SIAM News Blog

Spotlight on DMS/NSF at Federal Agency Session

Representing the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences at the federal funding panel at the SIAM Annual Meeting in Chicago, Henry Warchall described two new programs and alluded to several ongoing programs of particular interest to the SIAM community. He began with MSII (Mathematical Sciences Innovation Incubator), new in 2014 and presented in a Dear Colleague letter from DMS director Michael Vogelius on April 22. 

An aim of MSII is to facilitate the co-review and co-funding of multidisciplinary research collaborations involving the mathematical sciences and programs outside DMS. MSII was established to provide “leverage for investments of non-DMS programs in projects that include mathematical scientists” and “a uniform mechanism through which collaborative research teams involving mathematical scientists can request DMS co-review.”

Henry Warchall, deputy director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the NSF.
The emphasis is on programs of national priority that would benefit from innovative developments in mathematics and statistics, Warchall said, naming as featured MSII programs for 2014 DMREF (Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future) and EaSM (Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models). He also advised those in the audience to “keep an eye on optics and photonics,” which indeed turned out to be the subject of a July 17 Dear Colleague letter (see below). 

From the Dear Colleague letter on MSII:

“The increasingly important challenges of deriving knowledge from huge amounts of data, whether numerical or experimental, of simulating complex phenomena accurately, and of dealing with uncertainty effectively are some of the areas where the mathematical sciences will play a central role. Other promising areas where mathematical scientists could play larger roles include research on the power grid, the brain . . .”

MSII proposals must be submitted to NSF programs outside DMS.

The second of the new programs Warchall discussed in Chicago is EDT (Enriched Doctoral Training). Designed for academic departments wishing to better prepare their students for nonacademic jobs, the program is open to proposals from PhD-granting mathematical sciences departments and from professional organizations. Under the program, departments are encouraged to collaborate with other departments in their institutions or with business, industry, or government organizations.

The other panelist at the Chicago session was Sandy Landsberg of ASCR (Advanced Scientific Computing Research) in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Look for an article on highlights from her information-rich presentation in a future issue of SIAM News. Meanwhile, visit for ASCR news, including current funding opportunities.

Optics and Photonics at NSF: A Closer Look 

As predicted by Henry Warchall at the SIAM Annual Meeting, three assistant directors of NSF (Fleming Crim, Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Pramod Khargonekar, Engineering; and Farnam Jahanian, Computer & Information Science & Engineering) have released a Dear Colleague letter naming research and education in optics and photonics as a key area of interest across the NSF directorates, and encouraging the community to submit innovative proposals relevant to one or more divisions in MPS, Engineering, or CISE. 

Topics in two categories are of particular interest for FY 2015: (1) light–matter interactions at the nanoscale that encompass materials, devices, and systems, such as but not limited to low-loss metamaterials, plasmonics, and quantum phenomena that could impact computation, communication, and sub-wavelength resolution detection/imaging; and (2) novel terabit/second and above communication systems, especially those integrating devices and systems that advance the state of the art in networking, high-performance computing, and computer architecture.

Proposals that would benefit from a joint review can be submitted to a primary program, with secondary programs in other divisions identified in a cover letter.

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