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Founded: 10 May, 1950
Headquarters: Arlington, VA
Revenue: $6.9 billion (FY 2010)
Website: nsf.gov
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@NSF
Key People
Subra Suresh, Director

NSF stands for National Science Foundation. It is a non-profit organization of United States which supports and funds education and research in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. The similar organization which supports and funds education and research in all the medical fields of science is called the National Institutes of Health. It is a federal organization which supports research conducted by different colleges and Universities in United States in various fields of mathematics, computer Science, Economics and Social Sciences. NSF funds approximately 20% of all the federally supported research conducted in field of Science and engineering. It is the major federal supporter for various projects and researches. [1][2]


At the end of World War II the Americans understood the great contribution of researchers and scientists. The invention of Penicillin and the atomic bomb were among the large scale contributions by these scientists. Post war the researchers and scientists found it necessary to have a regulating and organizing body which will assist the future scientists and researchers to expand the frontiers of science and technology in the similar fashion. So in 1950 National Science Foundation was established. It still is the only federal agency which is dedicated to play a supportive role in various fundamental researches and education. Its main objective is to maintain the nation’s dominance in the field of science and technology. NSF has provided all the necessary support to thousands scientists and engineers to make some remarkable research. As a result NSF supported researches have been honored with 170 Nobel Prizes. [3]


It provides competitive grants for a pre-determined period to certain proposals from various research centers. On an average, NSF receives 40,000 proposals annually, from which NSF funds about 10,000 proposals every year. The proposals which are funded are amongst the highest rankers in the merit review process. The merit review is based on a standard criteria which are examined for every proposal by different panels of independent scientists, engineers, and educators who are highly knowledgeable in the relevant field of proposal. These panel members are not the employees of NSF but are randomly selected by NSF according to their expertise in the relevant field; this member selection process ensures that there is unbiased evaluation process. All the evaluations are confidential, though proposing researchers may see the evaluation but they cannot see the names of the reviewers.

NSF grants funds to various researches on different levels. It funds individuals or group of investigators, mid scale research centers, various research facilities in different fields or funds national level researches such as Antarctic research sites. Besides providing funds to research in fields of science and engineering, NSF also provides assistance for education in the fields of science, engineering and mathematics. It provides funds to graduate and undergraduate students through different scholarship programs. [4][5]

Criteria for the Review process

Criterion 1: Defining the intellectual merit of the proposed activity.

What is the importance of the proposed activity in its field or different fields to advancing knowledge? What is the qualification of the proposer to perform the proposed activity? Is the concept creative and original and to what extent it is so? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?

Criterion 2: Defining the broader impacts of the proposed activity.

What are the future prospects of the activity in discovering and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning? Can the proposed activity improve the participation of how well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of groups (e.g., gender, ethnic, disability, geographic, etc.)? How will it improve the education and research in its field? How will the proposed activity benefit the society? [5]


In 1991, the U.S. government shifted all responsibility of non-military portion of ARPANET to the NSF. The National Science Foundation later lifted the restriction on commercial use of the network. NSF and Secretary of Commerce with a view of increasing the competition and to create an international participation founded a nonprofit organization for the administration of Internet, known as ICANN. [6]