New USAID–Science Foundation Projects Focus on Development

A project to strengthen coffee and banana agroforestry systems in Uganda is among the winners of the June 2013 PEER Science grants from USAID and the National Science Foundation.
A project to strengthen coffee and banana agroforestry systems in Uganda is among the winners of the June 2013 PEER Science grants from USAID and the National Science Foundation.

Washington,
June 21, 2013

 

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) have announced 54 new collaborative research projects in 32 countries that will focus on critical areas of development.

The projects will be funded through the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research Science competitive grants program. Through PEER Science, USAID directly supports researchers in developing countries who are working with U.S. scientists funded by NSF.

With these new awards, 54 PEER Science projects will receive a total of nearly $7.5 million to collaborate on a variety of pressing research areas, such as sustainable agroforestry systems, groundwater purification, biodiversity conservation, volcano risk reduction, drought and climate change mitigation, and pollution remediation. PEER Science awardees were selected from nearly 300 high-quality proposals and represent over $76 million of leveraged NSF funding through collaborations with their U.S. research partners.

Previous PEER Science awardees are already seeing the positive impacts of their collaborative work in projects that, for example, reduce the risk of landslides and earthquakes in Lebanon and Bangladesh, decrease air pollution in Mongolia, and improve the resilience of coral reefs and related habitats in Indonesia.

Fifteen countries as geographically divergent as Brazil, Burma, Iraq and Mozambique are among first-time PEER recipients. The new PEER Science awards are also supporting regional collaborations among developing country scientists, including a project that is strengthening a network of nine female scientists studying reptile and amphibian biodiversity and conservation in the Lower Mekong region of Southeast Asia. A complete list of award recipients is available on a National Academies Web page about the program.

“We are really excited to see the growth of the PEER Science program,” said Alex Dehgan, science and technology adviser to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

“Since its beginning just two years ago, PEER Science has provided over $12 million to 98 projects in 40 countries, and we are already seeing the tremendous benefits of bringing together developing and developed country researchers to solve some of our greatest global development challenges,” he said. “PEER Science allows scientists and engineers in the U.S. and in developing countries to collaboratively address global challenges that don’t respect political borders. In the process we are not only addressing some of development’s greatest problems, but building a global network empowered to advance the human condition.”

DeAndra Beck, program director for developing countries at NSF, said, “PEER Science has advanced U.S. research collaboration globally, both by strengthening existing research partnerships between U.S. and developing country scientists and by fostering new ones on topics of common interest. With two or more parties contributing resources, a true intellectual partnership can be established, maximizing the potential to advance the pursuit of science and development in new and creative ways.”

The third call for PEER Science proposals is expected to be announced in early September.