NSF 17-592


The Research Office, Incentive Programs is requesting Letters of Intent for the National Science Foundation (NSF) – Mid-Scale Innovations Program in Astronomical Sciences (MSIP).

Research Office Letter of Intent submission deadline: Monday, October 2, 2017.  Email to research.development@oregonstate.edu

Agency Deadline: Preliminary Proposal: November 20, 2017     Full Proposal by invitation only: April 6, 2018

Anticipated Funding Amount: $4-30,000,000

Estimated Number of Awards: 2-4

Limit on Number of Proposals per organization: 3

Synopsis of Program:

A vigorous Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP) was recommended by the 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, citing “many highly promising projects for achieving diverse and timely science.” As described in this solicitation, the Division of Astronomical Sciences will establish a new mid-scale program to support a variety of astronomical activities within a cost range up to $30M. This program will be formally divided into four subcategories: 1) limited term self-contained science projects; 2) longer term mid-scale facilities; 3) development investments for future mid-scale and large-scale projects; and 4) community open access capabilities. The MSIP will emphasize both strong scientific merit and a well-developed plan for student training and involvement of a diverse and inclusive workforce in instrumentation, facility development, or data management.

In an effort to provide the highest level of excellence and viability for funding, a review process will be put in place if more than three proposals are submitted.

General guidance for preparation of letters of intent to the Research Office:

COVER SHEET (1 page)

  • Solicitation Name and Descriptive Title
  • Project Summary:  3 or 4 sentences or bullet points that provide an overview of the objective of your proposed research, how you plan to do it, and the expected outcome.
  • Unique Aspects:  3 or 4 sentences or bullet points that highlight how your research/approach is different/better.
  • Key PI/co-PIs:  5 or 6 sentences or bullet points that highlight team expertise as it relates to the project.
  • Budget:  Example:  The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $ X, with $ Y being requested from the NSF.  NSF funds will be used for: $ A for personnel; $ B for operations, and $ C for broader impacts/subcontracts etc. 
  • Justification for NSF support: One paragraph explaining why this research fits with the RFP and strategic goals of NSF. 


  • Problem statement - Clear and concise statement of 1) research question(s) and how the project will address the research question(s); 2) what technical barriers need to be overcome to perform the research; and 3) how the proposed research can lead to the advancement of research/knowledge in this area.
  • Conceptual framework:  Conceptual framework describing, for example, how the synthesis of various project components, approaches, and participant expertise are linked together to address the problem of interest.  Graphics may be used.
  • Proposed activities: Describe the project to be undertaken and provide the technical specifications of the research activities and timelines that will be undertaken.
  • Expected results: Describe the outcome you anticipate from the research. (Remember your initial motivation for wanting to do this!)
  • Peer Groups: Who else is doing something similar, why their discoveries are useful for you, and what discriminates you.
  • Broader Impact/Metrics for Success: What metrics are the most appropriate for evaluating the success of the proposed project (e.g., peer-reviewed papers, policy-directed efforts, databases, models, development of new resources, etc.)? If successful, who would most likely use the knowledge or tools developed?
  • Fundraising:  List any matching fund requests, industry commitments etc.  List any similar current proposals pending.

Suggested Reviewers: (1 page) Optional – but as you write envision who might be a reviewer of your proposal or the Program Officer.

  • Reviewer 1: Area of expertise
  • Name
  • Title
  • Contact
  • State why you think this person would be a good reviewer.



Monday, October 2, 2017
Date Open: 
Sunday, July 23, 2017
National Science Foundation