Computational Materials and Chemical Sciences Network (CMCSN) Program (CLOSED)

In FY 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, will provide support for starting new Computational Materials and Chemical Sciences Network (CMCSN) projects. The CMCSN program supports fundamental research activities in theory and computation relevant to the BES mission. CMCSN projects involve the creation of a Collaborative Research Team (CRT) of researchers who share coherent scientific goals and complementary theoretical and computational approaches. The main purpose of CMCSN funding is to provide CRT members appropriate resources so that the team can coalesce into a larger whole and allow the team to come together to focus effectively on a challenging problem which requires a combination of skill-sets. One of the members of the CRT must serve as the lead principal investigator for the team. The Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics program, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, will continue to consider efforts that are primarily or entirely materials-centered or that are interdisciplinary. Beginning in FY11, the Computational and Theoretical Chemistry program, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences (CSGB), will consider efforts that are related to core CSGB research or that are interdisciplinary.

CMCSN teams are funded for three years. Awards may be up to $320K per year. For multi-institution projects, the lead PI’s home institution must serve as the central budget and reporting authority with sub-awards to other participants. CRT participation is open to anyone who can contribute to the success of the team, including scientists from DOE laboratories, other U.S. government laboratories, universities, and industry. Although CMCSN projects are non-renewable, a CRT may reconstitute itself after three years for the purpose of addressing a new or continuing challenge.

CMCSN funds are intended to facilitate collaborative aspects of the team research effort and may be used to support shared junior researchers, travel between member institutions, holding team coordination meetings, or other appropriate activities that will enable the team to work together. CMCSN funds cannot be used towards salaries of the PIs or other senior members of the team. Although experimentalists cannot be members of a CMCSN team, they can serve in the role of advisors.

Individuals interested in this funding opportunity are encouraged to review documentation of current and past CMCSN efforts at and submit a preliminary proposal to DOE. Researchers are strongly discouraged from participating in more than one CMCSN preapplication or proposal. The cover page for the preliminary proposal must identify each Principal Investigator (PI) including their institution, address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address. Preliminary proposals (exclusive of the cover page, references, CVs and estimated budget) are limited to a maximum of 3 pages. No appendices are allowed. The 3 page document should include the following information:

  • Computational science challenge to be addressed and the major scientific advances expected.

  • How CMCSN funds will facilitate the collaborative aspects of the effort by augmenting existing funding of the team members or providing new funding for junior researchers. CMCSN program is intended to support a team of researchers who are already engaged in relevant research activities. CMCSN funding provides the additional support necessary for the development of effective collaborations within the CRT.

  • A management plan that addresses specific activities to be undertaken for developing and maintaining synergistic collaborations among the team members. Refinement of research goals, identification of specific research activities, identification and pursuit of new opportunities, fostering group strategies and monitoring progress are responsibilities of an active management process that must be planned and implemented. Membership in the CRT is flexible as is the distribution of funds among the participants.

  • Identify the lead PI and members of the CRT, and describe clearly the role each team member will play in the project. Outline the methodologies to be deployed.

    Additional pages should provide:  

  • An estimate of the total yearly budget, including how the first year funding would tentatively be allocated

  • A one page CV for each of the key members of the team, listing in particular five relevant publications (including titles).

    DOE Laboratories can submit a maximum of two preliminary proposals which must be submitted through the cognizant Laboratory official responsible for BES Materials Sciences and Engineering or Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences programs.

    The timeline for the CMCSN applications is as follows.  

  • Preliminary proposals must be submitted electronically as a pdf attachment by sending an email to the address: by October 1, 2010.

  • By November 15, 2010, review of preliminary proposals will be completed, and the successful PIs will be notified.

  • Only encouraged projects are eligible to submit full proposals. Formal applications must be submitted through by 4:30 PM, EST, January 18, 2011, to be accepted for merit review and funding in Fiscal Year 2011. Details on how to apply for a grant can be found at

  • National Laboratory applications must be submitted attached to an FWP through the Searchable FWP system. Details on the preparation of a review document can be found on our website at

  • Successful CMCSN projects will be announced around June 1, 2011. All awards are contingent upon the availability of funds and programmatic priorities.

    For more information about this core research activity, please contact Dr. Mark R. Pederson, (Program Manager, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry). Click here for information on other core research activities supported by BES.

    Review Criteria for CMCSN Proposals

    All proposals submitted to BES undergo Peer Review: /bes/funding-opportunities/peer-review-policies

    The mission of the CMCSN program is to advance computational materials and chemical sciences by enabling diverse sets of researchers to work together for the purpose of solving challenging problems of current interest in the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. In view of this special focus, review of CMCSN proposals is based not only on the standard DOE criteria applicable to all DOE proposals, but on additional factors relevant for achieving the goals of the program. These criteria are outlined below, including special considerations applicable to CMCSN proposals. While reviewers are free to comment on any relevant aspect of a proposal, examples of the type of questions that reviewers are encouraged to comment on are listed below following each criterion.

    1 . Scientific and/or technical merit of the project  

  • What is the critical theoretical/computational science challenge being addressed? What influence might the results of the proposed project have on the direction, progress and thinking in relevant scientific fields of research?

  • What is the relationship of the proposed project to existing DOE/BES-funded projects? CMCSN projects should complement and build upon and beyond existing BES projects.

  • What is the likelihood of achieving valuable results? What is the scientific innovation and originality indicated in the proposed project?

  • What theoretical and computational tools will be developed and who will have access to such tools?

  • Is the project synergistic with appropriate experimental efforts?

  • Does the project lead to new algorithms and/or software that will be made available to the broader community?

    2 . Appropriateness of the proposed method or approach  

  • Are the methods and approaches to be used in the conduct of proposed research technically sound and feasible?

  • Does the project present a sound, clearly articulated management plan? Does this plan include mechanisms for assessing scientific progress and making resource allocation decisions? How reprioritization of scientific directions will be carried out as warranted by the results obtained during the course of the project? Does the management plan present active mechanisms for fostering communications and developing collaborations within the team? How will the results of the project be disseminated? A sound management plan is critically important for the success of a CMCSN project.

  • To what extent are codes/algorithms and techniques to be shared among the team members? How widely will such codes be shared in the scientific community?

    3. Competency of the personnel and adequacy of proposed resources.  

  • How strong is the background, past performance, and potential of the lead principal investigators involved in the CMCSN team for successful execution of the proposed project?

  • Are the facilities available to the CMCSN team adequate for performing the proposed research?

  • What type of computational resources (cycles, memory, storage, visualization and networking, MPP) will be required by the team at various stages of the project?

    4 . Reasonableness and appropriateness of the proposed budget  

  • Is the proposed budget reasonable and appropriate? To what extent are specific budget items justified?

  • Are there any excessive or inappropriate budget items requested?

    5. Rationale for the CMCSN Team  

  • Is the team composed of members who would normally be unable to partner or not have the opportunity to partner in the absence of CMCSN support? Does the CRT intend to become a closed network or one that encourages new researchers?

  • Do the scientific goals of the CMCSN team require deploying a multi-investigator team encompassing a broad and diverse base of skill-sets? Could these goals be tackled by groups of single investigator projects or currently existing collaborations?

  • What are the goals of the project and are these goals articulated clearly?

  • What is the long-range vision of the project? A CMCSN project should have well-articulated impact beyond its existence.