NSF News

New NSF awards support future Centers for Research and Innovation in Science, the Environment and Society

The U.S. National Science Foundation is investing over $1.4 million in projects that can serve as the first steps toward developing large centers for conducting multidisciplinary research activity. To help generate effective and long-lasting solutions that benefit the U.S. public, NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) is supporting planning efforts to inform potential Centers for Research and Innovation in Science, the Environment and Society (CRISES).

Through the CRISES opportunity, center researchers will develop evidence-based solutions that address fundamental quality-of-life issues, such as the environment, sustainability, climate change, community development, social equity, workforce development and human well-being. These one-to-two-year projects bring together experts from numerous disciplines to explore the creation of centers to study and develop solutions to one or more pressing societal issues.

SBE's former assistant director, Kellina Craig-Henderson, initiated the plan for the CRISES funding opportunity to address the need to work across disciplines to produce evidence-based solutions for human-centered problems that confront society. "Researchers funded by this opportunity may come from many disciplines within the social, behavioral and economic sciences, including decision sciences, risk analysis, policy and management studies, economics, psychology, geographic sciences and more," said Sylvia Butterfield, SBE's acting assistant director. "Although they draw from different theoretical perspectives and varied methodological tools, they all strive to improve our understanding of human-centered actions and behaviors."

So far, 13 planning grants and two conference grants have been made, including one planning grant in a state that is part of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, supporting areas in the U.S. that have historically received less federal support for research and development.

Below is a sampling of planning grants awarded in 2023. See a full list of projects funded by the CRISES program to date.

  • University of Delaware researchers will establish a team to draw on social, health and engineering sciences to better understand and forewarn officials, policymakers and the public against unanticipated catastrophic events.
  • University of Tennessee researchers will investigate how extreme weather in the Southeast U.S. disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities. The scientists' plan to improve climate resilience also includes a workforce development plan for underrepresented populations, building a talent pipeline of future climate-resilience leaders.
  • East Carolina University researchers will examine communities experiencing rapid population growth and the associated environmental, economic and social policy responses, focusing their efforts on building resiliency in rapidly developing communities.
  • University of California Los Angeles researchers will bring research communities together to inform the public debate on housing and homelessness.
  • University of Massachusetts researchers will study how climate change impacts lead to disparate quality-of-life outcomes in communities, with an emphasis on climate resilience.
  • Cornell University researchers will focus on building collaborative relationships between civil and public sector stakeholders using New York City as the project's urban laboratory and training center for the next generation of urban climate change researchers.

For more information, visit the Centers for Research and Innovation in Science, the Environment and Society webpage and read the Dear Colleague Letter: Catalyzing Human-Centered Solutions through Research and Innovation in Science, the Environment and Society.