National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation

Discussion
Ask a question about 'National Science Foundation'
Start a new discussion about 'National Science Foundation'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 that supports fundamental research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 and education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 in all the non-medical fields of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

. With an annual budget of about US$6.87 billion (fiscal year 2010), the NSF funds approximately 20% of all federally supported basic research
Basic Research
Basic Research is an herbal supplement and cosmetics manufacturer based in Salt Lake City, Utah that distributes products through a large number of subsidiaries. In addition, their products are sold domestically and internationally through a number of high-end retailers. Dennis Gay is the...

 conducted by the United States' colleges and universities. In some fields, such as mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 and the social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

, the NSF is the major source of federal backing.

The NSF's director, deputy director, and the 24 members of the National Science Board
National Science Board
The National Science Board of the United States is composed of 25 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, representing the broad U.S. science and engineering community. The Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework...

 (NSB) are appointed by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, and confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. The director and deputy director are responsible for administration, planning, budgeting and day-to-day operations of the foundation, while the NSB meets six times a year to establish its overall policies.

Grants and the merit review process


Although many other federal research agencies operate their own laboratories, notable examples being the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 (NIH), NSF does not. Instead, it seeks to fulfill its mission chiefly by issuing competitive, limited-term grants in response to specific proposals from the research community. (The NSF also makes some contracts.) Some proposals are solicited, and some are not; the NSF funds both kinds.

The NSF receives about 40,000 such proposals each year, and funds about 10,000 of them. Those funded are typically the projects that are ranked highest in a merit review process. These reviews are carried out by panels of independent scientists, engineers and educators who are experts in the relevant fields of study, and who are selected by the NSF with particular attention to avoiding conflicts of interest. (For example, the reviewers cannot work at the NSF itself, nor for the institution that employs the proposing researchers.) All proposal evaluations are confidential (the proposing researchers may see them, but they do not see the names of the reviewers).

Most NSF grants go to individuals or small groups of investigators who carry out research at their home campuses. Other grants provide funding for mid-scale research centers, instruments and facilities that serve researchers from many institutions. Still others fund national-scale facilities that are shared by the research community as a whole. Examples of national facilities include the NSF’s national observatories, with their giant optical and radio telescopes; its Antarctic research sites; its high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed network connections; the ships and submersibles used for ocean research; and its gravitational wave observatories.

In addition to researchers and research facilities, NSForce grants also support science, engineering and mathematics education from pre-K through graduate school. Undergraduates can receive funding through REU
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Research Experiences for Undergraduates are competitive summer research programs in the United States for undergraduates studying science, engineering, or mathematics. Such programs usually focus on targeting women and underrepresented minorities...

 summer programs. Graduate students are supported through IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeships) and AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) programs and through the Graduate Research Fellowships, NSF-GRF
NSF-GRF
The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program is an annual grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to approximately 2,000 doctoral-level students in the natural, social, and engineering sciences at US institutions...

. An early career-development program (CAREER) supports teacher-scholars that most effectively integrate research and education within the mission of their organization, as a foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions.

Scope and organization



The NSF's workforce numbers about 1,700, nearly all working at its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters. That includes about 1,200 career employees, 150 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 200 contract workers, and the staff of the National Science Board
National Science Board
The National Science Board of the United States is composed of 25 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, representing the broad U.S. science and engineering community. The Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework...

 office and the Office of the Inspector General, which examines the foundation's work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

Research directorates


The NSF organizes its research and education support through seven directorates, each encompassing several disciplines:
  • Biological Sciences (molecular, cellular, and organismal biology
    Biology
    Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

    , environmental science
    Environmental science
    Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems...

    )
  • Computer and Information Science and Engineering (fundamental computer science
    Computer science
    Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

    , computer and networking systems, and artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

    )
  • Engineering (bioengineering, environmental systems, civil and mechanical systems, chemical and transport systems, electrical and communications systems, and design and manufacturing)
  • Geosciences (geological, atmospheric and ocean sciences)
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences (mathematics
    Mathematics
    Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

    , astronomy
    Astronomy
    Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

    , physics
    Physics
    Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

    , chemistry
    Chemistry
    Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

     and materials science
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

    )
  • Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (neuroscience
    Neuroscience
    Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

    , management
    Management
    Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

    , psychology
    Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

    , sociology
    Social sciences
    Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

    , anthropology
    Anthropology
    Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

    , linguistics
    Linguistics
    Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

     and economics)
  • Education and Human Resources (science
    Science education
    Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises...

    , technology
    Technology education
    Technology education is a study of technology, in which students "learn about the processes and knowledge related to technology". As a study, it covers the human ability to shape and change the physical world to meet needs, by manipulating materials and tools with techniques.-External links:...

    , engineering
    Engineering education
    Engineering education is the activity of teaching knowledge and principles related to the professional practice of engineering. It includes the initial education for becoming an engineer and any advanced education and specialization that follow...

     and mathematics education
    Mathematics education
    In contemporary education, mathematics education is the practice of teaching and learning mathematics, along with the associated scholarly research....

     at every level, pre-K to grey)

Other research offices


The NSF also supports research through several offices within the Office of the Director:

Crosscutting programs


In addition to the research it funds in specific disciplines, the NSF has launched a number of crosscutting projects that coordinate the efforts of experts in many disciplines. Examples include initiatives in:

In many cases, these projects involve collaborations with other U.S. federal agencies.

History and mission


The NSF was established by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950. Its stated mission is "To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense."

Some historians of science have argued that the result was an unsatisfactory compromise between too many clashing visions of the purpose and scope of the federal government. The NSF was certainly not the primary government agency for the funding of basic science, as its supporters had originally envisioned in the aftermath of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By 1950, support for major areas of research had already become dominated by specialized agencies such as the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 (medical research) and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

 (nuclear and particle physics). That pattern would continue after 1957, when U.S. anxiety over the launch of Sputnik led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (space science) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (defense-related research).

Nonetheless, the NSF's scope has expanded over the years to include many areas that were not in its initial portfolio, including the social and behavioral sciences, engineering, and science and mathematics education. Today, as described in its 2003–2008 strategic plan, the NSF is the only U.S. federal agency with a mandate to support all the non-medical fields of research.

In the process, moreover, the foundation has come to enjoy strong bipartisan support from Congress. Especially after the technology boom of the 1980s, both sides of the aisle have generally embraced the notion that government-funded basic research is essential for the nation's economic health and global competitiveness, as well as for the national defense. That support has manifested itself in an expanding budget—from $1 billion in 1983 ($2.19bn in 2010 dollars) to just over $6.87 billion by FY 2010. (fiscal year 2011 request and 2010 enacted level).

Timeline


pre–World War II : Academic research in science and engineering is not considered a federal responsibility; almost all support comes from private contributions and charitable foundations. Governmental research into science and technology was largely uncoordinated; military research is compartmentalized to the point where different branches are often working on the same subject without realizing it.
World War II : There is a growing awareness that America's military capability owes a great deal to the nation's strength in science and engineering. Congress considers several proposals to provide federal support for research in these fields. Separately, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 sponsors the creation of several organizations to coordinate federal funding of science for the purposes of war, including the National Defense Research Committee
National Defense Research Committee
The National Defense Research Committee was an organization created "to coordinate, supervise, and conduct scientific research on the problems underlying the development, production, and use of mechanisms and devices of warfare" in the United States from June 27, 1940 until June 28, 1941...

 and the Office of Scientific Research and Development
Office of Scientific Research and Development
The Office of Scientific Research and Development was an agency of the United States federal government created to coordinate scientific research for military purposes during World War II. Arrangements were made for its creation during May 1941, and it was created formally by on June 28, 1941...

.
1945 : Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush was an American engineer and science administrator known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb as a primary organizer of the Manhattan Project, the founding of Raytheon, and the idea of the memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer...

—head of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, intimately connected with the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

, and personal acquaintance of the President—was asked by President Roosevelt in 1944 to write a report on what should be done in the postwar to further foster government commitment to science and technology. Bush issued his report to President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 in July 1945, entitled Science—The Endless Frontier. The report lays out a strong case for having the federal government fund scientific research, arguing that the nation would reap rich dividends in the form of better health care, a more vigorous economy, and a stronger national defense. The report also proposes creating a new federal agency, the "National Research Foundation," to administer this effort.
1945–1950 : Although there is broad agreement in Washington with the principle of federal support for science, there is far less agreement on exactly how that effort should be organized and managed. Thrashing out a consensus requires five years of negotiation and compromise.
1950 : On May 10, President Truman signs Public Law 507, creating the National Science Foundation. The act provides for a National Science Board
National Science Board
The National Science Board of the United States is composed of 25 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, representing the broad U.S. science and engineering community. The Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework...

 of twenty-four part-time members and a director as chief executive officer, all appointed by the president.
1951 : In early March, Truman nominates Alan T. Waterman, the chief scientist at the Office of Naval Research
Office of Naval Research
The Office of Naval Research , headquartered in Arlington, Virginia , is the office within the United States Department of the Navy that coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the U.S...

, to become the first Director of the fledgling agency. With the Korean War underway, money is tight: the agency's initial budget is just $151,000.
1952 : After moving its administrative offices twice, NSF begins its first full year of operations with an appropriation from Congress of just $3.5 million, a figure far less the almost $33.5 million requested. Twenty-eight research grants are awarded.
1957 : On October 5, the Soviet Union orbits Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

, the first ever man-made satellite. The successful rocket launch forces a national self-appraisal that questions American education, scientific, technical and industrial strength. For 1958, Congress increases the NSF appropriation to $40 million. By 1968, the NSF budget will stand at nearly $500 million.
1958 : The NSF selects Kitt Peak
Kitt Peak
Kitt Peak is a mountain in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is the location of the Kitt Peak National Observatory. The radio telescope at the Observatory is one of ten dishes comprising the Very Long Baseline Array ....

, near Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

, as the site of the first national observatory, a research center that would make state-of-the-art telescopes available to every astronomer in the nation. (Prior to this time, there was no equal access; major research telescopes were privately funded, and were available only to the astronomers who taught at the universities that ran them.) Today, that idea has expanded to encompass the National Optical Astronomy Observatory
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is the United States national observatory for ground based nighttime ultraviolet-optical-infrared astronomy. The National Science Foundation funds NOAO to provide forefront astronomical research facilities for US astronomers...

, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center of the United States National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc for the purpose of radio astronomy...

, the National Solar Observatory
National Solar Observatory
The mission of the National Solar Observatory is to advance knowledge of the Sun, both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth, by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community...

, the Gemini Observatory
Gemini Observatory
The Gemini Observatory is an astronomical observatory consisting of two telescopes at sites in Hawai‘i and Chile. Together, the twin Gemini telescopes provide almost complete coverage of both the northern and southern skies...

 and the Arecibo Observatory
Arecibo Observatory
The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope near the city of Arecibo in Puerto Rico. It is operated by SRI International under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation...

, all of which are funded in whole or in part by NSF. Along the way, moreover, the NSF's astronomy program has forged a close working relationship with that of NASA, which was also founded in 1958: just as NASA has responsibility for the U.S. effort in space-based astronomy, the NSF provides virtually all the U.S. federal support for ground-based astronomy.
1959 : The United States and other nations operating in Antarctica conclude a treaty that reserves the continent for peaceful and scientific research. Shortly thereafter, a presidential directive based on the treaty gives the NSF the responsibility for virtually all U.S. operations and research on the continent; the U.S. Antarctic Program continues to this day.
1960 : Emphasis on international scientific and technological competition further accelerates NSF growth. The foundation starts the Institutional Support Program, a capital funding program designed to build a research infrastructure among American universities; it will be the single largest beneficiary of NSF budget growth in the 1960s. The NSF's appropriation is $152.7 million; 2,000 grants are made.
1968 : The Deep Sea Drilling Project begins. Over the years, the project reveals much new evidence about the concepts of continental drift, sea floor spreading and the general usefulness of the ocean basins. The program also becomes a model of international cooperation as several foreign countries join the operation.
1972 : The NSF takes over management of twelve interdisciplinary materials research laboratories from the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). These university-based laboratories had taken a more integrated approach than did most academic departments at the time, encouraging physicists, chemists, engineers, and metallurgists to cross departmental boundaries and use systems approaches to attack complex problems of materials synthesis or processing. The NSF begins to expand these laboratories into a nationwide network of Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers
Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers
MRSEC is an acronym for Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, funded by the United States National Science Foundation.Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers support interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while...

.
1972 : The NSF launched the biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report to the President of the United States and U.S. Congress. Founded in 1968 as a research institution in bibliometrics and patent analytics ipIQ dba The Patent Board has provided patent indicators and science literature analysis since the initial report in 1972.
1977 : The first "Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

" is developed. This interconnection of unrelated networks is run by DARPA. Over the next decade, increasing NSF involvement leads to a three-tiered system of internetworks managed by a mix of universities, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. By the mid-1980s, primary financial support for the growing project is assumed by the NSF.
1983 : The agency budget tops $1 billion for the first time. Major increases in the nation's research budget are proposed as the country recognizes the importance of research in science and technology, as well as education. A separate appropriation is established for the U.S. Antarctic Program. The NSF receives more than 27,000 proposals and funds more than 12,000 of them.
1985 : In November, the NSF delivers ozone sensors, along with balloons and helium, to researchers at the South Pole so they can measure stratospheric ozone loss. The action is taken in response to findings made in May of that year, indicating a steep drop in ozone over a period of several years. The Internet project, now known as NSFNET
NSFNet
The National Science Foundation Network was a program of coordinated, evolving projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation beginning in 1985 to promote advanced research and education networking in the United States...

, continues.
1990 : The NSF's appropriation passes $2 billion for the first time.
1990s : NSF funds the development of several curricula based on the NCTM standards, devised by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. These standards are widely adopted by school districts during the subsequent decade. However, in what newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal later call the "math wars", organizations such as Mathematically Correct
Mathematically Correct
Mathematically Correct is a website created by educators, parents, mathematicians, and scientists who were concerned about the direction of reform mathematics curricula based on NCTM standards...

 complain that some elementary texts based on the standards, including Mathland
Mathland
MathLand was one of many controversial mathematics curricula that were designed around the 1989 NCTM standards. It was developed and published by Creative Publications and was initially adopted by the U.S. state of California and schools run by the US Department of Defense by the mid 1990s...

, have almost entirely abandoned any instruction of traditional arithmetic in favor of cutting, coloring, pasting, and writing. During that debate, NSF is both lauded and criticized for favoring the standards.
1991 : In March, the NSFNET acceptable use policy
Acceptable use policy
An acceptable use policy is a set of rules applied by the owner/manager of a network, website or large computer system that restrict the ways in which the network site or system may be used...

 is altered to allow commercial traffic. By 1995, with the private, commercial market thriving, NSF decommissions the NSFNET, allowing for public use of the Internet.
1993 : Students and staff working at the NSF-supported National Center for Supercomputing Applications
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is an American state-federal partnership to develop and deploy national-scale cyberinfrastructure that advances science and engineering. NCSA operates as a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but it provides high-performance...

 (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, develop Mosaic
Mosaic (web browser)
Mosaic is the web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. It was also a client for earlier protocols such as FTP, NNTP, and gopher. Its clean, easily understood user interface, reliability, Windows port and simple installation all contributed to making it the application that opened...

, the first freely available browser to allow World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 pages that include both graphics and text. Within 18 months, NCSA Mosaic becomes the Web browser of choice for more than a million users, and sets off an exponential growth in the number of Web users.
1994 : NSF, together with DARPA and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, launches the Digital Library Initiative. One of the first six grants goes to Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, where two graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, begin to develop a search engine that uses the links between Web pages as a ranking method. They will later commercialize their search engine under the name Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

.
1996 : NSF-funded research establishes beyond doubt that the chemistry of the atmosphere above Antarctica is grossly abnormal and that levels of key chlorine compounds are greatly elevated. During two months of intense work, NSF researchers learn most of what we know today about the ozone hole.
1998 : Two independent teams of NSF-supported astronomers discover that the expansion of the universe is actually speeding up, as if some previously unknown force, now known as dark energy
Dark energy
In physical cosmology, astronomy and celestial mechanics, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted theory to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding...

, is driving the galaxies apart at an ever increasing rate.
2000 : NSF joins with other federal agencies in the National Nanotechnology Initiative, dedicated to the understanding and control of matter at the atomic and molecular scale. Today, NSF's roughly $300 million annual investment in nanotechnology research is still one of the largest in the 23-agency initiative.
2001 : NSF's appropriation passes $4 billion.
The NSF's Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology reveals that the public has a positive attitude toward science but a poor understanding of it.


2004–5 : NSF sends "rapid response" research teams to investigate the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. An NSF-funded engineering team helps uncover why the levees failed in New Orleans.
2005 : NSF's budget stands at just over $5.6 billion.
2006 : NSF's budget stands at $5.91 billion for the 2007 fiscal year that began on October 1, 2006 and runs through September 30, 2007.
2007 : NSF requests $6.43 billion dollars for FY 2008. ( NSF Budgets).

Public attitudes and understanding


NSF surveys of public attitudes and knowledge have consistently shown that the public has a positive view of science but has little scientific understanding. The greatest deficit remains the public's understanding of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

. Recent surveys indicate that elsewhere in the world, including Japan and Europe, public interest in science and technology is lower than in the United States, with China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 a notable exception. A preponderance of Americans (54%) have heard "nothing at all" about nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

.

In September 2008, the NSF came under scrutiny when the agency's inspector general
Office of the Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General is an office that is part of Cabinet departments and independent agencies of the United States federal government as well as some state and local governments. Each office includes an Inspector General and employees charged with identifying, auditing, and...

 reported that at least 20 employees had viewed pornography at work. The report took the agency to task for not sufficiently policing its employees' Internet usage. The incident garnered some brief media attention and several of those employees were dismissed or reprimanded.

On May 26, 2011, Senator Tom Coburn
Tom Coburn
Thomas Allen "Tom" Coburn, M.D. , is an American politician, medical doctor, and Southern Baptist deacon. A member of the Republican Party, he currently serves as the junior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. In the Senate, he is known as "Dr. No" for his tendency to place holds on and vote against bills...

 released a 73-page critical report, "National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope
National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope
National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope is the title of a 73-page report released by US Senator Tom Coburn on May 26, 2011. The report received significant press coverage in mainstream press,...

", receiving immediate attention from such media outlets as The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, Fox News, and MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

.

See also

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the...

  • Capital Jury Project
    Capital Jury Project
    The Capital Jury Project is a consortium of university-based research studies on the decision-making of jurors in death penalty cases in the United States. It was founded in 1991 and is supported by the National Science Foundation...

  • C-MORE, the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, an NSF Science and Technology Center
  • International counterparts:
    • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (FR)
    • Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico
      Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico
      The Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico is an organization of the Brazilian federal government under the Ministry of Science and Technology, dedicated to the promotion of scientific and technological research and to the formation of human resources for research in the...

       (BR)
    • Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DK)
    • Department of Science and Technology
      Department of Science and Technology
      Department of Science and Technology could refer to:*Department of Science and Technology *Department of Science and Technology *Department of Science and Technology...

       (IN)
    • European Research Council
      European Research Council
      The European Research Council is the independent body that funds investigator-driven frontier research in the European Union . It is part of the Seventh Research Framework Programme ....

    • German Science Foundation (D)
    • Royal Society
      Royal Society
      The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

       (GB)
    • Science Foundation Ireland
      Science Foundation Ireland
      Science Foundation Ireland ), is the statutory body in the Republic of Ireland with responsibility for disbursing funds for basic science research with a strategic focus...

       (IRL)
    • Swiss National Science Foundation
      Swiss National Science Foundation
      The Swiss National Science Foundation is a science research support organization mandated by the Swiss Federal Government. The SNSF was established in 1952 as a foundation under private law. Its secretariat is based in Bern....

       (CH)
  • International Council on Nanotechnology
    International Council on Nanotechnology
    The International Council on Nanotechnology is an international, multi-stakeholder group committed to developing and communicating information regarding potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnology, thereby fostering risk reduction while maximizing societal benefit...

  • Library of Congress Digital Library project
    Library of Congress Digital Library project
    The Library of Congress National Digital Library Program is assembling a digital library of reproductions of primary source materials to support the study of the history and culture of the United States...

  • Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment
    Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment
    Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment is an Engineering Research Center funded by the National Science Foundation. It was launched on May 1, 2006 as part of NSF's larger program of ERCs...

     (MIRTHE) (largely based at Princeton University in the US)
  • National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is an archival program led by the Library of Congress to archive and provide access to digital resources. The U.S. Congress established the program in 2000...

  • Scientific literacy
    Scientific literacy
    Scientific literacy encompasses written, numerical, and digital literacy as they pertain to understanding science, its methodology, observations, and theories.-Definition:...

  • SedDB
    SedDB
    SedDB is an online data management and information system for sediment geochemistry.SedDB is based on a relational database that contains the full range of analytical values for sediment samples, primarily from marine sediment cores, including major and trace element concentrations, radiogenic and...

    , online database for sediment geochemistry
  • U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation
    U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation
    CRDF Global is an "... independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration ..." CRDF Global was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1992 under the Freedom Support Act and established in 1995 by the National Science Foundation...

  • United States National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...


External links




Science and Engineering Indicators, published by the National Science Board
National Science Board
The National Science Board of the United States is composed of 25 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, representing the broad U.S. science and engineering community. The Board establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework...

, provides a broad base of quantitative information on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise.