Scientific progress comes in all shapes and sizes. Disparate fields, researchers and methods united by one thing: potential. Every NSF grant has the potential to not only advance knowledge, but benefit society — what we call broader impacts.
Building STEM talent
From training the next generation of high-tech manufacturing employees to crafting inclusive astronomy and astrophysics curriculum, NSF-funded researchers help teach future scientists and engineers: work that helps build America’s STEM workforce. Projects find creative ways to broaden participation in science, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed in all fields of science and engineering.
Innovating for the future
Broader impacts are often intrinsic to fundamental research. Studying thermochemical dynamics can help transform sunlight into fuel; using computer modeling to analyze biochemical reactions sheds light on the mechanics that govern our world. Fundamental research both expands the limits of human knowledge — shining light on how we make decisions, for example — and uncovers insights that could save lives.
Improving our society
Scientific discovery can be a tool for societal progress. Think of adaptive technologies — bionic eyes or seamless signing glasses — that improve the lives of people with disabilities, or how harnessing powerful supercomputers can help fight HIV. When research tackles societal challenges, such as trauma research done by and for U.S. veterans, lives can be shaped for the better.
Engaging a wider audience
Science education and exploration aren’t limited to the classroom or the lab. They happen on the coasts of America’s northwest and in the rainforests of Puerto Rico, in museum maker spaces and galaxy zoos. Engaging citizens in research helps increase public understanding of science and the scientific process itself.