the date of its initial submission. 

While NSF states that their main motivation is to improve the quality of the proposals they receive since fewer proposals will be submitted before they're ready, it's also true that when there is no official deadline, NSF programs receive fewer proposals. As NSF has been struggling with high proposal pressure, this effect was likely another important motivation for this change.

As we all know, something that can be done any time is often done at no time. Don't let this happen to you! Set your own deadline for submitting your core proposal, write it in big red letters on your calendar, announce it to the world - whatever it takes to generate the feeling of urgency that you and your co-PIs need to get your proposal done!

(See NSF's FAQs about this policy change here.)

USDA NIFA-AFRI 2018 Foundational Program RFA released

USDA has released it's Foundational Program RFA. The total amount available for new grants is ~$182M. Program areas are:

  • Plant health and production and plant products ($43.9M)  
  • Animal health and production and animal products ($36.8M) 
  • Food safety, nutrition, and health ($26.2M) 
  • Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment ($21.7M)
  • Agriculture systems and technology ($19.5M)  
  • Agriculture economics and rural communities ($22.9M)  
  • Crosscutting programs ($11.0M)
    • Critical agricultural research and extension
    • Exploratory research

New in FY 2018 is the FACT initiative. The Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT) initiative solicits applications that 1) focus on fundamental or core big data analytics and tool development, and/or 2) apply big data concepts to specific science domains or across domains and sectors

  • for any of the Plant health and production and plant products program area priorities;  Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment program area priorities except Network for Synthesis, Data Sharing and Management Program Area Priority (A1490); 
  • Agriculture economics and rural communities program area priorities except the program area priorities, Joint Economic Research Service and NIFA Program – Economic Implications and Application of Big data in Food and Agriculture (A1643) and Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies (A1642). 
  • for any of the Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment program area priorities except Network for Synthesis, Data Sharing and Management Program Area Priority (A1490).
  • for any of the Animal health and production and animal products program area priorities
  • for any of the Food safety, nutrition, and health program area priorities
  • for any of the Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment program area priorities except Network for Synthesis, Data Sharing and Management Program Area Priority (A1490).
  • for any of the Agriculture systems and technology program area priorities.

Applicants must submit a letter of intent (LOI) to the FACT Program Area Priority (A1541) by the LOI deadline (July 25, 2018), described in this RFA. The LOI is a prerequisite to submit an application for the FACT initiative.

IES Grant Competitions Announced

It was late this year, but the Dept of Education's research arm, the Institute for Education Science (IES), has finally announced their new research grant competitions. These include the competitions for the Education Research Grants Program, the Special Education Research grants Program, Low-Cost Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Intervention, Low-Cost Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions, and Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice in Special Education. 

The special topics for the the Education Research Grants Program are Foreign Language Education and Social Studies. The special topics for the Special Education Research Grants Programs are Career and Technical Education for Students with Disabilities, English Learners with Disabilities, and Systems-Involved Students with Disabilities.  

You can find all of the announcements with due dates here

NSF soliciting EAGER proposals for Discoveries to Revolutionize Engineering and Architectural Materials for Buildings

NSF has issued a Dear Colleague Letter as follows, ":Discoveries to Revolutionize Engineering and Architectural Materials for Buildings, the National Science Foundation (NSF) invites proposals to the Engineering for Civil Infrastructure (ECI) program for EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) for high risk/high reward fundamental research to investigate wholly new materials and radical changes in the design of conventional materials, through the adaptation and integration of advanced technologies, to enable high performance buildings (structural systems, foundation systems, and building envelopes). " For more, go here.

NSF Offering Webinar on Smart & Autonomous Systems Program

NSF is offering a webinar at 12 pm EDT on June 13, 2018 about the Smart and Autonomous Systems program, which is in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate, Division of Intelligent Instelligent Systems (IIS).  NSF's program synopsis states that, "The Smart and Autonomous Systems (S&AS) program focuses on Intelligent Physical Systems (IPS) that are capable of robust, long-term autonomy requiring minimal or no human operator intervention in the face of uncertain, unanticipated, and dynamically changing situations. IPS are systems that combine perception, cognition, communication, and actuation to operate in the physical world. Examples include, but are not limited to, robotic platforms, self-driving vehicles, underwater exploration vehicles, and smart grids. To foster such intelligent systems, the S&AS program supports research in four main aspects of IPS: cognizanttaskable, adaptive, and ethical"

This description is very broad, so it's important to understand what topics align with the interests of this program. This webinar is a good first step to determining if your project idea might be a good fit.

To sign up for this webinar, go here.

NSF Issues DCL for Data-Driven Discovery Science in Chemistry

NSF's Division of Chemistry, together with the Catalysis Program and the Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics Program of the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) have issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to invite research proposals that utilize modern data science in the context of chemical and chemical engineering research. Successful D3SC proposals will emphasize new information that can be obtained from better utilization of data (including data from multiple laboratories, techniques, and/or chemical systems), and how this can lead to new research directions.

For more information, click on this link.

NSF and USAF Announce Partnership in Science & Eng Research

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova signed a Letter of Intent May 9, 2018, creating a new partnership for collaboration on scientific and engineering research to bolster national security.  The Letter of Intent initiates a strategic partnership focused on research in four areas of common interest: space operations and geosciences, advanced material sciences, information and data sciences, and workforce and processes.

For more info, see this link.

NSF Webinar for EHR Proposers June 19th

NSF will host a webinar for PIs who are interested in applying for NSF CAREER grants through the Directorate for Education and Human Resources. If you are one of those folks, this could be a very worthwhile webinar, as each directorate uses the CAREER program in its own way and has its own expectations.

The webinar is scheduled for June 19, 2018 from 2 - 3 pm Eastern Daylight Time. For more info, go to this EHR CAREER webinar link

Great NIH Resource: Expenditures by Category

NIH recently published a very interesting and useful table detailing the funding allocated over recent years by research, condition, or disease category. This data includes estimated amounts for 2016 and 2017. You can click through on any year and category to see what projects were funded. Follow those links as you would use results from a RePORTER query to identify program officers, study sections and FOAs. A great resource for PIs trying to figure out where at NIH their research fits! Click here to go to NIH's table.

NOAA Science Collaboration Program

The NOAA Science Collaboration Program (NSCP/$75 million) represents an effort to support the development of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers and scientists with expertise in NOAA-related sciences. This will be accomplished through collaborations between these scientists and professionals in areas of mutual interest across the full spectrum of NOAA sciences. It is expected that some of the scientists will collaborate onsite at NOAA facilities and laboratories. NOAA will also support associated workshops that will serve to further enhance collaborative relationships. Through this funding opportunity, NOAA is also interested in supporting complementary earth-systems modeling efforts in areas such as hydrology and coastal dynamics which can serve as a catalyst for collaborations between NOAA professionals and scientists supported through this program. NOAA will support social science research that evaluates the impact of NOAA-related science to society and seeks to find ways to determine how environmental and related sciences can be communicated and utilized more effectively to protect life and property, assist decision makers, and enhance economic development. See NOAA-NWS-NWSPO-2017-2004858 NOAA Science Collaboration Program Due June 13.

NSF Dear Colleague Letter lists International Funding Mechanisms

A recent NSF Dear Colleague letter was issued to remind researchers involved in the BRAIN initiative of funding programs and mechanisms that support international cooperation. Most of these programs are equally applicable to international collaborations in other research topics funded by NSF and bear repeating: