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Growing Convergence Research (GCR)
In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of "Big Ideas", 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering. The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Office of Integrative Activities, once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.
Growing Convergence Research (GCR) at the National Science Foundation was identified as one of 10 Big Ideas. Convergence research is a means for solving vexing research problems, in particular, complex problems focusing on societal needs. It entails integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation.
GCR identifies Convergence Research as having two primary characteristics:
Research driven by a specific and compelling problem. Convergence Research is generally inspired by the need to address a specific challenge or opportunity, whether it arises from deep scientific questions or pressing societal needs.
- Deep integration across disciplines. As experts from different disciplines pursue common research challenges, their knowledge, theories, methods, data, research communities and languages become increasingly intermingled or integrated. New frameworks, paradigms or even disciplines can form sustained interactions across multiple communities.
A distinct characteristic of convergence research, in contrast to other forms of multidisciplinary research, is that from the inception, the convergence paradigm intentionally brings together intellectually diverse researchers and stakeholders to frame the research questions, develop effective ways of communicating across disciplines and sectors, adopt common frameworks for their solution, and, when appropriate, develop a new scientific vocabulary. Research teams practicing convergence aim at developing sustainable relationships that may not only create solutions to the problem that engendered the collaboration, but also develop novel ways of framing related research questions and open new research vistas.
This GCR solicitation targets multi-disciplinary team research that crosses directorate or division boundaries and is currently not supported by NSF programs, initiatives and research-focused Big Ideas. Proposers must make a convincing case that the research to be conducted is within NSF’s purview and cannot be supported by existing NSF programs and multidisciplinary initiatives. Proposals involving convergence in areas covered by existing programs and solicitations will be returned without review.
The proposers should outline a five-year research plan delineated in two phases, Phase I: years 1-2, and Phase II: years 3-5. Successful proposals will be funded initially for two years and then each team’s progress will be evaluated based on a report and presentation that the team will make to a panel of reviewers at NSF. Teams that show significant progress during the first two years will receive funding for an additional three years. Interested researchers may request up to $1,200,000 total for the first two years and $2,400,000 for the last three years.
Full Proposal Deadline Date: Feb. 6, 2023
Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
- Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
- 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.
The PIs must hold full-time appointments in research or teaching positions at US-based campuses/offices of eligible organizations.
A PI or a co-PI may participate in only one proposal in response to this solicitation. They may not participate in any role in any other proposal. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals will be accepted based on earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first compliant proposal received will be accepted and the others will be returned without review). No exceptions will be made.
Anticipated Funding Amount: $12,000,000 pending availability of funds, to support the first two years of proposals selected for an award. The total amount awarded in future years will depend on the availability of funds and the number of awards advancing to years 3-5.
Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.