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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Duke University
  • Allen Rodrigo
  • (919) 684-3030
Award Date:12/18/2009
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 25,000,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 25,206,924
  • FY 2011=$5,438,103
  • FY 2012=$5,408,084
  • FY 2010=$5,540,234
  • FY 2013=$5,581,006
  • FY 2014=$3,239,497
Start Date:12/01/2009
End Date:11/30/2015
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:National Evolutionary Synthesis Center
Federal Award ID Number:0905606
DUNS ID:044387793
Parent DUNS ID:044387793
Program Officer:
  • Steven Klein
  • (703) 292-7122

Awardee Location

Street:2200 W. Main St, Suite 710
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Duke University
Street:2200 W. Main St, Suite 710
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) was established in 2004 to serve the needs of the evolutionary biology community by providing mechanisms to foster synthetic, collaborative, cross-disciplinary studies. It is run by a consortium of three universities in the North Carolina Research Triangle - Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. This award will renew NESCent's support for an additional five years. To date, NESCent has established a vibrant in-house community of scientists and informatics specialists, taken the lead in developing evo-informatics, established a wide variety of partnerships with major groups in evolutionary biology and education, and developed diverse programs targeted to increase participation of underserved groups. Over the next five years, NESCent will continue its core missions of enabling synthetic research, developing and disseminating new tools for evolutionary informatics, and increasing the public understanding of evolution. It will continue ongoing activities while initiating new programs that will increase its focus, build new teams of scientists to effect synthesis, and enhance its training and educational activities. Targeted initiatives will enable new areas of evolutionary synthesis, including areas important to human affairs such as climate change, health and disease, and areas of broad interdisciplinary scope such as cultural evolution. Major initiatives are proposed that combine individual programs such as sabbaticals, postdocs and working groups around a common topic to promote synthesis. NESCent will support graduate fellowships that will provide training in synthesis, and pursue new areas for major cyberinfrastructure initiatives in evolutionary biology such as visualization. New programs are proposed to recruit underserved groups to participate in evolutionary biology, and to communicate the science produced at the Center to the education community and general public. Collaborating with social scientists studying the nature of scientific collaborations and networks, the center will establish a rigorous approach to assess its work and understand its impact on scientific progress and its role in promoting new, potentially transformative results through synthesis. All of NESCent's activities are directed towards supporting the broader evolutionary biology community in its pursuit of synthetic evolutionary biology. NESCent promotes changes in the culture of collaboration and data sharing, and facilitates the development, building and consensus of scientific communities that are essential for truly transformative research. NESCent provides critical infrastructure, in terms of funding, logistics, physical space, and informatics to allow new synthetic breakthroughs. It provides new cyberinfrastructure resources to the entire evolutionary biology community. It offers a wide variety of training and outreach activities aimed at the general public, the citizen scientist, the student, the educator and the practicing evolutionary biologist. It devotes significant effort into recruiting individuals from groups under represented in evolutionary biology into all its core activities. NESCent Products:

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) was funded as a collaborative initiative of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina State University.  It opened its doors in December 2004.  NSF funding for NESCent ended at the end of November 2015.

NESCent's mission was to promote the synthesis of information, concepts and knowledge in the evolutionary sciences.  To achieve this mission, NESCent brought researchers from a variety of disciplines together at its facilities in Durham, North Carolina.  Over the 11 years of NESCent, close to 4000 scientists, students, teachers, journalists, writers and artists visited NESCent from over 60 countries, with most returning for several visits. 

Over this period, NESCent organised more than 100 meetings, and supported more than 90 postdoctoral and sabbaticall fellows for periods ranging from 3 - 36 months. NESCent-affiliated researchers published 766 papers, and garnered close to 29,000 citations, giving it an institutional h-index of 81.

NESCent informatics scientists were instrumental in facilitating the development of informatics platforms, including DRYAD and Phenoscape, and in providing services for the digitization of legacy data.  They actively worked with the research community to identify key areas that required informatics support, and ran regular "hackathons" where programmers and scientists could collaborate. They participated in the Google Summer of Code as a mentor organisation, working to match students with informatics projects. The NESCent Academy held annual courses for graduate students and researchers on evolutionary analyses.  

NESCent also played a role in supporting outreach activities, including the sponsorship of events at the National Association of Biological Teachers Conference, the Evolution Conference, and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. NESCent developed its own international outreach program, The NESCent Ambassador Program, an after-school program for children (SALSA), and the popular national high school Darwin Day Roadshow, held annually in February

In 2015, NESCent transitioned to the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM), focusing on one of the key themes that had emerged during the last five years of NESCent's program, but this time supported by universities in the Triangle and across North Carolina.  TriCEM continues many of the same programs as NESCent did.


Last Modified: 03/27/2016
Modified by: Allen Rodrigo

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