Jump to content

NSF GRF Proposal Question--Mathematics

Dan P

Recommended Posts


I am trying to write the NSF GRF research proposal. So far I have read several winning proposals (If anyone is interesting http://www.rachelcsmith.com/ collects a few of them) but they all tend to be simple field research that would "save the world." In pure mathematics, its hard to make that claim that proving a theorem will have the same impact. Most of the time, mathematics research is used by other researchers and not the broad public. If there are any pure mathemeticians out there (combinatiricists, algebraists, topologists, geometers... ect) who won the proposal, how did you get that "save the world" impact into your research proposal? Is there anyway you could arrange it so I may read your proposal so I can get a grasp on how to do this properly?




Link to comment
Share on other sites


First of all, I'm sure that you realize the importance of making progress in the pure and applied mathematics fields. Otherwise you probably wouldn't be interested. The field of combinatorics has direct implications in computer science which has very real implications in the real world.

So, if you can link your proposed research with an open optimization problem like gene sequencing or graph search/traversal, then you should have no problem convincing the reviewers of the impacts of your research.

Secondly, the reviewers of your proposal are very likely in the same field as you. They know the implications of your work, they are just looking for you to say it.

Thirdly, my winning essays in computer science may (or may not) be of some help. They're not pure math... but they're close :) They are available on from my research page at: http://www.cs.illinois.edu/homes/weninge1/

Tim Weninger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I've applied and won under math. Even though my research falls more specifically under applied math, I didn't not make any sort of implication that the success of my research will directly help "world saving" efforts as you call them. Instead, I explained how my research activities (and not the research itself) including maybe working with undergrads or publishing in local newspapers will encourage inclusion of underrepresented groups etc etc. If you read the NSF broader impact guidelines you can see that nowhere do they imply that your research itself must lead to making life better for anyone (cure diseases or whatnot), just that your research activities should have a social impact. Use your personal statement to explain your passion for social impact and the activities toward those passions that you have undertaken and will undertake as part of conducting your research. You can include some of this in your research proposal too, perhaps mentioning what parts of the research could include working with undergrads or involving the public through blogs/newspapers. Keeping all this in mind, remember that academic merit still counts for half your score. Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I had another question related to the 2010 NSF GRFP.

It has to do with the reference writer deadlines. I thought that reference letters were due the same day that the application was, which for me is November 18th. This is what I told one of my reference writers, but when they got the email from the NSF, they thought that the email said the deadline was the 22nd.

So, what gives? Would it be possible to create a dummy email to send a dummy reference request to, just to see the wording on the email?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use