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The Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science

Recent Solicitations

The Page maintained by John Bay, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
Contact him: Office ES-1403 | 607-777-4309 |

All US federal research agencies are required to advertise procurements (purchases, contracts, and grants) for open competition.

Announcements are on opportunity sites (see Research Opportunities) and search agents can be created to alert researchers of announcements. Those announcements are frequent, lengthy, and difficult to keep up with.

I have gathered some recent announcements that might be of specific interest to Watson School researchers. I will keep them here until their deadlines have passed. Many of these announcements will be links to the, which keeps the original announcement and recent updates or revisions.

DoD Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research Initiative (MURI)

This prestigious DoD basic research program is for teams of universities working together. You will see ARO. AFOSR, and ONR issue the BAA under different document numbers, but they are all the same document, and their topic areas are all listed (see Section II.I, "Specific MURI Topics" on page 35). Being basic research, there are no restrictions on citizenship, etc. Grant amounts are generally $1.25M -- $1.5M per year over three to five years.

NSF/NIH Smart and Connected Health (SCH) Program

This is an existing interagency program that has recently undergone some changes. The short synopsis is

"The purpose of this interagency program solicitation is to support the development of technologies, analytics and models supporting next generation health and medical research through high-risk, high-reward advances in computer and information science, engineering and technology, behavior and cognition."

... but there are many aspect to the program. 

The next proposal deadline is May 22, 2018.

AFRL C4I and Cyber Technology Symposium

AFRl (Rome) hosts this conference every alternate year. It is an open forum that allows participants to meet and talk with AFRL program managers and researchers. Registration is a little pricey, but at least it is not far away!  Note that you must be a citizen or permanent resident. Register by March 15 for early rates.

NSF Critical Techniques, Technologies and Methodologies for Advancing Foundations and Applications of Big Data Sciences and Engineering (BIGDATA) Program

The BIGDATA program seeks novel approaches in computer science, statistics, computational science, and mathematics leading towards the further development of the interdisciplinary field of data science. The program also seeks innovative applications in domain science, including social and behavioral sciences, education, physical sciences, and engineering, where data science and the availability of big data are creating new opportunities for research and insights not previously possible.

The solicitation invites two categories of proposals:

  1. Foundations (BIGDATA: F): those developing or studying fundamental theories, techniques, methodologies, and technologies of broad applicability to big data problems, motivated by specific data challenges and requirements; and
  2. Innovative Applications (BIGDATA: IA): those engaged in translational activities that employ new big data techniques, methodologies, and technologies to address and solve problems in specific application domains. Projects in this category must be collaborative, involving researchers from domain disciplines and one or more methodological disciplines, e.g., computer science, statistics, mathematics, simulation and modeling, etc.

Note from the announcement that these are anticipated to be large awards (no LESS than $600K total). There is no preliminary proposal required, and the window for submission is May 7 -- May 14.

NSF Cyber Physical Systems Program

The CPS program aims to develop the core research needed to engineer these complex CPS, some of which may also require dependable, high-confidence, or provable behaviors. Core research areas of the program include control, data analytics, autonomy, design, information management, internet of things (IoT), mixed initiatives including human-in- or on-the-loop, networking, privacy, real-time systems, safety, security, and verification.

The Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program solicitation has been revised for FY 2018, and prospective Principal Investigators are encouraged to read the solicitation carefully. Among the changes are the following:

  • Required sections have been added to the Project Description for all proposals: a "Research Description" section containing a subsection titled "Intellectual Merit", an "Evaluation/Experimentation Plan", a "Project Management and Collaboration Plan", and "Broader Impacts".
  • The Collaboration Plan is no longer a Supplementary Document. As noted above, its contents are now a required part of the Project Description and are included in a section titled "Project Management and Collaboration Plan".
  • The Medium project duration has been changed to a maximum of three years.
  • Additional review criteria have been added for all proposals in which a primary research outcome includes creation/construction of a testbed.
  • Medium and Frontier projects must include validation of theory through empirical demonstration in a prototype or testbed.
  • Additional information is included for Broadening Participation. All Frontier projects must include actionable components that seek to increase participation of underrepresented groups in computing.
  • A Proposal Preparation Checklist has been added to aid in preparation of compliant proposals. It is a summary of key items, but does not replace the complete set of requirements in the PAPPG.

The window for submission is April 27, 2018 - May 08, 2018.

NSF Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI)

This solicitation focuses upon the integration of the data and software elements of advanced cyberinfrastructure. By integrating two major and long-running NSF program solicitations [NSF 17-500: Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) and NSF 17-526: Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2)] under a single umbrella called Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI), NSF seeks to enable funding opportunities that are flexible and responsive to the evolving and emerging needs in integrated data and software cyberinfrastructure.

In particular, note that the NSF is now stressing the goal of "Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR)". HDR is aimed at fundamental data science research, research data cyberinfrastructure, and the development of a 21st-century data-capable workforce. HDR will enable new modes of data-driven discovery – allowing researchers to ask and answer new questions in frontier science and engineering, generate new knowledge and understanding, and accelerate discovery and innovation.

Preliminary proposals are not required.  The proposal deadline is April 18, 2018.

Foundation Opportunities

Russell Sage Foundation Call for Proposals: Computational Social Science

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grants for Data & Computational Research

Bloomberg Data Science Research Grant Program

NSF Expeditions in Computing

This program provides large grants ($2M/year for five years) to form interdisciplinary teams.  According to the BAA, 

Projects supported by the Expeditions program comprise the following characteristics:

  • Foster research climates that nurture creativity and informed risk-taking, and value complementary research and education contributions such that the whole Expeditions project is greater than the sum of its parts;
  • Draw upon well-integrated, diverse teams of investigators from computer and information science and engineering fields, and from other fields of science and engineering as appropriate for a given project;
  • Stimulate effective knowledge transfer; and
  • Demonstrate experimental systems, support shared experimental facilities (including instruments, platforms and/or testbeds), and/or deploy research cyberinfrastructure to accelerate discovery and learning.

Preliminary proposals are due April 25, 2018, and full proposals are due next January 16 , 2019.


Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology (ONR)

This is the long-range open BAA for the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which funds both Navy and Marine Corps science and technology. Here is the direct link to the BAA document, as most recently amended (now to cover fiscal year 2018). Note that ONR does fund basic research, though the BAA categorizes it in the military utility of that research. The individual topics are described in detail starting on page 31 (Appendix 1).  See me if you have trouble finding the relevance of your work to the BAA.

The BAA will be open for 5 years.

DARPA/I2O Office-Wide BAA

The DARPA Information Innovation Office (I2O) has released a new office-wide BAA.  This is what is known as a "generic" BAA, in the sense that it solicits new ideas that are not necessarily tied to existing programs. It is an opportunity to communicate to PMs about novel ideas, discuss seedlings, etc. This year, the office has the same three main interest areas as last year: Cyber (including cyber-physical systems), Analytics, and Symbiosis ("Partner with Machines").

As always, I recommend speaking with a DARPA program manager before submitting any sort of proposal or abstract.  This BAA will be valid until 8/31/18.

AFRL Deep Learning Program

This is an ongoing program at AFRL, so it helps to have some insider knowledge and/or/partners. The goal of the program is, as the AFRL announcement says, 

The system will automate threat detection and classification with speed and precision and in a tactically relevant timeframe, automate the generation of in-mission intelligence reports, and be responsive to intelligence squadron needs. This announcement is for acquisition under the Neuromorphic Fusion of Timely Intelligence (NFTI) program.

There are specific focus areas within this concept; see the BAA for details.  Because this is in ongoing program, I highly encourage anybody interested to talk to AFRL before submitting a proposal.  They will likely be matching new concepts with existing contracts.

You would have to have a new proposal in by May 4, 2018.

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA)

IARPA has just released a BAA that calls for ideas for "seedling" projects, which must be early-stage research (and is suitable for university projects). "IARPA invests in high-risk, high-payoff research that has the potential to provide our nation with an overwhelming intelligence advantage." They do not restrict their funding to defense contractors, or even US entities. There is a long list of topics in the BAA.

Some of interest to those in the Watson School:

  • Detection and forecasting of emergent phenomena (e.g., application of technical innovation and its adoption, novel cyber-attack methods, emerging infectious diseases).
  • Analysis and forecasting of rare events (e.g., catastrophic military conflicts, terrorist attacks, and pandemics)
  • Causal inference from observational data.
  • Reliable, real-time feedback methods for assessing human judgment and reasoning;
  • Discovering, tracking and categorizing emerging trends, events, and entities;
  • Forensics on multimedia and/or social network data;
  • Enhancement of machine learning methods with transparent representations that allow for validation and high confidence in results;
  • Scalable cross-media anomaly detection and/or discovery methods to identify data and patterns resulting from distinct or novel causal processes;
  • Methods to rapidly identify, assess relevancy and reliability of, and/or exploit emerging or alternative sources of information or methods;
  • Novel graph analytic techniques for representing, reasoning, and learning from massive or sparsely sampled heterogeneous data;
  • Autonomous agent, machine learning and/or physiological intelligence methods to gather latent or suppressed knowledge;
  • Scalable anomaly detection and discovery methods to identify data and patterns resulting from distinct or novel causal processes;
  • Financial market data analyses to complement current intelligence sources and methods;
  • Computational social policy;
  • Inference and privacy;
  • Brain computer interfaces to enhance cognitive processing or increase bandwidth of human-machine interactions;
  • Novel ideas for technologies enabling energy-efficient computation beyond the efficiency projected for end-of-roadmap silicon, as well as strategies for using existing computing technologies to compute with lower power budgets;
  • Methods (including compilers and programming languages) for performing complicated computations securely, e.g. multi-party secure functional computation, full homomorphic encryption (HE) and HE applications, but with low overhead;
  • Tools to identify and mask signal streams and records that contain personal information to avoid unauthorized collection and dissemination;
  • Computational photography;
  • Activity based intelligence;
  • Distributed sensing techniques.
  • Methods to estimate system performance in challenging circumstances; such as estimating accuracy of rare event forecasts, estimating the number of events not discovered by event discovery systems (e.g. number of cyber-attacks not detected), estimating system classification accuracy using only very fallible human raters, or in-situ performance estimates where data on the inputs and outputs contains measurement error, missing data and possible bias;
  • Topological exploratory data analysis for time evolving graphics or other related data structures;

This is an "open BAA" and will be valid until 2 May 2018. I suggest that you see me for guidance on applying for these opportunities.


DARPA's Defense Sciences Office (DSO) portrays itself as "DARPA's DARPA".  Whereas much of DARPA's research is applied and military-transition oriented, the DSO office entertains much more basic research. Their broad-categories of interest are "complexity engineering, science of design, noosphere, fundamental limits, and new foundations." This new office-wide BAA also has instructions for formatting and submitting abstracts and proposals.

Updated Naval Research Lab (NRL) BAA

The long-term BAA for the Naval Research lab has been updated, and includes many topic areas of relevance to the Watson School. The included, among others, high assurance computing, networking, optical sciences, power source materials and sciences, microsensors, molecular biology, flexible substrates, materials performance, high temperature plasmas, photovoltaics, imaging systems, and corrosion processes, mitigation, and control. See the new BAA here.


As with all DARPA offices, the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) publishes an "open" BAA that proposers can reference when submitting a proposal. Here are DARPA/BTO's interests:

  • Discovering and leveraging novel findings from neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, and related disciplines to advance treatment and resilience in neurological health and optimize human performance.
  • Understanding and improving interfaces between the biological and physical world to enable seamless hybrid systems.
  • Developing and leveraging fundamental understanding of the underlying design rules that govern the behavior of biological systems.
  • Developing new tools and capabilities for forward engineering of biological systems, such as cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and complex communities, to both develop new products and functional systems, as well as to gain new insights into underlying mechanisms.
  • Developing new platform technologies that integrate, automate, and miniaturize the collection, processing, and analysis of biological samples.
  • Developing technologies that leverage ecological diversity and/or help support human operations in extreme environments (ocean, desert, space, etc.).
  • Developing and validating new theories and computational models that identify factors and principles underlying collective and interactive behaviors of biological organisms at all scales from individual cells to global ecosystems.
  • Understanding the dynamics of population and ecosystem behavior to preserve equilibrium, provide strategic opportunity, or avoid catastrophe.
  • Developing and leveraging new technologies that can be applied to agricultural ecosystems for production stabilization, by improving quality or reducing losses from pathogens or pests.
  • Developing and leveraging new insights into non-human biology across and between populations of microbes, insects, plants, marine life, and other non-human biologic entities.
  • Developing new technologies and approaches that ensure biosafety, biosecurity, and protection of the bioeconomy.
  • Understanding emerging threats to global food and water supplies and developing countermeasures that could be implemented on regional or global scales.
  • Developing new technologies to treat, prevent, and predict the emergence and spread of infectious diseases that have the potential to cause significant health, economic, and social burden

Army Research Office and Army Research Laboratory Open BAAs

Like the Air Force and the Navy, the Army has distinct offices to fund basic research (the Army Research Office, ARO) and applied (the Army Research Laboratory, ARL). (Technically, ARO is part of ARL, just as AFOSR is part of AFRL). As you would expect, the ARO funds more fundamental research, which has more university participants. This does not mean that ARL research is exclusively for industry, but it does tend to require more experience with specific applications. If you look through the ARO BAA at the above link, you will see descriptions of fundamental science and engineering interests, as well as special programs such as Young Investigator Programs, PECASE, research instrumentation, symposia, and some international projects.  In the ARL BAA you will see what they refer to as "campaigns." Each campaign will integrate fundamental science and engineering projects, and will likely culminate in a demonstrate and collaboration with government researchers.  Both BAAs are open to university researchers. 

These are "open" BAAs, valid until 2022. The Army strongly encourages researchers to make preliminary inquiries, even before a white paper is contemplated.

AFRL Proposal/BAA Guide

For everybody who writes proposals to the Air Force Research Laboratory:  AFRL has issued a revised proposal writing guide (with formats, etc).  See the link above, and the nested links therein, to MS Word docs, etc.

Research Interests of AFOSR

This is not a new program, but some modifications were made to the BAA. It is worth taking a fresh look, because AFOSR has been a very good customer of Binghamton in the past, and they are good sponsors to work with. They sponsor open, basic research, and I can help tie a lot of topics to Air Force S&T priorities. This is an open BAA, but if you talk to the program managers, you will find out specific deadlines for individual project funds.


Previously I had posted a notice that the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office was conducting an Industry Day to inform potential performers what the office's focus areas are for the coming year. That solicitation has now been published in the form of a Broad Area Announcement (BAA).

Some specific areas of interest to the Watson School include chip-scale sensors, MEMS, energy-efficient computing, heterogeneous integration, low volume microsystems manufacturing, photonic and electronic interconnects, and thermal management. See the BAA for instructions on how to apply.

Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology

The Dept of Homeland Security has a sizable budget to support science and technology in diverse areas of interest. This long-term BAA describes opportunities in border and maritime security (inc. sensors), chemical and biological defense (inc. sensors and countermeasures), cyber security (many areas, including data analytics and CPS), explosives countermeasures, first-responder technologies (inc. data-sharing, and standards development).

This is a five-year BAA that will be open until December 2018.

NEW for April 2017:  DHS has issued another open BAA, open for five years.

Last Updated: 3/23/18