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NSF Award 190444: E-CAS Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science Request For Proposals – Submission Guide

INTRODUCTION
Thank you for your interest in the Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science (E-CAS) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by Internet2 under a Cooperative Agreement. Phase I of the project will support up to six one-year projects, each of which will perform scientific research using commercial cloud resources and corresponding development work.

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PROPOSAL DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION
Proposals will be due by February 1, 2019 by 5:00 pm submitter’s local time. Proposals must be submitted via the project website: www.internet2.edu/ECAS.

A Frequently Asked Questions page is also available on the project website and should be reviewed prior to submission. Email confirmations will be sent to all proposers.

E-CAS POINTS OF CONTACT
General inquiries: ecas@internet2.edu
Project and cloud service details: Jamie Sunderland; jsunderland@internet2.edu
Proposal submission and review: Nili Tannenbaum: ntannen@internet2.edu

ELIGIBILITY
Proposals may be submitted by academic institutions, including universities and two- or four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in and having a campus located in the United States. Proposals will also be accepted from non-profit, non-academic organizations, including national research laboratories, regional networks, and similar organizations within the United States associated with educational or research activities. An individual may not participate as PI or team member on more than one proposal application. Only one proposal will be accepted from any organization.

NUMBER AND FUNDING THRESHOLDS OF AWARDS
Up to six one-year awards will be allocated, each including up to $100,000 worth of commercial cloud credits from the nominated or designated provider; and direct cost support through a subaward from Internet2 for either a staff member, post-doctoral fellow or graduate student stipend plus fringe benefits, plus indirect costs recovered on salary and fringe benefits at the organization’s documented and current indirect cost rate, up to a total of $81,000 in direct and indirect costs per subaward. Separate agreements will be executed with designated cloud service providers outlining their respective allocations of cloud credits for assigned campuses.

PROPOSAL REVIEW PROCESS AND CRITERIA
Proposals will be reviewed by academic members of the E-CAS Advisory Board, in addition to external peer reviewers from the research community selected for incremental expert content expertise. The external peer reviewers will be selected to include computer and computational scientists from a wide range of fields and deep levels of expertise, and will include members of the HPC provisioning community rooted in national centers and campuses with a wide range of expertise and scale including cloud provisioning and performance measurement and efficiency. All board and review panel members will comply with Conflict of Interest regulations that are consistent with NSF guidelines and will recuse themselves from review or discussion of any proposal in which either the appearance or occurrence of bias or conflict could be perceived to exist.

Proposals should support the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts to society consistent with NSF merit review criteria. Proposals should address one or both of the following two areas of focus:

  • Acceleration of Science (to achieve the best time-to-solution for scientific application/workflows using cloud) and
  • Innovation (to explore innovative use of heterogeneous hardware resources to support and extend application workflows.)

Proposals will be evaluated specifically as to how their projects:

  • Will achieve scientific advances within one or both of the two areas of focus;
  • Appropriateness of methodology and approach to address one or both of the areas of focus;
  • Appropriateness of project plan;
  • Demonstrate the efficient use of resources and justify the selection particular platform(s) being requested;
  • The comprehensive description of project team qualifications supports the project goals;
  • Will benefit from on-demand resources through commercial cloud beyond other available options; determination of need based on access to other campus and national computing resource. Require scalability and potential for large-scale usage and/or demonstrate an innovative use of technology;
  • Are an appropriate match with resources contributed by cloud service providers
  • Demonstrate feasibility and likelihood of success;
  • Have potential impact on science outcomes through accelerated access to resources.

The review process may involve discussions with applicants regarding the details of requested cloud resources. All proposals will be treated as confidential by project administration and the review panel. A list of Phase I awards, including a brief summary of each proposal, will be made public on the E-CAS website shortly after formal award notifications are made to recipients.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION PROCESS
Applicants will be required to submit a formal proposal using the web-form at https://internet2.edu/ecas iincluding the following:

Attached Documents:
NOTE: These documents need to be combined into a SINGLE PDF file using Acrobat Distiller.

  • Project Description addressing the focus areas and criteria listed above. (10 page maximum, inclusive of resource plan and budget)
    • Resource usage plan (core hours, accelerator sockets, storage sockets, API libraries and other resources)
    • Resource justification
    • Budget (listing the single staff member, postdoctoral fellow, or graduate student to be covered, plus fringe benefits as well as campus indirect cost recovery on these direct costs) – limit of up to $81,000 in total costs per subaward depending on justification of costs
  • NSF-format, 2-page biosketch for PI and team member (see format instructions:)
  • NSF-format Current and Pending funding lists for PI and team members
  • Campus and national computing environment description and other computing support available to team

Proposals should also include supplementary documents limited to References cited in the Project Description. All proposals will remain confidential to the ECAS Project Board, Project Team and selected reviewers. Projects selected for Awards may be published on NSF and Internet2 websites.

PROPOSAL FORMAT REQUIREMENTS
Proposals should be written in English using 11- or 12-point fonts, formatted for American letter paper size (8.5x11 inches) with 1in margins. They must be submitted in SINGLE Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Proposals that are incomplete, submitted after the submission deadline of 5 p.m. submitter’s local time on February 1, 2019, or do not accommodate format or budget requirements will not be considered for formal review.

PHASE I AWARDS
The academic and project team members of the E-CAS Advisory Board will make final selection of Phase I awards based on recommendations by the reviewers, funding up to six awards in total. Each award will include: i) direct costs, to cover partial salary and fringe benefits for a staff member, postdoctoral fellow, or graduate student for a one-year period, ii) indirect cost, and iii) an allocation of commercial cloud credits to develop appropriate cloud architectures, test software, fine-tune performance, and then run the proposed workloads at scale within the one-year Phase I execution period. In order to receive cloud credits the awardee will need to have an existing account and related agreement with the designated cloud provider or have the ability to enter into an agreement and open an account with the designated cloud provider.

PHASE II AWARDS
At the completion of Phase I, successful participants will be invited to submit proposals for Phase II.