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Fact Sheet

NSF: Building America's Research Infrastructure

February 1, 2010

NSF exercises shared stewardship of the nation's research infrastructure through investments in Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC). By providing major research facilities, platforms and networks, NSF seeks to advance the frontiers of science and engineering; enable the training of a world-class science, engineering and technology workforce; and provide equipment and services to industry partners.

In the past decade, NSF has funded the construction of Earthscope, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, the Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel and much more through its MREFC account. More recently, NSF has added research networks connected by cyberinfrastructure to its portfolio.

NSF's FY 2011 MREFC budget request will provide continued funding to support construction of four ongoing projects: Advanced LIGO, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and the Ocean Observatories Initiative--a network that will provide never-before-seen views of the ocean's depths. In addition, in the FY 2011 budget request, NSF has added plans to initiate construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON is the only national experimental facility specifically designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at the continental scale over multiple decades.

NEON will collect data to understand the biosphere's response to climate and land use change, the emergence of infectious disease, the future of biodiversity, or the services the biosphere provides at temporal and spatial scales that are relevant to human well-being.

NEON will use the latest information technology to integrate data from in-situ sensors situated across the United States with airborne and satellite-based observations. Academic institutions, government agencies and NGOs will participate in NEON research and education activities.

NEON data will contribute to multi-scale models of global change that will support local, regional, national and global analyses of potential scenarios for adapting to and mitigating climate change.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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