A Periodic Federal Science Update

The Intelligence Advance Research Projects Agency (IARPA) Initiating MATERIAL Research Program:  IARPA is starting a research program called the Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) Program.  MATERIAL is designed to develop an "English-in, English-out" information retrieval system that will retrieve relevant data from a large multilingual repository and display the retrieved information in. The English summaries produced by the system should convey the relevance of the retrieved information to enable an English-speaking user to determine whether the document meets the information needs of the query.  IARPA will host a Proposers' Day Conference for the MATERIAL Program on September 27, 2016, in anticipation of the release of a new solicitation in support of the program. The Conference will be held from 9:00AM to 5:00PM EDT in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  More information on the Conference and this new research initiative can be found here.

Funding Opportunity in Environmental Sustainability Announced by NSFThe goal of the NSF Environmental Sustainability program is to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems.  These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival.  Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society's need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions. There are four principal general research areas that are supported: industrial ecology; green engineering; ecological engineering; and earth systems engineering.  Additional detail on the program can be found here.

Advancing Arctic Research – Interagency Research Plan Released for Review and Comment:  The Obama Administration has just published a draft Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 for public review and comment.  The Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021 (the Plan) is designed to advance understanding of climate and environmental change in Alaska and the Arctic region, and to assess the regional and global impacts on people and communities in order to provide the basis for science-informed decision- and policy-making. The Plan is the responsibility of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and is now available online for public review and comment until August 21, 2016. The Plan has the following goals:

·       Enhance understanding of health determinants, and support efforts that improve the well-being of Arctic residents;

·       Advance process and system understanding of the changing Arctic atmospheric composition and dynamics and resulting changes to surface energy budgets;

·       Enhance understanding and improve predictions of the changing sea-ice cover;

·       Increase understanding of the structure and function of Arctic marine ecosystems and their role in the climate system, and advance predictive capabilities of regional models;

·       Understand and project the mass balance of mountain glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet and the consequences for sea level rise;

·       Advance understanding of processes controlling permafrost dynamics and the impacts on ecosystems, infrastructure, and climate feedbacks;

·       Advance an integrated, landscape-scale understanding of Arctic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and the potential for future change;

·       Strengthen coastal community resilience and advance stewardship of coastal natural and cultural resources by engaging in research related to the connections among people, and natural and built environments; and,

·       Enhance environmental intelligence gathering, interpretation, and application to provide decision support.

The Plan is designed to inform policies associated with enhancing the well-being of Arctic residents, advancing stewardship of the Arctic environment, strengthening national and regional security, and improving understanding of the Arctic.  Additional information can be found here.

White House Arctic Science Ministerial – September 28, 2016On September 28, 2016 the Administration will host the first-ever Arctic Science Ministerial.  The White House Arctic Science Ministerial will bring together ministers of science, chief science advisors, and other high-level officials from countries around the world, as well as representatives from indigenous groups, to expand joint collaborations focused on Arctic science, research, observations, monitoring, and data-sharing. The goals of the event are to advance promising, near-term science initiatives and create a context for increased international scientific collaboration on the Arctic over the longer term.  The Ministerial will focus on four major topics:  arctic science challenges and their regional and global implications; strengthening and integrating arctic observations and data sharing; applying expanded scientific understanding of the Arctic to build regional resilience and shape global responses; and artic science as a vehicle for STEM education and citizen empowerment.  For more information on this event can be found here.

NSF Seeks Expressions of Interest on Providing Marine Seismic Capabilities to the Research Community:  The NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) is seeking expressions of interest regarding the provision of marine seismic capabilities to the U.S. academic research community and Federal and state agencies involved with marine seismic research and exploration programs.  OCE supports a broad portfolio of marine seismic acquisition methods on research vessels of the Academic Research Fleet. The primary seismic acquisition capability used by the U.S. academic community is currently provided by R/V Marcus G. Langseth, a 235-foot vessel owned by the NSF and operated by the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO). On average, the vessel is used by NSF for ~120-150 days per year, with funding from NSF at ~$14M per year, including technical support.

OCE is seeking written expressions of interest regarding new financial and/or managerial models that would provide the marine seismic capabilities to meet the expected needs of academic research scientists. The expressions of interest may be oriented towards but not limited to one or more of the examples presented below, may or may not involve to varying degrees R/V Langseth, and should be cognizant of potential environmental compliance issues. Additionally, the expressions of interest should reflect that OCE anticipates spending an average of ~$8M per year for ship support and ~$2M for technical support, funding permitting, supporting seismic infrastructure that can achieve the scientific goals currently met by the capabilities provided by R/V Langseth.  More information on this can be found here.

NSF Preparing for Competition for the Management and Operation of the National Center for Atmospheric Research:  The Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) in the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is anticipating a competition in 2017 for the management and operation of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). NCAR was established in 1960 in Boulder, Colorado as a center of excellence for research and education in atmospheric science, providing research, facilities and services for the atmospheric and geospace sciences and the wider geosciences community. NCAR is designated as an NSF Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) with approximately 750 full-time equivalent staff. In FY 2015, NCAR’s funding from NSF totaled $111 M, with $98.7 M in base funding and $13.1 M in additional support from other NSF programs. Another approximately $57 M was provided by other federal agencies ($39 M) and non-federal sources ($18 M). The NCAR mission is to understand the behavior of the atmosphere and related Earth and geospace systems; to support, enhance, and extend the capabilities of the university community and the broader science community, nationally and internationally; and to foster the transfer of knowledge and technology for the betterment of life on Earth. This mission is accomplished through scientific research; the development, improvement, and operation of a number of facilities; and educational and outreach programs.

The competition for the management and operation of NCAR will be open to universities or consortia of universities, other not-for-profit or nonprofit organizations, and any industrial firm operating as an autonomous organization or as an identifiable separate non-profit operating unit of a parent organization.  More information on this issue can be found here.

NSF Funding Opportunity in Biomedical Engineering:  The goal of the NSF’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) program is to provide research opportunities to develop novel ideas into discovery-level and transformative projects that integrate engineering and life sciences in solving biomedical problems that serve humanity in the long-term.  BME projects must be at the interface of engineering and life sciences, and advance both engineering and life sciences.  The projects should focus on high impact transformative methods and technologies. Projects should include methods, models and enabling tools of understanding and controlling living systems; fundamental improvements in deriving information from cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems; new approaches to the design of structures and materials for eventual medical use in the long-term; and novel methods for reducing health care costs through new technologies. The long-term impact of the projects can be related to fundamental understanding of cell and tissue function, effective disease diagnosis and/or treatment, improved health care delivery, or product development. Estimated total program funding is $10.4 million.  Proposals are due by October 20, 2016.  More information can be found here.

National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Releases Broad Agency Announcement for FY 2017 for the Director’s Innovation Initiative (DII):  The DII Program emphasizes value added information to pursue the NRO’s strategic goals of providing on-demand worldwide access to intelligence targets of interest, providing data and information on timelines responsive to user needs, and providing capabilities that are unique to the NRO. The DII Program focuses on investigating innovative high payoff technologies for next generation capabilities that get ahead of emerging needs; counter emerging threats and enhance affordability. The DII Program provides developers not traditionally associated with the NRO an opportunity to discover, research, and demonstrate new models, designs, methods, concepts, systems, processes, technologies, techniques and software to satisfy critical intelligence needs. The DII Program funds basic research efforts that substantially enhance mission performance and address the areas of interest listed below:

·       Revolutionary Sensing;

·       Revolutionary Apertures;

·       Revolutionary Design;

·       Sensemaking:

·       Next Generation Analysis;

·       Other Disruptive Concepts and Technology.

The ordering of the areas of interest or associated examples does not indicate any degree of relative importance. The examples are not all-inclusive, and are not intended to limit the breadth of ideas submitted. They are only intended to provide examples of potential topics that fall into each area of interest. For this BAA, the DII Program will consider proposals that address any aspect of the listed areas of interest. All proposals should have the potential to substantially enhance the NRO’s ability to perform its mission and have applicability to critical intelligence problems. For more information consult the BAA.