Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

The Simons Foundation invites applications for the Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences (MPS) program.

Rationale: The aim of the Simons Collaborations in MPS program is to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in the broad area of mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science.

Basis for Awards: A Simons Collaboration in MPS should address a mathematical or theoretical topic of fundamental scientific importance, where a significant new development creates a novel area for exploration or provides a new direction for progress in an established field. The questions addressed by the Simons Collaboration may be concrete or conceptual, but there should be little doubt that answering these would constitute a major scientific milestone. The project should have clearly defined initial activities and goals by which progress and its success can be measured. The support from the foundation should be seen as critical for the objectives of the project.

The project should involve outstanding researchers with a range of career stages. Excellence of the scientific leadership is one of the main criteria in the selection process. The project should be organized and managed in a manner engendering a high level of collaboration.

The Collaboration Director and Principal Investigators: A Simons Collaboration will be led by a Collaboration Director, who is expected to determine the scientific agenda, to coordinate the scientific activities, and to organize Collaboration meetings as appropriate, including a one-day annual conference at the foundation. The Director will be the main point-of-contact for the foundation and will be responsible for coordinating all administrative deliverables.

Principal Investigators (PIs) are expected to perform research that advances the goals of the Collaboration. Proposals should specify a core group of founding PIs. Additional PIs may be added at later stages, as the Collaboration evolves.

Level and Duration of Funding: A Simons Collaboration is budgeted at up to $2,500,000 per year, for an initial period of four years. After a review in year three, when the scientific impact of the Collaboration will be evaluated, an extension of three additional years may be granted.

Appropriate Expenses: The funding provided under a Simons Collaboration may be used to support research expenses in the following categories:

  • Up to one month of summer salary support for the Collaboration Director and each PI.
  • Teaching reduction only down to the level of one course/semester for the Collaboration Director and each PI.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for postdoctoral, graduate and/or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Support for visitors, including travel, meals, and lodging expenses.
  • Research equipment, supplies, and other expenses directly benefiting the research, including computers, computer support, professional literature, and publication expenses.
  • Domestic or international travel for collaboration members per the institution’s travel policies.

Indirect costs are limited to 20 percent of the modified total direct costs, with the following exceptions for which indirect costs are not allowed: equipment, tuition, and any subcontracts with budgets that include indirect expenses. Indirect costs paid to a subcontractor may not exceed 20 percent of the direct costs paid to the subcontractor. Indirect costs on equipment costing up to $5,000 are permissible.

Additional funding policies are available on our Policies and Procedures page.

Expenditures in other expense categories may be possible but must be approved in advance by the foundation.

Unspent Funds: With the exception of salary and fringe, unspent funds may be carried over from year to year during the term of the grant. Requests for no cost extensions may be considered.

Number of Awards: The foundation expects to make up to two awards in 2015.

Eligibility: Collaboration Directors should hold a faculty or an equivalent position at a U.S. or Canadian institution with a Ph.D. program.

How to Apply:

Letter of Intent (LOI): Collaboration Directors should submit an LOI through proposalCENTRAL. LOIs are due by October 31, 2014 at midnight EST and should consist of the following:

  • A project narrative (3-page limit, plus up to one page of references), outlining the topic, scientific approach and any relevant preliminary results. The project narrative should explain the logistics of the Collaboration, including a brief discussion of the role of each founding PI.
  • A 2-3 page NSF-style biosketch for each founding PI. This should include:
    • Information about professional preparation and positions held,
    • A list of current and former collaborators, postdoctoral fellows supervised, and Ph.D. students trained within the past 5 years,
    • A list of up to ten relevant publications.
  • A statement of current and pending support for each founding PI.

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by January 15, 2015.

Full Proposal: A review of the LOI may lead to a request for a full proposal, which will be due by March 31, 2015 at midnight EST. The Collaboration Director and his/her institution must submit the full proposal via proposalCENTRAL. If awarded, each Collaboration PI will be given an individual award and his/her institution paid separately.

Full Proposal Requirements:

  • A summary of the scientific questions and research goals (12-page limit), including an outline of relevant previous work of each founding PI and others involved in the proposal, as well as a description of the planned research, including preliminary results (if relevant) and an explanation of how the research of the different PIs will be coordinated.
  • A detailed four-year budget and justification from each founding PI and his/her institution; founding PIs with subcontracts must submit a subcontract budget and budget justification for each subcontract.
  • Each founding PI’s NSF-style biosketch, as described above.
  • A list of 10 relevant publications submitted for each founding PI.
  • Each founding PI’s statement of current and pending support.
  • The signature page, signed as required, from each founding PI and his/her institution.

Funding decisions will be announced by July 1, 2015, and funding will begin on September 1, 2015.

Please coordinate submission of the letter of intent and full proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with institution policies. See the Application Instructions for further information.

Important Dates:

Full Proposal
July 1,
October 31,
January 15,
March 31,
July 1,

Contact Information:

mps(replace this with the @ sign)

Elizabeth Roy
Program Manager, Mathematics and the Physical Sciences
eroy(replace this with the @ sign)

Further Information: