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Barbara Ruland
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Funding Opportunity: NSF Issues Dear Colleague Letter – Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI)

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – November 6, 2020

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) announcing funding for transformative research that strengthens America’s infrastructure. Specifically, this DCL seeks to build research capacity that can address challenging infrastructure contexts that require a human and social centered approach. This program is expected to be an enduring priority for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate, which leads the competition with support from seven additional NSF directorates. The proposals should include a central focus on at least one SBE program area with the lead principle investigator being an expert in social, behavioral, or economic science and must demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach beyond that of any single program or NSF Directorate.

According to the DCL, effective infrastructure includes physical, cyber, and social systems, and provides a strong foundation for socioeconomic vitality and broad improvement in quality of life. NSF seeks expertise from across the science and engineering disciplines and emphasizes that “knowledge of human reasoning and decision making, governance, and social and cultural processes are essential to efforts to envision, build, and maintain an effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.” This DCL invites both Conference and Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that incorporate scientific insights about human behavior and social dynamics to better develop, design, build, rehabilitate, and maintain strong and effective American infrastructure.

In particular, NSF is interested in proposals that “integrate a deep understanding of human cognition, perception, information processing, decision making, social and cultural behavior, legal frameworks, governmental structures, and related areas into the design, development, and sustainability of infrastructure.” Additionally, NSF is interested in proposals that include the development of new or improved performance metrics that can assist stakeholders to “more effectively and efficiently assess infrastructure usability, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, resilience, and adaptability to changing circumstances.”

Due Dates: Conference proposal must be submitted by November 30, 2020. For EAGER propels, concept outlines must be submitted by December 11, 2020 (earlier if possible). NSF Program Directors will review the research concept outlines and will authorize those that fall within the scope of this DCL for submission of a full EAGER proposal. Full proposal submissions are due January 15, 2021.

Award Information: Conference awards made under this DCL will be funded at up to $50,000 for one year. EAGER awards made under this DCL will be funded at up to $300,000 over two years.

Eligibility: All institutions eligible to submit proposals to NSF are eligible to apply to this solicitation. Diverse research teams and proposals from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are encouraged to apply.

Sources and Additional Information:
• The full DCL can be found at:

• A list of SBE program areas can be found at:

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