2024 Simons Society of Fellows Alumni Symposium

Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010 United States

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Wed..: 8:30 AM—5 PM

Invitation Only

Jennifer Merritt, Columbia University
Kaia Tombak, Purdue University

Meeting Goals:
The sixth annual Simons Society of Fellows Alumni Symposium will explore a broad range of answers to the question ‘who are we?’, tracing our roots from the unlikely circumstances that led to our habitable planet to our recent split from our primate relatives. We will discuss how signatures of humanity emerge from cultural, evolutionary, and atomic forces. Participants will consider how the categories we make shape the way we view our place in the universe. Drawing on cutting-edge research from astrophysics, evolutionary biology, and modern neuroscience, conference participants will be invited to consider a new vantage point through multidisciplinary dialogue about age-old questions on human nature.

Past Alumni Symposia:

  • Agendaplus--large

    Wednesday, September 18

    9:30 AMPROGRAM | TBA
    10:30 AMBREAK
    11:00 AMPROGRAM | TBA
    12:00 PMLUNCH
    1:00 PMPROGRAM | TBA
    2:00 PMBREAK
    2:30 PMPROGRAM | TBA
    3:30 PMBREAK
    4:00 PMPROGRAM | TBA
  • Participation & Fundingplus--large

    Participation in the meeting falls into the following four categories. An individual’s participation category is communicated via their letter of invitation.

    Group A – Organizers and Speakers
    The foundation will arrange and pay for round-trip air or train travel to the conference as well as hotel accommodations and reimbursement of local expenses. Business-class or premium economy airfare will be booked for all flights over five hours when within budget.

    Group B – Funded Participants
    The foundation will arrange and pay for round-trip air or train travel to the conference as well as hotel accommodations and reimbursement of local expenses. Economy-class airfare will be booked for all flights.

    Group C – Unfunded Participants
    Individuals in Group C will not receive financial support, but are encouraged to enjoy all conference-hosted meals.

    Group D – Remote Participants
    Individuals in Group D will participate in the meeting remotely.

  • Travel & Hotelplus--large

    Air & Rail
    For funded individuals, the foundation will arrange and pay for round-trip travel from their home city to the conference.

    All travel and hotel arrangements must be booked through the Simons Foundation’s preferred travel agency.

    Travel specifications, including preferred airline, will be accommodated provided that these specifications are reasonable and within budget.

    Travel arrangements not booked through the preferred agency, including triangle trips and routing/preferred airlines outside budget, must be pre-approved by the Simons Foundation and a reimbursement quote must be obtained through the foundation’s travel agency.
    All costs related to changes made to ticketed travel are to be paid for by the participant and are not reimbursable. Please contact the foundation’s travel agency for further assistance.

    Personal & Rental Cars
    Personal car and rental trips over 250 miles each way require prior approval from the Simons Foundation via email.

    Rental cars must be pre-approved by the Simons Foundation.

    The James NoMad Hotel offers valet parking. Please note there are no in-and-out privileges when using the hotel’s garage, therefore it is encouraged that participants walk or take public transportation to the Simons Foundation.

    Funded individuals who require hotel accommodations are hosted by the foundation for a maximum of three nights at The James NoMad Hotel, arriving one day before the meeting and departing one day after the meeting.

    Any additional nights are at the attendee’s own expense. To arrange accommodations, please register at the link included in your invitation.

    The James NoMad Hotel
    22 E 29th St
    New York, NY 10016
    (between 28th and 29th Streets)

  • Reimbursementplus--large

    Funded individuals will be reimbursed for meals and local expenses including ground transportation. Expenses should be submitted through the foundation’s online expense reimbursement platform after the meeting’s conclusion.

    Expenses accrued as a result of meetings not directly related to the Simons Foundation-hosted meeting (a satellite collaboration meeting held at another institution, for example) will not be reimbursed by the Simons Foundation and should be paid by other sources.

    Below are key reimbursement takeaways; a full policy will be provided with the final logistics email circulated approximately 2 weeks prior to the meeting’s start.

    The daily meal limit is $125; itemized receipts are required for expenses over $24 USD. The foundation DOES NOT provide a meal per diem and only reimburses actual meal expenses up the following amounts.

    • Breakfast $20
    • Lunch $30
    • Dinner $75

    Allowable Meal Expenses

    • Meals taken on travel days (when you traveled by air or train).
    • Meals not provided on a meeting day, dinner for example.
    • Group dinners consisting of fellow meeting participants paid by a single person will be reimbursed up to $75 per person and the amount will count towards each individual’s $125 daily meal limit.

    Unallowable Meal Expenses

    • Meals taken outside those provided by the foundation (breakfast, lunch, breaks and/or dinner).
    • Meals taken on days not associated with Simons Foundation-coordinated events.
      Minibar expenses.
    • Meal expenses for a non-foundation guest.
    • Ubers, Lyfts, taxis, etc., taken to and from restaurants in Manhattan.
    • Accommodations will be made for those with mobility restrictions.

    Ground Transportation:
    Expenses for ground transportation will be reimbursed for travel days (i.e. traveling to/from the airport or train station) as well as subway and bus fares while in Manhattan are reimbursable.

    Transportation to/from satellite meetings are not reimbursable.

  • Attendance & Building Protocolsplus--large

    In-person participants and speakers are expected to attend all meeting days. Participants receiving hotel and travel support wishing to arrive on meeting days which conclude at 2:00 PM will be asked to attend remotely.

    COVID-19 Vaccination
    Individuals accessing Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Entry & Building Access
    Upon arrival, guests will be required to show their photo ID to enter the Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings. After checking-in at the meeting reception desk, guests will be able to show their meeting name badge to re-enter the building. If you forget your name badge, you will need to provide your photo ID.

    The Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings are not considered “open campuses” and meeting participants will only have access to the spaces in which the meeting will take place. All other areas are off limits without prior approval.

    If you require a private space to conduct a phone call or remote meeting, please contact your meeting manager at least 48-hours ahead of time so that they may book a space for you within the foundation’s room reservation system.

    Guests & Children
    Meeting participants are required to give 24 hour advance notice of any guests meeting them at the Simons Foundation either before or after the meeting. Outside guests are discouraged from joining meeting activities, including meals.

    With the exception of Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute staff, ad hoc meeting participants who did not receive a meeting invitation directly from the Simons Foundation are not permitted.

    Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to attend meetings at the Simons Foundation. Furthermore, the Simons Foundation does not provide childcare facilities or support of any kind. Special accommodations will be made for nursing parents.

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