Internal Deadline: Friday, June 3rd, 2022, 5pm PT
LOI: August 1, 2022
External Deadline: January 27, 2023 – by invitation only
Award Type: Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: 3 – 5
Anticipated Award Amount: $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 in FY 2023, pending availability of funds and the quality of proposals received.
Who May Serve as PI: There are no restrictions or limits. Any one individual may be the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) for only one preliminary proposal. The same limitation applies to full proposals. Individuals may be listed as participating senior investigators on more than one proposal.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2022/nsf22592/nsf22592.htm
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal: https://orif.usc.edu/oor-portal/.
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs and Co-PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
The PFC program is designed to provide support to enable research at the frontiers of physics when the activities are of a scope and complexity that would not be feasible with standard individual investigator or small group support. Through the PFC program university researchers can form centers, institutes, or large group efforts that lead to major new ideas, discoveries, or broad advances in physics or at the boundaries of physics with other disciplines. Proposals for PFC support may address any area within the purview of the Division of Physics, including interdisciplinary and emerging areas of research.
Since the PFC program is designed to foster research at the intellectual frontiers, new types of joint efforts may be needed to address the most promising problems. Therefore, preconceived specifications as to the organization of the effort are kept to a minimum. In all cases, however, a unit must demonstrate that the whole is substantially greater than the sum of the parts. The unit must have a Director who takes overall responsibility for the effort. There must be a management and governance plan to indicate how the unit will operate. Such a plan must contain information on the overall management and reporting structure, how research projects are chosen, the existence and makeup of any advisory board(s) to be used, and the senior investigators responsible for different parts of the unit’s research and education activities. All units are expected to be actively engaged in activities that promote the participation of groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, and these activities should be clearly described. Outreach to the scientific community and the general public must also be described. Specific plans for these three topics must be clearly delineated in the proposal.
The main characteristics of a PFC-supported unit are tailored by the Principal Investigators to most effectively address the chosen physics goals. Therefore, every unit will be different. Some may be centers; others may be institutes. Some may be stand-alone efforts; others may be intellectually-connected parts of a larger unit. Whatever the type of organization, it is expected that the PFC-supported unit will have some or all of the following characteristics of successful units of similar size and complexity in physics and other fields. In no particular order, these are: (1) combining talent, skills, or facilities required for a major advance in physics; (2) combining groups, departments, institutions, etc. required to make a major advance in physics; (3) providing critical mass or specialized infrastructure needed for an advance by the unit, and often the broader field; (4) providing the context and/or organization to bring together leaders and students to initiate work in a promising new area, a new interdisciplinary field, an important application, or a new facility of strategic importance to physics; (5) fostering field-wide exploration of frontier research within the community at large; (6) making available specialized infrastructure to others; and (7) creating innovative projects to promote education, the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in science, and public outreach using the center as a focal point.
Investigators making up the unit requesting PFC funding may already have, or choose to apply for, funding outside the context of the PFC funds. The combination of PFC support with other support for the major investigators will be handled in the following way: If the existing individual support is for work not related to the PFC, it must be listed in the proposal to indicate the context of the proposed work. If an existing grant is related to the objectives of the proposed PFC, that support could be considered to be a base for the incremental PFC support that would then contribute to the additional benefits expected from the PFC. If no related support exists, or if the PIs so choose, the PFC budget can include all support for the activity. Examples of both approaches exist, and the PIs are encouraged to discuss such matters with the cognizant Program Director prior to submitting the preliminary proposal. Whatever the choice made, however, it is critical to demonstrate that the research for which PFC funds are requested is connected to the overall PFC-supported activity in such a way as to foster progress that would not be realized in the absence of the synergy provided by the PFC effort.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.