To stimulate interest and activity in mathematical research, the National Science Foundation intends to support up to ten NSF-CBMS Regional Research Conferences in 2018. In the 48 year history of this NSF-CBMS Regional Research Conference Series, a total of 358 such conferences have been held.
Each five day conference features a distinguished lecturer who delivers ten lectures on a topic of important current research in one sharply focused area of the mathematical sciences. The lecturer subsequently prepares an expository monograph based upon these lectures, which is normally published as a part of a regional conference series. Depending upon the conference topic, the monograph is published by the American Mathematical Society, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, or jointly by the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.
Support is provided for about 30 participants at each conference and the conference organizer invites both established researchers and interested newcomers, including postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, to attend.
The continuing success and strength of this conference series over the past 48 years is due to certain distinguishing features which differentiate these conferences from typical research conferences. These are:
1. Focus on a single important and timely area of research by a leading practitioner.
Each conference lecturer is a major contributor to the subject area of the conference and has a broad perspective on that area. The lectures pull together the major ideas and recent results and chart the possible future directions for the field. The purpose of this format is to ensure that the participants, especially the new or recent entrants to the field, gain a deeper understanding of the major outstanding problems and current directions of research in the field than they would get from the typical conference format where many people present talks on their own results.
2. Published monograph for a wider audience.
The monograph based on the lectures presents, to a much wider audience than the conference alone provides, a carefully prepared synthesis of and perspective on an active field of research by one of its leading contributors.
3. Continued effect and local stimulation through regional emphasis.
The purpose of the regional emphasis, with many of the participants drawn from areas geographically proximate to the host institution, is to provide a strong stimulus for increased local research activity and to assure that the contacts made during the conference will continue. Participants include not only established researchers but also newcomers to the field such as graduate students, postdocs, and faculty wishing to learn a new area.
Colleges or universities with at least some research competence in the field of the proposal are eligible to apply. Since a major goal of these conferences is to attract new researchers into the field of the conference and to stimulate new research activity, institutions that are interested in upgrading or improving their research efforts are especially encouraged to apply.
In addition to the general NSF intellectual merit and broader impact criteria, individual conference proposals are also evaluated on how well they satisfy the particular aims of this conference series. Specific criteria for evaluation, which are implicit in the description above, are the following:
Full detailed information about submission of proposals is given in NSF Program Solicitation NSF 13-550 which, along with additional information about the NSF-CBMS regional conference series, can be found at www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504930. As with all proposals submitted to NSF, proposals must be prepared in strict adherence to the current NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 16-1). The website listed above contains all the necessary electronic forms and instructions. The deadline for submission of proposals is April 28, 2017. Principal investigators will be notified as soon as possible (usually early October) as to the status of their proposals. Formal announcement of awards will be made in October or November of 2017.
The project description portion of the proposal presents most of the information that determines whether a grant will be awarded. The case for the importance of the subject of the conference and for the choice of lecturer must be made in the project description and should be written to be intelligible and convincing to a mathematician who may not be a specialist in the field of the conference. Proposals should be written to respond to the review criteria listed above. The project description must cover the following points:
The proposal must include biographical sketches of the principal lecturer and the conference organizer(s). Note that the publication list in the biographical sketches is limited to the five publications most relevant to the proposal and up to five additional publications. Please include contact information for the principal lecturer—email, phone, and mailing address.
A conference proposal should include funds to provide support for about 30 participants. Participants are provided with lodging, meals, and some travel support by the host institution’s grant, but do not receive stipends. A reasonable allowance for participants’ travel and subsistence should thus be the major budget item in the host institution’s proposal. Other typical budget items that may be suitable are the following: travel and lodging for the principal lecturer, the conference organizer’s salary (about one half month), administrative staff salary, printing of advertising materials, telephone, postage, and duplicating. Budgetary items and their costs will vary considerably, depending on the location and character of the host institution, the estimated average distance participants will travel, the availability of low cost lodging in dormitories, and similar factors. Typical awards for these conferences are about $35,000.
CBMS pays the lecturer a stipend of $2,000 for the delivery of the lectures and an additional stipend of $5,000 when the lecturer delivers to CBMS a manuscript for publication satisfactory to NSF. The lecturer’s stipends are paid directly by CBMS and are not to be part of the budget of the host institution’s proposal.
Required Letter of Commitment. The proposal must contain a letter of commitment from the principal lecturer stating that, if the conference is funded, the lecturer will deliver ten lectures during the five days of the conference and will submit to CBMS, within one year following the conference, an expository monograph based on the lectures.
Optional Information on Principal Lecturer. Although the biographical sketch of the principal lecturer is limited in length and number of publications in the biographical sketches section of the proposal, the proposer may optionally upload a complete vita and list of publications of the principal lecturer as a supplementary document.
Additional information about this conference series, including a listing of all past conferences and published monographs, may be found at www.cbmsweb.org.
Inquiries concerning this conference series or the preparation of proposals for conferences should be directed to
CBMS director David Bressoud at firstname.lastname@example.org or
NSF program officer Jennifer Slimowitz Pearl at email@example.com or Joanna Kania-Bartoszynska at firstname.lastname@example.org.