NSF's broad goals for its three American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs -- Research and Related Activities (R&RA), Education and Human Resources (EHR), and Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) -- are derived directly from the purposes and principles expressed in Section 3 of the Act. NSF investments in basic research, education, and research infrastructure will yield new discoveries that will enhance productivity and fuel economic growth for many years to come and contribute to the preparation of a dynamic U.S. workforce. NSF's investments will strengthen fundamental science and engineering research and education, advance discovery and learning, and spur innovations in products and services that create new wealth and contribute to our quality of life. NSF’s Recovery Act awards will have an immediate impact, supporting an estimated additional researchers, educators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students in institutions of higher education and other organizations throughout the Nation.
In the R&RA program, NSF will fund high-risk, potentially transformative research proposals that are already in hand, but otherwise would have been declined due to lack of funds. NSF will also invest in research infrastructure and instrumentation in this program, including awards made through the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and the Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) competitions.
In the EHR Program, NSF will fund awards for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in three programs: the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, the Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP), and a new professional Science Masters Program. The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers in high-need areas throughout the Nation. The Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program aims to enhance schools’ capacity to provide challenging curricula for all students and promote institutional and organizational change from kindergarten through graduate school. The Science Masters professional degree program will provide a three-year professional education to prepare participants for employment in science and engineering industries.
In the MREFC Program, NSF will fund the construction of three major facilities: the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV), and the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The ATST is the first new large solar telescope constructed in nearly 30 years. It will enable scientists to study solar activity and address broad scientific questions, such as: How are cosmic magnetic fields generated? What are the mechanisms responsible for new solar variability (that ultimately affects the Earth)? The ARRV will be the first new NSF ship built since the early 1980s.It is a major federal contribution to academic fleet renewal. The vessel will provide a technologically-advanced, safe, and highly effective oceanographic platform to enable multidisciplinary teams to conduct field research at the ice edge and in seasonal sea ice. The OOI is an integrated observatory network of deep-sea buoys, cables, and sensors to be deployed in critical parts of the U.S. and global coastal ocean. The network’s 24/7 telepresence will capture climate, carbon, ecosystem, and geodynamic changes on the time scales on which they occur, rather than when research vessels are able to be in the area. The network will dramatically alter ocean science by providing the means to collect unique, sustained, time-series data sets that will enable researchers to study complex and interlinked processes throughout the global ocean.