PEER-funded developing country researchers will use science and engineering to address global development challenges
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the first round of awards under a joint National Science Foundation (NSF)-USAID program launched last summer. Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) capitalizes on competitively-awarded investments to build scientific and technical capacity in the developing world.
"I am very pleased that nearly 500 scientists in developing countries submitted PEER proposals linked to awards from every NSF research directorate, demonstrating robust international interest and unmet potential at the interface of science and development," said DeAndra Beck, NSF program director for PEER.
"Through PEER, collaboration will occur between scientists in developing countries and a variety of NSF awardees, including small businesses, CAREER awardees, large NSF centers and international consortia, as well as with single investigators. Each of these collaborations will bridge a shared goal of advancing development with science."
The USAID-funded PEER program, administered by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in coordination with USAID and NSF, convened review panels of topical experts and evaluated nearly 500 applications from 63 developing countries. Based on scientific merit, projected development impact within country and the strength of collaboration between developing country scientists and their American counterparts, 41 projects from 25 countries were selected for funding.
In the following examples, newly PEER-funded proposals address important capacity needs by:
•Developing translation software to convert spoken Arabic to Moroccan Sign Language in partnership with an NSF-funded small business;
•Assessing ecological strategies to assist with bird conservation in Kenya with NSF-funded students engaged in international research collaboration;
•Monitoring air quality over the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator with an NSF-funded postdoctoral scientist;
•Studying marine biodiversity in Indonesia and the Philippines in collaboration with an NSF-funded international research and education consortium;
•Assessing landslide risk in Lebanon with an NSF-funded engineer;
•Analyzing climate change impacts in Colombia and Ecuador with NSF-funded climate researchers; and
•Incorporating Bali's Subak heritage into primary and secondary education curriculum with an NSF-funded anthropologist.