Rotator Programs

Take advantage of a rare opportunity to have an impact on science research and funding in a temporary or rotator position at NSF.

NSF offers a chance for scientists, engineers, and educators to join us as temporary program directors - called rotators. Rotators make recommendations about which proposals to fund; influence new directions in the fields of science, engineering, and education; support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research; and mentor junior research members. As a rotator, you will be in a prime position to collaborate with others and increase your visibility as you survey the entire breadth of U.S. and international science, engineering, and education in real time. In addition, as a temporary program director, you can retain your ties to your current institution and return to it with new insights and experience for your team.

You can become a rotator either as a Visiting Scientist, Engineer, and Educator (VSEE) or as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignee. While rotators can come on temporary assignment under the IPA program for up to four years, most rotating assignments last one to two years.

Visiting Scientist, Engineer and Educator (VSEE) Program

Individuals appointed to the VSEE program are on a non-paid leave of absence from their institution

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignments

Incoming IPA assignments are funded through grants to the institution as reimbursement for salary and benefits.

Rotator Frequently Asked Questions

Program Directors oversee the National Science Foundation's "gold standard" merit review process and may help define new funding opportunities. Key responsibilities include interacting with potential principal investigators, forming and facilitating merit review panels, and recommending funding decisions. Program Directors have the opportunity to be involved with a broad spectrum of national scientific programs and initiatives that ultimately increase intellectual awareness and enhance professional growth.

NSF cannot offer direct service in locating housing for its rotators. NSF does provide housing information and local county information, available on the Local Area Information page.

NSF has an Independent Research/Development (IR/D) program that permits individuals with approved IR/D plans to maintain involvement with their professional research. IR/D plans might include time, travel expenses, and research costs, and must be approved in advance (typically annually) by the supervisor and the human resources and legal staffs.

You can only submit a proposal for NSF funds if it is a continuation or extension of previously funded NSF work. Certain other restrictions may apply.

You can apply for funding from other federal agencies if those agencies permit; however, NSF does place some restrictions on such funding. If you wish to pursue such funding, contact your NSF Conflict of Interest Official for further guidance.

You can apply the very next day as the principal investigator, as long as you assign a substitute negotiator for one year.