Carnegie Mellon University

NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers Program NSF 16-545

Email intent: Not Applicable
Submit pre-proposal by February 5, 2016 - see instructions below as they differ from the usual format (no preliminary budget required)

The NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program is expected to announce a solicitation for proposals in April 2016

Based on the 2014 solicitation (, or pdf at, we expect the competition will be a limited to a single submission per institution. Therefore, we are initiating an internal limited submission process, requesting all interested parties to submit pre-proposals by February 5, 2016.   The advance process will allow ample time to put forth an appropriate set of IRGs into a competitive proposal in time to respond to the April 2016 solicitation.

 An overview and considerable information about the program are found at the MRSEC site: Each MRSEC comprises between two to five “Interdisciplinary Research Groups” (IRGs), which are groups of approximately six faculty members along with research associates working towards a common research goal. The web site lists the IRGs that are currently funded.  

A pre-proposal consists of a two-page explanation of the concept for the IRG, including the motivation for the research, the hypothesis, planned experiments, and expected outcomes.  A third page lists the participants, past group achievements (for example, joint publications), and partnerships with other sectors.  If you are proposing an idea in a similar area as an existing IRG at another university, you should clearly explain your competitive advantage.

 The pre-proposals will be evaluated by a faculty panel in February.  The panel will apply the merit review principles and criteria listed in the 2014 solicitation.  These review aspects include the NSF Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria and the additional MRSEC-specific criteria.  The IRG criteria are most important to address in the internal pre-proposal, and the “Center as a Whole” criteria should be addressed when there are specific aspects of the IRG that bolster the Center.

A. Interdisciplinary Research Groups:

  • A well integrated, interdisciplinary research program distinguished by intellectual excellence and driven by a clear vision for each interdisciplinary research group leading to fundamental advances, new discoveries, and/or technological developments that could have national and international significance.
  • Capability of the investigators, technical soundness of the proposed approach, and adequacy of the resources available or proposed, including instrumentation and facilities.
  • Clear benefits of a multi-investigator, interdisciplinary approach to address a major topic or area normally supported by the Division of Materials Research for each IRG; cooperation and interdependence of the investigators within the IRG.

B. The Center as a Whole:

  • Organizational setting and rationale for the center. Relationship to existing and planned organizational programs and capabilities in materials research and education; planned intellectual breadth of the proposed program; potential for stimulating interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration; potential for organizational, national, and international impacts.
  • Development of effective education/outreach activities that are consistent with the center size; leverage participant expertise and interest; address local and national needs in workforce development; and foster increased participation in materials research and education of members of underrepresented groups in science and engineering at all academic levels.
  • Plans to establish and operate shared experimental and computational facilities, properly staffed, equipped and maintained, and accessible to users from the center, the broader academic community, the participating institutions, and other institutions and sectors.
  • Plans and potential to develop and maintain active cooperation with industry and other sectors, such as National Laboratories and international institutions; to stimulate and facilitate knowledge transfer among the organizational participants and between the center and other organizations and sectors; and to strengthen the links between university-based materials research and its application and implementation.
  • Effective use of seed funding for junior faculty, potentially transformative projects, and/or emerging areas of interdisciplinary materials research.
  • Organizational commitments and support. Likely effectiveness of the proposed management plan, including mechanisms for selection of topics and internal allocation of resources, plans for self-evaluation, and plans and potential for maintaining a flexible and innovative program.

Agency LOI Due Date: to be announced if applicable
Agency Full Proposal Due Date: expected April 2016
Limit: expected to be limited

Back to limited submission opportunities