National Science Foundation
5 PM EST August 9, 2017 (Second Wednesday in August, Annually Thereafter)
With the goal of encouraging research independence immediately upon obtaining one’s first academic position after receipt of the PhD, the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) will award grants to initiate the course of one’s independent research. Understanding the critical role of establishing that independence early in one’s career, it is expected that funds will be used to support untenured faculty or research scientists (or equivalent) in their first three years in a primary academic position after the PhD, but not more than a total of five years after completion of their PhD. One may not yet have received any other grants or contracts in the Principal Investigator (PI) role from any department, agency, or institution of the federal government, including from the CAREER program or any other program, post-PhD, regardless of the size of the grant or contract, with certain exceptions noted below. Serving as co-PI, Senior Personnel, Postdoctoral Fellow, or other Fellow does not count against this eligibility rule. Grants, contracts, or gifts from private companies or foundations; state, local, or tribal governments; or universities do not count against this eligibility rule.
It is expected that these funds will allow the new CISE Research Initiation Initiative PI to support one or more graduate students for up to two years. Faculty at undergraduate and two-year institutions may use funds to support undergraduate students, and may use the additional RUI designation (which requires inclusion of a RUI Impact Statement) — see https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5518 for additional information. In addition, submissions from all institutions may use funds for postdoctoral scholars, travel, and/or research equipment.
Only one principal investigator per proposal is allowed; co-principal investigators and senior personnel are not permitted.
A PI may submit one proposal per annual competition. In addition, a Principal Investigator may not participate in more than two CRII competitions. Proposals that are not reviewed (i.e., are withdrawn before review or are returned without review) do not count toward the two-competition limit.
All the following criteria must be met as of the submission deadline. The PI should:
- Hold a primary appointment (or if applying to the CISE Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, hold a full- or part-time appointment) in computer and/or information science and/or engineering, or in a related field of computational or data science (where the PI would normally submit proposals to CISE programs);
- Be untenured; and
- Be in the first three years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent). The number of years includes any academic position held post-PhD, exclusive of postdoctoral appointments. Only official leaves of absence (for illness, family, etc.) may be subtracted from the total time in the position, as certified by the PI’s department chair/head in the required letter of support, to be included in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.
In addition, as of the submission deadline, the PI may not have received any other grants or contracts in the PI role from any department, agency, or institution of the federal government. (One could have received an award as a co-PI or Senior Personnel on another grant or contract.) The following are the only exceptions to the limits on funding from the federal government in the PI role:
- Workshop or student conference travel awards;
- Doctoral dissertation improvement grants;
- Postdoctoral research fellowship awards, such as SEES Fellows or CI Fellows;
- A Graduate Research Fellowship or similar fellowship award from NSF;
- REU or RET awards; and
- SBIR or STTR awards that were received while the PI worked in industry.
Positions with titles such as Visiting Assistant Professor are considered as postdoctoral appointments, and hence not considered against the three-year limit, only if all of the following are true: (1) the position is not tenure-track; (2) someone in that position is not permitted by the institution to submit a proposal as a PI; and (3) the position is supervised by another faculty member in a fashion similar to that of a postdoctoral fellow. In this case, the department chair/head letter should explicitly describe any such positions and their conditions.
Similarly, positions with titles such as Research Associate or Visiting Research Professor do not count against the three-year limit only if all of the following are true: (1) the position is not tenure-track; (2) someone in that position is not permitted by the institution to submit a proposal as a PI; and (3) the person is supervised by another member of the research staff in a fashion similar to that of a researcher without a PhD. In this case, the department chair/head letter should explicitly describe any such positions and their conditions.
Regardless of time spent in postdoctoral positions, time outside academia, or other time, the PI must be no more than five years since PhD granting. Exceptions may be granted only in cases of family or medical leave; consult with an NSF program officer for details.
CISE expects to make 55 to 60 awards each year. CISE expects the total funding to be up to $10 million each year, subject to the availability of funds.
Link to Full RFP: