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The Future of NSF

See how NSF got its start and hear directly from the people who, over the years, have helped make NSF what it is today.

NSF Timeline

Scroll through key events on an interactive timeline from the inception of NSF to the current day.

NSF in the News

See the latest news from NSF, including research opportunities and scientific breakthroughs.

NSF Impacts

Impacts made from funding and support from the agency tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery.

NSF Mission and Focus

Learn About NSF

Celebrating 60 years of discovery.

As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal research agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports "high risk, high pay off" ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today's revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow's top scientists and engineers.

Unlike many other federal research agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment, such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

Learn more about NSF through our history and the impacts we've made to science and discovery.