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International networks tackle grand scientific challenges, with NSF support

Press Release From: National Science Foundation
Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020

Large-scale research networks that connect U.S. researchers with partners in other nations will be key for tackling grand scientific challenges and pushing the frontiers of science in ways that are impossible for typical lab-to-lab collaborations. To meet this need, the U.S. National Science Foundation is supporting the creation of 10 new "networks of networks" that will address knowledge gaps in urgent and emerging research areas.

The awards, totaling $17 million, support research connections that build on existing global investments in research expertise and infrastructure. U.S. researchers are supported by NSF through the Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations program, or AccelNet, which aims to accelerate the process of scientific discovery and prepare the next generation of U.S. researchers for multiteam international collaborations.

"Today’s science is highly collaborative and international," said Rebecca Keiser, head of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering, which leads the AccelNet effort. "The strategic linkages across international research networks created through these AccelNet awards will enable U.S. researchers and international partners to leverage complementary resources."

The AccelNet awards will connect research networks in the U.S. with similar networks in other countries -- creating networks of networks. Their focus includes two catalytic efforts to identify key knowledge gaps and eight large-scale plans for innovative collaboration on research priorities. The networks of networks will include efforts to enhance the professional skills of students and early career researchers.

Through these 10 projects, U.S. research networks involving 29 institutions will connect with research networks and stakeholders across the globe. Funds also support a workshop for the international network-to-network collaboration teams to meet.

The new awards align with the NSF’s Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments including Quantum Leap, Rules of Life, Navigating the New Arctic and Harnessing the Data Revolution. Several awards address the U.S. national priorities of artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing. Others involve community-identified grand challenges to improve understanding of the organisms, systems and sustainability of our planet, as well as solutions to pressing problems related to the air we breathe and production of our food.

More information about the AccelNet can be found on NSF’s website, as well as a full list of awards made in Fiscal Year 2020.

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