Today NSF Director Subra Suresh announced Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW), a new and coordinated effort that will expand and enhance international collaborative research opportunities for NSF Graduate Research Fellows, with initial agreements with science agencies in eight countries.
"Today's graduate students being trained as scientists and engineers in the U.S. will increasingly collaborate and compete with their peers from around the globe throughout their career," said Suresh. "GROW will prepare NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRFs) to engage successfully in the global research enterprise by connecting them to leading scientists and research infrastructure around the world."
GROW builds on a program NSF has sponsored for several years with researchers in Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. Under GROW, these opportunities are expanded and enhanced, and a streamlined and well-coordinated process has been developed to connect a much larger cohort of NSF GRFs to a number of strategically selected educational and research institutions around the world.
"This program gives an opportunity to promote international cooperation at a very early stage of a scientific career," said Sofie Björling of the Swedish Embassy's Office of Science and Innovation. "It creates bonds that can last for a long time and can involve many more persons than the GRF alone. This is of great benefit to science as a whole and really fits into the thinking that science is without borders."
The Fellows, selected through the normal process through the NSF GRF Program and invited to participate in GROW, will be hosted by a science agency in a partner country for a period of three to 12 months. While overseas, they receive a living allowance from the host country as they pursue their research in a host institution. They will also be eligible to receive an international travel allowance from NSF. In addition to the four Nordic countries, GROW plans to include inaugural co-funding partner agencies from Japan, South Korea, Singapore and France. It is anticipated that additional partners from NSF counterpart agencies from other countries will join GROW in the months ahead.
"Having these graduate students step outside their comfort zones personally and professionally will enable intellectual growth and provide a broader perspective on research challenges and opportunities," said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF assistant director for Education and Human Resources.
"GROW supports NSF's broader commitment to address the internationalization of science and engineering and to provide multiple pathways to engagement with top researchers worldwide," noted David Stonner, head of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering. "GROW joins other recent NSF efforts such as Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) and Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) in providing mechanisms to foster international partnerships and address global challenges."
GROW was announced as part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, NSF's flagship program for graduate students in the science and engineering fields within NSF's mission. The program has been in operation almost as long as NSF itself, making an investment in students with demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Some 40 NSF-selected GRFs have won the Nobel Prize.
The program has continued to evolve over six decades, and is now providing opportunities for students to conduct research that is increasingly interdisciplinary. Today's Graduate Research Fellows can also gain experience and mentoring outside the lab--in entrepreneurship, business, industry or government.
More information about GROW is available on the GROW website.
More information about NSF international opportunities is available on the Office of International Science and Engineering website.