On 18 May 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released its long-anticipated fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget request. In total, NSF’s FY 2010 request is for $7.045 billion, an increase of $555 million (8.5 percent) above the FY 2009 request (Note: The FY 2009 and 2010 budget numbers do not include the one-time appropriation of $3 billion NSF received earlier this year via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [ARRA]). Currently, NSF is working to allocate FY 2009 and ARRA funds totaling approximately $9.49 billion. These funds must be allocated during the current fiscal year. The 2010 fiscal year begins on 1 October 2009.

The FY 2010 request for the NSF’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) accounts is $5.733 billion, an increase of $550.14 million (10.6 percent) from the FY 2009 request of $5.183 billion. This planned new investment in R&RA programs is intended to reflect the President’s priorities for science and innovation with a focus on high-risk, transformative research; new faculty and young investigator support; graduate research fellowships; and support for research on global climate change.

The total FY 2010 request for the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) is $733 million, an increase of 11.8 percent ($77.19 million) from the FY 2009 request. However, even with this significant increase in funding, it is expected that the funding rate for research proposals will remain at approximately 20 percent, as more grant applications are anticipated.

In FY 2010, BIO investments would focus on understanding biosphere dynamics and bioenergy, stimulating transformative research, and enhancing education and participation in the biological sciences. Climate change research, interdisciplinary basic research, research centers, education activities, and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) have been identified as five directorate-wide priorities.

Within BIO, funding would be allocated to the divisions as follows:

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) would receive $128.83 million (up 6.2 percent). If fully funded, MCB would place an emphasis on research that studies the transfer of energy and information between and among molecules, cells, organisms, and populations, all properties which could inform researchers about potential new energy sources and biofuels innovation.

Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) would receive $221.84 million (up 4.8 percent). Within the division, 49 percent of the IOS Project Support and 31 percent of the Plant Genome Research budgets would be available for new grants. In both programs, priority would be given to projects that focus on understanding environmental adaptation and climate change. A portion of the Plant Genome budget would be used to fund the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program, which supports basic research and innovative technologies that find sustainable solutions for agriculture in developing countries. The BREAD program is co-supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Environmental Biology Division (DEB) would receive $133.92 million (up 11.2 percent). If funded at this level in FY 2010, 41 of the budget would be used to support new grants. This request includes enhanced support for innovative projects on climate change and biodiversity to enable researchers to determine the extent of Earth’s biodiversity within a decade. Some of the FY 2010 request will also be dedicated towards the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), which supports the development and acquisition of research tools, instrumentation, infrastructure, and human resources would receive $130.14 million (up 11.4 percent). These funds would be directed toward enhanced support for bioinformatics, instrumentation, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and would help cooperatively establish a Climate Change Education program.

The Emerging Frontiers (EF) division would receive $118.27 million (up 37.9 percent). Roughly 50 percent of this funding would be available for new research grants. These funds would enable the transfer of centers to DBI to enhance cross center synthesis, they would support research on complex systems and climate change, and would help co-develop undergraduate biology education initiatives. EF will also continue to support NEON as well as establish an “innovation fund” that will co-fund innovative research projects in collaboration with other BIO divisions.

 


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