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   Science Foundation

Where Discoveries Begin.

Established in 1950, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the federal government’s only agency dedicated to the support of education and fundamental research in all scientific and engineering disciplines. Our mission is to ensure that the United States maintains leadership in scientific discovery and the development of new technologies. We have achieved this mission repeatedly over the past 50 years.


NSF-funded research has produced important advances in fields from astronomy to zoology, including:

The Study of Antarctica—Since 1959, this vast, living laboratory has provided insights on the earth’s past, present and future through research on the ozone layer, sea levels, weather patterns, and other forces of nature.

Artificial Skin—This medical discovery speeds healing time and reduces scarring for burn victims.

Advanced Materials—From computer chips to concrete, NSF-funded researchers are finding ways to make tomorrow’s materials stronger, lighter, and more versatile.

Highway Safety—The now-familiar sand-filled yellow barrels on highways, which cushion the impact of crashes, have saved hundreds of lives since their development through an NSF grant.



Plant Biology—Study of the plant Arabidopsis is yielding new informaton on improving plants and crop yields to feed the world’s growing population.


The path to discovery is seldom a straight line. It is a process of trial and error, where patience and vision are essential. With NSF support, scientists and engineers across the nation are exploring the frontiers of our universe, the human body and mind, the cycles of ecosystems, the patterns of climate, and the paths of infectious disease.

NSF is dedicated to education. By increasing access to and improving science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education, NSF encourages students and workers at every level to acquire crucial skills and otherwise enrich their lives.

The returns on these public investments have been enormous. Entire new industries have emerged in communications, biotechnology, agriculture, and other sectors. With these new industries have come greater employment opportunities, increased economic prospects and a quality of life beyond anything imagined 50 years ago.

Discoveries and education opportunities have come about with assistance from the National Science Foundation. In its role of funding and encouraging fundamental research and education, NSF has given the seeds of important ideas a chance to grow. The results are discoveries and innovations that save lives, save time, and one day, may even save planet Earth.