NSF Unidata: Where Did That Name Come From?

NSF Unidata logo

You may have noticed a change on this web site recently: where you might expect to see the name “Unidata” you are now beginning to see “NSF Unidata” in its place. Just what’s going on?

Before delving deeper, a quick note: nothing about the way the Unidata program functions is changing. We will continue to provide the same data services, software, and community focus as always. At the same time, we will alter our communications in ways that highlight the important support and investment provided by the U. S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

Several years ago, NSF launched an initiative focused on “increasing awareness of NSF investments, impacts and partnerships that support the NSF mission through brand recognition.” In mid-2023, NSF introduced new requirements for programs that receive significant funding from the foundation. According to the Official Policy on Brand Standards of the U.S. National Science Foundation released in November 2023, entities that receive more than $1 million in funding from the NSF, and for whom that funding constitutes more than 50% of the entity’s total funding, are required to adhere to a number of visual and textual requirements that highlight NSF’s involvement and support. Most notably:

  • In written communications, the names of programs must be prepended by “NSF.”
  • Program logos must be paired with the NSF logo in specific ways.

Because the NSF Unidata program receives more than $1 million from the NSF, and this constitutes more than half our funding, we are making these and other required changes to our communications. As a result, you’ll begin to see this logo:

(or the one at the top of this article) in places where you used to see a only the “Unidata” logo. And when referring to the program in written communications, we’ll use “NSF Unidata” rather than the old “Unidata.”

NSF recognizes that making these sorts of branding changes — especially where large amounts of text are involved — is not a trivial undertaking. The changes are being rolled out as new materials are being developed, and are expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2024. Historical and archive materials (for example, old documents or web pages) may not reflect the changes unless they are otherwise updated in the normal course of business. For NSF Unidata materials, this means you’ll see the new usage in new materials, and in older materials as we bring them up to date.

As you might expect, NSF Unidata is far from alone in making these changes. Within the UCAR organization, we are one of three programs that are updating our names and logos:

Note that UCAR itself, while it administers the programs listed above, is not itself required to refer to itself as an NSF program.

Once again, nothing about our program is changing! We agree with NSF’s goal of raising awareness of the Foundation’s impact, and value their ongoing support for our efforts on behalf of the Earth Systems Science community.

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News and information from the Unidata Program Center

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