November 10, 2021

Vanderbilt-wide Limited Submission Opportunity: NSF Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships

Vanderbilt University may submit 3 preliminary proposals as the lead institution for the NSF Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships program.

Applications due December 9, 2021 

Vanderbilt (VU + VUMC): This is a joint competition for VU and VUMC investigators. All investigators should follow these instructions. 

Vanderbilt University may submit 3 preliminary proposals as the lead institution for the NSF Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships program. (Note that VUMC faculty are eligible to apply to this internal competition.) 

The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships-Discovery and Innovation to Address Vexing Scientific and Societal Challenges program supports exceptionally innovative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term awards. STCs focus on creating new scientific paradigms, establishing entirely new scientific disciplines and developing transformative technologies which have the potential for broad scientific or societal impact. STCs conduct world-class research through partnerships among institutions of higher education, national laboratories, industrial organizations, other public or private entities, and via international collaborations, as appropriate. They provide a means to undertake potentially groundbreaking investigations at the interfaces of disciplines and/or highly innovative approaches within disciplines. STCs may involve any area of science and engineering that NSF supports. STC investments support the NSF vision of creating and exploiting new concepts in science and engineering and providing global leadership in research and education. 

Centers provide a rich environment for encouraging future scientists, engineers, and educators to take risks in pursuing discoveries and new knowledge. STCs foster excellence in education by integrating education and research, and by creating bonds between learning and inquiry so that discovery and creativity fully support the learning process. 

NSF expects STCs to demonstrate leadership in the involvement of groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering at all levels (faculty, students, and postdoctoral researchers) within the Center. Centers use either proven or innovative mechanisms to address issues such as recruitment, retention and mentorship of participants from underrepresented groups. 

Centers must undertake activities that facilitate knowledge transfer, i.e., the exchange of scientific and technical information with the objective of disseminating and utilizing knowledge broadly in multiple sectors. Examples of knowledge transfer include technology transfer, providing key information to public policy-makers, or dissemination of knowledge from one field of science to another. 

Eligibility Information: 

A single organization may submit a maximum of three preliminary proposals as the lead institution. Full proposals are to be submitted only when invited by NSF. The STC program will not support more than one Center from any one lead institution in this competition. 

The PI/Center Director must be a full-time faculty member at an institution of higher education and have an established record of leading research teams and excellent verbal and written communication skills. A PI or co-PI on one proposal in this competition may not be a participant in another STC proposal under review in the same competition. If a proposal is declined at any stage of the review process, a PI or co-PI on the declined proposal may then participate in another STC proposal. 

Past members of STCs may participate in this open competition only if the proposed research and education topics or themes are substantially different from those they pursued with prior NSF Center support. The proposal must focus on a different research topic. New proposals that simply extend the methods and intent of a past STC to a slightly larger scope or a new geographic area will be returned without review. 


Lead institutions are expected to develop partnerships with other organizations, such as: other universities and colleges, national laboratories, research museums, private sector research laboratories, state and local government laboratories, and international organizations as appropriate. While not every partner must support all Center activities, all of the expected features of the Center must be accomplished through the partners’ activities. There is no limit on the number of proposals in which an organization participates as a partner institution. 

NSF further encourages, but does not require, international dimensions, where appropriate. STCs are encouraged to form substantive and long-term partnerships and collaborations among various types of institutions, in particular with institutions that serve diverse populations of students and have diverse faculty in STEM. STC partnerships are expected to include minority-serving institutions. Ideally, all academic partners will contribute to the research education and broadening participation components of the STC. 


Proposed STC annual budgets may range up to $6.0M per year for 5 years of NSF support, with the possibility of an additional five years of funding. Each preliminary and invited full proposal must demonstrate institutional commitment in the area proposed. 

See the solicitation for more information.  

Internal Application Process: 

Anyone interested in being one of Vanderbilt’s nominees must submit the following via by 5 p.m. on December 9: 

  • Description of your project (2 pages max). 
  • Include a brief discussion of the following: 
  • The vision for the proposed Center that clearly outlines the grand challenge(s) being addressed, the breakthroughs being sought, the potential impacts, and intended legacies of the center 
  • A list of participating institutions, faculty, and other project personnel 
  • Summary budget 
  • Biographical Sketch or CV 
  • Letter of support from Department Chair or Center Director 

Any questions about this opportunity or the LSO process can be directed to