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The Science and Technology Centers Program: An Overview by Margaret E. M. Tolbert, Ph.D. Senior Advisor Office of Integrative Activities National Science.

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Presentation on theme: "The Science and Technology Centers Program: An Overview by Margaret E. M. Tolbert, Ph.D. Senior Advisor Office of Integrative Activities National Science."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Science and Technology Centers Program: An Overview by Margaret E. M. Tolbert, Ph.D. Senior Advisor Office of Integrative Activities National Science Foundation Arlington, VA February 23, 2008 QEM Workshop Renaissance Mayflower Hotel Washington, DC 20036

2 The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships Program This presentation is based on the STC Program solicitation of 2003 (NSF ). Plans are being made by NSF to issue a program solicitation in May or June 2008 for the next STC competition. Information on the STC program was included in the NSF Director’s budget rollout presentation (http://www.nsf.gov/news/speeches/bement /08/alb080204_budget.jsp), which was held on February 4th at NSF.) Plans are being made by NSF to issue a program solicitation in May or June 2008 for the next STC competition. Information on the STC program was included in the NSF Director’s budget rollout presentation (http://www.nsf.gov/news/speeches/bement /08/alb080204_budget.jsp), which was held on February 4th at NSF.)

3 Synopsis of STC Program from NSF The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships program enables innovative research and education projects of national importance that require a Center mode of support to achieve the research, education, and knowledge- transfer goals shared by the partners.

4 Synopsis of STC Program from NSF Continued STCs conduct world-class research in partnerships among academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private entities to create new and meaningful knowledge of significant benefit to society.

5 Synopsis of STC Program Continued Science and Technology Centers build intellectual and physical infrastructures within and between disciplines, and bring together the creation, integration, and transfer of new knowledge. STCs nurture and foster education by integrating education with research, and by creating bonds between learning and inquiry so that discovery and creativity more fully support the learning process. STCs demonstrate leadership to increase diversity by including all members of society regardless of race, ethnicity or gender in science and engineering in all aspects of the Center's activities.

6 Governing Responsibilities from the STC Cooperative Agreement Increasing participation of and providing research and educational opportunities first to United States citizens, nationals, and lawfully admitted permanent residents, especially women and members of under- represented groups who are undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, industrial fellows, faculty members from all colleges and universities, and others in the activities of the STC and STC sub awardees; encouraging them to pursue careers in science and engineering; identifying actions that will enhance and ensure ethnic/racial diversity throughout the life of the STC;

7 Governing Responsibilities from the STC Cooperative Agreement continued Assuring that a robust and substantive plan is in place for diversity of STC staff and participants at the Lead Institutions and partner sites (Attention must be paid to diversity in filling administrative/management, research, and education positions of the STC at the senior as well as at lower levels.)

8 Transformative Research In September 2007, the Director of NSF sent Important Notice Number 130 to Presidents of Universities and Colleges and Heads of Other NSF Awardee Organizations. In this notice, he advised of a change in one of the two NSF merit review criteria— Intellectual Merit.

9 Transformative Research Continued Specifically, the review criterion was revised, in part, to direct applicants to consider “To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?” Effective October 1, 2007, the Grant Proposal Guide and new funding opportunities will incorporate this new criterion into proposal reviews. All proposals received after January 5, 2008 will be reviewed under the criterion.

10 Transformative Research & the Intellectual Merit Criterion What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

11 NSF BROADER IMPACTS CRITERION WHAT ARE THE BROADER IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTIVITY?  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 under- represented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)?  To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships?  Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?  What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

12 Research Topics of the Seventeen STCs Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets Earth-surface Dynamics Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes Microbial Oceanography Advanced Materials for Water Purification Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas Layered Polymeric Systems Behavioral Neuroscience Ubiquitous Secure Technology Integrated Space Weather Modeling Biophotonics Embedded Networked Sensing Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research Adaptive Optics Nanobiotechnology

13 National Network of STC Directors— Membership  STC Directors will serve as members of a national liaison team for the STC Program.  The Directors are responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining a liaison structure with active participation of each Center.  Annually a chair of this network will be elected by participating members and will serve a one- year term.

14 National Network of STC Directors — Charge This network is charged with: addressing common goals, problems and opportunities facilitating personnel and resource exchanges facilitating integrated partnerships and cooperation among Centers.

15 National Network of STC Directors — Functions I Fostering complementarity and balance among research, education and knowledge transfer activities, and avoidance of duplication of effort; and Facilitating interactions to address research, education, and management issues and opportunities which transcend individual Center capabilities.

16 National Network of STC Directors — Functions II Liaison with private sector, state, local and national laboratories to identify needs/opportunities and to plan joint implementation strategies, workshops, and the like Cooperation and liaison with NSF staff in the development and maintenance of databases and other effective metrics in response to GPRA requirements

17 National Network of STC Directors — Functions III Preparing documents to enhance public understanding about the importance of science, engineering, technology and education advances in service to society

18 NSF Research Center Educators Network (NRCEN) NRCEN facilitates productive exchanges between NSF Research Center education directors, and between this group and the NSF itself; Identifies innovative models for solving education challenges common to NSF Research Centers; Identifies several priority issues that are of concern to all NSF Research Centers, and possible next steps to be taken by NRCEN; and Determines mechanisms and strategies that NRCEN could employ to benefit NSF Research Center education programs and/or enhance the effectiveness of education directors.

19 NSF Efforts to Broaden Participation in STCs  One-Time STC Supplement  QEM Program  HACU Program  Science Diversity Center at JSU  GEM  Funding Provided & Requirements in the STC Solicitation

20 STCs Funded in FY 2005 & FY 2006 Awardees  Case Western Reserve University STC: Layered Polymeric Systems  Colorado State University STC: Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes  Oregon Health and Sciences University STC: Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction  University of California at Berkeley STC: Ubiquitous Secure Technology  University of Hawaii STC: Microbial Oceanography  University of Kansas STC: Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets

21 STC Strategic Planning and Implementation

22 Strategic planning is a management tool used to maximize and ensure the successful outcomes of long-term organizational goals or initiatives Strategic Planning for STCs: What is it? Information Source: Technologies, Inc.

23 Nine Basic Elements Nine basic elements of a strategic plan should be applied to prospective Science & Technology Centers. ◦ Vision◦ Strategies ◦ Mission ◦ Implementation Plan ◦ Analysis◦ Metrics ◦ Goals/Objectives◦Resources ◦ Management Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

24 A statement that describes the ultimate aim of the proposed initiative and how the world will be changed as a result of the initiative. It must be stated clearly and have a sense of urgency and excitement for stakeholders and potentially interested persons. Vision Information Source: Technologies, Inc.

25 Statement of the overall focus of an initiative. It should be unambiguous and include the driving rationale for the initiative. Mission Information Source: Technologies, Inc.

26 Describes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) that are involved in or may impact an initiative. This analysis is essential for the strategies and adaptability of the plan, and is critical to the overall success of the strategic plan. Information Source: Technologies, Inc. Situational Analysis

27 Goals are the guiding aims of an initiative. The goals must be stated succinctly. Objectives are statements that further specify the goals in measurable terms and timeframes. Goals and Objectives Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

28 Strategies The approaches used to achieve the goals and objectives. Strategy statements must be feasible, and include contingency strategies. Also, the approaches used to achieve the goals should include how the opportunities found from the situational analysis will be utilized and challenges addressed. Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

29 Implementation Plan Describes the specific actions taken to achieve the plan, including the what, who, how, where and when for each of the goals and objectives. Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

30 Metrics Metrics are the quantitative and qualitative measures used to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the plan’s implementation and the goal-related outcomes. Also included in the assessment is documentation of lessons learned from executing the plan and adjustments made in the strategic and implementation plans. Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

31 Financial Resources Description of linkages between the financial (and in-kind resources) and the goal-related activities. The specific linkages provide a basis for monitoring and accounting for the allocation and expenditure of the plan’s resources. Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

32 Managing the Strategic Plan A description should be included in the plan of how and who will oversee and manage the plan’s implementation. This should include a description of administrative controls and a code of ethics to guide the behaviors of the plan’s participants. Technologies, Inc. Information Source:

33 Sub-strategic Plan for Each Component of an STC Components: Research ◦ Education ◦ Diversity ◦ Knowledge Transfer Information Source: Technologies, Inc.

34 STC Requirements

35 Requirements A Proposed Center with the Following Components: Innovative Research Education Knowledge Transfer

36 Requirements Continued Focus on Americans first; Display the diversity of the United States citizenry in the membership of each STC; Integrate the activities of the STCs; Work together as lead institutions and partners in institutional transformation relative to broadening participation in STEM.

37 Requirements Continued Establish an External Advisory Board. Hire a 100% Time Education Director. Hire a 100% Time Manager of the Center. Prepare an Intellectual Property Statement for the Center (Lead Institution and Partners). Implement Ethics Training for All Center Staff and Participants. See the Solicitation and Other Relevant NSF Guidelines for Additional Details.

38 Education & Broadening Participation Activities of STCs (STCs Funded in FY 2005 & FY 2006) Examples Research and Training Opportunities for Under-represented Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Financial Resources Made Available for Under-represented Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities New Curricula, Strengthened Courses, and Lectures Conferences, Workshops, and Seminars Teacher Education Programs Internships

39 Education & Broadening Participation Activities of STCs Continued (STCs Funded in FY 2005 & FY 2006) Structured Mentoring Interactions Strong Role Models of a Motivated, Diverse Population of Scientists Effective Recruitment and Retention Programs for the Maintenance of Diverse Staff and Participant Groups Professional Development for the Advancement of Center Staff Outreach Activities in Informal and Formal Venues Presentation of Science in Contexts That Include Diversity in Culture, Ethnicity, Linguistics, Gender, and Disabilities

40 Education & Broadening Participation Activities of STCs Continued (STCs Funded in FY 2005 & FY 2006)  Provision of Technical Expertise for Schools  Placement of Qualified Under-represented Minorities and Women into Leadership Positions

41 Education & Broadening Participation Activities of STCs Continued (STCs Funded in FY 2005 & FY 2006) Some STCs strengthen their work through alliances with successful and well established programs that focus on broadening participation by under- represented minorities, women, and persons with disabilities in STEM.

42 Class of 1989: Research at the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (University of Oklahoma) has resulted in the development of methods for the prediction of tornados. See the following website for details: Example of STC Research Success

43 Class of 1991: Research at the Center of Ultrafast Optical Science (University of Michigan) has contributed to the development of eye surgery techniques. Details are available on the website at the following address:

44 Examples of STC Research Success CENS (UCLA) has developed a number of real world sensing networks (in contrast to laboratory test beds). CBST (UC--Davis) has developed novel imaging techniques that may have major impact in the medical community.

45 NSF Expectations of Science & Technology Centers

46 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers STCs have a three-fold mission: to promote innovation in the integrative conduct of research, education, and knowledge transfer—all three components are interrelated and equally important.

47 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers STCs are complex, almost like a business. Good management practices under the leadership of a strong management team will often make the difference between success and failure of a Center.

48 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers The cooperative agreement provides an answer to most questions regarding NSF’s expectations for what an STC is required to do, e.g., reporting requirements and due dates. Use it as the first resource in answering your questions regarding specific NSF requirements for the STC.

49 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Strategic planning through center-wide participation, coupled with performance indicators to monitor progress and a focus on common products that require widespread involvement across institutional lines, is essential for good Center management and developing cohesion. In particular, serious consideration by all Center participants must be given to goals and accomplishments for the critical year 4 review that will determine whether renewed Center support is recommended.

50 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers External advisory committees should be used for independent advice on how to improve Center vision, goals, plans, objectives, and practices. You should strive for obtaining critical advice similar to the input that you might expect from the NSF external site visit teams. In selecting members for the external advisory committee, consider individuals who can provide expertise that is needed, but currently lacking, for a balanced overview of Center activities. Focus on obtaining good advice, not making friends in the community.

51 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Centers need to have a mechanism in place for bringing on new members and removing old ones. This sometimes means making unpleasant decisions, but a good measure of the effectiveness of Center management is the flow of researchers into and out of the Center. Center membership is not an entitlement.

52 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Begin planning now for phase-out of support in years 9 and 10; and, if you wish to continue the Center, you will need to identify other sources of support for year 11 when NSF STC funding ceases. It is not too soon to begin planning for this eventuality.

53 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers A good system of auditable records is essential for accountability in all Center activities.

54 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Educating a diversity of United States citizens is an important STC objective to provide for the next generation of “fearless” U.S. scientists and engineers who think across boundaries in a broad set of career paths.

55 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Centers should demonstrate leadership in the involvement of groups under- represented in science and engineering...at all levels (students, research team, advisory board) of participation in the Center.

56 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Students should be participants in Center activities and be provided opportunities for travel.

57 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Good communication with the public, including knowledge of media skills, builds appreciation for the scientific enterprise in an informed citizenry.

58 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Transfer of basic knowledge to the private sector reinforces public confidence in the support of Federal R&D.

59 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Technology can assist in communication and collaboration among the partners in multi-institutional virtual centers and in providing information to the public at large. Centers should push the edge in identifying new communication technologies for all their activities, including education, knowledge transfer, and research. However, technology is an adjunct to, not a substitute for, face-to-face interactions and travel.

60 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Center Directors should bond with and learn from one another in a National Network of STC Directors. Plans for future meetings should originate within this group. A leader of the group should be identified.

61 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers The STC Program is an evolving one, and the requirements change for each successive class of STCs. The “rules” and requirements are not precisely the same for the Classes of 2000, 2002, and 2005/2006. However, they are similar.

62 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Site Visit Prior to Award & Annually Critical Site Visit in Year Four Strategic/Implementation Plan Preparation Award – Cooperative Agreement Orientation to NSF Management Development Full Operation and Measurable Progress

63 NSF Expectations of Science and Technology Centers Center Directors should get to know their NSF Technical Coordinators and OIA staff. We are there to help you. We want each STC to be successful.

64 NSF Science and Technology Centers Information on the STC Program is available online at Information on NSF is available at


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