National Science Foundation: Strengthening American Infrastructure
Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI) is an NSF program seeking to stimulate human-centered fundamental and potentially transformative research aimed at strengthening America’s infrastructure. Effective infrastructure provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitality and broad improvement in quality of life. 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. SAI focuses on how fundamental knowledge about human reasoning and decision-making, governance, and social and cultural processes enables the building and maintenance of effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.
This solicitation offers support for research projects that will bring together experts from one or more of the social, behavioral and economic (SBE) science disciplines with experts across other scientific and engineering disciplines to support substantial and potentially pathbreaking fundamental research. Submitted projects must be grounded in user-centered concepts and offer the potential to substantially improve, strengthen and transform the design, development, use, deployment, cost-effectiveness, sustainability and maintenance of American infrastructure.
Proposals must bring deep expertise in at least one SBE disciplinary program area, and provide details on how such SBE disciplinary expertise and leadership will contribute to strengthening American infrastructure. Proposals must also bring relevant expertise in the focal infrastructure, which is likely to be in one or more research areas represented in the programs supported by the NSF Office of Integrated Activities (OIA) or the other participating NSF directorates (Biological Sciences (BIO), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), STEM Education (EDU), Engineering (ENG), Geosciences (GEO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP)). Proposals must describe how this diverse expertise will be integrated and applied to the specific infrastructure that is the focus of the proposed research.
Successful proposals will demonstrate an interdisciplinary and convergent approach beyond that of any single NSF program, division or directorate, and will seek to advance both the SBE fields as well as the partnering fields in which they are based.
For the purpose of this solicitation, the focal infrastructure of the proposed research may be of any kind, including physical, cyber, biological, technological, social, economic or educational. However, the proposal must identify a specific, focal and well-defined infrastructure. Proposals must exhibit and build on a deep understanding of at least one SBE science relevant to the design, development or sustainability of the focal infrastructure. These sciences may include those of human cognition, perception, information processing, decision-making processes, social and cultural behavior, legal frameworks, governmental structures and other areas of SBE science supported in the disciplinary programs of the SBE directorate.
Proposals are encouraged to include consideration of modeling approaches of both the underlying human processes and the identified infrastructure.
Quantitative and predictive models can be used to compare alternative infrastructure approaches, as well as to advance improved dynamical systems.
Proposals must also include expertise in the focal infrastructure along with relevant areas of research supported by at least one of the other participating directorates or offices listed at the top of the solicitation.
The long-term aim of proposed research should be to understand how to better develop, design, build, rehabilitate and maintain strong and effective American infrastructure, and not solely on the social, behavioral or economic impacts of infrastructure. Proposals that include development of new or improved performance metrics that can help stakeholders more effectively and efficiently assess infrastructure usability, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, resilience or adaptability to changing circumstances are also encouraged.
NSF welcomes and encourages proposals that include efforts to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in STEM (including women, minorities and persons with disabilities) and underrepresented regions in the development and conduct of the research. Proposals from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are highly encouraged, as are opportunities for participation by undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, K-12 students, industry stakeholders and others. Public-private partnerships can also be proposed.
Proposals should focus on infrastructure that produces broad societal impact, such as those that support transportation, energy, water, information, computing, national security, buildings, conservation, and commerce. Areas that present the greatest societal challenges are of special interest, including equitable access to and benefit from infrastructure, sustainability, climate impact and disaster mitigation, economic resilience, emerging technologies, and future safety, productivity and security for all citizens.
Pursuing a convergent research approach, projects should apply knowledge, techniques and expertise from multiple fields and sectors to create new frameworks and expand existing frameworks for addressing the research goals. The proposal should describe the symbiosis within the multidisciplinary team, including stakeholders in the infrastructure context, and how the team will collaborate. Projects will advance the basic science supporting improved infrastructure planning, development and implementation. They will also include tests or demonstrations of feasibility with infrastructure stakeholders and testbeds.
Planning and conference proposals are no longer accepted by this program.
Note: Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted.
Amount: An estimated $9,600,000 is available to make 15 awards of up to $750,000 each for a period of up to three years.
Eligibility: Eligible applicants include Non-profit, non-academic organizations such as Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities; Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) including Two- and four-year IHEs located in the US, and with campuses outside the US in some cases.
Who may serve as PI: PIs must hold appointments at U.S.-based campuses/offices of eligible organizations (IHEs or Non-profit, non-academic organizations). There are no restrictions on who may serve as co-PIs, Senior Personnel or Consultant.
For collaborative proposals involving multiple institutions, the proposal must be submitted by one lead institution with funding for all other participating institutions made through subawards.
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