Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks Solicitation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a new cross-agency solicitation for Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks (SRS RNs) to advance convergent science, engineering, and education research to create more sustainable regional systems.  The Research Networks will seek understanding of the connections between rural and urban communities integrating data collection, outcomes, theories of change, generalizable theories, modeling, stakeholder participation, and equity analyses to advance sustainable connections between the natural and built environments as well as the social systems that work through them.  Information generated by SRS RNs will help to inform decision making for sustainable improvements of regional systems including environmental and social equity issues. SRS RNs may study a single urban or metropolitan system and its connected rural regions, multiple urban-rural systems, or an aggregation of connected urban-rural systems.

The solicitation has two tracks:

  1. SRS RNs Full Scale Awards (Track 1) will fund up to $15 million over five years for fundamental convergent research, education, and outreach.  Possible elements may include engineering and a variety of environmental topics including, but not limited to, biology, chemistry, atmospheric science, hydrology, recyclable plastics, and geology.  Applicants should also embrace partnerships with universities, local governments, non-profits, and industry.  Successful applications for track one must cover the scope and scale of the project, how the project is an example of convergent research, partnerships and stakeholder engagement plans, a diversity and inclusion strategy, and an education and education evaluation plan.
  2. SRS RNs Planning Grants (Track 2) will fund up to $150,000 for one year for the preparation of a future SRS RN Full Scale project.  Successful applications for Track 2 must cover how the project is an example of convergent research, partnership and stakeholder engagement plans, and a diversity and inclusion strategy.

This solicitation follows release of the NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE) January 2018 report titled Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda which called for additional research into sustainable urban systems.   Following a series of conference and workshop awards, NSF found that there is a need to study the wide-scale systems connecting urban and regional communities, spurring the creation of the SRS RN program.  While NSF has funded several research networks of comparable sizes, SRS RNs are expected to “enable broader, more extensive, and more comprehensive SRS research and education than is currently possible elsewhere in NSF’s portfolio.”

Due Date: Full proposals are due by 5:00 PM submitter’s local time on January 11, 2021.

Eligibility: Institutions of higher education, non-profits, and for-profit organizations are eligible to apply.  There are no limits on the number of proposals that may be submitted per institution.  Partnered institutions should have demonstrable collaboration benefits and early career faculty and students should be encouraged to participate.

 Total Funding and Award Size: NSF anticipates a total of $31 million in funding for this round of the program, supporting three Full Scale Awards (Track 1) and 12-20 Planning Grants (Track 2).

Sources and Additional Information:

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