NSF seeking exploratory proposals to transform how we do research

Climate change, microbial resistance to drugs, access to healthcare, sustainable growth: complex problems such as these seem to require entirely new approaches to research.  The National Science Foundation wants to explore just that: the Germination of Research Ideas for Large Opportunities and Critical Societal Needs (GERMINATION) will fund proposals from investigators across a broad spectrum of disciplines to develop novel learning frameworks, platforms, or environments to germinate transformative research.

NSF’s long-term goal is to stimulate new approaches in research to address the fundamental societal challenges we face as the world’s population grows: increasing demands for food, land, energy, water as well as the pressing need for access to healthcare, security, and sustainable growth. The program aims to cultivate the risk-taking, impact-driven research culture necessary to meet this goal. This funding mechanism is to support work that may be considered especially “high risk-high pay-off” involving, for example, radically different approaches or novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.

Proposals use the EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) mechanism. They should focus on the development of key skills that will increase the capacity of participants to identify opportunities, think creatively, explore novel research, and take intellectual risk. Targeted participants must be identified; they may include early- and mid-career faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows. Proposals may be focused in one particular research area or broadly across all research domains. Multidisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

If you’re interested in applying but unsure if your idea qualifies, a webinar will be held on December 10, 2015 to discuss this program and answer questions. Please visit http://www.nsf.gov/eng/efma for more information about the webinar. PIs must contact Mr. Garie Fordyce at gfordyce@nsf.gov with a one-page concept paper explaining the core idea of your project before submission. The NSF program officers whose expertise is most germane to the proposal topic will then determine the appropriateness of the work for consideration.

Further guidance may be sought from Sohi Rastegar (Primary Contact), srastega@nsf.gov or Grace Wang, jiwang@nsf.gov

Full proposals must be submitted by 5 PM on January 19, 2016 of the submitter’s local time.