Chemistry's New Solicitations and Cross-Agency Program Descriptions

December 13, 2019

National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes: Accelerating Research, Transforming Society, and Growing the American Workforce (AI Program Solicitation - NSF 20-503):

This program, a joint effort of the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), seeks to enable such research through AI Research Institutes. This program solicitation describes two tracks: Institute and Planning tracks.

Proposals for the Institute track must have a principal focus in one or more of the themes, as detailed in the Program Description.  Note that CHE, CBET and CISE are jointly sponsoring an Institute theme on AI for Accelerating Molecular Synthesis and Manufacturing.

Submissions to the Planning track are encouraged in any areas of foundational and use-inspired research appropriate to NSF and its partner organizations to support the Institute development and preliminary research to create compelling Institute proposals two years down the road.

Please see the solicitation for details.

 Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     January 28, 2020 - for Institute proposals in one of the six specified themes

     January 30, 2020 - for Planning proposals


NSF issued a new solicitation on Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiome Theory and Mechanisms (URoL:MTM) (NSF 20-513)

The URoL:MTM program invites integrated, interdisciplinary proposals that develop theoretical predictive frameworks with well-designed experimental and/or computational approaches to generate and test hypotheses about the causal relationships within the microbiome, and among the microbiome, host, and environment. How these relationships affect robustness, resilience, and adaptability of individual organisms, populations, and communities are also of interest. Note: You may apply to this solicitation in addition to the CHE DRP.

 Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     January 17, 2020

 Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     March 02, 2020


NSF issued a new solicitation on Understanding the Rules of Life: Epigenetics (NSF 20-512)

The URoL: Epigenetics proposals are expected to use complementary, interdisciplinary approaches to investigate how epigenetic phenomena lead to emergent properties that explain the fundamental behavior of living systems. Ultimately, successful projects should identify general principles (“rules”) that underlie biological phenomena within or across scales of size, complexity (molecular, cellular, organismal, population) and time (from sub-second to geologic) in taxa from anywhere within the tree of life, including humans . Note: You may apply to this solicitation in addition to the CHE DRP.

 Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     December 20, 2019

 Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     February 6, 2020


The Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program has issued its EFRI-2020 solicitation with two research topics - (Program Solicitation - NSF 19-599): 

  • Distributed Chemical Manufacturing: to promote a convergent research approach that combines fundamental research on chemical and physical transformations of matter (e.g., related to catalysis, electrochemical engineering, molecular thermodynamics, reaction engineering, and separations) with multiple other approaches required to engineer functional modular plants.
  • Engineering the Elimination of End-of-Life Plastics: to promote effective management of diverse end-of-life plastic waste will require transformative strategies for capture and sorting, efficient chemical and/or biological degradation and valorization, and integration of new approaches within existing plastics manufacturing and recycling frameworks.

Letter of Intent Deadline Date (required)
    November 4, 2019

Preliminary Proposal Deadline Date (required)
    December 2, 2019

Full Proposal Deadline Date
    March 26, 2020


NSF has recently issued a solicitation for NSF INCLUDES Planning Grants - (INCLUDES Program Solicitation -NSF 19-600):

NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) is a comprehensive national initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in STEM discoveries and innovations focused on NSF's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and broadening participation in these fields. The Planning Grants are intended to build capacity in the community to undertake the activities necessary to establish future centers, alliances, or other large-scale networks to address a broadening participation challenge at scale.

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

December 03, 2019

July 13, 2020


The application for the GEM Fellowship is now open.  The GEM consortium aims to improve diversity in the STEM workforce through its fellowship program.  With the support from the Divisions of Chemistry and Physics in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, and the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems in the Engineering Directorate at NSF, the GEM consortium encourages URM students to apply to the university-member programs in the STEM fields, in particularly in Chemistry, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Physics. Upon acceptance, GEM provides a stipend towards living expenses and tuition. The universities cover the remainder of the tuition, and in the case of Ph.D. level students, a living stipend (through teaching or research assistantships or other methods) for the duration of the degree.  

The application cycle for the coming year is July 1 – November 12.

About the GEM Fellowship Program and the application process.


Critical Aspects of Sustainability (CAS) - (CAS Program Description - PD 19-1902):

The Critical Aspects of Sustainability (CAS) program seeks to support basic research through core disciplinary programs aimed at improving the sustainability of resources for future generations while maintaining or improving current products within a global society.

Partnering with other participating NSF Divisions, the Division of Chemistry (CHE) welcomes proposals to its Disciplinary Research Programs, including Chemical Catalysis (CAT), Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI), Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms-A (CSDM-A), Chemical Structure Dynamics and Mechanisms-B (CSDM-B), Chemical Synthesis (SYN), Chemical Theory, Models and Computational Methods (CTMC), Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP), Environmental Chemical Sciences (ECS), and Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry (MSN). 

Note: All proposals should be submitted with the “CAS:” prefix in the title and must be on chemical aspects of sustainability.

Selected Topics:

  •  The design, preparation and reactivity studies associated with new catalysts and catalytic processes that employ earth-abundant and benign elements and raw materials; advanced catalytic methods for the reduction of dinitrogen to ammonia and water splitting are also invited; Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals, where such advances are connected directly to industrial considerations, are also encouraged.
  • Understanding the molecular mechanisms of the two-way communication between the environment and living systems as well as between organisms situated in changing environments; design and test methods that could confer resilience and/or could foster adaptability of living systems subject to changing environments.
  • Innovative measurement and imaging approaches that can improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes, including advances in separation science targeting reduced energy consumption or generation of less waste.
  • Fundamental studies related to sustainable energy such as chromophores based on earth abundant elements, advanced electrolytes for battery, water splitting, and carbon dioxide conversions.
  • Understanding the environmental chemical degradation of contaminants, including emerging contaminants.
  • Transformative approaches to efficient and inexpensive synthesis of polymers or nanostructures using renewable feedstocks or earth abundant elements; and innovative research that enhances the understanding of efficient use and recycling of polymers and critical elements or the conversion of energy from renewable sources.
  • The development of new synthetic methods using earth-abundant and inexpensive chemicals, fundamental studies that improve our understanding of rare earth elements; the conversion of non-petroleum-based resources into useful building blocks; and new environmentally-friendly chemical syntheses that improve on current practice by requiring less energy, fresh water, reagents, and/or organic solvents.
  • Other CHE programs also welcome proposals on this general topic, as long as the proposals fit the scope of the program.

All questions regarding proposals to CHE should be addressed to the cognizant Program Officers for the Program to which submission is contemplated (see CHE Program webpages).

Chemistry's Full Proposal Deadline Dates (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

September 1, 2020 - September 30, 2020

        All proposals to: Chemical Catalysis (CAT); Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms-A/B (CSDM-A/B); Chemical Theory, Models and Computational Methods (CTMC); and Chemical Synthesis (SYN);

October 1, 2020 - October 31, 2020

        All proposals to: Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI); Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP); Environmental Chemical Sciences (ECS); and Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry (MSN).


 Growing Convergence Research

 Growing Convergence Research (GCR - Program Solicitation - NSF 19-551)

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
February 03, 2020


Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI)

Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI): Phase I Awards and New/Renewal Phase II Centers - (NSF 19-576)

 Full Proposal Deadline (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
 October 16, 2019 - EXPIRED

 Phase II Full Proposals, New and Renewal

 February 19, 2020

 Phase I Full Proposals, by invitation only


Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships

 Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships (STS - Program Solicitation - NSF 19-567)

 Full Proposal Deadline (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
 January 27, 2020


Quantum Leap Funding Opportunities:

Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes: (QLCI, NSF 19-559)

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
January 02, 2020 - Round I QLCI full proposals (by invitation only).


NSF issued an updated solicitation on Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Includes the description of NSF Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (NSF 20-525)

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply.

Submission Deadline Dates (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

July 27, 2020

NSF also issued the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program for Submission in Years 2020 – 2025 (NSF 20-025).


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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