Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers

National Science Foundation (NSF) - NSF 19-517

View the sponsor's full proposal solicitation
Investigators: The following program summary is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It does not replace the sponsor’s actual proposal solicitation. Always review the most recent version of the sponsor’s full proposal solicitation to verify that the deadline has not changed and to identify the most current program requirements.

Program Summary

The Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) program provides sustained support of interdisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering. Each MRSEC addresses research of a scope and complexity requiring the scale, synergy, and multidisciplinarity provided by a campus-based research center. The MRSECs support materials research infrastructure in the United States, promote active collaboration between universities and other sectors, including industry and international organizations, and contribute to the development of a national network of university-based centers in materials research, education, and facilities. A MRSEC may be located at a single institution, or may involve multiple institutions in partnership, and is composed of up to three Interdisciplinary Research Groups, IRGs, each addressing a fundamental materials science topic aligned with the Division of Materials Research, DMR.

Program Details

Only one MRSEC preliminary proposal may be submitted by any one organization as the lead institution in this competition.
An individual may be the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI for only one preliminary proposal, i.e., no investigator, PI or co-PI, can be listed on the NSF proposal Cover Sheet on more than one proposal.
  • Research center
  • Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Natural Sciences
  • U.S. citizens may apply
  • U.S. permanent residents may apply
  • Foreign nationals may apply
Awards are expected to range in amount from approximately $2.6 million/year for a 2-IRG MRSEC to a maximum of $4.0 million/year for a 3-IRG MRSEC.
Six (6) years.
Voluntary cost share is not allowed

On behalf of the steering committee:

Emilia Morosan, Stephan Link, Naomi Halas, Jun Kono, Jun Lou, Andriy Nevidomskyy, Doug Natelson

In keeping with the timeline that was agreed upon at the Sep 24th faculty meeting, the initial brief LOI needs to be developed into a two-page white paper. The new firm deadline for the two-page write-up is Nov 16, 2018.  If we don’t hear from you by Nov 16, we will assume that you are no longer interested in participating. 

E-mail White Papers To:

Please email the white paper files to Emilia Morosan at or Carol Lively at In addition to the white paper, briefly state how your proposal addresses each of the points below.


IRGs must:

  • be focused on leading-edge topics in materials research (be able to be evaluated E/VG at NSF)
  • be interdisciplinary and cross-cutting (not all physicists or chemists or… only)
  • be led by senior faculty (tenured)
  • be broadly visionary enough to be a five-year team effort
  • have both theory and experiment in an integrated manner
  • have up to 5 members, all Rice (for now)
  • have their own synergy (if multiple subtopics within an IRG they MUST interrelate)
  • be topics that could give rise to education/outreach subject matter opportunities
  • cannot be on the same topic as other IRGs in other MRSECs: must clearly distinguish IRG from related IRGs in other MRSECs (at ), with MRSECs up for renewal -  those that started 11/01/2014.
  • cannot be TOO engineering, must be fundamental materials research (but can certainly have an eye for applications)

At this stage, all IRG proposals should:

  • be up to two page description of the proposed project, with enough detail to appeal to non-experts 
  • include the proposed Rice team; up to 5 faculty, identify the lead - MUST be a tenured prof
  • include names of potential external reviewers for the IRG (folks who cannot only judge the science, but also evaluate it as a MRSEC IRG).

Next Steps:

The next step will involve a coordinated effort to improve the proposals, if needed, through discussions between the steering committee members and your teams. The hope is that, by the end of the year, we will agree on which IRG proposals should be expanded and developed further, so they can go out for external review in Feb-Mar 2019.

Rice Internal Due Dates

Click on the calendar icon beside each due date that you would like to add to your Google calendar.

Sponsor Due Dates

Click on the calendar icon beside each due date that you would like to add to your Google calendar.
(Not applicable)
06/24/2019 (Required)

Application Instructions

To complete the letter of intent (LOI) form and apply for this limited submission funding opportunity, log in and then click the "Submit an LOI" button in the "Actions" panel above.

Upon submission, you should receive an automatic reply indicating that your submission was received. If you do not receive such a reply, please contact the Office of Proposal Development (OPD) or the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (OCFR).