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A Message from the Director of the National Science Foundation

As 2016 draws to a close, we at NSF are starting to reflect on the special moments of this year. From the detection of gravitational waves initiated by the merger of two black holes 1.3 billion light years away to the celebration of 60 years of science at the South Pole, we have shared with the nation the joy of discovery. NSF’s large facilities are so important because they offer access to scientific exploration of new frontiers. Construction is progressing in earnest at our newest facilities including the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) in Hawaii and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in Chile. During my visit to DKIST this fall I got a firsthand view of the impressive site that will be home to the largest solar telescope in the world. I also came away with profound respect for the engineering challenges that have been overcome in designing this unique facility.

In addition to providing access to world-class facilities, we continued in 2016 to broaden access to STEM learning in educational and non-educational settings. NSF introduced the INCLUDES initiative this year and awarded 40 grants for pilot programs that offer bold, new models to increase STEM participation. I look forward to seeing the results of these innovative, collaborative efforts!

The National Science Board released this year Higher Education as a Public and Private Good, a report that identifies the role higher education plays in both individual and national prosperity. The report also describes why support of and access to higher education are critical for the U.S. to thrive in a knowledge-intensive, global economy. 

The rapid pace of research requires that we continually look to the future and consider how to shape investment in fundamental research. To this end, NSF developed 10 transformative Big Ideas that can help define cutting edge research agendas well suited to NSF’s broad portfolio.

Looking forward to 2017, NSF will continue to harness the energy and spirit of discovery and engage in activities that strengthen U.S. leadership and competitiveness in science and engineering.

Happy Holidays!

Dr. France A. Cόrdova
Director, National Science Foundation

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Where Discoveries Begin...

New report details R&D employment by business in the U.S.
Software, pharmaceuticals and electronics components lead all R&D employment sectors.

Lizard species diverging to survive
Rapid evolution is in action at New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument.

“Smart” infrastructure self-diagnoses trouble spots
Sensors to monitor everything from structural stability to traffic highlight the Living Bridge Project.

What's Next?

Video explains NSF’s Merit Review Process
NSF receives about 50,000 research proposals every year. The foundation’s mission is to promote the progress of science, but it’s able to support only a fraction of the proposed research with its limited resources. This video briefly explains how NSF determines which research has the greatest potential–which would be the most fruitful investment of taxpayer dollars and best align with the foundation’s mission to promote the progress of science.

Learn More...
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