July 06, 2007

NSF Asked to Plan New Transformative Research Initiative

The National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation, established a Task Force on Transformative Research in 2004 to better understand NSF policies to solicit, identify, and fund innovative, potentially transformative research. Transformative research is defined as research driven by ideas that have the potential to radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or lead to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science or engineering.

The NSB recently published a report, Enhancing Support of Transformative Research at the National Science Foundation, that recommends that NSF “enhance its ability to identify and fund transformative research” and develop a new Transformative Research Initiative “distinguishable by its potential impact on prevailing paradigms and by the potential to create new fields of science, to develop new technologies and open new frontiers.”

The report states that the “Initiative is meant to be only the first step toward achieving a broader and longer-term capacity for supporting revolutionary ideas within NSF and, more importantly, toward providing the freedom that encourages greater boldness of ideas and aspirations within the research community.”

The NSB has asked NSF to report back with a preliminary plan for the Transformative Research Initiative by the August 2007 Board meeting.