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Social Scientists Encouraged to Explore NSF’s Ten Big Ideas Solicitations

Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), is calling on social and behavioral scientists to learn more about, and consider applying for, the funding opportunities associated with the NSF Ten Big Ideas for Future Investment. The Ideas focus on critical issues in science and society and provide potentially substantial opportunities for social and behavioral scientists—from planning grants to research infrastructure. The letter includes details of the Big Ideas, links to more information, and directions to join informational webinars. Read the letter below for detail. More information about the Ten Big Ideas can be found on the NSF website.


Substantial Funding Opportunities from NSF Relevant to SBE Scientists

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:

  1. 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.
    Multiple Funding Opportunities:

  2. 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.
    Funding Opportunity:

  3. 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.
    Funding Opportunity:

  4. Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure: At NSF, the term “mid-scale” infrastructure refers to projects that, once built, can help many researchers conduct diverse analyses from a single platform. The budget for these projects can range from $6.0 million to $70.0 million over a five-year period. This Big Idea is designed to motivate entrepreneurial research teams to create new and innovative research platforms.
    Two Funding Opportunities:

  5. 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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Posted in Issue 3 (February 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Becomes Law

On January 14, President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 into law. Championed by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the legislation represents a bipartisan recognition of the importance of science and data in helping to design and improve policies (see COSSA’s previous coverage for more details on the legislation). After the bill was signed, COSSA released a statement applauding the legislation. We will continue to report on details of the bill’s implementation as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Government Shutdown Continues into Third Week, Leaving Uncertainty for FY 2019

The partial government shutdown has stretched into its third week, leaving many government agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of the Interior, and the Census Bureau, shuttered. Unlike government shutdowns of the recent past, this shutdown is not related to disputed funding levels, but rather policy disagreements and political maneuvering. This means that we already have an idea of what the final funding numbers will be once the policy impasse has cleared, as Congress has already negotiated most of its appropriations bills. Once funding is finalized, COSSA will release an analysis reviewing the fiscal year (FY) 2019 outcomes for programs and agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences.

On January 3, the new Democratic leadership in the House proposed, and easily passed, an omnibus spending bill for the unfunded agencies that also allowed another month of debate on border security funding. It seems unlikely that the Senate will vote on the proposal and even more unlikely to receive a signature from the President. Read more about the appropriations bills important to social and behavioral science and the already finalized FY 2019 appropriations on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 8), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

White House Releases STEM Education Strategic Plan

On December 4, the White House released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, a strategic plan developed with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council Committee on STEM Education. The five-year strategic plan seeks to ensure all Americans have access to quality education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Goals include building a strong foundation of STEM literacy, increasing diversity in STEM, and preparing the STEM workforce of the future. The plan lays out pathways to these goals, including developing strategic STEM partnerships, engaging students at the convergence of multiple disciplines, and advancing computational thinking. More information and quick facts about the plan are available on the White House’s website.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Save the Date: Social Science Advocacy Day 2019

COSSA’s annual Social Science Advocacy Day, the only annual, coordinated advocacy day in support of all of the social and behavioral sciences, will take place on April 30 and May 1, 2019. Open exclusively to participants affiliated with COSSA member organizations and universities, Social Science Advocacy Day brings together social scientists and other science advocates from across the country to engage with policymakers in Washington, DC.

COSSA provides in-depth training and logistical support (including scheduling meetings with Congressional offices and providing an on-call expert to answer day-of policy questions), as well as polished, up-to-date materials to help advocates bring their message to Capitol Hill. Participants are teamed up with other advocates from their area and partnered with experienced government relations professionals who will guide them through their meetings with members of Congress and staff. Watch for more details in the COSSA Washington Update and on the Advocacy Day webpage.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 27), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

President Appoints Five New Members of the National Science Board, Reappoints Two Members

On November 5, President Trump announced his intent to make five appointments to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The selections include reappointments of former NSB chair Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon. Two of the new appointees, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard, have backgrounds in the private sector. Dr. Stern is considered to be a champion of commercial space activities and has worked for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Mr. Willard is currently the CEO of a biotechnology firm after earlier careers in law and investment banking. The three other appointees will join the NSB from universities. Steven Leath is currently the President of Auburn University, after a career in agricultural research; Suresh Garimella is a professor of mechanical engineering and former vice president for research at Perdue University; and Maureen Condic is on faculty at the University of Utah and has focused her work on human neurological development, including testifying before congress on the ability of fetuses to experience pain during early stages of development and opposing research on embryonic stem cells.

Board members are nominated by the President to serve six-year terms, with the opportunity for renewal. In addition to Drs. Zuber and Richmond, the terms of six members of the NSB expired in May, meaning that education researcher Deborah Ball, internet founder Vinton Cerf, and four other NSB members were not selected for renewal. The NSB will hold its first meeting with the new appointees on November 28 and 29.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Introducing HEADLINES: A Monthly Look at What’s New and Noteworthy in Social Science Policy

headlines bannerCOSSA is excited to announce its newest program, exclusively for membersHeadlines: A monthly look at what’s new and noteworthy in social science policy. Launching in November, Headlines will be a monthly webchat in which members will learn about the latest policy and funding developments impacting social science research. The COSSA team, joined by periodic special guests, will take participants behind the headlines and explain what they need to know. COSSA is excited to offer this interactive space for members to get the policy-related information they need when they need it.

The first edition of Headlines will be two days after the midterm elections for a discussion on the “2018 Midterm Election Results and What’s Next for Social Science Funding and Policy.” During this webchat, COSSA will recap the results of the 2018 midterm elections, including the notable winners and losers, changes in Congressional leadership, and how the results will affect the Congressional committees overseeing social science funding and policy. Presenters will also look ahead and share our outlook for what to expect in the coming months and answer questions. COSSA members can register here to attend November’s monthly webchat.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Endorses Bill to Combat Sexual Harassment in Science

On October 2, COSSA released a statement in support of H.R. 7031, the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2018. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, would provide funding to the National Science Foundation to establish a grant program to study the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in the scientific workforce, efficacy of interventions, and methods of remediating the negative impacts of sexual harassment. This legislation would also direct data collection about sexual harassment in science and establish and interagency working group to address this important issue. Read the full statement on COSSA’s website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 16), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeks Nominations for the 2019 Alan T. Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor awarded by the NSF to early-career researchers. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher, 40 years of age or younger or no more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D., in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice. Psychologist Kristina R. Olson received the 2018 Waterman award and was the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005. More information can be found on the NSF website. Nominations may be submitted until October 22, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Social Psychologists Among 2018 Golden Goose Award Recipients

The seventh annual Golden Goose Award Ceremony was held on September 13 in Washington, DC to honor seemingly obscure federally funded research that resulted in “tremendous human and economic benefit.” Many members of Congress joined the honorees in recognizing the importance of federal-funded scientific research including Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The honorees included the social and behavioral scientists that pioneered the study of implicit bias and the Implicit Association Test. More information about the award, videos of the honorees, and complete coverage of the event can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 18), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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