• 2013 NSF Budget Request: $7.4 billion (+$340.0 million)
  • 2013 Research and Related Activities Request: $6.0 billion (+$294.3 million)
  • 2013 Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Request: $196.2 million (-$0.9 million)
  • 2013 Education and Human Resources Request: $875.6 million (+$46.6 million)
  • 2013 Biological Sciences Directorate Request: $733.9 million (+$21.5 million)

The President’s budget request for NSF would provide a 4.8 percent increase over the FY 2012 appropriation.

Research and education initiatives are prioritized over other programmatic areas. The Research and Related Activities account, which includes funding for the various disciplinary directorates, would receive an increase of 5.2 percent. This would fund an additional 500 competitive awards during the fiscal year, although the agency’s funding rate is expected to remain at 22 percent. Education and Human Resources, which funds education research and various fellowships, would grow by 5.6 percent. Conversely, Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would stay nearly flat (-0.4 percent). The budget for administrative efforts would remain at the FY 2012 funding level.

The budget request includes increases for several Presidential priorities, including clean energy, manufacturing, and education. Toward these goals, the President proposed $355.4 million (+$14 million) for research related to clean energy technology, $148.9 million (+$39 million) for basic research that could develop new manufacturing technologies, and $30 million for a new joint program with the Department of Education to improve math education.

Interdisciplinary programs would also grow in FY 2013. The Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability initiative would be funded at $202.5 million, $45.5 million more than last year. In 2013, the initiative would include five interdisciplinary programs that will take an integrated approach to addressing clean energy and sustainability; included are emphases on coasts and the Arctic. Additionally, a new interdisciplinary research program launched in 2012, Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE), would triple in size to $63.0 million.

For research infrastructure, the FY 2013 budget requests funding from the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account to continue building the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). NEON would receive $91.0 million (+$30.7 million) for continued construction; NEON will break ground on three sites in the summer of 2012. Once completed, NEON will collect data across the United States on the impacts of climate change, land use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. The Administration also proposed $65.0 million (-$37.8 million) for the fourth year of construction of OOI, which will consist of an integrated network of deep-sea buoys, regional cabled nodes on the seafloor, and coastal observatories that will provide continuous, interactive access to the ocean.

NSF initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education would receive new funding. Expeditions in Education is a new program that would establish a partnership between the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the research directorates to integrate and leverage STEM education research. The program would receive $49.0 million in FY 2013. The Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM program would increase by 55.8 percent to $61.5 million. The Research Experiences for Undergraduates program would be boosted by 3.7 percent.

NSF would expand its support for graduate students and early career scientists. The Faculty Early Career Development program (CAREER) would support approximately 40 additional young faculty members, for a total of 440 new awards in FY 2013. The Graduate Research Fellowship program would maintain the doubling of new awards achieved in FY 2010; the fellowship’s stipend would also increase by $1,500.

Several programs are recommended for cuts and consolidations totaling $67.0 million. Four programs within the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate are identified for elimination (-$10.0 million), as well as four computer science and engineering programs (-$17.0 million). Two public outreach programs that focus on communicating science, Communicating Science Broadly (-$2.0 million) and Connecting Researchers with Public Audiences (-$4.0 million), would also be eliminated. Climate change education would be cut by about a third to $6.3 million.

NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO)

The budget for BIO would increase by 3.0 percent to $733.9 million. The number of research grants awarded, average award size, and average award duration are expected to be comparable to FY 2012 levels. The funding rate across the directorate would remain at 15 percent. BIO provides about 62 percent of federal funding for non-medical, basic research, including environmental biology, at academic institutions in the life sciences.

Within the request for BIO, funding would be allocated among five divisions accordingly:

  • Molecular and Cellular Biosciences: $132.7 million (+$6.9 million, +5.5 percent)
  • Integrative Organismal Systems: $220.5 million (+$8.2 million, +3.9 percent)
  • Environmental Biology: $143.7 million (+$1.2 million, +0.8 percent)
  • Biological Infrastructure: $129.7 million (+$3.5 million, +2.8 percent)
  • Emerging Frontiers: $107.3 million (+$1.7 million, +1.6 percent)

Several NSF-wide initiatives would receive new funding within BIO. In addition to $7.5 million in additional funding for the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability initiative, BIO would receive $4.6 in additional funding for the Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences (BioMaPS) program. BIO’s support of clean energy technology would be increased by $6.0 million. As part of INSPIRE, BIO would receive an additional $2.0 million to co-fund high-risk/high-reward, cross-disciplinary grants.

NSF is also embracing the concept of “grand challenges” in the biological sciences, themes highlighted in a 2010 report from the National Research Council. The 2013 budget request calls for $20.0 million in new funding across all BIO divisions for research relevant to the following grand challenges: synthesizing life-like systems; understanding the brain; predicting organisms’ characteristics from their DNA; interactions of the Earth, its climate, and its biosphere; and understanding biological diversity.

The Long-Term Ecological Research sites would receive $28.0 million, an increase of about 2.1 percent.

Digitization of scientific information associated with biological specimens held in U.S. research collections would continue to be supported at $10.0 million a year. Collections in Support of Biological Research would not be funded in FY 2013 (-$4.0 million). Instead, the program would change from an annual to biennial competition. The Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) program, which aims to resolve evolutionary relationships for the major lineages of organisms, would be moved towards a biennial competition that combines two years of funding into each set of awards.


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