NSF Ideas Lab
Olfaction is an evolutionarily primitive sense critical for survival across the animal kingdom – finding food, searching for mates, or avoiding predation all depend on detecting, identifying, and discriminating odors. Although early steps in olfactory processing are relatively well understood, significant gaps remain in our understanding of higher-order odor representations and processing during on-going behavior. Deciphering the operating principles of olfaction requires the development of innovative and integrative approaches that combine novel theoretical frameworks, improved mathematical models, and novel behavioral paradigms across the phylogenetic spectrum, experimental methodologies, and engineering principles.
This solicitation describes an Ideas Lab on “Cracking the Olfactory Code.” Ideas Labs are intensive workshops focused on finding innovative solutions to grand challenge problems. The ultimate aim of this Ideas Lab organized by the Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorates at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to facilitate the generation and execution of innovative research projects aimed at understanding the nature of olfactory processing and sensory representations in the brain in general. The aspiration is that mixing researchers from diverse scientific backgrounds will engender fresh thinking and innovative approaches that will transform our understanding of olfactory processing in behavioral contexts while spawning new opportunities to elucidate the general nature of sensory representations in the brain.
This multi-directorate program is one element of NSF’s multi-year effort towards the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (http://www.nsf.gov/brain/). US researchers may submit preliminary proposals only via FastLane for participation in the Ideas Lab in which a set of multidisciplinary ideas will be developed. These multidisciplinary ideas will be submitted as full proposals.