The NSF today awarded the Museum of Science in Boston the funds to continue the work of the NISE Net into the next decade. At our reverse site visit last July, David Ucko, our NSF program officer for the first five years said that, when they first crafted the solicitation for the original grant that funded NISE Net, he never expected that as much would be accomplished as the NISE Net has done. It was a glowing tribute to the work of everyone in the Network.
Our NSF review panel wrote the following in their reviews:
"The NISE Net is a valuable attempt to energize public interest in science. The proposing team is eminently qualified to carry out the work."
"The NISE Net has done an impressive job the first five years of building a large core group to create a strong network."
"The NISE Net has made great progress in its goal of delivering nano ISE to a very large and diverse public."
"NISE Net developed a national network unique in the scope of its mission, scale of membership, and impact on ISE professionals and audiences."
"The results of the last five years are impressive and in many ways exceeded expectations. Looking ahead the goals for the next five years are equally ambitious."
While we just got to see these comments on August 6 a few weeks ago, the panel wrote them in June 2009! In addition to comments of praise like the ones I have quoted above, the panel also raised a number of questions mostly about how we would do certain things in years 6-10. Those were coordinated by NSF into 17 questions, which a group of us worked on during the summer last year and delivered to NSF in early October.
The final steps at NSF were complicated because NISE Net funds come from several different directorates. In many cases the program directors had changed since the original proposal was approved in 2005. The final stages of the process took 10 program approvals. Al DeSena, the NISE Net's new NSF program director, shepherded the proposal through all the necessary approvals.
A strong supporter of the NISE Net over the last five years has been Mihail (Mike) Roco, NSF's Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology. Over the last few months Roco has been leading a visioning process that has involved hundreds of scientists on three continents to create a vision for nanotechnology research in the next decade. I got to participate in a workshop on this topic at Northwestern University last spring and will attend a workshop to discuss the results on September 30. You're sure to hear more about this in the future. The first class of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers, which launched the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2001, will retire in the year ahead and many are interested in what the research agenda will be moving forward. This is, of course, great interest to the NISE Net since our future subject matter and partners may be determined by the direction of nano research in the decade ahead.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone for all of your hard work, creativity and commitment, in the first five years and I look forward to the new challenges and the new accomplishments to come.