Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics

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

Purpose: 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 the extension of sabbatical leaves from one academic term to a full academic year.

Eligibility Requirements: A Fellow must have a teaching or administrative position at a U.S. or Canadian college or university through 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 2015–2016 academic year, either fall 2015 or spring 2016. For those on the quarter system, the Fellowship will fund up to one quarter, during the 2015–2016 academic year, extending the sabbatical leave to three quarters.

For example, a Simons Fellowship with leave taken in the fall of 2015 could be paired with a sabbatical in the spring of 2015 or in the spring 2016. Or, a Simons Fellowship with leave taken in the spring of 2016 could be paired with a sabbatical in the fall of 2015 or in the fall of 2016.

In order to receive the Simons Fellowship, you must be approved by your institution for a full year sabbatical leave, consisting of two consecutive semesters with one semester fully paid by the 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, and the university must provide pay for two quarters.

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 Fellowship funding.

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 leave period.

Number of Awards: The foundation expects to award up to 20 Theoretical Physics Fellowships each year.

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 of the Fellow’s current academic year salary whether normally paid over nine or twelve months (up to a maximum of $100,000) and, in addition, 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 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, 2015, and the foundation-supported portion of the leave must be completed by August 31, 2016.

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 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 the Fellow’s family members to the sabbatical location), 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). 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.

Payments: Payments will be made semi-annually; the first payment will coincide with the start date of the leave, but not earlier than July 1, 2015.

Reporting: Grantees are required to submit a final report, which includes a summary (maximum two pages) 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.

Deadlines: This year’s application deadline is September 30, 2014. Applicants will be notified by December 31, 2014. Calls for new applications will be announced annually.

How to Apply: Applicants may apply through proposalCENTRAL beginning July 1, 2014. Please refer to the Application Instructions for further information. Please coordinate submission of the proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with university policies. Required components include:

  1. A curriculum vitae (two-page limit) which includes Ph.D. year, institution, advisor and positions held.
  2. A list of current and pending support, which provides the award number, source of funding, title of award, dates of project, and annual direct costs.
  3. A list of up to five publications from the past five years and up to five other publications, as well as current or recent (past five years) postdocs and Ph.D. students supervised.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. A budget, including a salary computation and a description of how the supplemental funding will be used.
  7. 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.
    3. That the applicant will have a teaching or administrative position at a 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 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.
  8. If the leave is to be taken at another institution or institutions, confirmation from the host institution(s) in the form of a letter signed by relevant department chairs 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 writing to the foundation at least three months prior to the start of the 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.

Important Dates:

Application Available Application Deadline Notification Earliest Award Start Date
July 1, 2014 September 30, 2014 December 31, 2014 July 1, 2015

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: