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Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences (MPS)

Grants to USA and Canada Faculty at Educational Institutions
for Research in Math, Computer Science, and Physics

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Simons Foundation - Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) Division

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

02/13/20 11:59 PM EST


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Grants to USA and Canada PhD program faculty at educational institutions for projects that involve significant scientific concepts in math, computer science, and physics. Applicants must submit an LOI prior to applying. Funding is intended to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science. 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.

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.

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 conference at the foundation. Principal Investigators (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.

The funding provided under a Simons Collaboration in MPS 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-PI. 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 down to the level of only one course/semester for the collaboration director.
- 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 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 institution’s travel policies. Parking, hotel, taxi, registration and other related travel and conference costs are allowable.
- Support costs for a Collaboration Administrator.
- Other expenses related to the support and administration of the Collaboration (i.e., web design).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 175673

Number of Grants:

The Foundation expects to award up to two collaborations in 2020.

Estimated Size of Grant:

A Simons Collaboration in MPS is budgeted at up to $2 million per year for an initial period of four years. The Foundation would allow the annual budget to vary somewhat from $2 million, as long as the total four-year budget is no more than $8 million.

Term of Contract:

The initial grant period is 4 years. 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.

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.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The collaboration director must hold a tenured faculty, or equivalent, position at a U.S. or Canadian educational institution 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-Investigator must be employed by or be affiliated with a PI institution or another organization participating in the project under a consortium agreement.

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.

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.

Pre-Application Information:

An LOI is due October 3, 2019 by 11:59 PM EST. The full proposal deadline is February 13, 2020, at 11:59:59 p.m. EST.

Important Dates:
- LOI Deadline: October 3, 2019
- LOI Status Notification: December 1, 2019
- Full Proposal Deadline: February 13, 2020
- Award Notification: July 1, 2020
- Award Start Date: September 1, 2020.

The collaboration director (referred to as the ‘applicant PI’) and his/her institution must submit the Letter of Intent (LOI) and full proposal application. The director, also considered a founding PI, will be the designated contact for the collaboration and will act as the applicant. If awarded, each collaboration PI will be given an individual award and his/her institution paid separately.

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


Policies and Procedures:

How to Apply:

Application Submission:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register and submit an LOI online:

Elizabeth Roy
Senior Program Manager, Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

Technical questions:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

Canada: Alberta   British Columbia   Manitoba   New Brunswick   Newfoundland and Labrador   Northwest Territories   Nova Scotia   Nunavut   Ontario   Prince Edward Island   Quebec   Saskatchewan   Yukon