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Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) is NSF’s bold five-year initiative to create revolutionary science and engineering research outcomes made possible by innovations and advances in computational thinking.  Computational thinking is defined comprehensively to encompass computational concepts, methods, models, algorithms, and tools.   Applied in challenging science and engineering research and education contexts, computational thinking promises a profound impact on the Nation’s ability to generate and apply new knowledge.  Collectively, CDI research outcomes are expected to produce paradigm shifts in our understanding of a wide range of science and engineering phenomena and socio-technical innovations that create new wealth and enhance the national quality of life. 

CDI seeks ambitious, transformative, multidisciplinary research proposals within or across the following three thematic areas:  

  • From Data to Knowledge: enhancing human cognition and generating new knowledge from a wealth of heterogeneous digital data;
  • Understanding Complexity in Natural, Built, and Social Systems: deriving fundamental insights on systems comprising multiple interacting elements;  and
  • Virtual Organizations: enhancing discovery and innovation by bringing people and resources together across institutional, geographical and cultural boundaries

With an emphasis on bold multidisciplinary activities that, through computational thinking, promise radical, paradigm-changing research findings, CDI promotes transformative research within NSF.  Accordingly, investigators are encouraged to come together in the development of far-reaching, high-risk science and engineering research and education agendas that capitalize on innovations in, and/or innovative use of, computational thinking.  Research and education efforts around the world are beginning to address various aspects of the CDI themes, and CDI projects are expected to build upon productive intellectual partnerships involving investigators from academe, industry and/or other types of organizations, including international entities, that advance CDI objectives within the rapidly evolving global context. 

Congruent with the three thematic areas, CDI projects will enable transformative discovery to identify patterns and structures in massive datasets; exploit computation as a means of achieving deeper understanding in the natural and social sciences and engineering; abstract, model, simulate and predict complex stochastic or chaotic systems; explore and model nature’s interactions, connections, complex relations, and interdependencies, scaling from sub-particles to galactic, from subcellular to biosphere, and from the individual to the societal; train future generations of scientists and engineers to enhance and use cyber resources; and facilitate creative, cyber-enabled boundary-crossing collaborations, including those with industrial and international dimensions, to advance the frontiers of science and engineering and broaden participation in STEM fields. 

Two types of CDI awards will be supported as a result of the FY 2011 CDI competition:

  • Type I awards will require efforts up to a level roughly comparable to: summer support for two investigators with complementary expertise; two graduate students; and their collective research needs (e.g. materials, supplies, travel) for three years.
  • Type II awards will require larger (than Type I) efforts up to a level roughly comparable to: summer support for three investigators with complementary expertise; three graduate students; one or two senior personnel (including post-doctoral researchers and staff); and their collective research needs (e.g. materials, supplies, travel) for four years.  The integrative contributions of the Type II team should clearly be greater than the sum of the contributions of each individual member of the team.

Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Drs. Misawa, Russell, and Whang are being assisted by a multidisciplinary team of Program Officers drawn from throughout NSF.  CDI team members include: Maria Burka (ENG/CBET), John Cherniavsky (EHR/OAD), Fahmida Chowdhury (SBE/OAD), James Deshler (BIO/IOS), Evelyn Goldfield (MPS/CHE), David Inouye (BIO/DEB), Anita La Salle (CISE/CNS), Peter Milne (OD/OPP), Therese Moretto Jorgensen (GEO/AGS), Manish Parashar (OD/OCI), Jennifer Pearl (OD/OISE), Benjamin Phillips (GEO/EAR), Andrew Pollington (MPS/DMS), Jennifer Schopf (OD/OIA), Elizabeth Tran (SBE/OAD), and Susan Winter (OD/OCI).
Eduardo Misawa
cdi@nsf.gov (703) 292-8080 OD
Thomas Russell
cdi@nsf.gov (703) 292-8080
Kenneth Whang
cdi@nsf.gov (703) 292-8080 CISE/IIS

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