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Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 21-623 and NSF 21-621 for the latest documents.

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.


The goals of the NSF Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program are:

  • To promote scientific research in geography and the spatial sciences that advances theory and basic understanding and that addresses the challenges facing society
  • To promote the integration of geographers and spatial scientists in interdisciplinary research
  • To promote education and training of geographers and spatial scientists in order to enhance the capabilities of current and future generations of researchers
  • To promote the development and use of scientific methods and tools for geographic research

The Geography and Spatial Sciences Program sponsors research on the geographic distributions and interactions of human, physical, and biotic systems on the Earth's surface. Investigations are encouraged into the nature, causes, and consequences of human activity and natural environmental processes across a range of scales. Projects on a variety of topics (both domestic and international) qualify for support if they offer promise of contributing to scholarship by enhancing geographical knowledge, concepts, theories, methods, and their application to societal problems and concerns. GSS encourages projects that explicitly integrate undergraduate and graduate education into the overall research agenda.

Proposals submitted for consideration by the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program at NSF tend to be most competitive if the research is grounded in relevant geographical theory, if it focuses on one or a few core questions grounded in the theoretical framework that has been established, if it articulates how scientifically sound methods will be used to explore the validity of answers to the core questions, and if the results are likely to contribute not only specific answers to those specific questions but also to the enhancement of broader geographic and/or spatial scientific theory.  The project can draw on and contribute to theory in other fields, too, but to obtain at least some funding from GSS, efforts should be made to enhance fundamental geographic theory, and the investigators should plan to disseminate their results through presentations and publications for geographers and spatial scientists as well as other relevant communities.

GSS frequently engages in joint review of regular research proposals with other NSF programs.  Such joint review entails multiple programs coordinating the review of a single project proposal submitted to NSF.  Efforts are made to enable such joint review to provide "double opportunity" rather than "double jeopardy" for applicants, because a single program can provide support for proposed work it  finds meritorious even if other programs are not as enthusiastic about the proposed work.  Investigators who believe that their work might be appropriate for joint review are encouraged to contact program officers for all programs they think might have interest in their work well in advance of proposal-submission target dates or deadlines in order to assess whether joint review may be a viable option and to write their proposal accordingly.

GSS conducts two competitions for regular research proposals each year.  Target dates for these competitions are January 15 and August 15.  While GSS program directors hope most proposals are submitted on or very close to those dates, they intend to include proposals submitted within two weeks following the target date of the competition.  Proposals submitted more than two weeks after the target date will be evaluated only if prior arrangements have been made with a GSS program director.  Note that the deadline dates listed on the "Due Dates" listing above do NOT apply to regular research proposals; those deadline dates identify strict deadlines for Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) proposals.

Related Funding Opportunities

Related funding opportunities are available for geographers, spatial scientists, and related scholars. For more information about these opportunities, visit the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (SMA) webpage. Here, you will find a brief synopsis about other programs, as well as links guiding you to the appropriate program solicitations.

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) Awards

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Awards are made by the Geography and Spatial Sciences program. Consult the SBE Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) Grants solicitation and the Geography and Spatial Sciences DDRI specifics page.

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Regular proposals submitted to the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program should be fully compliant with specifications in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). DDRI proposals should be prepared in accordance with the terms of the GPG except for the modifications specified in the SBE DDRI solicitation and the GSS DDRI specifics page.

Proposal Review Process

Regular proposals usually are sent to five or more outside reviewers and are evaluated by at least two members of the GSS Advisory Panel (18 eminent geographers and spatial scientists representing all major subfields). DDRI proposals are evaluated by three members of the DDRI Advisory Panel (18 panelists). All reviews and panel recommendations are advisory to the GSS program directors. Proposals normally will have at least three written reviews, which are forwarded (in anonymous form) with panel summaries to the PI.



Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Thomas J. Baerwald-Program Director
Program Director
tbaerwal@nsf.gov (703) 292-7301
David McGinnis-Program Director
Program Director
dmcginni@nsf.gov (703) 292-7307
Antoinette WinklerPrins-Program Dir.
anwinkle@nsf.gov (703) 292-4995 SBE/BCS

Awards made through this program

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Map of recent awards made through this program