NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)

The PIRE program supports fundamental research in physical, living, human, and engineered systems involving an international collaborator. Proposed activities must fall within the scope of NSF’s Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) initiative1. NSF especially encourages research on global sustainability issues including, but not limited to, climate change, clean energy, food security, biodiversity, and communication networks.

Key Dates (2011-12):

Thursday, Sept 15:
Internal proposals due to
Sept. 16-22:
ORSP will coordinate reviews and select pre-proposal to submit
Friday, Sept 23:
ORSP will announce selected pre-proposal
Sept 24 – Oct 17:
Investigators can edit/improve pre-proposal
Tuesday, Oct 18:
Final pre-proposal due to ORSP (Program Development Specialist)
Wednesday, Oct 19:
Pre-proposal due to NSF
May 15:
Full proposal deadline to NSF (invited pre-proposals only)
40 to 60 invited proposals; 10 to 15 awards of up $4M per award over 5-years.
Cost Sharing:
UM may submit 1 pre-proposal; Investigators may participate in multiple.

For More information:

To participate in online UM PIRE discussion group in Wiggio (e.g., to offer your collaboration, or look for internal collaborators), go to: http://umnsfpire.wiggio.com


  • Questions on format and submission process: Mickey McLaurin,
  • Questions on content, internal competition, or to offer to review proposals, or to obtain Wiggio group password: Jason Hale,

UM/ORSP Internal Pre-proposal Process and Review Criteria for NSF-PIRE

Internal pre-proposals will follow the pre-proposal format described in the Solicitation. Please read the entire Solicitation carefully before preparing your pre-proposal.

Internal reviewers will be comprised of UM faculty and staff who volunteer in response to this call for proposals and reviewers. In the event of insufficient volunteers, additional reviewers will be provided by the ORSP Division of Research Resources.

Internal pre-proposal2

Must follow the format described in the Solicitation:

  • Project Summary (1 page; separate Intellectual Merit & Broader Impacts)
  • Project Description (<= 6 pages)
    • Administrative Summary (<= 1 page)
    • Research Summary (<= 3 pages)
    • Education Summary (<= 2 pages)
  • These supplementary documents3:
    • If post-docs are to be funded, Post-doctoral Mentoring Plan (<= 1 page) (This item is not required during the pre-proposal stage.)
    • Data Management Plan (<= 1 page) (This item is not required during the pre-proposal stage.)
    • Biosketch of PI in NSF Format
  • Not Required for the internal pre-proposal: Biosketches of Co-PIs or Other Senior Personnel, Cover Sheet, Conflict of Interest Statement, Other Supplemental Documentation

UM Internal Review Criteria/Checklist:

  • Intellectual Merit: Research
    • Identifies specific, ambitious, attainable, basic science research goals
    • Identifies an exciting, big impact or transformation opportunity
    • SEES relevance
    • Value added through international partners is clear
    • Coherence of proposed activities
    • Specific details reflect well-considered approaches
    • Understandable to a scientifically literate reviewer from any field
    • Strength of PI:
      • (Inter)national standing and stature in sustainability research
      • experience managing major projects
      • senior faculty
  • Intellectual Merit: Education
    • Integrates research with education
    • Clarity and reasonableness of educational goals
    • Why goals can’t be met through other funding mechanisms
    • Justification described in pedagogical context
  • Broader Impacts
    • Involves under-represented U.S. groups in STEM
    • Involves faculty, students, and post-doctoral researchers (mentoring plan)
    • Data Management Plan (This item is not required during the pre-proposal stage.)
    • Other broader impacts, as identified by NSF4
  • Administrative
    • Appropriate length of study (<= 5 years)
    • Budget is appropriate scope and scale for proposal; reflects true needs (Budget is not required during the pre-proposal stage.)
    • Project management well-considered
    • References present, appropriate, and correctly formatted
  • If co-funding is proposed for PIRE partners, topic and partner compliance
    • RCUK: Sustainable Materials for Energy
    • MES: Nanoscience, Energy, and Information Technology
    • JST: Low Carbon Society, Alternative Materials & Energy, or Water Management for Climate Change Adaptation
    • IAI: Global Change, Mitigation, and Adaption
    • USAID: Partner from developing country: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/
    • US EPA: Sustainability science and education in environmental research areas


  1. For SEES information, see: http://www.nsf.gov/sees
  2. For precise details of pre-proposal format, see NSF solicitation.
  3. See NSF Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.j, Special Info. & Supplementary Docs.: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/gpg_2.jsp#IIC2j
  4. See NSF Merit Review Broader Impacts Criterion, Representative Activities, July 2007: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/broaderimpacts.pdf