(CLOSED) Simons Foundation Investigators in Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics and Theoretical Computer Science

Sponsor Name: 
Simons Foundation
Description of the Award: 

Each institution may submit up to two nominations in each of the Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics and Theoretical Computer Science programs (e.g., two in Mathematics, two in Physics) and up to one additional nomination in Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences (e.g., three total in Physics — two for Theoretical Physics and one for Theoretical Physics in the Life Sciences). We ask that nominations be treated confidentially — the nominees should not know they are being nominated if possible.

Rationale: The Simons Investigators program aims to provide a stable base of support for outstanding midcareer scientists, enabling them to undertake long-term investigations of fundamental questions in their fields. The intent of the program is to support these scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing new research directions, providing leadership in the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists.

Simons Foundation asks that nominations be treated confidentially – the nominees should not know they are being nominated, if possible.

Level and Duration of Funding: A Simons Investigator is appointed for an initial period of five years for up to $132,000 per year. Renewal for an additional five years may be considered, contingent upon the evaluation of scientific impact of the Investigator prior to the end of year five. Renewal beyond the ten-year period will not be considered. Appointments will begin August 1, 2022. An Investigator will receive research support in the amount of $100,000 per year. An additional $10,000 per year will be provided to the Investigator’s department. The Investigator’s institution will receive an additional 20 percent per year in indirect costs.

Allowable Expenses: The funding provided to a Simons Investigator may be used at the Investigator’s discretion to support research expenses in the following categories:

  • Up to one month of summer salary and related benefits per year for the Investigator.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for postdoctoral fellows and research associates, graduate students or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Domestic or international travel for the Investigator and the Investigator’s postdoctoral fellows and research associates, graduate students or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Short- or long-term visitors and collaborators, including travel, meals and lodging expenses.
  • Research equipment, supplies and other expenses directly benefiting the research, including computers, computer support, publication expenses and professional membership dues.

Investigator funds may not be used for sabbatical salary support or teaching relief of any kind.

Funding for the Investigator’s department should be used at the discretion of the department chair to provide support for seminars, visitors, refreshments and related expenditures that benefit the research activities of the department. Funds may also be used to subsidize meals for faculty, students and visitors. In addition, these funds may be used to help pay for furniture and research infrastructure, such as copiers, computer servers and computer support.

Eligibility: To be eligible to be nominated for an Investigator award, a scientist must be engaged in theoretical research in mathematics, physics, astrophysics or computer science and must not have previously been a Simons Investigator. He/she must be midcareer (typically, early-stage tenured full professors), have a primary appointment as a tenured faculty member at an educational institution in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland, on a campus within these countries, and the primary department affiliation must have a Ph.D. program (note that the appointment need not be in a mathematics, physics, astrophysics or computer science department). A nominee must be in place at the institution submitting the nomination at the time of the appointment start date.

Eligibility Requirements — Investigator in Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences: To be eligible to be nominated for an Investigator in Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences award, a nominee must be a well-established, midcareer researcher who develops and applies advance theoretical physics ideas and methods in the life sciences.

  • A spectrum of research areas within the life sciences will be considered ranging from cellular-level issues of organization, regulation, signaling and morphogenic dynamics to the properties of organisms and ecology, as well as neuroscience and evolution; however, preference will be given to areas in which modeling approaches are less established, and for that reason, bioinformatics- and genomics-related proposals fall outside the scope of the program. Furthermore, researchers whose primary theoretical activity is the application of the existing computational platforms to fit or parametrize experimental data will not be considered in this program.
  • The foundation’s expectation is that an Investigator in Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences nominee would have a level of theoretical sophistication on par with the best practices used in theoretical condensed matter physics. The theory must eventually connect with an experiment, suggesting new questions and new classes of experiments, introducing important new concepts and explaining data, thus fostering a scientific culture of theory-experiment collaborations, which is characteristic of physics. This year, up to two Simons Investigator in Physics awards — out of seven — will be granted to well-established midcareer researchers who develop and apply advance theoretical physics ideas and methods in the life sciences.

Investigators are not eligible to hold a Simons Fellowship or another Simons Investigator award for the duration of the Simons Investigator award. Candidates from previous years are allowed to be renominated.

Investigators are expected to attend the MPS annual meeting, held at the Simons Foundation in October of each year. Costs associated with attending this meeting will be covered by the foundation.

Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Oct 20, 2021
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Nominator must upload one PDF file (File name: Last Name_Simon MPASC_2022.pdf)) containing the following items in order no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

Title Page:

  • Nominee's First and Last Name
  • Nominee's Ph.D. year
  • Nominator's name, role, position/title, department

Nomination Letter (two-page limit):

  • Written by the nominator (someone other than the nominee), explaining the distinctive scientific contributions of the nominee, focusing on scientific accomplishments of the past five years and including discussion of a few important papers.

Nominee's Curriculum Vitae:

  • The nominee's CV, including Ph.D. year, institution, advisor, postdoctoral institutions and advisors, positions held subsequent to award of doctorate, a list of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows mentored by the nominee and the nominee's up-to-date publication list.

Formatting Guidelines and Page Limit:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (10 pt.)

  • Document margins: 0.5” (top, bottom, left and right)

  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

The Office of Foundation Relations is available to consult on proposal narrative elements and answer other foundation-related questions. Please contact Sophie Penney, (swp2@psu.edu) for additional support.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 4:00pm