Letter on NSF Funding Opportunities

Dear Colleague,

There are new funding opportunities at NSF that might be of interest to you. They are called the “Big Ideas” and they focus on critical issues in science and society. The purpose of each Big Idea is to motivate dynamic and innovative scholars to create and implement new and potentially transformative interdisciplinary approaches to some very large societal challenges.

I encourage

  • every social scientist,
  • every behavioral scientist,
  • every member of an organization who is willing to collaborate with social or behavioral scientists, and
  • every scholar who is looking for new opportunities to advance science in ways that best serve the public

to think “big”.

Here are some of the opportunities now available:

  • The Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier: This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively build, the human-technology relationship in the context of work. Relevant activities include assessing the social and behavioral implications of automation; producing new technologies to augment human performance; developing and evaluating mechanisms to foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology; and many more.
  • Navigating the New Arctic: The Arctic is undergoing rapid biological, physical, and social change, not only its shape and surface properties, but also the ways in which humans can interact with it. This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively adapt to how Arctic change will influence communities both in the Arctic and beyond. This initiative is not just for people already studying the Arctic. It is for anyone whose work is potentially pertinent to New Arctic issues.
  • Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Data are being created, distributed, and used at a scale that is unprecedented in human history. This Big Idea encourages NSF’s research community to pursue broad, interdisciplinary research in data science and engineering, and to explore its implications for social interaction and organization. This Big Idea seeks to help society better understand, and more effectively develop, a cohesive, federated, national-scale approach to research data infrastructure, and knowledge needed to empower a 21st-century data-capable workforce. The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of activities and funding opportunities. Each of these efforts is designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science.
  • Growing Convergence Research: Research relying on convergence is needed to solve complex scientific and engineering problems that require integrating knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forming novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. This is research driven by a specific and compelling problem and features deep integration across disciplines.
    • More details are expected soon.

Two additional Big Ideas do not currently have open funding opportunities; but could be a source of new solicitations in the future:

  • Understanding the Rules of Life: This Big Idea seeks broad interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the regularities that guide or influence the emergence of observable characteristics, i.e., phenotype, in organisms across the tree of life, including humans. Previously, this program sought proposals in two areas: Epigenetics, and Building a Synthetic Cell. While the subject matter of future calls has not been determined, we anticipate calls that include a significant role for social and behavioral scientists.
  • NSF INCLUDES: This Big Idea seeks to help scholars develop, implement, and evaluate new ways to transform education and career pathways in ways that broaden participation in science and engineering.  The INCLUDES initiative is aimed at expanding the number of underrepresented scientists and engineers within the U.S. scientific workforce.  To accomplish this, NSF INCLUDES has supported the development of a national network of a broad array of research centers and sites, both public and private, with varied STEM foci ranging from community water research to environmental engineering.

Please spend a few minutes learning about the Big Ideas. These new funding opportunities, along with NSF’s existing social and behavioral science programs, offer exciting opportunities for innovative scholars who are interested in transformative, problem-inspired, basic research. If you have questions about these or other SBE programs, please contact the program officers listed at the bottom of each opportunity’s main page.

The Big Ideas offer a great opportunity for social and behavioral scientists to advance science and address important social problems. We would like to see strong proposals from our community in the weeks and months to come.

Sincerely,

Arthur Lupia

Assistant Director

Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

National Science Foundation

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