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The Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation recently re-organized their program areas using our maps as input.

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In 2008, there was growing concern in the NSF Chemistry Division that their traditional programmatic structure (e.g., organic; inorganic; physical; etc.) was becoming outdated. We were asked to map the actual structure of chemistry and to provide input that could be used in a re-organization of the program structure. What we found is that, while some areas in chemistry are still disciplinary in nature, much of current chemistry is highly interspersed with other areas of science, such as engineering, biology, and medicine. Using our maps as input, NSF Chemistry re-organized their program structure in a way that supports interdisciplinary research topics that have a strong reliance on chemistry.

Some of these new program areas are consistent with old disciplinary notions, while others are not. The examples shown here reflect this diversity. Some of chemistry is not strongly linked to other areas of science, as indicated by the upper example (nearly all blue). Other areas of chemistry are highly interdisciplinary. The lower example shows areas where there is a ‘dance’ between chemistry and biology (blue and green). Indeed, one of NSF Chemistry’s new program names is “Chemistry of Life”.