Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program Call for Proposals
Anticipated ROSES-22 Amendment or ROSES-23 New Program
This page contains Planning Information for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Bridge Program Call for Proposals, which is anticipated to appear as a ROSES-23 New Program. The page is organized as follows:
This web page is for information and planning only. The Bridge opportunity and all of its parameters (including eligibility, other requirements, budgets, etc.) will be released as part of ROSES-2023 and that text may differ from what appears here.
The NASA SMD Bridge Program is a new initiative to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) within 1) the NASA workforce and 2) the broader U.S. science and engineering communities.
The program’s primary goal is to develop sustainable partnerships among institutions historically under-resourced by NASA, e.g., Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)), Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), Primarily Black Institutions (PBIs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Community Colleges; and very highly research-intensive universities and NASA Centers or Facilities. These partnerships are expected to focus on paid research and engineering student positions at participating institutions with the goal of transitioning science and engineering students from undergraduate studies into graduate schools and/or employment by NASA or related institutions.
A community workshop was held in October 2022 to engage NASA and potential Bridge partners to understand the current landscape at a variety of under-resourced institutions (URIs) and to co-create the program. Findings from the workshop have provided a foundation for establishing funding opportunities in the Bridge Program.
In addition to strong support for NASA’s intention to solicit full Bridge Partnership proposals via ROSES F.20 SMD Bridge Program (see planning information), a common theme from the workshop was the need for NASA to also facilitate new potential Bridge partnerships where no NASA collaboration currently exists, through seed funding. Another key theme from the workshop was the importance of strong positive mentorship in developing students into STEM professionals, as well as the impacts of poor mentorship on retention of STEM students. A report from the workshop will be made public in the near future, and be made available on the SMD Bridge Website. Workshop content, including agenda, recordings and presentations may be reviewed at: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/smdfall2022/agenda/.
A mentoring plan describing overarching goals for the students, and roles and responsibilities of mentors at the partner institutions, is required. Mentoring models that involve collaboration between faculty and NASA scientists and engineers that engage faculty, as well as students, in current or future Science Mission Directorate (SMD)-funded research are encouraged. Proposals also may include capacity-building efforts at those partner institutions historically under-resourced in the NASA research and engineering enterprise. The student experiences may focus on science, engineering, technology development or computational methods/modeling projects in any science area of relevance to SMD.
Bridge teams that focus on the goal to develop sustainable partnerships among institutions historically under-resourced by NASA may include faculty, students and NASA Center or Project mentors (scientists and/or engineers engaged in NASA research, missions, and/or instrument or technology development). The NASA Center or Project Mentor(s) may play a key, critical role in the mentorship of the students during research experiences, including creating and maintaining a positive, safe and inclusive work environment, partnering with faculty mentors, and connecting students with relevant resources at the Centers.
While research involvement of faculty at under-resourced institutions is encouraged in Bridge proposals, this is not a requirement, since expanding research opportunities to students is the primary focus of the Bridge program. The faculty member may, for example, serve as the member of the mentor cohort responsible for ensuring that the student research experience is well aligned with the academic goals of the student, and that the student makes adequate progress towards graduation.
SMD expects to award ~$5M per year to successful Bridge teams. Proposals can be submitted in four broad funding categories (Small, Medium, Large or Key program), with Small proposal budgets requesting <$70K per year; Medium <$150K per year; and Large < $500K per year. “Key Program” proposals must propose to build a consortium of partner institutions whose goals include increasing the research capacity across multiple participating institutions, with a higher funding level (<$2M per year). For all cost categories, funding duration can range from one to five years.
Funded SMD Bridge teams may support faculty and students in paid research and engineering opportunities appropriate to their career levels, from apprenticeships and internships to graduate research to postdoctoral opportunities to PUI faculty researcher partnerships.
The SMD Bridge Program is multifaceted. Proposals relevant to a specific SMD division, or multiple divisions are eligible. Partnerships may involve any NASA Center or facility or a NASA Science mission. Research experiences eligible for Bridge funding may align with any element(s) described in ROSES, including Divisional research and analysis (R&A) programs, Data Science, technology (e.g., instrument) development, and missions outside of ROSES.
While partnerships with NASA Centers are encouraged, proposals to bridge with a significant NASA-funded project led by a non-NASA organization (such as a Principal Investigator (PI)-led mission with a University) are allowable.
F.23 SMD Bridge Program Seed Funding
SMD Bridge Program Seed Funding awards are expected to have a budget up to ~$300,000 for a duration of 24 months. These awards are not intended to be a form of long-term support, but to facilitate the development or continuation of partnerships that will lead to future proposals to NASA, such as a full Bridge Partnership proposal, (see https://science.nasa.gov/smd-bridge-program) in the next one to three years. The expected total program budget for new awards ~$2-4M/Year, to be awarded to up to 30 teams, pending adequate proposals of merit.
F.20 SMD Bridge Program (Due dates TBD)
Below is a notional, initial breakdown of expected types and number awards for the full SMD Bridge Program.
Year 1 (1 to 5 year awards)
Proposals must be relevant to a science objective(s) of one or more SMD Divisions, Offices, and/or missions. Bridge teams may include scientists and engineers supporting archived, operational and/or developing NASA flight missions to provide authentic student work experiences with NASA experts, facilities and resources. Bridge teams may include scientists and engineers who support instrument and technology development for future NASA missions.
A yearly symposium or similar event, to bring together current as well as potential Bridge participants is anticipated. This event may be fully virtual, in person or hybrid depending on circumstances. The first symposium may occur shortly after selectable Bridge programs begin to receive funding. The goals of the symposium will be to connect Bridge teams to each other and offer opportunities for faculty, students and NASA Center or Project mentors to network, share experiences, foster new collaborations and communicate with each other.
F.23 SMD Bridge Program Seed Funding
Bridge Program Seed Funding proposals may be submitted at any time but will be reviewed as follows:
Thereafter, submit via ROSES-2024, expected to be released February 14, 2024.
F.20 SMD Bridge Program
The time frame estimate for proposals for full SMD Bridge Program Partnerships is:
- Release of final Call (as ROSES F.20): No earlier than Summer, 2023
- Pre-proposal webinar: ~3 weeks after final text release
- Proposals due: NET 90 days after final text release
- Selection announced: 1st Quarter Calendar Year 2024 (target)
A proposal template may be made available prior to release of the final text. Proposers should read the final text carefully when it is released.
NASA has not approved the final call for Bridge proposals, and therefore this community announcement for public comment does not obligate NASA to include all or any elements described in the final text. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in preparing submissions in response to this announcement are incurred completely at the submitter's own risk.
Questions may be addressed via email only to Dr. Patricia “Padi” Boyd, Bridge Program Director, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails may be acknowledged individually, and when appropriate responses will be posted a Questions and Answers (Q&A) on this site. Anonymity of persons or institutions submitting questions will be preserved.
Updates to this information will be posted on this site.