NSF EPSCoR began in 1979 as a federal-state partnership designed to help America maintain its global leadership by capitalizing on talents and resources available in all states of the union. EPSCoR enhances research competitiveness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in targeted jurisdictions. The goals of NSF EPSCoR include: catalyze research capabilities across and among jurisdictions, establish STEM professional development pathways, broaden participation of diverse groups in STEM, effect engagement in STEM at national and global levels, and impact jurisdictional (state) economic development.

Alabama researchers are eligible for the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grants, there are four: Tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4, which work to improve the research and development competitiveness of researchers within the jurisdiction. Log onto https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/programs/epscor/ for more information.

The NSF EPSCoR program is designed to advance national excellence in science and engineering by funding research and education opportunities throughout EPSCoR eligible states and territories. The goal of the EPSCoR program is to achieve sustainable increases in research, education, training capacity, and competitiveness.  The EPSCoR program enables EPSCoR jurisdictions to have increased engagement in areas supported by the NSF. An EPSCoR jurisdiction is either a state or territory that is eligible to participate in EPSCoR programs if their level of NSF research support is equal to or less than 0.75% of the total NSF research and related activities budget for the most recent three-year period.  Alabama currently receives 0.45% of the total NSF Research and Related Activities (R&RA) budget and is eligible for EPSCoR Funding.

NSF EPSCoR uses three major investment strategies to achieve the goal of improving the R&D competitiveness of researchers and institutions within EPSCoR jurisdictions. These strategies include the Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Program, Co-Funding of Disciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research, and Workshops and Outreach.  These programs are detailed below and include descriptions of eligibility for universities and faculty associated with the ALEPSCoR program.

NSF RII Impact

As of July 2019, Alabama NSF EPSCoR has an ongoing grants in all NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award programs – Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 4. There is one $20M Track 1 grant, six Track 2 collaborative projects, one Track 3 grant, and eight Track 4 awards.

1.) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Program
Track 1 – Academic Research Infrastructure
Statewide initiative
Track 2 – Focused EPSCoR Collaborations
Alabama universities and institutions
Track 3 – Broadening Participation
Underrepresented groups in STEM fields
Track 4 – Research Fellowships
Non-tenured investigators

FY2017 EPSCoR Eligibility Table

2.) Co-Funding of Disciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research
EPSCoR co-invests with NSF Directorates and offices in the support of meritorious proposals from individual investigators, groups, and centers in EPSCoR jurisdictions that are submitted to the Foundation’s research and education programs, and crosscutting initiatives. These proposals have been merit reviewed and recommended for award, but could not be funded without the combined, leveraged support of EPSCoR and the Research and Education Directorates. Co-funding leverages EPSCoR investment and facilitates participation of EPSCoR scientists and engineers in Foundation-wide programs and initiatives.

To accelerate the movement of EPSCoR researchers and institutions into the mainstream of NSF support, EPSCoR Co-funding is available to provide joint support for certain meritorious proposals submitted to NSF’s research, education and cross-cutting competitions. The objectives of the EPSCoR Co-funding mechanism are to:

  • Increase the number and competitiveness of EPSCoR jurisdiction investigators and institutions who participate in NSF research, technology, and education programs.
  • Increase the participation of EPSCoR jurisdiction researchers and institutions in regional alliances and national collaborations.
  • Broaden participation in science and engineering by institutions, organizations, and people within and among EPSCoR jurisdictions.

Co-funding is not a program to which proposals can be submitted. Instead, it is a funding mechanism that operates internally within NSF and does not involve any action on the part of the proposer. The EPSCoR co-funding mechanism addresses “fund-if-possible” proposals that the NSF internal merit-review process places at or near the cutoff for funding through the program to which they were submitted.  EPSCoR co-funding may be requested by the managing program for these meritorious proposals which could not be supported due to funding limitations within the managing program or other overriding program priorities. The co-funding of an award is an automatic process for EPSCoR eligible states and is open to any university or institution within these states.  Up to 50% of an NSF award can be provided by NSF EPSCoR co-funding, reducing the ‘cost’ to the NSF program by 50% and funding research that would otherwise have been excluded. Competitively written proposals can increase their potential for co-funding by addressing the EPSCoR programmatic priorities.

EPSCoR programmatic priorities include:

  • Researchers who have not previously or recently (e.g., during the last three years) received NSF awards.
  • Collaborative efforts within and across participating jurisdictions and at regional, national, and/or international levels.
  • Cross-discipline, cross-directorate or NSF-wide funding opportunities.
  • NSF investments and funding priorities in the current fiscal year.
  • Enhancing participation of underrepresented individuals, organizations, and/or institutions.
  • Equipment that builds research capacity at the institutions or jurisdictional level.
  • Enhancing institutional research capacity and competitiveness.
  • Training opportunities for K-12 students and/or professional development for K-12 teachers.
  • Activities that exemplify NSF’s commitment to the integration of research and education.
  • Proposals that do not match one or more of these priorities directly may also be considered for their suitability for Co-funding.

Additional information about the Co-Funding of awards can be found here.

3.) Workshops and Outreach 
EPSCoR solicits requests for support of workshops, conferences, and other community-based activities designed to explore opportunities in emerging areas of science and engineering, and to share best practices in planning and implementation in strategic planning, diversity, communication, cyberinfrastructure, evaluation, and other areas of importance to EPSCoR jurisdictions. EPSCoR also supports outreach travel that enables NSF staff from all Directorates and offices to work with the EPSCoR research community regarding NSF opportunities, priorities, programs, and policies. Such travel also serves to more fully acquaint NSF staff with the science and engineering accomplishments, ongoing activities, and new directions and opportunities in research and education in the jurisdictions.

The previous outline and additional information about the NSF EPSCoR program can be found here.