Africa Mathematics Project Request for Concept Papers

The Simons Foundation desires to foster and nurture the development of high-quality mathematical research, not only in the United States, but also throughout the world, Africa in particular. Several sub-Saharan countries are poised to make productive and efficient use of supplementary resources to materially advance mathematical research, and the Simons Foundation Africa Mathematics Project (AMP) is designed to support the best mathematical talent in these countries, allowing researchers to more fully realize that talent through supported mathematical research in their home academic environments. AMP further envisions extending the benefits derived from this research to advanced students and other researchers both within the region and, more widely, across the continent via networking. Finally AMP envisions full engagement and cooperation with other mathematics research and advanced education programs and initiatives on the African continent and elsewhere in the world.

Specifically AMP will award approximately five grants, each 80,000 USD per year for five years, to research groups in mathematics at five universities in diverse regions across sub-Saharan Africa. A similar second round of five-year grants, comprised of new awards and/or award renewals, will be considered for 2017.

AMP invites the submission of concept papers as the first of a two-step grant application process. Concept papers are due by December 15, 2011 and will be reviewed by the AMP Scientific Committee. Selected projects will be invited to prepare and submit a detailed proposal for final review. Invitees to the final round will be notified by March 1, 2012. Second round submissions will be due by May 15, 2012.

Concept paper contents and format: Ten-page (maximum) concept narrative (single or double-spaced, 12-point font). The cover page should include the name of the proposed research project, as well as the Lead Researcher’s name, affiliation, mailing address, telephone and email address. The Lead Researcher shall serve as Academic Director of the project. If the project contact is other than the Academic Director, such as the Project Secretariat, include his or her name, mailing address, telephone and email address as well. Page 2 should consist of a succinct statement describing the research group’s objectives and mode of operation. Pages 3–10 should be a narrative containing the elements listed under “Required proposal elements” below.  Other “Strongly suggested proposal elements” are listed following the required ones.

In addition to the 10-page concept narrative, the following additional items should be submitted:

  1. Three-page itemized budget of $200,000 for the first two and a half years of operation. An additional one-page explanation of budget categories should also be submitted. (Categories eligible for funding are listed below.) This page should also indicate additional sources of financial or in-kind support for the project.
  2. Curriculum vitae of researchers to be funded under the proposal.
  3. List of academic institutions and principal collaborators participating in grant activities, together with any current or pending research support from other sources applicable to the research proposed.
  4. Letter of support from the vice-chancellor of the applicant research group’s university.

Required proposal elements:

  1. Mathematical area of proposed research and postgraduate training.
  2. Individual, group and institutional capacity for carrying out the proposed research and training. (Group may include several universities in the region.)
  3. Detailed research and training plan to be carried out over a five-year period together with a rationale.
  4. Plan to include graduate students in the proposed research.
  5. Commitment to project goals:
    1. Production estimate and timetable of publishable research in high-quality international journals.
    2. Advanced degree production estimate and timeline.
  6. A networking plan for contact with other centers or projects on the continent that have compatible mathematical interests and objectives.
  7. A plan for a regional workshop in the project’s research area around the end of the second year.
  8. Commitment of in-kind matching support from the applicant’s university (e.g., classroom or office space, reliable internet connectivity, conference hosting and support).

Strongly suggested proposal elements:

  1. Identification of international research partner(s), including those from Mediterranean African countries.
  2. Project participation in an existing mathematical research network with a compatible mathematical focus.
  3. Plan for sustainability of the project through an additional five-year period.
  4. Strategy for retaining at universities in the region both faculty members whose research is supported under this grant and postgraduate students whose advanced degree training is supported under this grant.
  5. Description of an efficient and transparent system for budget administration, disbursement and reporting.

Categories eligible for funding:

  1. Graduate training (tuition, stipends, housing, etc.)
  2. Salary supplements for faculty for research and for mentoring of Ph.D. and master’s degree students
  3. Travel and conferences
  4. Stipends and expenses for visiting faculty and students
  5. Equipment (including maintenance and servicing) and supplies
  6. Books, journals, databases, etc.
  7. Communications
  8. Secretariat office expenses

Regional limitations: Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have internal infrastructure supporting research and postgraduate training in mathematics. All AMP applicants will be required to list all current and pending support for mathematics research and advanced training from governmental or private agencies. While no group in the region is excluded from consideration by the AMP, special consideration will be given to mathematically promising projects investing in young talent whose achievements and future potential has not yet been sufficiently recognized or supported. Furthermore, although Mediterranean African countries are not a principal focus of this RFP, the participation of mathematicians from those countries as international partners in the projects supported under this initiative is encouraged.

Duties of project personnel:

Academic Director: Each project will designate an Academic Director, based at one of the participating universities, to provide overall guidance for, and coordination of, the project’s training and research activities. The Academic Director must be a leader and motivator, a practicing scientist with stature in the academic community and strong management skills. He or she will serve as Principal Investigator for the AMP proposal and will be responsible for preparing annual reports and assessments of the network’s operations.

Secretariat: Each project will include a Secretariat responsible for all administrative details, including travel for faculty, students and visitors, workshop/conference planning, and financial management of the project. The Secretariat may be located in the same academic unit as the Academic Director, but this is not a requirement. Projects are encouraged to adopt whatever structure will best ensure that both academic and administrative leadership are effective.”

Review criteria: Selection will be conducted through a peer-reviewed application process. The primary selection criteria will be scientific merit, training capacity and the quality of research activities. Evidence of institutional support, networking, and potential for sustainability will also be very important.

Concept paper submission: Concept papers should be submitted electronically, as email attachments in PDF format, to:

The Simons Foundation Africa Mathematics Project
c/o Ms. Meghan Criswell
E-mail address: [email protected]

Submission deadline:  December 15, 2011

Download the Request for Concept Papers:
English version
French version

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