SCEC Science Plan

SCEC FUNDED PROJECTS
PAST SCIENCE PLANS

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) was founded as a Science & Technology Center on February 1, 1991, with joint funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). Since 2002, SCEC has been sustained as a stand-alone center under cooperative agreements with both agencies in three consecutive, five-year phases (SCEC2-SCEC4). The Center has been extended for another 5-year period, effective 1 Feb 2017 to 31 Jan 2022 (SCEC5). SCEC coordinates fundamental research on earthquake processes using Southern California as its main natural laboratory. Currently, over 1000 earthquake professionals participate in SCEC projects. This research program is investigator-driven and supports core research and education in seismology, tectonic geodesy, earthquake geology, and computational science. The SCEC community advances earthquake system science by gathering information from seismic and geodetic sensors, geologic field observations, and laboratory experiments; synthesizing knowledge of earthquake phenomena through system-level, physics-based modeling; and communicating understanding of seismic hazards to reduce earthquake risk and promote community resilience.

The annual SCEC Science Plan (aka RFP) solicits proposals from individuals and groups to participate in the SCEC research program on an annual basis. Typical grants awarded under the SCEC Science Plan fall in the range of $10,000 to $35,000. This is not intended to limit SCEC to a fixed award amount, nor to a specified number of awards, but rather to calibrate expectations for proposals submitted to SCEC. Field research investigations outside southern California are generally not supported.

Questions not answered in the Science Plan? Email proposals[at]scec.org.
Questions about the online SCEC Proposal System? Email web[at]scec.org.

RESEARCH VISION CURRENT RFP GUIDELINES REVIEW PROCESS AWARD PROCESS

The annual budget cycle begins with a SCEC Leadership Meeting in early June, where the Board, Planning Committee (PC), Executive Committee of the Center, and agency representatives discuss SCEC research priorities. Based on these discussions, the PC drafts an annual SCEC Science Plan, which is presented to the SCEC community at the Annual Meeting in early September. The PC uses the feedback received at the meeting to finalize the Annual Science Plan, and a project solicitation released in October. SCEC participants submit proposals in response to this solicitation in November. All proposals are independently reviewed by the Director, the Co-Director, Vice-Chair of the PC, and the leaders of at least three relevant science working groups. Reviews are assigned to avoid conflicts of interest.

The PC meets in January to review all proposals and construct an Annual Collaboration Plan. The plan’s objective is a coherent science program, consistent with SCEC's basic mission, institutional composition, and budget that achieves the Center's short-term objectives and long-term goals, as expressed in the Annual Science Plan. The PC Chair submits the recommended Annual Collaboration Plan to the Board of Directors for approval. The annual budget approved by the Board and the Center Director is submitted to the sponsoring agencies for final approval and funding. Upon approval by the agencies, notifications are sent out to the investigators.

To construct the Annual Collaboration Plan, proposals submitted in response to the annual solicitation are evaluated based on: (a) scientific merit of the proposed research; (b) competence, diversity, career level, and performance of the investigators; (c) priority of the proposed project for short-term SCEC objectives; (d) promise of the proposed project for contributing to long-term SCEC goals; (e) commitment of the principal investigator and institution to the SCEC mission; (f) value of the proposed research relative to its cost; and (g) the need to achieve a balanced budget while maintaining a reasonable level of scientific continuity given funding limitations. With respect to criterion (b), improving the diversity of the SCEC community and supporting early-career scientists is a major goal of the Center. It is important to note that a proposal that receives a low rating or no funding does not necessarily imply it is scientifically inferior. Rather, these proposals may be downgraded because they may not meet other criteria noted above.

It should be also noted that SCEC maintains close alignment with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program through three mechanisms: (1) reporting and accountability required by USGS funding of SCEC, (2) liaison memberships on the Board of Directors by the three USGS offices now enrolled as SCEC core institutions, and (3) a Joint SCEC/USGS Planning Committee (JPC). The JPC augments the SCEC Planning Committee with a group of program leaders designated by the USGS who participate in the construction of the Annual Collaboration Plan. If requested, the PC chair will continue to sit on the Southern California Proposal Review Panel for the USGS External Research Program.