To stimulate interest and activity in mathematical research, the National Science Foundation intends to support up to ten NSF-CBMS Regional Research Conferences in 2020. In the 50 year history of this NSF-CBMS Regional Research Conference Series, a total of 372 such conferences have been held.
Each five day conference features a distinguished “principal lecturer” who coordinates the delivery of ten lectures by at most three people, including the principal lecturer, on a topic of important current research in one sharply focused area of the mathematical sciences. The principal lecturer is responsible for providing online materials that will be posted on the CBMS website.
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. CBMS will manage and post these pre- and post-conference materials as it feels best meets the needs of the conference series.
Support is provided for about 30 participants at each conference. The conference organizer should invite 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 50 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 coordinated by a leading practitioner, the “principal lecturer.”
There can be from one to a maximum of three lecturers presenting the ten main lectures. Each 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.
Recognizing that the most effective conferences allocate large chunks of time for new researchers to interact with others regarding questions and methods, conference organizers will be required to describe the facilitation of this networking, whether through problem sessions, hands-on experiences with software, small group Q&A discussions, or other means.
2. Posted online materials.
For both immediacy of dissemination and broad access to the information produced for the conference, the principal lecturer will be responsible for the following materials that will be posted on the CBMS website:
In addition, the conference organizers are strongly encouraged to arrange for video-recording at least the ten main lectures. These recordings will also be available on the CBMS website.
3. 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.
4. 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.
CBMS is prepared to assist institutions interested in submitting a proposal. Contact the CBMS Director, David Bressoud, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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 19-1). The deadline for submission of full proposals is April 26, 2019 and the last Friday in April annually thereafter.
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 $3,000 upon satisfactory submission of all of the online materials. CBMS will coordinate publication of the monograph with the appropriate society, which will negotiate payment of royalties. 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 all of the online materials within 45 days and, 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 and others who will be presenting the main lectures as supplementary documents.
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 email@example.com or
NSF program officer Matthew Douglas, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Swatee Naik, email@example.com.