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Research Funding

AI and quantum information emphasized for new NSF graduate student funding

by Andrea Widener
August 2, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 30


The National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most high-profile awards for graduate students, providing 1,600 students a year with their own funding as they pursue research in many areas of basic science. So scientists on Twitter were upset to see that the most recent solicitation said the program “will emphasize three high priority research areas in alignment with NSF goals. These areas are Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Information Science, and Computationally Intensive Research.” Those areas have been a top priority for the White House and Office of Science and Technology Policy. In an emailed statement, NSF says the solicitation had caused confusion. “GRFP applicants will be and always have been selected based on their individual merit,” it says, adding that the agency has emphasized specific research areas before. “These changes are not intended to exclude any areas of science supported by NSF.” When asked whether graduate students working in the areas of emphasis will get preference for funding, an NSF spokesperson directed C&EN back to the statement.


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