NSF - National Science Foundation

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Introduction to Transformative Research

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As part of the larger Federal research and development effort, NSF has a comprehensive, overarching mandate to help keep all the fields and disciplines of science and engineering research healthy and strong. NSF accomplishes this through programs that support basic research proposed by individual investigators or collaborative groups of investigators. In addition to funding research through core disciplinary programs, NSF also provides support for facilities, equipment, instrumentation, centers of research, and activities such as workshops that help to advance fields of science. Most of the proposals funded by NSF also support the development of the science and engineering workforce through training of undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral scientists.

This "foundational" support of research commonly results in transformative advances within fields of science or engineering. However, NSF also explicitly calls for potentially transformative proposals to help ensure that NSF and the research community maintain a focus on the frontiers of science and engineering. Investigators working at the frontier might need to take high risks in their research. NSF encourages and supports these ventures. As investigators are willing to work at the frontier, NSF and its reviewers must also be supportive of proposals with great potential even though they may challenge current paradigms or otherwise be considered risky.

The purpose of this site is to provide a brief introduction to potentially transformative research and its support at NSF.

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