Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program: Regular Research Awards

National Science Foundation (NSF)

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Grant amount: US $40,000 - US $400,000

Next deadline: Sep 3, 2020

Later deadlines: Sep 2, 2021

Applicant type: Postdoctoral Researcher Faculty Government Entity Nonprofit For-Profit Business College / University Research Scientist

Funding uses: Conference, Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: United States

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As specified in the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program strategic plan, the goals of the NSF Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) Program are:

  • To promote scientific research in geography and the spatial sciences that advances theory and basic understanding and that addresses the challenges facing society.
  • To promote the integration of geographers and spatial scientists in interdisciplinary research.
  • To promote education and training of geographers and spatial scientists in order to enhance the capabilities of current and future generations of researchers.
  • To promote the development and use of scientific methods and tools for geographic research.

The Geography and Spatial Sciences Program sponsors research on the geographic distributions and interactions of human, physical, and biotic systems on Earth. Investigators are encouraged to propose plans for research about the nature, causes, and consequences of human activity and natural environmental processes across a range of scales. Projects on a variety of topics qualify for support if they offer promise of contributing to scholarship by enhancing geographical knowledge, concepts, theories, methods, and their application to societal problems and concerns.

Regular research awards.

These awards provide support for individual researchers or teams of researchers for time periods ranging from one to five years to conduct investigations of specific research projects. Project budgets should be developed at scales appropriate for the work to be conducted. Regular research awards supported by GSS generally range from between $40,000 to $400,000.

Awards for conferences, workshops, group-travel support, and community-development activities.

These awards provide funding for groups of researchers for one to five years to support activities that show strong prospects for enhancing current and future research and related activity within and beyond geography and the spatial sciences. Project budgets should be developed at scales appropriate for the work to be conducted. These awards generally range between $20,000 and $300,000. (These totals include both direct and indirect costs for the entire duration of the award.)

Research coordination network (RCNs) awards.

These awards provide support for groups of researchers for three to five years to facilitate and broaden interactions within and beyond geographic and spatial science research communities in ways that will enhance basic research activities in the future. Project budgets should be developed at scales appropriate for the work to be conducted. RCN awards generally range between $300,000 and $500,000. (These totals include both direct and indirect costs for the entire duration of the award. Somewhat larger funding amounts may be possible if other NSF programs participate in joint funding of a project with GSS.) Additional information about RCN awards is accessible from the RCN solicitation

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible applicants are:
    • Universities and Colleges  Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.
      • Academic institutions located outside the US fall under "Foreign Organizations" in Ineligibility, below.
    • Non-profit, non-academic organizations  Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the US that are directly associated with educational or research activities.
    • For-profit organizations  US commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
      • An unsolicited proposal from a commercial organization may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view, special resources are available for the work, or the proposed project is especially meritorious.
      • NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of universities; therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both universities and the private commercial sector.
    • State and Local Governments  State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post-secondary levels.
    • Unaffiliated Individuals  Scientists, engineers or educators in the US and US citizens may be eligible for support, provided that the individual is not employed by, or affiliated with, an organization, and the individual:
      • has demonstrated the capability and has access to any necessary facilities to carry out the project; and
      •  agrees to fiscal arrangements that, in the opinion of the NSF Division of Grants & Agreements, ensure responsible management of Federal funds.
      • Unaffiliated individuals must contact the appropriate program prior to preparing and submitting a proposal.
    • Other Federal agencies  NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs).
      • Under unusual circumstances, other Federal agencies and FFRDCs may submit proposals directly to NSF.
      • A proposed project is only eligible for support if it meets one or more of the following exceptions, as determined by a cognizant NSF Program Officer:
        • Special Projects. Under exceptional circumstances, research or education projects at other Federal agencies or FFRDCs that can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives may receive NSF support.
        • National and International Programs. The Foundation may fund research and logistic support activities of other Government agencies or FFRDCs directed at meeting the goals of special national and international research programs for which the Foundation bears special responsibility, such as the US Antarctic Research Program.
        • International Travel Awards. In order to ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference, staff researchers of other Federal agencies may receive NSF international travel awards. 


  • Foreign organizations  NSF rarely provides support to foreign organizations.
    • NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving US and foreign organizations, provided support is requested only for the US portion of the collaborative effort.