NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program

04/04/2014, 5:00 PM

The following is a limited submission opportunity with only two proposals per organization. If you are interested please email me by April 4, 2014.


National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program


Important Information:

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is a new NSF graduate education initiative. This solicitation is active for one year, but future NRT solicitations are anticipated. The last competition for the Integrated Graduate Research Traineeship (IGERT) program was held in 2013; no future IGERT competitions are planned.


Program Description:

A. Focus and goals

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development of bold, new, potentially transformative, and scalable models for STEM graduate training that ensure that graduate students develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of research and research-related careers within and outside academe. The NRT program is distinguished from the previous NSF training programs through an emphasis on training for multiple career pathways, rotating priority research themes, inclusion of both master’s and doctoral students, a broader definition of trainees, and greater budgetary and programmatic flexibility. In addition, NRT is designed to promote the development and broad-scale adoption of highly effective STEM graduate education models that are suitable for the 21st century STEM enterprise. Goals of the NRT program are to:

  • Catalyze and advance cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in high priority areas
  • Prepare STEM graduate students more effectively for successful careers within or outside academe
  • Develop models and knowledge that will promote transformative improvements in graduate education

NSF expects that proposals submitted in response to this solicitation will describe how the benefits of the program will be extended broadly across the proposing institution(s), how the institution(s) will sustain effective elements and the associated infrastructure upon funding cessation, and how successful models will be shared with other STEM graduate programs and institutions nationally.

B. Traineeship and trainees

NRT projects should focus on and demonstrate strong commitment to technical and professional training of STEM graduate students that incorporates research training but extends well beyond it. In addition to research training, NRT projects are expected to develop trainees’ technical skills broadly, including facility and/or familiarity with the techniques, languages, and cultures of fields that comprise the interdisciplinary research theme; foster the development of transferrable professional skills; and provide mentoring from professionals, including partners, both internal and external to the NRT institution(s), who have the backgrounds, experience, and skills to advise trainees on how to prepare for a range of research and research-related careers, including the competencies required and the nature of the professions. NRT models might include institutional awards for stand-alone traineeship programs; training enhancement awards to research centers; pedagogy and mentoring training for faculty members; or national or international programs to build expertise and collaboration around particular research topics.

NRT projects should benefit STEM graduate students broadly, independent of funding source. Accordingly, an NRT trainee is defined as a STEM graduate student, irrespective of whether he/she is supported with an NRT stipend, research assistantship, teaching assistantship, or other funding, who is accepted into the program and required to complete all the required elements (e.g., courses, workshops, projects, and other training activities specific to the NRT experience). In order to provide greatest benefit to the STEM graduate student community, proposers are expected to make available (within programmatic and budget limitations) any NRT program elements for non-trainees (i.e., those STEM graduate students not accepted into the NRT program and who do not plan to complete all NRT requirements). NRT stipends and cost-of-education allowances are limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, international students can be NRT trainees, or as non-trainees can engage fully in any NRT training elements.

Graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs are eligible to participate in NRT projects. If a project includes both master’s and doctoral students, the proposal should describe the sequence of program elements and the differences in requirements and expectations for the master’s and doctoral groups, as well as how the program will foster the development of a collaborative NRT student community.

C. Key features of NRT

  1. Development and testing of potentially transformative and scalable models for STEM graduate

  2. Extension of training benefits to STEM graduate students across the institution and dissemination of successful models with the graduate education community nationally.
  3. Facilitation and advancement of potentially transformative interdisciplinary research in areas of high priority to the nation.
  4. Broad training of STEM graduate students, including the development of technical and professional skills for both research and research-related careers.
  5. Evidence-based strategies to broaden participation of students from diverse backgrounds.
  6. Robust formative assessment that is central to the traineeship and routinely informs and improves practice.

D. Research themes

NSF anticipates that NRT research themes will be revisited periodically and will rotate every two to three years. In this solicitation the NRT program has one priority theme – Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE); in addition, proposals are encouraged on any other crosscutting, interdisciplinary theme. In either case, proposals should identify the alignment of project research themes with national research priorities and the need for innovative approaches to train graduate students in those areas.

Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE)

Across all areas of science and engineering, data of massive scale and complexity are being generated through experimental methods, observational studies, scientific instruments, and computational simulations, leading to a growing need for new interdisciplinary advances in mathematical and statistical algorithms, prediction techniques, and modeling methodologies, as well as new approaches to data collection, data analysis and visualization, data integration and interoperability, and data stewardship. At the same time, computational models, methods, and algorithms, in the form of rich new software and computing systems, are playing a critical role in the solution of complex data-based problems spanning the science and engineering communities. In light of these advances, NSF recognizes the need to address fundamental challenges advancing data-enabled science and engineering, including educating and supporting a next generation of researchers in this space.

Of particular interest for this priority theme are focused interdisciplinary efforts that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Partnerships between computational and mathematical sciences as well as all science and engineering domains supported by NSF, driving forward interdisciplinary research by effectively managing, using, and exploiting heterogeneous data sources to enable advances in these domains through advances in data storage and management, analytics, and visualization.

  • Foundational and applied research on a variety of tools essential for advanced scientific discovery and engineering innovation in collaboration with the domain sciences. Such tools could include computational models and the underlying computer science, mathematical, and statistical theory and methodology; novel algorithmic techniques; and effective utilization and optimization of computing and communications resources.

  • Research and development of novel end-to-end science-driven scenarios that integrate and leverage major cyberinfrastructure investments including high-end supercomputers, cloud environments, real-time and remote visualization, provisionable networks, distributed data archives, and software frameworks.

  • Integration of educational and training opportunities with major facilities and infrastructure investments in multiple STEM domains, such as:

    • Ongoing NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) projects or other large-scale efforts such as the iPlant Collaborative, Engineering Research Centers (and other center-scale efforts), EarthCube, the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), etc.

    • Cyberinfrastructure-related facilities that are managed by NSF, by other US federal or state agencies, or by international consortia, including Blue Waters and Stampede, XSEDE, Open Science Grid, the Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI), and International Research Network Connection (IRNC) sites.

In keeping with the broader goals of the NRT program, proposals responsive to this priority theme should demonstrate significant impact on new curricula and career-focused training opportunities for data-enabled science and engineering.

Other crosscutting, interdisciplinary theme

A theme other than DESE should align with NSF or other national STEM research priority areas and have high potential for development of innovative practices in graduate education. Proposers should describe the importance of the NRT project’s thematic focus to the nation and the particular need to train students for a variety of careers in that thematic area, whether within or outside academe.

Sponor Deadline:

May 20, 2014 – Letter of Intent

June 24, 2014 – Full Proposal