The National Science Foundation is one of the Federal agencies that supports basic scientific research in operations research. Most awards in operations research are less than $400K for a typical 3 year project and support research that is important yet incremental (the next obvious step).The operations research program at NSF (SMOR) is part of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, which is looking to support riskier breakthrough projects that may result in transformative research:
CMMI is committed to supporting both single-investigator and team research, including larger-scale unsolicited proposals that are not feasible through a series of smaller projects and are not achievable by a single principal investigator (PI). These larger-scale proposals may request longer time frames (up to five years) and larger budgets (typically not exceeding $1,500,000) that reflect the scope of work. Larger-scale project descriptions must make a convincing case that collaborative contributions will be greater than the sum of each individual investigator’s contribution, and are expected to include a Collaboration Plan. PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss the objectives, scope, research team, and budget of larger-scale proposals with the appropriate CMMI program director(s) prior to proposal preparation and submission.
These larger awards will not just be for research in operations research. I talked with Diwakar Gupta (the NSF SMOR program manager), and he mentioned an interest in innovation in manufacturing, although innovation across all areas is welcome. If you have a big idea in operations research, it’s a good time to pursue it.