WASHINGTON--The National Science Foundation has quietly launched a new, highly selective program of research awards to young faculty. The initiative, to be called the Presidential Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows program, will offer more money than and have different ground rules from those of the existing Presidential Young Investigators (PYI) award, which will now be called simply the NSF Young Investigators Program.

And more than a name change may be afoot for the original PYI program. There are indications that the more plebeian title is a harbinger of significant revisions in a program that over the past seven years has given five-year, no-strings-attached research grants to more than 1,400 scientists and engineers starting out on their academic careers.

The new faculty fellows program will cost $15 million annually once it is fully implemented over five years. It is expected to be carved out of the existing PYI program, which White...

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