Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

Open
LOI Deadline
Important Dates
  • LOI Deadline
  • LOI Notification
  • Full Proposal Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Important Dates
  • LOI Deadline
  • LOI Notification
  • Full Proposal Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info

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

Rationale

The aim of the Simons Collaborations in MPS program is to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in 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 collaboration may be concrete or conceptual, but there should be little doubt that answering them would constitute a major scientific milestone. The project should have clearly defined initial activities and goals by which progress and 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 in 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.

Collaboration Director and Principal Investigators (PIs)

Each collaboration is led by a collaboration director who is expected to determine the scientific agenda, coordinate the scientific activities of the other members, determine (in collaboration with the other members) the scientific themes, coordinate a collaboration website and organize collaboration meetings and activities as appropriate, including a two-day annual meeting at the foundation. The director will be the foundation’s main point of contact for the activities of the collaboration and will be responsible for monitoring the overall progress of the research effort and deciding on research directions and personnel as the collaboration evolves.

PIs are expected to perform research that advances the goals of the collaboration and to collaborate as appropriate with other members of the collaboration. PIs are also expected to assist the director and other PIs in fulfilling the additional collaboration obligations outlined above.

Attendance at the annual meeting held at the foundation is expected for each collaboration member.

Proposals should specify a core group of PIs. Additional PIs may be added at later stages as the collaboration evolves. Interinstitutional and international collaborations are allowed.

The foundation strongly encourages the participation of PIs from underrepresented groups.

Level and Duration of Funding

A Simons Collaboration in MPS is budgeted at up to $2 million per year for an initial period of four years, including indirect costs as outlined in the grant policies. The scientific impact of the collaboration will be evaluated at the year-four annual meeting, and an extension of three additional years may be granted. Additional funding beyond year seven will not be considered. The foundation would allow the annual budget to vary from $2 million as long as the total four-year budget is no more than $8 million. Please be cognizant of the notification and award start dates when preparing the budget, particularly in year one with regards to the timeline for the hiring of postdoctoral fellows.

Allowable Expenses

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

  • Up to one month of summer salary support and related benefits for the collaboration director and each PI/co-Investigator per grant year — These salary funds are not substitutional (cannot be used to relieve a university of salary costs) and cannot be used to reduce teaching loads below the departmental norm. They can only be used to supplement the salary similarly to a summer salary in the U.S. system.
  • Conferences and working meetings appropriate to the needs of the collaboration, including meals, travel, lodging, vehicle rentals for participants and facility fees.
  • Teaching reduction to a level not lower than one course per semester for the collaboration director — Teaching reduction for other collaboration members is not an allowable expense.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for staff/research scientists and postdoctoral, graduate and/or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Support for visitors and collaborators, including domestic and international travel, meals and lodging expenses — Related per diem expenses at standard government rates are allowable.
  • Research equipment, supplies and other expenses directly related to the research, including computers, computer support, professional literature, publication expenses and professional membership dues.
  • Collaboration-related domestic or international travel for collaboration members per the travel policies of each participating institution. Parking, hotel, taxi, registration and other related travel and conference costs are allowable.
  • Salary support for a collaboration administrator.
  • Other expenses related to the support and administration of the collaboration (e.g., web design).

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

Please see the Simons Foundation’s grant policies for further guidelines.

The collaboration budget can include discretionary funds to be held at the foundation and made available at a later date, at the discretion of the director, for workshops and meetings held at the participating institutions, the addition of PIs to the collaboration and other related collaboration expenses (e.g., addition of a postdoctoral fellow).

Budgets should reflect the anticipated yearly expenses. Discretionary funds should be used to address future needs that could not have been anticipated or estimated prior to the submission of the proposal.

The costs for the annual meeting held at the foundation will be paid directly by the foundation and will not factor into these discretionary funds.

Eligibility Requirements

Personnel: The collaboration director must hold a tenured faculty, or equivalent, position at a U.S. or Canadian educational institution, on a campus within these countries, with a Ph.D. program in the director’s department at the time of application. PIs and co-Investigators (co-Is) must hold a tenured or tenure-track faculty, or equivalent, position at an educational institution at the time of application. There are no restrictions on the department and/or discipline of the director or PIs/co-Is. PIs, co-Is and other collaboration participants may be from non-U.S. institutions. A co-I must be employed by or be affiliated with a PI institution or another organization participating in the project under a consortium agreement. Please see the foundation’s grant policies for further information regarding requirements and responsibilities of PIs and co-Is.

An individual may be part of more than one letter of intent (LOI) or full proposal, as long as all eligibility requirements are met. There is no LOI limit per institution or individual. An active PI on a currently funded collaboration project can be part of an LOI or proposal but cannot participate on more than one funded collaboration. Additionally, active Math+X Investigators cannot be a funded director or PI in a collaboration.

Institutions: Funding to U.S. national labs or salary support of scientists employed at these labs is not allowed. Scientists employed at national labs may be non-funded collaboration members, and collaboration funding may be used to support travel or local expenses related to the participation of the lab-based scientist in collaboration activities or to support travel and local expenses of students or postdoctoral fellows appointed at universities who work with collaboration members at national labs. For-profit institutions are also not eligible to receive grant funds.

Unspent Funds

The director and PIs may apply for up to a 12-month no-cost extension request for non-PI summer salary and fringe benefit funds unexpended at the conclusion of the collaboration or the individual’s award. Unspent funds at the end of the collaboration must be returned to the foundation.

Reporting

The director will provide the foundation with one progress report for the entire collaboration annually. Each PI’s institution will be responsible for submitting a separate financial statement for each award annually.

Number of Awards

The foundation expects to award up to two new collaborations in 2023.

How to Apply

Letter of Intent:
Collaboration directors must submit an LOI through the Simons Award Manager (SAM) (https://sam.simonsfoundation.org/). LOIs are due by November 1, 2022, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Please refer to the How to Apply tab for further instructions.

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by January 1, 2023.

Please note that the volume of interest in this program is such that the foundation is not able to provide guidance on potential proposals. We use the LOI stage to assess suitability and novelty. The foundation recommends submitting an LOI if an applicant believes his/her research meets the criteria outlined in the RFA.

Full Proposal

A review of the LOI may lead to a request for a full proposal, which will be due by February 23, 2023, at 12 p.m. EST.

After review of the full proposals, project teams may be invited to come to the foundation to present their research plan.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Many of the greatest ideas and discoveries come from a diverse mix of minds, backgrounds and experiences. The Simons Foundation is committed to grantmaking that inspires and supports greater diversity and inclusiveness by cultivating a funding environment that ensures representation of all identities and differences and equitable access to information and resources for all applicants and grantees.

The Simons Foundation provides equal opportunities to all applicants for funding without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic disposition, neurodiversity, disability, veteran status or any other protected category under federal, state and local law. The foundation also funds programs directed at supporting scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds or underrepresented groups, often working closely with professional societies and other funding agencies.

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Important Dates
  • LOI Deadline
  • LOI Notification
  • Full Proposal Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info

The deadline to submit nominations is November 1, 2022, at 12 p.m. EDT. Late applications will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted via the Simons Award Manager (SAM), https://sam.simonsfoundation.org/. Please click on the Funding Opportunities icon. Applications should be started and submitted under the applicant’s own account in the Simons Award Manager (SAM). For the Mathematics and Physical Sciences – Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and Physical Sciences application, please click on Create Application, then Begin Application.

Informational Session for Potential Applicants

For instructions on how to submit an application through our new grants management system, Simons Award Manager (SAM), the Simons Foundation will hold an informational session on Wednesday, September 28 – Click here to register.

Additionally, informational videos on submitting applications in SAM can be found here.

Important Note: The collaboration director (referred to in SAM as the ‘Spokesperson PI’) and their institution must submit the letter of intent (LOI). If the LOI is approved, a full proposal application will be created for each PI designated at the LOI stage and must be submitted to the Spokesperson PI’s application for submission to the foundation. The director is the designated contact for the collaboration and will be responsible for coordinating the submission of PI applications and the project narrative, as outlined below. If the collaboration proposal is awarded, each PI in the ‘Principal Investigator (Collaboration)’ role and the director will receive their own award and their institution will be paid separately. Multiple PIs at the same institution can either receive individual awards or reside on one award via one proposal budget. This is entirely at the discretion of the director.

LOI and proposal attachments should be single-spaced and in typeface no smaller than 10-point font. Margins must be at least half an inch in all directions.

Please complete the application as follows:

LOI:

  1. Proposal Tab:

    1. Applicant Details & Personal Data: Enter required fields (title, department and academic rank).
    2. Academic Degrees: Enter degrees (optional).
    3. Application Details: Enter the title of the LOI application. The title should follow this nomenclature: Simons Collaboration on [Insert subject matter].
    4. Proposal – Upload required files as follows:

      1. Letter of Intent Narrative (three-page limit, plus up to one page for references and figures, which can be embedded within the text): The narrative must outline the topic and scientific approach, explain the logistics of the collaboration and any relevant preliminary results.
      2. Personnel Biosketches: An NIH- or NSF-style biosketch (five-page limit) is to be uploaded for each PI and co-Investigator (co-I), including the director. Please name each PDF as Last Name_First Name_Biosketch. Biosketches must include:

        • professional preparation, positions held and honors and awards
        • a list of current and former collaborators, as well as postdoctoral fellows supervised and Ph.D. students trained within the past five years
        • a list of up to 10 relevant publications
  2. Contacts & Personnel Tab: Please refer to the instructions provided in SAM. Under Project Personnel, indicate all key personnel, other than the spokesperson PI/director, including additional PIs, co-Is, collaborators, consultants, postdoctoral research associates and others. Key personnel include individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they request salaries or compensation. Please note that the Simons Foundation does not use the role type co-PI. All collaboration PIs, except those on the director’s application, must be added in the role of Principal Investigator (Collaboration). Other PIs or co-Is on the director’s application must be added in the role of Key Personnel – With or Without Application Access; then, in Add More Details, select either Non-Contact Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator. If the LOI is approved, for all key personnel added as Principal Investigator (Collaboration), a full application proposal will be created.
  3. Publications & Other Support Tab: Please provide other support as indicated.

    1. Publications will not be entered in this section.
    2. Other Support: Please follow instructions for providing current and pending support for each PI and co-I via PDF upload or via SAM profiles. If using PDF upload, NSF format is sufficient and should at least provide the award number, source of funding, title of award, dates of project and annual direct costs for each support item listed. Please name each PDF as Last Name_First Name_Support.
  4. Check Application Progress: Click the Check Application Progress button to check for any missing required information or files. All missing required information will be listed at the top of the screen and must be corrected before the application can be submitted.
  5. Submit Application: When the LOI application is complete, please click on the Submit Application button to submit to the foundation. Please note that you will not be able to submit an application if the deadline has passed.

LOI Approval:
A submitted LOI will appear in the Submitted queue of the Applications in Progress table on your SAM home page. If an LOI is approved, the status changes to In Progress. Click on the record to gain access to the full proposal application. For all key personnel who were added as a Principal Investigator (Collaboration) in the LOI proposal, a full proposal application will have been created. All Principal Investigator (Collaboration) proposals must be submitted first to the Spokesperson PI (Director) application for submission to the foundation. A spokesperson/director can add more Principal Investigator (Collaboration) key personnel during the full proposal application stage. Please see the instructions below under the Contacts & Personnel section.

Full Proposal:

  1. Principal Investigators Tab: This section gives a summary of all collaboration applications. For the Collaboration Director only, before submitting to the foundation, please confirm that the total collaboration budget, including discretionary funds, does not exceed $8M over four years.
  2. Proposal Tab:

    1. Applicant Details & Personal Data: Enter required fields (title, department and academic rank).
    2. Academic Degrees: Enter degrees (optional).
    3. Application Details:

      1. The title of the spokesperson/director full proposal application will be the same as in the LOI proposal. If appropriate, the director of the collaboration can update the title for the full proposal application, as long as the title is substantially similar to the LOI title. The title should follow this nomenclature: Simons Collaboration on [Insert subject matter]. All PI application titles should match the title the director has specified.
      2. The collaboration start and end dates will be pre-populated on both the director and PI applications. These dates are fixed.
    4. Proposal – Upload required files as follows:

      1. Proposal Narrative – Director application only (12-page limit, plus up to two pages for references and figures, which can be embedded within the text): Please provide a summary of the scientific questions and research goals of the collaboration, including an outline of relevant previous work of each PI and others involved, 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.
      2. Personnel Biosketches: An NIH- or NSF-style biosketch (no page limit) is to be uploaded for each PI and co-I on each collaboration application. Please name each PDF as Last Name_First Name_Biosketch. Biosketches must include:

        • professional preparation, positions held and honors and awards
        • a list of current and former collaborators, as well as postdoctoral fellows supervised and Ph.D. students trained within the past five years
        • a list of up to 10 relevant publications
      3. Discretionary Budget – Director application only: Click the button to add or modify the collaboration discretionary budget. In the Discretionary Budget window, please add one line and provide the total discretionary funds per year. Click on Save and then Close.
  3. Contacts & Personnel Tab: Please refer to the instructions provided in SAM. Under Project Personnel, indicate all key personnel on each collaboration application, including additional PIs, co-Is, collaborators, consultants, postdoctoral research associates and others. Key personnel include individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they request salaries or compensation. Please note that the Simons Foundation does not use the role type co-PI.

    Other PIs or co-Is who are on Principal Investigator (Collaboration) applications must be added in the role of Key Personnel – With or Without Application Access; then, in Add More Details, select either Non-Contact Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator. For the director application only, additional collaboration PIs who will receive their own award must be added as a Principal Investigator (Collaboration) to be able to access their own full proposal application.

  4. Budget Tab: Click the Edit/Modify button to add a detailed, four-year budget. Each PI and director budget must be entered only in their own applications. This does not include the discretionary funds held at the foundation. Please refer to the allowable expenses outlined in the RFA and provide justification as appropriate. Please note that the budget justification should be detailed and appropriate for the funds being requested. An insufficient budget justification will result in the proposal not being considered further.
  5. Publications & Other Support Tab: Please provide other support as indicated.

    1. Publications will not be entered in this section.
    2. Other Support: Please follow instructions for providing current and pending support for each PI and co-I for each application via PDF upload or via SAM profiles. If providing via SAM profile, please click on the Report Overlap button for each entry and select Yes or No as appropriate. If using PDF upload, NSF format is sufficient and should at least provide the award number, source of funding, title of award, dates of project and annual direct costs for each support item listed. Please name each PDF as Last Name_First Name_Support.
  6. Check Application Progress: Click the Check Application Progress button to check for any missing required information or files. All missing required information will be listed at the top of the screen and must be corrected before the application can be submitted.
  7. Send for Sign-off: When the application is complete, please click on the Send for sign-off button to send to your signing official for signature. You will receive a notification when the application is signed.
  8. Submit Application: When the full proposal application is complete and signed, please click on the Submit Application button. A confirmation page will appear once the application is successfully submitted. For PIs, this will submit to the director’s application. For the director, this will submit the full collaboration application to the foundation — please be sure all PI applications are approved and submitted before submitting the collaboration proposal. Once the entire collaboration application is submitted, it will appear in the Submitted tab of the Applications in Progress table. Please note that you will not be able to submit an application if the deadline has passed.
Important Dates
  • LOI Deadline
  • LOI Notification
  • Full Proposal Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info
  1. How will discretionary funds held at the foundation be made available to the director and PIs?plus--large

    The funds will be provided to the director and PIs as supplements to existing awards. Funds will be disbursed on request of the PI and director after approval by the foundation. These funds can also be used to fund new PIs per a request from the director. Funds for all known and planned activities should be included as part of the PI budgets. Discretionary funds are only for expenses not currently anticipated at the time of budget and award approval.

  2. Is this program explicitly or implicitly aiming to fund multi-institutional collaborations?plus--large

    There is no explicit or implicit aim to fund multi-institutional collaborations. There is no requirement that at least one of the PIs be from a different department, university, state or nation. However, this is the likely scenario for many of the proposals.

  3. How important is it to have the full group of PIs in place for the LOI or full proposal? Can we add more PIs if we are selected to submit a full proposal or if our proposal is funded?plus--large

    More PIs can be added at the full proposal stage or after the award is made as long as it is within the budget guidelines. However, LOIs and full proposals will be judged in part on the quality of the proposed PIs.

  4. Can the collaboration project include an experimental component?plus--large

    The foundation would allow experimental components if they are essential to the science. A proposal primarily for experiment would not be appropriate.

  5. Is there a typical number of PIs that is envisioned for the proposal?plus--large

    No, but we suggest at least four to five.

  6. Can a PI hold a deputy director position?plus--large

    The foundation only recognizes one director per collaboration; any other title provided to PIs in your collaboration or other collaborations is a matter internal to the collaboration.

  7. If my LOI is not approved this year, may I reapply next year?plus--large

    Yes, there is no limit to the number of times one can reapply.

  8. I currently hold a Simons Fellowship or a Simons Investigator award. Am I eligible to be a collaboration director or founding PI?plus--large

    Yes, being a Simons Fellow or a Simons Investigator (in either math, physics, astrophysics, computer science or MMLS) does not disqualify you from applying as part of a collaboration project. However, an active Math+X Investigator cannot be an active collaboration director or PI.

Other Funding Opportunities
Program Name
Important Dates
Description

Small-Scale Experiments for Fundamental Physics

The funders invite applications to a one-time call aimed at advancing fundamental physics by funding small-scale experiments that explore physics which has typically been explored at large-scale facilities.

Targeted Grants to Institutes

The program is intended to support established institutes or centers in the mathematics and physical sciences through funding to help strengthen contacts within the international scientific community.

Simons Symposia

Each Simons Symposia series brings together mathematicians, theoretical physicists and/or theoretical computer scientists to interact and collaborate in a series of up to three symposia, held every second year and focusing on one topic or a tightly connected group of topics.
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