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Harnessing the Data Revolution : Institutes for Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering - Ideas Labs (I-DIRSE-IL)

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NSF 19-543

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.

Supports intensive interdisciplinary workshops focused on important challenges in data-intensive science and engineering research.

Supports intensive interdisciplinary workshops focused on important challenges in data-intensive science and engineering research.


In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of “Big Ideas,” 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering/Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (CISE/OAC), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Big Idea is a national-scale activity to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will allow fundamental questions to be asked and answered at the frontiers of science and engineering. Through this NSF-wide activity, HDR will generate new knowledge and understanding, and accelerate discovery and innovation. The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of efforts in:

  • Foundations of data science;
  • Algorithms and systems for data science;
  • Data-intensive science and engineering;
  • Data cyberinfrastructure; and
  • Education and workforce development.

Each of these efforts is designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science. The HDR Big Idea will establish theoretical, technical, and ethical frameworks that will be applied to tackle data-intensive problems in science and engineering, contributing to data-driven decision-making that impacts society.

This solicitation describes one or more Ideas Lab(s) on Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering (DIRSE) as part of the HDR Institutes activity.  These Ideas Labs represent one path of a conceptualization phase aimed at developing Institutes as part of the NSF investment in the HDR Big Idea.

The HDR Institutes activity seeks to create an integrated fabric of interrelated institutes that can accelerate discovery and innovation in multiple areas of data-intensive science and engineering. The HDR Institutes will achieve this by harnessing diverse data sources and developing and applying new methodologies, technologies, and infrastructure for data management and analysis. The HDR Institutes will support convergence between science and engineering research communities as well as expertise in data science foundations, systems, applications, and cyberinfrastructure. In addition, the HDR Institutes will enable breakthroughs in science and engineering through collaborative, co-designed programs to formulate innovative data-intensive approaches to address critical national challenges.

HDR Institutes will be developed through a two-phase process involving conceptualization followed by convergence. The conceptualization phase will be implemented in FY 2019 via two complementary funding opportunities. The first opportunity in FY 2019, described in this solicitation, will encourage individuals with compelling data-intensive science and engineering problems and/or technical expertise to self-organize into teams with the aim of developing innovative, collaborative research proposals through an Ideas Lab process. The second opportunity in FY 2019 will encourage applications from teams of researchers proposing frameworks for integrated sets of science and engineering problems and data science solutions. The conceptualization phase will result in two-year awards aimed at building communities, defining research priorities, and developing interdisciplinary prototype solutions.  NSF anticipates implementing the subsequent convergence and co-design phase in the 2021 timeframe with awards that integrate and scale successful prototypes and new ideas into larger, more comprehensive HDR Institutes that bring together multiple science and engineering communities with computer and computational scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, and information scientists around common data science approaches.

The overarching goal of the HDR Institutes DIRSE Ideas Labs is to foster convergent approaches to enable data-intensive research in science and engineering through a series of facilitated activities bringing together scientists and engineers working on important data-intensive science and engineering problems with data scientists, e.g., computer and computational scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, and information scientists with expertise in different aspects of modeling and data analysis as well as systems and cyberinfrastructure specialists with expertise in open source software development, reproducibility, and transfer learning.  The Ideas Labs will focus on areas that: (1) are at a “tipping point” where a timely investment in data-intensive approaches has the maximum potential for a transformative effect; (2) have needs that can benefit from interdisciplinary investments in data analytics infrastructure; and (3) represent investment priorities for NSF science and engineering directorates during, and beyond, the lifetime of the HDR Big Idea. 

US researchers may submit preliminary proposals for participating in the Ideas Labs only via Fastlane.  Based on the number of preliminary proposals and the science and engineering areas and data science expertise represented by the applicant pool, one or more Ideas Labs may be scheduled in parallel. Participation in an Ideas Lab is required to be eligible to submit a full conceptualization proposal pursuant to this solicitation. Multidisciplinary ideas developed in an Ideas Lab will be submitted as full conceptualization proposals to NSF by invitation only. Interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers is required in the invited full conceptualization proposals.

Program contacts

Nandini Kannan
nakannan@nsf.gov (703) 292-8104
Amy Walton
awalton@nsf.gov (703) 292-4538 CISE/OAC
Eva Zanzerkia
ezanzerk@nsf.gov (703) 292-4734 GEO/EAR
Peter H. McCartney
pmccartn@nsf.gov (703) 292-8470
John C. Cherniavsky
jchernia@nsf.gov (703) 292-5136
Cheryl L. Eavey
ceavey@nsf.gov (703) 292-7269 SBE/SES
Anthony Kuh
akuh@nsf.gov (703) 292-2210 ENG/ECCS
Alexis Lewis
alewis@nsf.gov (703) 292-2624 ENG/CMMI
Triantafillos J. Mountziaris
tmountzi@nsf.gov (703) 292-2894
Daryl W. Hess
dhess@nsf.gov (703) 292-4942 MPS/DMR
Larry Gottlob
lgottlob@nsf.gov 7032924383
Lin He
lhe@nsf.gov (703) 292-4956 MPS/CHE
Vyacheslav (Slava) Lukin
vlukin@nsf.gov (703) 292-7382 MPS/PHY
Nigel A. Sharp
nsharp@nsf.gov (703) 292-4905 MPS/PHY
James Donlon
jdonlon@nsf.gov (703) 292-8074 CISE/IIS
Tracy Kimbrel
tkimbrel@nsf.gov (703) 292-8910 CISE/CCF

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