Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Mid-Career Advancement Program Solicitation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a solicitation for the new Mid-Career Advancement (MCA) program.  NSF recognizes that while the mid-career timeframe is essential for advancing research, many faculty have to balance research with other demands, such as teaching and service activities.  Through this solicitation, NSF intends to support “protected time” to mid-career researchers at the Associate Professor rank (or equivalent) to substantively advance their research through partnerships at institutions outside of their own.  The MCA is NSF’s only cross-directorate program focused on advancing the research needs of mid-career faculty.  Directorates participating in the MCA include Biological Sciences (BIO); Education and Human Resources (EHR); Engineering (ENG); Geosciences (GEO); and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

MCA proposals must include details on the mid-career faculty’s past research, proposed research advancement plan, and long-term career goals.  Successful proposals will demonstrate that the faculty member’s research “could substantively benefit from the protected time, mentored partnership(s), and resources provided through this special program, such that there is a substantial enhancement to the PI’s research and career trajectory, enabling scientific and academic advancement not likely without this support.”  Proposals are encouraged, but not required, to include partnerships outside of the principal investigator’s (PI) discipline, provide new insights to existing problems, or identify new, previously inaccessible problems in need of expertise from another field.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant program officer to discuss their proposal prior to submission to the MCA program.

NSF intends to utilize the MCA’s re-investment in mid-career faculty to broaden participation in academic leadership of the scientific workforce by facilitating time for research productivity.  Women, under-represented minorities, and people with disabilities are encouraged to submit proposals.  This solicitation is reflective of NSF’s commitment to broadening participation in the scientific workforce and aligns with NSF Director Panchanathan’s desire to create a “robust and diverse STEM workforcein order to maintain America’s historical preeminence in the STEM fields.”

Due Date: Proposals are due February 1, 2021 and the first Monday in February each year after.

Award Information: NSF anticipates making between $14 and $18 million available for 35-45 awards.

Eligibility: Two-and four-year U.S. based institutions of higher education are eligible to apply.  Non-profit, non-academic institutions, such as professional societies and research labs, are also eligible.  PIs must have been at the Associate Professor (or equivalent) rank for three years at the time of proposal submission.

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