**Special Competition 2000**

Opportunities in the Mathematical Sciences

The National Science Foundation has announced a new competition for proposals about biocomplexity in the environment. The URL for the announcement is http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf0022. The official title of the program is BIOCOMPLEXITY: SPECIAL COMPETITION Integrated Research to Understand and Model Complexity among Biological, Physical, and Social Systems.

This competition offers special opportunities for the mathematical and physical sciences. However, the proposal solicitation was posted only in December 1999 and proposals are due March 1, 2000, with letters of intent by January 31, 2000. There is a sketch of the guidelines and opportunities for this program, prepared by NSF program directors from the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Directorate.

**Updated Selection Criterion as of 28 January 2000**

**The biocomplexity working group for the FY2000 competition has agreed on a broad understanding of the environmental connection needed for proposals to this competition.** **THIS IS BROADER THAN SOME READINGS OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT MIGHT SUGGEST. **

**The following points could be helpful in considering whether a topic is appropriate for the competition. **

**Competitive Biocomplexity proposals should:**

** 1. be multidisciplinary **

** 2. involve living organisms (including humans) or their components **

** 3. involve quantitative experts, i.e. statisticians, mathematicians, modelers, computational scientists **

** 4. take a systems approach**

** 5. have a conceptual or mathematical model that structures the research**

** 6. examine the complex behaviors of systems, i.e. non-linearities etc., not merely complex (defined as having many parts) systems, within an environmental context**

** 7. involve integration across spatial and/or temporal scales **

**FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS COMPETITION, ENVIRONMENT WILL BE CONSIDERED THE CONDITIONS, CIRCUMSTANCES, AND INFLUENCES, EXTERNAL TO A SYSTEM, WHICH AFFECT SYSTEM BEHAVIOR. **

A** proposal will need to describe its system, its environment, the model, and so forth. **

**Letters of intent for Research Projects are strongly encouraged, even after the date of 31 January; send them as ordinary text to biocom@nsf.gov. Proposals for Research Projects and for Incubation Activities are due via FastLane by 1 March 2000. **

Given the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of the solicitation and the short time for preparation of proposals, the IMA is offering a one-day workshop to describe in some detail to the mathematical and physical sciences community the scientific opportunities represented by the Biocomplexity Competition 2000. You may register on line here. The purpose of this workshop is to inform mathematical and physical scientists about the funding opportunities presented by the Biocomplexity Competition 2000 and, in particular, the mathematical research areas that are of greatest interest. Proposal preparation issues and issues of interdisciplinary collaboration will also be addressed. In addition, the meeting will provide a platform for people who are already working on proposals to exchange ideas and see whether there is enough overlap to combine proposals or at least to submit them in a more integrated way. The workshop will begin with a presentation by representatives of the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences on the main issues of the workshop and will be followed by five talks by researchers working on projects that are highly relevant to the Biocomplexity Competition 2000, and conclude with a panel discussion/Q&A session. There will be time provided for informal interaction among the participants. A list of awards from last year's Biocomplexity competition may be found here, but please note that last year's competition did not have the environmental requirement that is an element this year.