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NSF should boost investment in midscale infrastructure, National Science Board says

by Andrea Widener
October 27, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 43


The U.S. National Science Foundation should invest more in midscale research projects that could quickly push scientific innovation, according to a new report from the National Science Board (NSB), which oversees NSF. Midscale infrastructure funding, in the $10 million to $70 million range, tends to support regional science projects that the NSB report says provide opportunity for innovations at a shorter timescale than larger projects. NSF funds some midscale projects, and earlier this month it announced plans to launch more funding opportunities this fall. That agency-level focus is important because “efforts to sustain midscale research infrastructure at the division level have proven challenging during tight budgets,” said Peter Lepage, a physicist who led the committee that produced the report. The NSB report also suggests NSF review current funding and oversight mechanisms to ensure the success of midscale projects going forward. Both the NSF announcement and the NSB report come out of a recommendation from Congress to fill the gap between smaller instrumentation funding and major research equipment investments. A 2016 report has already identified several midscale infrastructure opportunities for chemists.


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