Math/Geo Partnership at NSF

July 10, 2001

In June, speaking at the SIAM Conference on Mathematical and Computational Issues in the Geosciences, Thomas Fogwell gave his audience an advance look at the National Science Foundation's proposed "math/geosciences partnership."

Fogwell, a program director in the Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF, explained that under the partnership, DMS and the Geosciences Directorate will join to support interdisciplinary work on multiscale problems arising in the geosciences; proposals are to be submitted by groups consisting of at least one mathematical scientist and one geoscientist. The focus is intentionally narrow; problems involving the interaction of phenomena at multiple scales, in time or space, deterministic or stochastic, emerged as a major theme of a recent NSF-sponsored workshop on the mathematical and geosciences at the Institute for Mathematics and Its Applications and were selected as the focus of the partnership.

The plan, which is contingent on a substantial increase (about 17%) for DMS in 2002, is to award several research grants, at a maximum of $720,000 over three years. Proposals will also be invited for the organization of summer workshops, on the same topic, to be funded at a maximum of about $200,000 each. A formal solicitation is anticipated by the end of the summer.

Fogwell sees the partnership as a possible prototype for future DMS interactions with other divisions and directorates. It is modeled on another, much broader DMS program---Focused Research Groups---which supports "progress in scientifically focused areas of recognized or emerging importance to the mathematical sciences," with the success of the projects depending "in a crucial way upon a group effort." Along with mathematical scientists, FRGs can include researchers from other disciplines. Information about FRGs can be found at A note to interested readers: The FRG deadlines are earlier this year, the (required) letter of intent being due by August 21 and the full proposal by September 21.

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