National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Choosing a Primary Field

Choosing an appropriate field of study is a very important consideration for your GRFP application because it determines which panel will evaluate your application. 

Each primary field is associated with a specific panel, and all applications with that primary field designation are assigned to the panel for that field.

If the panelists think the application would be more appropriately reviewed by a different panel, the application can be transferred. However, we encourage applicants to try to select the most appropriate field of study when completing their application, to minimize the need for transfers at the panel meetings.

About GRFP Panels and Primary Fields

All GRFP applications are reviewed independently by reviewers in disciplinary panels. The panels are groupings of related fields of study and are made up of knowledge experts in those fields, many of whom have multi-disciplinary expertise.

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Where do I select my primary field?

You can select your primary field in the Proposed Graduate Program section of the GRFP application.

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What if I'm not sure which primary field to select?

Because your primary field will determine your panel, you should select the field of study that most closely matches your proposed graduate research topic. This might not be the same as your graduate department designation.

If you are unsure which field to select, you should consult with your academic advisor or another faculty member who is familiar with your research and could advise you about the most appropriate choice. A list of all NSF-supported fields is available in the appendix of the program solicitation, and a list of last year's fields arranged by panel is available at the bottom of this page as well as the Proposed Graduate Program section of the GRFP application module.

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What if my field is interdisciplinary?

Your application will be assigned to the field of study you list first in the Proposed Graduate Program section.  For example, if you list the following fields of study:

Life Sciences - Evolutionary Biology - 50%

Life Sciences - Animal Behavior - 50%

Your application would be assigned to the Genetics and Evolutionary Biology panel.

Therefore, you should choose which field you list first carefully, with consideration of which panel has the most appropriate component fields.

All interdisciplinary applications are clearly marked as such during the review process. Many panelists have interdisciplinary expertise and are capable of evaluating interdisciplinary applications. Additionally, if necessary, the panel can transfer your application to another panel for either a full review or for commentary and feedback.

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What if I have an "other" field of study?

Applicants indicating that they have an "other" fields of study must make a tenative panel selection based on the list of field codes by panel that is available in the Proposed Graduate Program section of the application and the bottom of this page.  You should select the panel where the general disciplinary groupings most closely align with your proposed graduate study. 

The field of study describes the general field of your proposed graduate study, not necessarily the specific topic. If possible, applicants are encouraged to pick one of the specified fields of study, rather than an "other" field. "Other" fields should be reserved for cases where none of the listed fields of study generally covers your proposed graduate study.

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Below is a list of prospective panels and component fields of study for the 2014 GRFP, based on last year's panels. While it is possible that the actual panel composition may vary slightly based on the number of submitted applications in individual fields, the information below may be taken as a general guide for the likely panel arrangement.

Gross Field:

 

CHEMISTRY

CHEMISTRY 1

  • Chemical Catalysis
  • Chemical Measurement and Imaging
  • Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanism
  • Chemical Theory, Models and Computational Methods
  • Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry 

CHEMISTRY 2

  • Chemistry of Life Processes
  • Environmental Chemical Systems
  • Sustainable Chemistry
  • Chemical Synthesis

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COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SCIENCES & ENGINEERING 

COMPUTER SCIENCE 1

  • Data Mining and Information Retrieval
  • Databases
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Informatics
  • Machine Learning
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Robotics and Computer Vision

COMPUTER SCIENCE 2

  • Algorithms and Theoretical Foundations
  • Communication and Information Theory
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Computer and Information Security
  • Computer Architecture
  • Computer Systems, Networking, and Embedded Systems
  • Graphics and Visualization
  • Software Systems and Software Engineering

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ENGINEERING

AEROSPACE & OTHER ENGINEERING FIELDS

  • Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Energy Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Optical Engineering
  • Systems Engineering

BIOENGINEERING

  • Bioengineering

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING 

  • Biomedical Engineering

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Polymer Engineering

CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING

  • Civil Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering

COMPUTER & ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

MATERIALS ENGINEERING

  • Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
  • Materials Engineering

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

  • Mechanical Engineering

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GEOSCIENCES

GEOSCIENCES 1

  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Chemical Oceanography
  • Geobiology
  • Hydrology
  • Marine Biology
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleontology and Paleobiology

GEOSCIENCES 2

  • Aeronomy
  • Climate and Large-Scale Atmospheric Dynamics
  • Geochemistry
  • Geodynamics
  • Geophysics
  • Glaciology
  • Magnetospheric Physics
  • Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • Physical and Dynamic Meteorology
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Solar Physics
  • Petrology
  • Sedimentary Geology
  • Tectonics

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LIFE SCIENCES


BIOCHEMISTRY, BIOPHYSICS & STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology

CELL BIOLOGY

  • Cell Biology

ECOLOGY

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science

EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

  • Evolutionary Biology

GENETICS, GENOMICS & PROTEOMICS

  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Proteomics

MICROBIOLOGY

  • Microbiology

MOLECULAR & DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology 

NEUROSCIENCES & PHYSIOLOGY

  • Neurosciences
  • Physiology 

ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY

  • Organismal Biology
  • Systematic Biology

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MATERIALS RESEARCH

MATERIALS RESEARCH

  • Biomaterials
  • Ceramics
  • Chemistry of materials
  • Electronic materials
  • Materials theory
  • Metallic materials
  • Photonic materials
  • Physics of materials
  • Polymers

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MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES 1

  • Algebra, Number Theory, and Combinatorics
  • Analysis
  • Geometric Analysis
  • Logic or Foundations of Mathematics
  • Topology
  • Probability

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES 2

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Biostatistics
  • Computational and Data-enabled Science
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Computational Statistics
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Statistics

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PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY

PHYSICS 1 AND ASTRONOMY

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Nuclear
  • Plasma

PHYSICS 2

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Particle Physics
  • Physics of Living Systems
  • Solid State
  • Theoretical Physics

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PSYCHOLOGY

PSYCHOLOGY 1

  • Cognitive
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computational Psychology
  • Experimental or Comparative
  • Neuropsychology
  • Perception and Psychophysics
  • Physiological
  • Quantitative

PSYCHOLOGY 2

  • Developmental
  • Industrial/Organizational
  • Personality and Individual Differences
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Social

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SOCIAL SCIENCES

ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHEOLOGY

  • Archaeology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND LINGUISTICS

  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Linguistics 

ECONOMICS

  • Decision Making and Risk Analysis
  • Social Sciences, Economics
     

POLITICAL SCIENCE & OTHER SOCIAL SCIENCES

  • Communications
  • International Relations
  • Law and Social Justice
  • Political Science
  • Public Policy

SOCIOLOGY & GEOGRAPHIC SCIENCE

  • Geography
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Science Policy
  • Sociology
  • Urban and Regional Planning

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STEM EDUCATION & LEARNING RESEARCH

STEM EDUCATION & LEARNING RESEARCH

  • Engineering Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Science Education
  • Technology Education

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Fellow Melissa Garren from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of CaliforniaSan Diego collects sediment samples beneath coastal milkfish (chanos chanos) farms in Bolinao, Republic of the Philippines.  Melissa studies how the microbes and nutrients added to the ocean by certain farming practices influence the neighboring coral reefs.  Through understanding the mechanisms by which fish farms negatively impact coral reefs, farming practices can be reformed so that mariculture and coral reefs can sustainably co-exist.


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Operations Center Administered by: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
1818 N Street NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036 | 866-NSF-GRFP, 866-673-4737
(toll-free from the US and Canada) or 202-331-3542 (international) | info@nsfgrfp.org