Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics

The Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) division invites applications for the Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics program, which is intended to make sabbatical leaves more productive by extending them to a full academic year.

Rationale: Research leaves from classroom teaching and administrative obligations can provide strong intellectual stimulation and lead to increased creativity and productivity in research.

Basis for Awards: The MPS division’s Scientific Advisory Board will advise the foundation on the selection of awardees. 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 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 9 or 12 months, and up to $25,000 for expenses related to the leave. The award is 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 award must be returned to the Simons Foundation.

The Simons Fellowship will fund up to 50 percent of the 2018–2019 academic year, where, for example, the full leave year period could be January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018; September 1, 2018, through August 31, 2019; or January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019. Fellowship funding must be contiguous to the university-supported portion of the leave.

Fellowships awards may begin no earlier than July 1, 2018 and grant funds cannot be used for leave-related expenses incurred before July 1, 2018. The portion of the leave supported by the salary replacement funds must be completed by August 31, 2019.

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 or other departmental or university committee work. 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. Please follow the 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 approved sabbatical plans. 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 award period; 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 the same U.S. or Canadian college or university within the 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. 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 fellowship award for the purpose of extending at least a single-term research leave to a full academic year. The fellowship program will not support the extension of a full year research leave to an additional term. 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 or three consecutive quarters with at least 50 percent of the year fully paid by the home university and no more than 50 percent fully or partly supported by the fellowship. If funds from the foundation are insufficient to cover the salary needs for the period supported by the fellowship, other resources can be used for this purpose. The foundation will consider circumstances where, for example, the university covers 80 percent of a full year leave and the fellowship covers the remaining 20 percent.

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

Reporting: Awardees are required to submit a final progress report that includes a summary of scientific accomplishments and a financial statement. These reports are due within 60 days of the end of the award 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 7, 2016. The deadline to apply is September 28, 2017, 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 in USD and a justification, including known or anticipated salary and fringe benefits for the leave period, and anticipated leave-related expenses.
  8. A sabbatical form from the home institution verifying the following:
    1. the applicant has a tenured faculty position;
    2. the applicant is sabbatical eligible or approved for the specified academic-year period;
    3. the applicant’s academic-year salary for the leave period;
    4. that the applicant will have a teaching or administrative position at the same U.S. or Canadian college or university through the semester following the proposed leave; and
    5. university funding of at least 50 percent of the full year leave period and that the university-supported portion of the leave is 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 the “Sabbatical Form for 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 Canadian institutions (only applicable to the home institution). Please see the Application Instructions for further information on this requirement.

Important Dates:

Application Available Application Deadline Notification Earliest Award Start Date
July 7, 2017 September 28, 2017 December 31, 2017 July 1, 2018

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: