Science Policy & Funding News

An NSF Geosciences Road Map to Be Revised with Community Input

The agency requests comments by 15 April.


The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advisory Committee for Geosciences (AC GEO) is updating a key strategic planning document originally issued in 2014. The document, Dynamic Earth: GEO Imperatives and Frontiers 2015–2020, focuses on imperatives in research, community resources and infrastructure, data and infrastructure, and education and diversity while also looking at research frontiers.

To incorporate in a refreshed version of the report recent developments and future directions for many disciplines supported by NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences, the committee is seeking ideas and guidance from the geosciences community.

An NSF call for comments on the revision stated, “With your input, AC GEO will develop a report that provides a clear picture of the exciting areas on the leading edge of the geosciences, captures the importance of curiosity-driven research to better understand our planet and its many interconnected systems, and explains the importance of the geosciences to our society and economy.”

Time for an Update

The current incarnation of Dynamic Earth was designed to articulate what the geosciences advisory committee regarded as high-priority research themes and desirable focus areas at the time the report was being developed, AC GEO chair Kip Hodges of Arizona State University in Tempe told Eos. Whereas the document was to be something like a 5-year vision statement for 2015–2020 period, the intent was for it to be updated and extended episodically, he said, adding that the advisory committee feels that now is the right time for such an update.

“It is critically important for AC GEO to gather the thoughts and perspectives of a broad cross section of the scientific research and education community in order to develop and deliver the most effective report to NSF GEO,” he said.

The document serves two important roles, according to Hodges, who is founding professor and founding director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at his university. “The first is to help the Directorate determine how best to focus its resources in the face of a challenging budget outlook. The second is to serve as a document that helps the Directorate more effectively publicize the societal benefits of government support of the geosciences. While an updated Dynamic Earth will be a document written by and on behalf of the Advisory Committee, we encourage our colleagues to contribute ideas and their perceptions of compelling research priorities while the new document is in its early developmental stages.”

New Opportunities?

William Easterling, head of NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences, told Eos that Dynamic Earth is an important document to help guide the directorate and that it is vital for the science community to respond to the call for comments and have their voices heard as the road map gets revisited.

Easterling said it is important to “get the sense of the community as to how relevant Dynamic Earth continues to be, and just as importantly what new opportunities may have emerged that might be part of what you might think of as an ‘addendum’ to the document.”

“The science process works best when it adheres to the values that most researchers live within, and that’s the principles of shared governance,” he noted. “Science knowledge is not the result of a democratic process, to be sure, but the decisions that are made on major directions really ought to be informed by the community of scientists that work in the area.”

Comments on the report, requested by 15 April, can be sent to [email protected].

—Randy Showstack (@RandyShowstack), Staff Writer

Citation: Showstack, R. (2018), An NSF Geosciences road map to be revised with community input, Eos, 99, Published on 28 March 2018.
Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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