Dear Colleague Letter: Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) – through its Directorates for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), Engineering (ENG), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Geosciences (GEO), Biological Sciences (BIO), Education and Human Resources (EHR), and the Office of Integrated Activities (OIA) – seeks to stimulate fundamental exploratory, potentially transformative research that strengthens America’s infrastructure. Effective infrastructure, whether it be physical, cyber, or social, provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitality and broad quality of life improvement. Strong, reliable, and effective infrastructure spurs private-sector innovation, grows the economy, creates jobs, makes public-sector service provision more efficient, strengthens communities, promotes equal opportunity, protects the natural environment, enhances national security, and fuels American leadership. To achieve these goals requires expertise from across the science and engineering disciplines. In particular, knowledge of human reasoning and decision making, governance, and social and cultural processes are essential to efforts to envision, build, and maintain an effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.

With this DCL, the NSF seeks to build research capacity that can address challenging infrastructure contexts that require a human- and-social-centered approach. NSF anticipates nurturing and growing a research community in SAI over the longer term. This DCL constitutes the first step in that direction. They invite conference and EAGER proposals that will bring together experts across disciplines to support substantial and potentially pathbreaking, untested fundamental research grounded in user-centered concepts and offering the potential to substantially improve or transform the design, use, development, cost-effectiveness, or maintenance of U.S. infrastructure. These proposals should include a central focus on at least one SBE program area with the lead PI being an expert in social, behavioral, or economic science. Proposals must also demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach beyond that of any single Program or NSF Directorate.

Conference proposals submitted in response to this DCL must be submitted by November 30, 2020. Initial inquiries to NSF-SAI@nsf.gov are encouraged to determine fit.

“EAGER: SAI-E”. Concept outlines should be submitted by December 11, 2020 (earlier if possible).

To read the full DCL, visit the NSF Page.

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