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Army Funding Opportunities in Probability and Statistics

1 May 2013 2,894 views No Comment
This column highlights research activities that may be of interest to ASA members. This article includes information about new research solicitations and the federal budget for statistics. Suggestions for future articles may be sent to the Amstat News managing editor at megan@amstat.org.

Contributing EditorsWendy Martinez
Wendy Martinez worked as a researcher and senior statistician in the Department of Defense for more than 20 years. During that time, she managed research projects ranging from basic research to applied development. She is now the director of the Mathematical Statistics Research Center in the Office of Survey Methods Research at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alyson Wilson
Alyson Wilson is a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute. Her research has focused on defense and security problems for almost 20 years, including positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Iowa State University.

There are many Army funding opportunities available from the Army Research Office (ARO) for statisticians and researchers from academia and industry. We briefly describe some of these opportunities in this article; however, we want to stress that these are just a few of the many available from the Army and other Department of Defense research agencies, such as the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Interested researchers should use the websites discussed at the end of the article to investigate other sources of DoD funding.

Government research needs range from basic to more advanced applied development; we focus mostly on basic research programs in this article. We categorize the opportunities given here into two main types: single-investigator awards submitted in response to core research needs and special programs.

Ideas for single-investigator efforts usually originate from a principal investigator (PI), and the awards provide funds for the PI and possibly graduate student support. The awards are typically in the range of $100,000 to $120,000 per year for three years.

The ARO (ONR and AFOSR, as well) publishes an annual long-range broad agency announcement (BAA) that contains information about an agency’s core research needs. A BAA describes a competitive official solicitation process to obtain proposals that address the needs outlined in the announcement, and PIs should read these carefully to ensure they meet all the requirements and submit the necessary information. Usually, the PI develops the research idea and submits the proposal in accordance with the BAA. However, Mou-Hsiung (Harry) Chang (mouhsiung.chang.civ@mail.mil) of ARO recommends PIs contact the program manager (PM) to ensure their research idea is in line with the needs of the ARO. In many cases, submission of a white paper is also strongly encouraged before sending in a proposal.

The core BAA announcement for basic and applied research needs by the ARO can be found on the website, solicitation number W911NF-12-R-0012. This BAA includes a call for research in probability and statistics. In general, the ARO Probability and Statistics Program provides support for basic research in stochastic analysis and control, as well as for statistical analysis and methods in response to the Army’s need for real-time decisionmaking under uncertainty and for the test and evaluation of systems under development. Chang highlights the following thrust areas for the ARO that might be of interest to members of the American Statistical Association:

Stochastic Analysis and Control: Modeling, analysis, and control of stochastic dynamical systems generate a need for research in stochastic processes, random fields, and/or stochastic differential equations in finite or infinite dimensions. This research thrust is concerned with stochastic partial differential equations, measure-valued stochastic processes, weakly interacting stochastic systems, and topics in applied probability.

Statistical Analysis and Methods: This thrust includes statistical testing and validation of network models; reliability and survivability; data, text, and image mining for network-centric systems; statistical theory and techniques for real-time analysis of data streams, Bayesian and nonparametric statistics, statistical analysis of very large and very small data sets, and geometric methods for statistical inference.

There are two other special types of single-investigator awards we want to highlight. These awards are important for statisticians, scientists, and engineers who are just starting their academic careers. The ARO, AFOSR, and ONR each have a young investigator program (YIP), and they each have different requirements and award levels. The ARO Young Investigator Program is described in the ARO core BAA given earlier; please refer to that document for proposal deadlines, schedules, award levels, eligibility requirements, and other process details. The objective of the ARO YIP is to expose outstanding young faculty members to Army research and encourage their teaching and research careers.

We highlight two of the special programs that might be of interest to the ASA membership. The first is the Multidisciplinary University Initiative (MURI). MURI awards are large projects that involve teams of researchers who investigate high-priority problems of interest to the Army and other DoD research agencies. These problems or topics typically intersect more than one discipline. The goal is to stimulate innovations and accelerate the research progress by providing a substantial amount of funding that goes beyond the single-investigator level. The award amounts can vary, but they are typically for $1 million per year for three to five years. The BAA announcing the call for MURI proposals comes out once a year.

The second special program is called the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP). This program provides funds for university research infrastructure and/or instrumentation needed to carry out innovative research in support of the Army (or DoD). Some examples might be specialized computer labs to study culture and behavior, sensor networks and testbeds, or large-scale computing platforms for information fusion. Like the MURI and YIP, there is a call for proposals once a year.

The following is a partial list of websites and resources for information about more funding opportunities from the Army and other DoD agencies.

  • Go to the websites for the individual DoD funding agencies and to the pages that have information about BAAs and funding opportunities. Besides ARO, there is ONR and AFOSR. They should have listings of current and past BAAs. Previous BAAs and information about recipients can help guide researchers.
  • The National Security Agency (NSA) has research opportunities. They support unclassified research in probability and statistics, as well as other areas in mathematics.
  • Announcements for DoD grants can be found on the Grants.gov website. Click on Find Grant Opportunities and Browse by Agency.
  • FedBizOps is the main source of federal procurement opportunities.
  • Opportunities for small businesses are available in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). Offerors submit proposals in response to topics that are published in the solicitations. Research institutions and universities can partner with a small business in the SBIR program. It is a requirement of the STTR program that the proposal include a research institution as part of the team. As always, see the solicitation or BAA for complete and accurate instructions and requirements for these (or any) programs, as they can change.

The information contained in this article is meant to give general guidance to statisticians and researchers and does not represent an official document or policy of any government agency. PIs should always refer to the relevant BAAs and solicitations for official guidance and information when submitting a proposal.

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