• Proposal: 02/05/2020


  • Amount: Up to $3M



The following changes have been made from the previous version of this solicitation:

  1. The upper limit for budget requests cannot exceed $3 million, including funds to be paid directly to NSF-supported facilities.
  2. Changes have been made to clarify procedures for co-review from programs outside of the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR).
  3. The page length for the Project Description, and components thereof, has been reduced.
  4. Community projects have been defined and explained.

The Frontier Research in Earth Sciences (FRES) program invites research proposals that transcend the disciplinary foci and budgetary limitations of disciplinary programs in the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR). The program will consider proposals about processes that operate on and control the evolution of the continents, surface environments, and the Earth’s interior over all spatial and time scales. Understanding the processes, dynamics, and evolution of complex systems is typically beyond the abilities and expertise of a single scientist and may require cooperative interdisciplinary efforts and integration of disparate data sets and outcomes.

The FRES program will also support projects that are within the bounds of a single research domain but are larger in scope and budget than those typically funded by disciplinary programs. Successful FRES projects will have outcomes that extend beyond those of a single discipline and have relevance to a wider cross-section of Earth science fields. Projects may employ any combination of field, laboratory, and computational studies with observational, theoretical, or experimental approaches.

An essential component of innovation in science is the ability to extrapolate observations and data into new regimes, to develop new hypotheses, or to design new models that can be adapted or applied to broader problems in the Earth sciences. FRES thus presents an opportunity to amplify and extend the outcomes of projects funded by EAR programs.

FRES welcomes collaborations with researchers outside the disciplinary boundaries of EAR to help address questions in line with EAR goals. FRES will consider community projects, i.e. those that benefit a wide group of researchers and incorporate community input into their design. Access to data and samples should be granted as they are acquired. The emphasis of community projects should be on data acquisition and initial processing and less so on scientific analysis.

The broader impacts activities must be an integral part of the proposed project; this can be demonstrated by explicit plans for broader-impacts activities, expertise of collaborators, the proposal budget, and budget justification. Successful projects will include creative, integrative, and effective activities developed within the context of the mission, goals, and resources of the organizations involved. Partnerships with institutions serving students under-represented in the Earth Sciences are encouraged.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

An individual may serve as Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator, or Senior Personnel on only one FRES proposal for each annual deadline.

Proposed projects that transcend what is typically funded by EAR (for example, those with significant atmosphere, ocean, oceanic lithosphere, or biosphere components) may be co-reviewed by other organizations within NSF; proposers should contact the Program Directors in those other organizations to inquire about possible co-review of the proposal.

Likewise, investigators interested in research questions that involve the use of facilities, such as research vessels or aircraft managed by other NSF organizations, must contact the relevant Program Directors in those organizations. Proposers should document these inquiries by sending copies of the relevant correspondence to the FRES program directors. Programs for which co-review is requested should also be listed on line 2 of the cover page.

Contact Information

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Dennis Geist, telephone: (703) 292-4361, email:
  • Margaret Fraiser, telephone: (703) 292-8172, email:
  • Richard F. Yuretich, telephone: (703) 292-4744, email:
  • Margaret Benoit, telephone: (703) 292-7233, email: