NSF News

New Science and Technology Centers to address vexing societal problems

Today, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced six new Science and Technology Centers to advance ambitious, complex research in fields ranging from mechanobiology to particle physics to climate change. For decades, NSF Science and Technology Centers have transformed cellular biology, combined scientific disciplines to enhance accelerator capabilities, and revolutionized real-time functional imaging by providing the ability to observe the activity of a single atom.

The centers will focus on establishing new scientific disciplines and developing transformative technologies that have the potential for broad impacts on science and society. The centers will shine light on emerging STEM fields to develop a globally competitive STEM infrastructure and conduct outreach to inform the public of breakthrough science.

The six Science and Technology Centers include:

  • NSF Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet will leverage recent advances in analytical and data sciences, incorporate new ocean sampling technologies and an open-science framework, and engage educators and policymakers to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the chemicals and chemical processes that underpin ocean ecosystems and other microbiomes that affect daily life. The center is led by a team of researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; University of Virginia; Columbia University; University of Georgia; Marine Biological Laboratory; Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Stanford University; Boston College; Ohio State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Boston University; University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; and University of Florida.
  • NSF Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand will develop new classes of the optoelectronic materials, devices and system that generate, sense and control light and that are so important to modern information-technology society. The center is led by a team of researchers from the University of Washington; University of Pennsylvania; Lehigh University; City University of New York; Columbia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; University of Chicago; University of Colorado Boulder; University of Maryland, College Park; and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
  • NSF Center for Learning the Earth with Artificial Intelligence and Physics will converge climate science and data science to narrow the range of uncertainty in climate modeling, providing more precise and actionable climate projections that achieve immediate societal impact through cross-sectoral institutional and community partnerships. The center is led by a team of researchers from Columbia University; New York University; University of California, Irvine; University of Minnesota; and Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • NSF Center for Oldest Ice Exploration aims to transform the current understanding of Earth’s climate system by both discovering and recovering some of the oldest ice on the planet. The multidisciplinary team will drive this new science and discovery while building climate literacy and action in classrooms and communities across the United States. The center is led by a team of researchers from Oregon State University; American Meteorological Society; Dartmouth College; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Irvine; University of California, San Diego; the University of Kansas; the University of Maine; The University of Texas, the University of Washington; University of Minnesota Duluth; University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Princeton University; Amherst College; and Brown University.
  • NSF Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability Center will accelerate fundamental scientific discoveries and the development of novel and sustainable technologies and practices to control, recover, reuse and manage phosphorus. The center will use a convergence research approach to integrate highly disparate disciplines across the physical, life, social and economic sciences, while training students to tackle highly complex problems. The center is led by a team of researchers from North Carolina State University; Arizona State University; University of Florida; RTI International; Appalachian State University; Marquette University; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; North Carolina A&T State University; and UNC Greensboro.
  • NSF Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems will generate foundational discoveries and prototype solutions to improve the sustainability, productivity and profitability of crop-based agriculture and the living plant systems upon which humans depend. The center is led by a team of researchers from Cornell University; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; University of Arizona; and Boyce Thompson Institute.

These centers play a fundamental role in engaging, recruiting, retaining and mentoring next generation scientists and engineers from groups underrepresented in STEM. They provide a fertile environment that encourages up and coming STEM professionals, engineers and researchers to be bold in pursuing discoveries and new knowledge throughout their careers. These centers engage in partnerships with higher education institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations, public and private entities and international collaborations.

The Science and Technology Centers Integrative Partnerships program has supported research in areas of national importance since 1987.

Learn more about Science and Technology Centers and search funding awards by visiting NSF.gov.