Simons Foundation Timeline

Commemorating 25 years of advancing the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences


Foundation receives IRS certification as a 501(c)(3)

1994 – 2001

  • Founder-directed gifts to institutions, community organizations, other myriad causes



Stacey Greenebaum, first employee, hired as communications officer; later becomes communications director



  • First office established, at 126 East 19th Street


  • Maria Adler hired as financial director, later becomes CFO
  • Elizabeth Mrozinska hired as hospitality specialist




  • Foundation organizes roundtable of scientists on state of autism research; roundtables to become template for future programs
  • First annual report


Image for math for america

  • Decision made to focus mission on basic science and mathematics
  • Founder-directed grant (later named Outreach and Education) helps launch Math for America


  • Foundation moves to 101 Fifth Avenue
  • Second annual report states foundation’s focused mission


  • First request for application (RFA) goes out

  • Gerald Fischbach joins as scientific director to lead autism program, formally named SFARI, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

  • Simons Simplex Collection launches


  • Marion Greenup joins as vice president of administration


  • SFARI Gene launches
  • SFARI Base launches
  • SFARI launches news division, later called Spectrum, led by Apoorva Mandavilli
  • Patricia Weisenfeld joins President’s Office as vice president for Special Initiatives
  • Outreach and Education funds first annual World Science Festival


Image of David Eisenbud

  • David Eisenbud hired to build and direct Mathematics and Physical Sciences program (MPS); MPS division established
  • Inaugural SFARI investigator meeting in New Orleans
  • MPS initiates interim Simons Postdoctoral Fellows program


Map of Simons at 5th Avenue

  • Foundation relocates to 160 Fifth Avenue
  • Simons Science Series, a monthly interdisciplinary colloquium, launches; series ends in 2015

  • Marian Carlson joins SFARI; later becomes director of Life Sciences
  • Simons Variations in Individuals Project (Simons VIP) launches
  • MPS launches Math+X grants for mathematics
  • MPS-funded Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook inaugurated


  • 160 Speakers Series launches, with author Jonathan Weiner as first speaker
  • SFARI Explorer Award RFA program launches

  • Founder-directed $50 million matching challenge grant — combined with $100 million personal gift — marks largest gift in Stony Brook University history
  • relaunches with sleek new design and features


  • SFARI-funded Simons Center for the Social Brain launches at MIT
  • MPS launches Simons Symposium

  • Alex Lash joins as chief information officer
  • Buttermilk Falls meeting, leads to the creation of Simons Collaborations
  • Inauguration of Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley, supported by MPS grant
  • MPS launches Investigator and Fellows programs

  • Yuri Tschinkel succeeds David Eisenbud as MPS director
  • Simons Science News launches, later becomes Quanta, led by Thomas Lin
  • Foundation’s Twitter account launches
  • Foundation’s Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium opens, hosts SFARI annual meeting

Image of Simons Array

  • MPS funds Simons Array, led by Brian Keating and Adrian Lee


  • Simons Foundation Lectures launches with Science of Climate series
  • MPS begins to fund three sites for Africa Mathematics Project

  • Louis Reichardt hired as SFARI director, succeeding Gerry Fischbach
  • Leslie Greengard joins to direct Simons Center for Data Analysis (SCDA); inception of CCB/Flatiron
  • MPS first annual meeting
  • Life Sciences launches; foundation’s first collaboration is the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life (SCOL)

  • relaunches
  • MPS funds operating grant to arXiv preprint server at Cornell University


  • New collaborations: Ocean Processes and Ecology; Global Brain; Algorithms and Geometry; Many Electron Problem
  • SFARI and Autism Speaks create Autism BrainNet, a network of brain banks

  • Nick Carriero and Ian Fisk hired to provide infrastructure
    and resources to support SCDA
  • Simons Society of Fellows founded
  • Outreach and Education division officially designated


  • New collaborations: Homological Mirror Symmetry; It from Qubit
  • Foundation’s Facebook page launches
  • SFARI news division renamed Spectrum, relaunches on own site,


  • SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research) launches
  • Foundation leases 162 Fifth Ave
  • SFARI becomes sole funder of Autism BrainNet
  • New collaborations: Cracking the Glass Problem; Nonperturbative Bootstrap; Special Holonomy in Geometry, Analysis and Physics; Simons Observatory

  • David Spergel joins to lead Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA)
  • Foundation launches Flatiron Institute; SCDA renamed Center for Computational Biology (CCB); Scientific Computing Core (SCC) established
  • Science Sandbox launches
  • Life Sciences funds Simons Electron Microscopy Center at New York Structural Biology Center

Image for Simons Observatory


  • New hires begin receiving black Simons Foundation fleeces

  • Antoine Georges and Andy Millis named director and
    co-director of Center for Computational Quantum Physics (CCQ)
  • Foundation, SFARI websites relaunch (,
  • Global Brain expands to include International Brain Lab
  • New collaborations: Principles of Microbial Ecosystems; Computational Biogeochemical Modeling of Marine Ecosystems; Arithmetic Geometry, Number Theory and Computation


  • The Most Unknown, produced by Motherboard with Outreach and Education funding and support; success leads to launch of Sandbox Films, headed by Greg Boustead
  • Center for Computational Mathematics (CCM) launches; led by Leslie Greengard
  • Green team established: Goodbye, plastic; hello, blue water bottles
  • Simons Foundation Presents series launches
  • New collaborations: Hidden Symmetries and Fusion Energy; Localization of Waves
  • Improved SFARI Base launches
  • Foundation purchases 160 Fifth Avenue building


  • New collaborations: Ultra-Quantum Matter; Wave Turbulence
  • Human Nature, film about CRISPR co-produced by Outreach and Education–funded Sandbox Films, premieres at South by Southwest

  • Euan Robertson joins as foundation’s first chief operating officer
  • Michael Shelley named director of CCB
  • Simons VIP rebranded as Simons Searchlight

  • Flatiron Institute dedicates auditorium to Ingrid Daubechies
  • Foundation decides to establish fifth computational center, Center for Computational Neuroscience (CCN)
  • Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary

Simons 25th Anniversary Cover image