Simons Investigator in Aquatic Microbial Ecology Awards

Important Dates
  • Application Available
  • Application Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Important Dates
  • Application Available
  • Application Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info

The Simons Foundation is now accepting applications for its Simons Investigator in Aquatic Microbial Ecology Awards. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 2, 2022, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time.


Microbes inhabit and sustain all habitats on Earth. In both marine and freshwater systems, microbes capture solar energy, catalyze biogeochemical transformations of important elements, produce and consume greenhouse gases, and provide the base of the food web.

The purpose of these awards is to support recently tenured, outstanding investigators in the field of microbial ecology in marine or natural freshwater systems, who will advance our understanding through field studies, laboratory experiments, modeling or theory. The program will provide support for establishment of a new research direction or an innovative expansion of current work. Investigators must be currently active in basic research addressing fundamental questions in microbial ecology or microbial biogeochemistry in natural aquatic systems, excluding research focusing on the microbiomes of animals, problems related to pollution, paleoceanography or geobiology. Scientists who intend to transition into aquatic systems from other fields may also be considered if they satisfy the eligibility requirements. Investigators, accompanied by a student or postdoc, will attend an annual meeting at the Simons Foundation.


Applicants must hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. They must have been awarded tenure or, for institutions with no tenure track, promoted to an equivalent independent position, at an institution in the U.S. or Canada (in a campus within those countries) within the last five years (after December 1, 2017). Federal government employees are not eligible.

They must currently be the principal investigator (PI), co-PI or co-investigator (co-I) on a research grant from a national governmental agency or major national or international foundation that awards direct funding to their institution for their research in the field of microbial ecology or microbial biogeochemistry in marine or natural freshwater systems. They may also be eligible if they hold such a grant in a closely related field AND are an author on a publication in the field of aquatic microbial ecology within the last three years. Please contact [email protected] to confirm eligibility under these circumstances.

About the Awards

The award is up to $1,750,000 USD over five years, including indirect costs (limited to 20 percent of modified total direct costs), with continued funding subject to annual reviews of research progress in areas relevant to this program. Appropriate expenses include salary support for the investigator and lab personnel, small and large equipment (including major research instrumentation), supplies, travel, publication and other research expenses. Funds may also be used towards teaching release and/or sabbatical support, for the PI only. Annual amounts may vary between years. Allowable indirect costs to the primary institution for subcontracts are not included in the $1,750,000 budget threshold (see grant policies). Awards will begin May 1, 2023. Awards will be governed by the Simons Foundation policies, which can be found at

Submission of Application

Applications must be completed electronically and submitted through the Simons Award Manager (SAM) by December 2, 2022, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please refer to the How to Apply instructions for further details.

The following information must be submitted:

  • Biosketch (two pages, with additional pages allowed for publications and support if needed). List your 10 most important publications with the complete reference (up to 10 authors; if greater than 10, give the number of authors and list the senior author) and with asterisks marking members of your lab. Append a list of current and pending support, including names of PI and co-PIs and total direct costs to your lab.
  • Proposal Narrative, which must include:
    1. Summary of most significant research accomplishments (300 words).
    2. Research statement (one page). Describe your long-term research vision. What is/are the important question(s) that you are addressing? What is unique about your program? Explain how your proposal represents a new direction or an innovative expansion of your current work.
    3. Research proposal (four pages, plus references and one page for figures). Provide a title for the project.
  • Budget Justification. The budget itself will be entered in the Budget tab of the application.
  • Renewable Reagents and Data-Sharing Plan
  • 501(c)(3) determination or equivalency letter (Canadian institutions only). The Simons Foundation requires a determination letter from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating exemption under 501(c)(3) and, furthermore, either a 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) classification. Applicants do not need to have this letter at the time of application. If an international institution is selected for funding and does not have the aforementioned documentation, the Simons Foundation will require the institution to complete an equivalency determination with NGOsource (see grant policies).

Review Process

The review process will include evaluations by distinguished scientists in the field, who will make recommendations to the Simons Foundation Life Sciences staff. Applicants will be notified of decisions by April 3, 2023.

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.

Read More
Important Dates
  • Application Available
  • Application Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info

The submission deadline for receipt of applications is December 2, 2022, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please plan carefully with your institution to meet this deadline.

Applications must be submitted via the Simons Award Manager (SAM). Please click on the Funding Opportunities icon and navigate to the Simons Investigator in Aquatic Microbial Ecology call. Click the Create Application button to begin. Applications should be started and submitted under the applicant’s own account in SAM.

Informational Session for Potential Applicants
The Simons Foundation held an informational session on how to submit an application through our new grants management system, Simons Award Manager (SAM), on Thursday, November 3 – Click here to watch the recording.

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


  • Proposal Tab:
    • Complete all fields in this section, including the following attachments:
      • Proposal Narrative: Note that you are required to use the provided template for the Proposal Narrative. Please download by clicking the link in the field instructions, then upload the completed document using the Upload button.
      • Biosketch: Use NSF- or NIH-style format and be sure to include all details noted in the RFA document. There is also an optional template available for download.
    • Please enter “Simons Investigator in Aquatic Microbial Ecology Award” as the title.
  • Contacts & Personnel Tab:
    • Institution contacts are required. You must add at least one institution signing official and financial officer to the Institution Administrative Contacts section before you will be able to submit.
    • Project personnel who will be named in the budget must be added to the Project Personnel section on this tab before they will display as available options in the budget module. This does not apply to TBD personnel.
  • Budget Tab: Click the Edit/Modify button to add a detailed budget. Please refer to the allowable expenses outlined in the RFA and provide justification using the required Budget Justification template, which you may download by clicking the link in the field instructions.
  • Abstract & Keywords Tab: Enter a technical abstract for the proposal.
  • Publications & Other Support Tab: Please complete all fields in this section.
  • Communications Tab: Nothing is required in this tab.

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.

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.

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. 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
  • Application Available
  • Application Deadline
  • Award Notification
  • Award Start Date
Contact Info
  1. Where do I submit the proposal? Can I email or mail it?plus--large

    All proposals must be submitted online through SAM. The Simons Foundation does not accept emailed or mailed proposals.

  2. Can foreign institutions apply for this grant?plus--large

    Applicants must currently hold a tenured or equivalent independent position at a U.S. or Canadian institution (in a campus within these countries).

  3. Can multiple Principal Investigators (PIs) apply for a grant?plus--large

    No, we are not accepting applications with multiple PIs for this program.

  4. I will have one or more collaborators on my proposal. May I include multiple PIs or other senior personnel on my budget?plus--large

    No. You may provide funds for others to work on your research activities, but they may not be listed as multiple PIs or in the senior personnel section of the proposal, within the primary budget or within a subcontract to a collaborating institution. However, you may pay someone as a consultant in your project or pay for his or her travel and field/lab expenses, materials and supplies, or access fee to a laboratory.

  5. Can PIs submit multiple applications to this program? plus--large

    No, PIs cannot submit multiple applications to this program.

  6. Is there a minimum percent effort for PIs?plus--large

    We seek applications from independent investigators who can devote a substantial portion of time to this project. While we do not require a minimum PI effort, we expect the PI to commit to a level of effort that reflects a leading role in the project.

  7. What are the file format, font style and size requirements of the proposal narrative?plus--large

    Please submit a PDF of the document using the template provided in SAM. Type should be set in 11-point, legible font. All margins should be set at 0.5 inches.

  8. I get an error message when I try to send for sign-off or

    The Check Application Progress button reviews your proposal for missing sections. The submission instructions list the required sections and attachments. You must complete the missing items listed in the error message. If you are still receiving error messages after completing and saving the indicated sections, please contact [email protected].

  9. Does the PI need to sign the application?plus--large

    No, only the signing official may sign and submit the application.

  10. Is there a confirmation email when I submit?plus--large

    A confirmation email is sent upon submission. Make sure that spam filters allow emails from [email protected]. Additionally, the proposal will be in the Submitted tab of the Applications in Progress table after submission.

  11. Does the Simons Foundation grant extensions?plus--large

    No extensions will be given. If you have any difficulties, please email [email protected].

  12. Are deadline times adjusted for time zones?plus--large

    No. Please be advised that deadlines are in Eastern Time. We recommend registering early and submitting with ample time for corrections prior to the deadline hour. Site traffic can slow page-load times. You will not be able to submit after the deadline time has passed.

  13. Can I make changes to the application once it has been submitted?plus--large

    Before you can make changes to your submitted application, you must first contact the Simons Foundation. Please email [email protected]. Applications can only be changed prior to the deadline.

  14. The deadline for notification has passed. What is the status of my proposal?plus--large

    You should receive notification within 24 hours of the deadline. Please check your spam filter settings if you have not received notification by then.


Brett Baker, Ph.D.
University of Texas, Austin
Otto Cordero, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Seth John, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Naomi Levine, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Alyson Santoro, Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Cameron Thrash, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Frank Stewart, Ph.D.
Montana State University

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