NSF Opportunity: EPSCoR RII Track-I

Admin Announcements, Funding Opportunities



EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1:  

(RII Track-1)

Dear Researchers:
Over the past 10 years, Puerto Rico has supported the development of research and education in nanoscience through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) specifically through the Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track I program. The last two RII proposals for Puerto Rico funded the “Institute for Functional Nanomaterials” (IFN) which involved 47 investigators across five campuses (Mayagüez, Rio Piedras, Medical Sciences, Humacao and Cayey) of the University of Puerto Rico, Inter American University-Bayamón, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Metropolitan University of the Ana G. Mendez System. After a very successful run, the NSF EPSCoR funding for the IFN will terminate on September 30, 2017.

As a result of this termination, Puerto Rico will become eligible to submit a new RII proposal to the NSF in the next competition. This competition has yet to be announced, but based on previous years, it is likely that a letter of intent will be due in July 2017 and a full proposal will be submitted in August 2017. We also anticipate that the guidelines will not change significantly from previous years, and thus we include a link to the previous year’s solicitation (https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503429). Puerto Rico, as an eligible jurisdiction, will only be allowed to submit one RII proposal. As the proposal is jurisdiction-wide, the proposed project should include more than one institution. The Puerto Rico EPSCoR State committee met on December 5, 2016, and decided to hold a preliminary competition to identify a group of investigators that can successfully compete for the NSF RII Track I program. For this competition we are requesting white papers that address the following elements:

  1. The proposal must be something that will help to develop the Jurisdiction’s research capacity, and not just a single institution. White papers should contemplate the inclusion of multiple institutions for the proposal to reach the entire jurisdiction.
  2. The chosen research theme must be consistent with areas of interest to NSF, and should be able to build lasting research capacity moving forward. Included is a presentation from Dr. Richard Buckius (see attached), the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Science Advisor at NSF that mentions the research ideas that the Foundation is considering for the future. The presentation was given at NSF EPSCoR Project Directors and Project Administrators meeting in May 2016. This list is not exhaustive, but gives a sense of what NSF is considering for the coming years.
  3. The chosen theme must be coherent and well-integrated with the proposed research theme. A single theme is preferred for the final proposal to be submitted to NSF, but we will consider submitting two research themes if we believe that we do not have the critical mass in a single focus area.
  4. The white papers must be consistent with the NSF guidelines from the previous year. Since the solicitation for this year has yet to be released, we will be using last year’s solicitation to guide us. Over the last few years, the solicitation has not changed dramatically from year to year.
  5. The Senior Personnel, including PIs and Co-PIs, must have strong research credentials as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications in leading journals, a track record of grant funding and demonstrated mentoring of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and young faculty. The white paper must also demonstrate that a critical mass of competitive researchers is present to support the proposed research theme.
  6. The incorporation of a strong human resources, workforce development and outreach component.
  7. The potential for impacting innovation, technology transfer and economic development in Puerto Rico are critical elements in the EPSCoR Track I proposal. The white paper should incorporate strategies to address these elements.

The structure of the white paper is as follows:

  • A Project Summary (not to exceed one page) that addresses the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed project.
  • A description of the project elements, that addresses all of the points mentioned above. This section should not exceed 10 pages, not including references.
  • An approximate budget distribution and budget justification for the 1st year of the project (not to exceed 2 pages).
  • An approximate budget distribution and budget justification for the cumulative five-year project (not to exceed 2 pages).
  • Curriculum Vitae of PIs, co-PIs and key senior personnel in NSF format.

In order to begin the process of finding reviewers, we are requesting a Letter of Intent prior to the submission of the white paper. The Letter of Intent is mandatory and will be due by COB on January 27, 2017. The white papers will be due by COB on February 17, 2017. Both the Letters of Intent and the white papers can be submitted in PDF format by email to Ms. Yeiza Hernández (yeiza.hernandez@upr.edu).
Following receipt, the white papers will be peer-reviewed and the scores of the proposals will be presented to the EPSCoR State Committee. The Committee reserves the right to accept the proposals as a whole, or as part of a package that will eventually form the submission to NSF. Any modifications to the white papers will be done through a negotiated process with the proposers. The primary intent of the EPSCoR State Committee is to submit the strongest proposal to the NSF and give Puerto Rico the maximum opportunity for approval. As decided by the EPSCoR State Committee, the final submission to NSF, representing the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico, will be through the Central Administration of the University of Puerto Rico.


Brad R Weiner, Ph.D
Professor of Chemistry and
Director, Puerto Rico EPSCoR
PO Box 70377
University of Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936-8377
Tel. 787-764-8369