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Whom Does One Contact at NSF for an Interdisciplinary Proposal?

A complete three-dimensional picture of Hurricane Katrina made on a supercomputer
A three-dimensional simulation of Hurricane Katrina to better understand the science of storms.

Credit: LSU/CCT/Werner Benger, Amanda Long, Shalini Venkataraman, Stephen David Beck

Formulate the idea for the proposal first, before thinking about where it could be submitted and reviewed. NSF has mechanisms to assure an appropriate review of the idea.

With the idea in hand, investigators have numerous options in deciding whom to contact at NSF about submitting an interdisciplinary proposal. The NSF contact should have a programmatic interest in the proposal idea, or a responsibility for identifying someone else at NSF who has such an interest. An investigator might typically consider these options in the following order.

  • Identify a Program Officer (PO) through an NSF program. In many cases, there will be an existing solicited or unsolicited NSF program for which the proposal idea is appropriate. Read the Program Solicitation or Program Description. If the idea seems appropriate, you may contact one of the cognizant POs to confirm this and to indicate the interdisciplinary aspects of the idea. If you are uncertain as to whether your idea is appropriate, contact one of the cognizant POs for discussion and clarification.

  • Identify a Program Officer through other means. One alternative approach is to contact a PO with whom you have previously interacted. This might be someone who is managing an award you currently have, or a PO that you met at a conference. Although your idea for a proposal may be interdisciplinary, it might make sense to initially contact a PO in a particular discipline. In that case, you can use the NSF Homepage to identify a PO in a particular division. That PO may consult with other NSF staff, or recommend another PO.

  • Contact a Point of Contact (POC) listed on this site. If your proposal is likely to be of particular interest to one NSF Directorate or Office, you can contact the relevant POC for that Directorate listed on this site. That individual has the responsibility to see that an appropriate PO is identified in that Directorate to discuss the proposal.

  • Contact NSF through this site. If there is not an obvious point of contact from one of the above options, you can contact NSF through the contact information provided on this site (email:, telephone: (703) 292-4840).