Limited Submission: Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC)

06/24/2013, 5:00 PM

To: All Faculty in the Colleges of Natural Science and Engineering;

The following is a limited submission opportunity with only one proposal per organization is allowed. If you are interested in this program please email me by June 24, 2013.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC)

Program Description:

Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers are supported by the National Science Foundation to undertake materials research of a scope and complexity that would not be feasible under traditional funding of individual research projects. The MRSEC program demonstrates NSF's commitment to excellence in interdisciplinary research and education; it is national in scope, encouraging coordination of the overall effort among centers; and it complements, but does not substitute for, NSF support for individual investigators, small groups, national user facilities, and instrumentation in materials research. More information about MRSECs may be found at

A MRSEC may encompass two to five interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs). Each IRG involves several faculty members and associated researchers, addressing a major topic or area, in which sustained support for interactive effort by several participants with complementary backgrounds, skills, and knowledge is critical to progress. The IRGs in a center may be topically related, or they may address different topical aspects of materials research. The center as a whole is expected to be more than the sum of its IRGs, with the synergy arising from its common infrastructure, shared facilities, education and outreach activities, etc.

MRSECs incorporate the following activities to an extent consistent with the size and vision of the center:

  • Academic institution-based interdisciplinary materials research of the highest quality: each IRG must have a well-integrated, interdisciplinary research program distinguished by intellectual excellence and driven by a clear vision that could lead to fundamental advances, new discoveries, and/or technological developments that could have national and international significance. Each IRG must show clear benefits of an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to address a major materials topic or area and the linkages between researchers within the IRG.
  • Seed funding: NSF intends to provide flexibility for the center to respond quickly and effectively to new opportunities, and pursue high risk/high impact and transformative research. These may include (but are not limited to): seed support for junior faculty and for investigators changing fields; emerging areas of interdisciplinary research; programs to link the university effort in materials with industry, national laboratories, and other sectors; the development of tools and cyber infrastructure for remote access to instrumentation; and innovative interdisciplinary educational ventures. Seed funding through the center is not intended to provide a substitute for NSF individual investigator funding.
  • Promotion of the integration of research and education, and development of effective education/outreach activities that are consistent with the center size, leverage participant expertise and interest, and address local and national needs. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) are required. A center should pursue activities with proven impacts in improving scientific education. It may also experiment with novel approaches as appropriate.
  • Fostering increased participation in materials research and education of members of underrepresented groups in science and engineering (e.g., women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities) at all academic levels. A center is strongly encouraged to develop cooperative programs with organization(s) serving predominantly underrepresented groups in science and engineering and/or predominantly undergraduate institutions.
  • Development of shared experimental and computational facilities, properly staffed, equipped and maintained, and accessible to users from the center, the broader university community, and other institutions. A goal is to maintain the long-term health of the materials research infrastructure in the United States and contribute to a national network of materials research facilities.
  • Promotion of partnerships by supporting a center's active cooperation with industry and international institutions, and other sectors, such as national laboratories, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments, in order to stimulate and facilitate knowledge transfer among the participants and strengthen the links between university-based research and its application.

Each MRSEC has the responsibility to manage and evaluate its own operation with respect to program administration, planning, content and direction. NSF support is intended to promote optimal use of university resources and capabilities, and to provide maximum flexibility in setting research directions, developing cooperative activities with other organizations, and responding quickly and effectively to new opportunities in materials research and education that are important to the nation's needs and technology base.

A center may address any area of research supported by the NSF Division of Materials Research. In addition to research excellence, these centers provide the infrastructure of equipment, education and outreach needed to ensure that the program as a whole meets its objectives and provides for effective coordination within and beyond the center community. Centers are required to contribute to the network addressing common problems and applications. Center shared experimental and computational facilities constitute the Materials Research Facility Network, a network of facilities that help to maintain and advance materials research infrastructure in the United States. More information about the network may be found at

Sponsor Deadline:

August 26, 2013 – Preliminary proposal

January 10, 2014 – Full Proposal (by invitation only)