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NSF Backgrounder


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 Bill Noxon

 (703) 292-7750

NSF Fiscal 2005 Budget Priority Areas

February 2, 2004

Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE). This priority research area seeks a more complete understanding of the dynamic interactions of living things and physical processes in the environment. Many of these interdisciplinary studies integrate human and social factors. New tools, such as genomics and sensor networks, will be developed and used to probe the environment from the molecular to the global level. The results will improve our ability to anticipate environmental change and to use new technology to sustain life on Earth.

An important new emphasis in BE for fiscal year 2005 will be research on the complex interactions between freshwater and the rest of the environment. The biocomplexity of these systems will be considered at small scales - at the level of aquatic organisms and their effect on water flow and safety, for example - and at larger scales, such as the influence of climate variability on aquatic ecosystem function.

Budget details. The fiscal 2005 budget request of almost $100 million maintains the anticipated 2004 funding level.

Human and Social Dynamics (HSD). The many scientific breakthroughs and unprecedented growth in new technologies during the 20th century transformed everyday life. The arrival of the new century brought with it new hopes and possibilities for better living, but also the prospect of an even faster rate of change, uncertainty and disruption in peoples' lives. Our understanding of human and social functioning has not kept pace with the changing world around us.

HSD research will develop and apply multidisciplinary approaches to answer questions about how people and institutions respond to, and are influenced by, new knowledge and technologies. The goal is to improve our understanding of the dynamics underlying these complex interdependencies that are essential for our nation's progress and well-being. These new approaches, many made possible by recently acquired knowledge and new technologies, provide the tools and techniques needed to expand this understanding.

Budget details. In fiscal 2005, NSF plans to invest $23.25 million in interdisciplinary research on Human and Social Dynamics with special attention to: the agents of change; dynamics of human behavior; decision-making under uncertainty; spatial social science; modeling human and social dynamics; and instrumentation and data resource development.

Mathematical Sciences. The fundamental mathematical sciences embracing mathematics and statistics are essential for research progress across disciplines and for training a mathematically literate workforce for the future. Technology-based industries that help fuel the growth of the U.S. economy are increasingly dependent upon a workforce with mathematical and statistical skills and an understanding of science and engineering principles.

NSF will continue to expand this priority area, focusing on interdisciplinary efforts in all areas of science, engineering and education.

Budget details. NSF plans to invest $89.11 million for fiscal 2005, about level with 2004. Areas explored will be fundamental mathematical and statistical sciences, interdisciplinary research connecting the mathematical sciences with science and engineering and mathematical sciences education. Funding in cross-cutting research will include $70 million in the mathematical and physical sciences and $19.11 million across other NSF research directorates and offices.

Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NS&E). A nanometer (one-billionth of a meter) is to an inch what an inch is to 400 miles. With the capacity to manipulate matter at that scale, revolutionary advances are being realized in such areas as individualized pharmaceuticals, new drug delivery systems, more resilient materials and fabrics, catalysts for industry and order-of-magnitude faster computer chips.

As the lead agency in the government's National Nanotechnology Initiative, NSF has been a pioneer in fostering the development of nanoscale science, engineering and technology. In fiscal 2005, research will focus on developing and strengthening critical fields including nanobiotechnology, manufacturing, instrumentation and catalysis at the nanoscale.

Budget details. In fiscal 2005, NSF's request for $305 million will fund continued and emerging fundamental research and education, expand research infrastructure, and develop the nanotechnology workforce. The 2005 request, $50 million higher than the expected allocation in 2004, also includes funding for nanotechnology research and education centers that focus on electronics, biology, optoelectronics, modeling and simulation, and advanced materials and engineering. NSF will support at least two new centers in 2005.

Workforce for the 21st Century. This priority area aims to strengthen the nation's capacity to produce world-class scientists and engineers and a general workforce with the science, engineering, mathematics and technology skills to thrive in the 21st Century workplace. Funding will support innovations to integrate NSF's education investments at all levels, K-12 through postdoctoral level, as well as attract more U.S. students into science and engineering fields and broaden participation.

Budget details. In fiscal 2005, NSF will invest $20 million in this priority area for collaborations based on many current successful programs. New investments will begin in Integrative Institutional Collaborations and Workforce Research grants.



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