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July 13, 2018

NSF wants to know what you think it should fund

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Science – Got an idea that could transform the world? The National Science Foundation (NSF) is all ears.

The $7.8 billion research agency in Alexandria, Virginia, already gets way more good research proposals from scientists than it can fund. But NSF officials worry they still might be missing something important. So this fall they will give the public a chance to win glory—and some money—in a contest dubbed The NSF 2026 Idea Machine.

“We don’t want [the idea] to be something NSF is already doing,” says Suzi Iacono, head of NSF’s Office of Integrative Activities. “We want it to be exciting, and original, and important in terms of the potential benefits to science and to society.”

The contest grows out of an internal planning exercise in 2016 that produced 10 “big ideas.”Many are cross-disciplinary efforts that tackle important societal problems—such as harnessing the data revolution and the future of work—or that expand the frontiers of knowledge—like multimessenger astrophysics and understanding the rules of life. A few are “process” ideas, like funding for midscale research facilities. But one box is simply labeled “NSF 2026.”

Read more at Science.

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