The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), they are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. NSF issues limited-term grants to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system.