Strong Interest in DOE, NSF Initiatives

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Publication date: 
4 August 2009

Recent announcements from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation are indicative of the strong interest there is in two initiatives: a National Science Foundation academic research infrastructure program and the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy.  DOE and NSF will make their final reviews of proposals later this year, with the National Science Foundation asking for the assistance of the science community.

National Science Foundation:

The National Science Foundation received $3.0 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Of this, $200 million was allocated for the Academic Research Infrastructure Program that will be used for, as an NSF document explains, “the repair, renovation, or in exceptional cases, the replacement of existing research facilities.”  NSF anticipates that 100 - 120 awards will be made ranging from $250,000 to $10 million.

The foundation estimated in 2005 that there was $3.6 billion in deferred repair or renovation projects in academic institutions.

Letters of intent were due to the foundation by July 1.  In response to the widespread interest there was in this program, the NSF issued the following letter:

July 31, 2009

Dear Colleagues

The National Science Foundation is requesting merit review expertise in the Academic Research Infrastructure – Recover and Reinvestment (ARI-R2) program ( This program is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

ARI-R2 is designed to support 21st century research and research training infrastructure in our Nation's academic institutions and non-profit research organizations, such as research museums, research laboratories, and research consortia. ARI-R2 will revitalize existing research facilities so that they provide next-generation research infrastructure and facilitate the integration of researchers with shared resources such as remote instruments and research platforms, data repositories, and national computing facilities. Research facilities are shared space where sponsored and/or unsponsored research activities and research training take place. They may be ‘bricks and mortar,’ mobile or virtual research space.

The National Science Foundation is in need of expertise in a wide range of fields to evaluate the proposals submitted to this competition. NSF is in need of reviewers in three broad categories: a) expertise in a scientific, engineering or architecture field, b) experience in managing large facilities and centers, or c) expertise in computer networking; it is not expected that individuals will have competence in all categories. The merit review panels for this activity will be held during three weeks in October, 2009. Each panelist will be asked to commit up to 3 days to serve on a panel at NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA.  Travel expenses, per diem and an honorarium will be provided for your services.

If you have an interest in participating in the merit review process of this important program and have the time to serve on a panel in October, 2009, please go to
    and complete and submit the short form indicating your field of expertise and availability.

Thank you for contributing your time and attention to this critical program in the revitalization of United States research resources.


Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy:

Last week the Department of Energy announced it had evaluated 3,500 Concept Papers that were submitted following the release of an April 27  Funding Opportunity Announcement [FOA].  DOE sent feedback to the applicants last week.  A Full Application must be submitted by August 28.    Selections will be made by “mid fall.”

It is expected that a second Funding Opportunity Announcement will be made, according to DOE, “in the near future, with others to follow.”

The ARPA-E announcement noted “The large number of submissions - ‘Concept Papers’ -  for ARPA-E's initial FOA outstripped the expectations of industry observers and highlights America's capacity for Energy technology innovation that can be applied to transformational research and development (R&D).”

ARPA-E is modeled on DARPA, and was established by The America COMPETES Act.  It  was one of the recommendations in the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report, and was proposed in several bills before its incorporation in the COMPETES legislation.  The FY 2009 omnibus funding bill enacted after President Obama’s inauguration provided $15 million to establish ARPA-E.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided an additional  $400 million.  Further information about the agency can be reviewed here.