Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics

The Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences division invites applications for the Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics program, which enables research leaves by providing time away from classroom teaching and academic administration.

Rationale: Research leaves from classroom teaching and administrative obligations can provide strong intellectual stimulation and lead to increased creativity and productivity in research. The Simons Fellows program is intended to make leaves more productive by enabling their extension from one academic term to a full academic year.

Basis for Awards: A selection committee of distinguished scientists will advise the foundation on the selection of applicants. Awards will be based on the applicant’s scientific accomplishments in the five-year period preceding the application and on the potential scientific impact of the work to be done during the leave period.

Level and Duration of Funding: A Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics supports a research leave, defined as a continuous period of one or more academic semesters or quarters free from classroom teaching and academic administration. The program provides salary replacement for up to 50 percent (up to a maximum of $100,000) of the Fellow’s current academic-year salary, whether normally paid over nine or twelve months, and up to $25,000 for expenses related to the leave. The award is to be administered through the Fellow’s home institution, which will receive an additional 20 percent overhead on allowable expenses. Any unspent funds at the end of the research leave must be returned to the Simons Foundation.

Fellowships may begin no earlier than July 1, 2017, and the foundation-supported portion of the leave must be completed by August 31, 2018.

Allowable Expenses: Salary replacement funds are to be used only to replace or partly replace salary during academic terms in which the recipient would otherwise be teaching or engaging in academic administration. The funding may not be used for summer salary (if salary is paid over nine months) or to increase the academic-year salary beyond the university rate.

For salary replacement funds, please follow your university’s policy on costs associated with sabbaticals not supported by the university. If applicable, fringe benefits are allowed within the salary replacement funds category, but the total amount requested cannot exceed the maximum allowed ($100,000).

The additional funding is to be used to support expenses related to the leave in a manner consistent with the budget provided with the application. Allowable leave-related expenses include equipment, travel (including travel to the sabbatical location for the Fellow’s family members), housing, automobile rental, childcare and support for visitors. Salaries for students or research associates will not be supported, but funds may be used to help transport members of the Fellow’s research group to the sabbatical location (if different from the home institution) and provide housing. Leave-related expenses may be incurred at any time during the period of the leave; they are not restricted to the terms in which salary is provided by the foundation.

Eligibility Requirements: A Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics must have a teaching or administrative tenured position at a U.S. or Canadian college or university within the physics or related department, at the time of application, throughout the course of the sabbatical, and in the term following the leave. This must be the applicant’s primary position. In addition, a Fellow must have an active current research program. Fellows cannot simultaneously hold a Simons Investigator award.

Eligibility for this year’s program is restricted to sabbatical-eligible faculty who wish to use the grant for the purpose of extending a single-term sabbatical leave to a full academic year. For applicants at universities on the semester system, the Simons Fellowship will fund up to one semester in the 2017–2018 academic year, either fall 2017 or spring 2018. For those on the quarter system, the fellowship will fund up to one quarter, during the 2017–2018 academic year, extending the sabbatical leave to three quarters.

For example, a Simons Fellowship with leave taken in the fall of 2017 could be paired with a sabbatical in the spring of 2017 or the spring of 2018. Or a Simons Fellowship with leave taken in the spring of 2018 could be paired with a sabbatical in the fall of 2017 or the fall of 2018.

In order to receive the Simons Fellowship, you must be approved by your institution for a full year of leave, consisting of two consecutive semesters with at least one semester fully paid by the home university and the second fully or partly supported by the fellowship. For those on the quarter system, the leave must be for three consecutive quarters — the home university must provide pay for at least two quarters while the fellowship fully or partly supports the third quarter. If funds from the foundation are insufficient to cover the salary needs for the semester or quarter supported by the fellowship, other resources can be used for this purpose.

A letter from the university verifying the fulfillment of this contingency must be received by the foundation at least three months prior to the start of the applicant’s fellowship funding.

Previous Fellowship awardees are allowed to apply for another Fellowship, as long as they follow their universities’ rules on sabbatical eligibility.

Reporting: Grantees are required to submit a final report that includes a summary of scientific accomplishments as well as an accounting of funds expended for salary replacement, leave-related expenses and indirect costs. This report is due within 60 days of the end of the grant period.

Number of Awards: The foundation expects to award up to 12 theoretical physics fellowships each year.

Payments: One payment will be disbursed by the end of the first quarter of the grant period.

How to Apply: Applicants may apply through proposalCENTRAL ( beginning July 1, 2016. The deadline to apply is September 29, 2016, 11:59:59 p.m. EST.

Please coordinate submission of the proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with university policies. Please refer to the Application Instructions for further information on and requirements for submitting an application.

Application Requirements Include:

  1. A statement (two-page limit, plus up to one page for references) explaining the candidate’s most significant scientific work over the previous five years.
  2. A statement (two-page limit, plus up to one page for references) summarizing the applicant’s plans for the entire research leave, including the semesters or quarters of leave to be taken, the start and end dates of the leave, the institution or institutions at which the leave is to be spent and the scientific goals.
  3. A curriculum vitae (two-page limit) that includes Ph.D. year, institution, advisor and positions held.
  4. A list of current and pending support that provides the award number, source of funding, title of award, dates of project and annual direct costs.
  5. A list of up to five publications from the past five years and up to five other publications.
  6. A list of current or recent (past five years) postdocs and Ph.D. students supervised, including their dissertation topics and likely date of completion.
  7. A budget, including a computation of salary and fringe benefits, and a description of leave-related expenses.
  8. A letter signed by the applicant’s department chair or other appropriate university authority verifying the following:
    1. The applicant is sabbatical eligible or approved for the above specified academic-year period.
    2. The applicant’s academic-year salary for the leave period. If this is not yet finalized, please note the expected salary.
    3. That the applicant will have a teaching or administrative position at the U.S. or Canadian college or university through the semester following the proposed leave.
    4. University funding of a one-semester or two-quarter sabbatical contiguous to the period supported by the foundation.
    Verification of sabbatical approval is not required at the time of application but must be provided in writing to the foundation at least three months prior to the start of the applicant’s fellowship funding. The applicant must still upload a letter from the home institution verifying as much of the information indicated above as is possible at the time of the application submission.
  9. If the leave is to be taken at another institution or institutions, confirmation must be submitted from the host institution(s) in the form of a letter signed by the relevant department chair(s) or other appropriate university authorities stating that the visit is approved and briefly describing the facilities that will be made available to the applicant. If the letter of confirmation from the prospective host institution(s) cannot be obtained, then the application must include a backup plan describing what would be done if the visit(s) were not possible. The location of the sabbatical must be confirmed, in the form of the above letter, to the foundation at least three months prior to the start of the applicant’s fellowship funding. The location must be at either the originally proposed host institution or at the institution(s) specified in the backup plan, unless explicit permission is obtained from the foundation no later than three months before the start of the leave.
  10. 501(c)(3) equivalency determination letter from the IRS for international institutions (only applicable to the home institution).

Important Dates:

Application Available Application Deadline Notification Earliest Award Start Date
July 1, 2016 September 29, 2016 December 31, 2016 July 1, 2017

Contact Information:
mps(replace this with the @ sign)

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

Further Information: