Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

Simons Foundation

Suggest an update

Grant amount: Up to US $42,000

Deadline: Feb 10, 2020 8:59pm PST (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Faculty

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Canada, United States

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?

About this funder:



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


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 with 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 conference 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 conference, monthly meetings and other lectures is expected for each collaboration member.

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

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. 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 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.

Please be cognizant of the notification and award start dates when preparing the year-one budget, particularly with regards to the hiring of postdoctoral fellows.

Allowable Expenses

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-I — 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.
  • Teaching reduction down to the level of only 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 travel, meals and lodging expenses.
  • 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).
Expenditures in other expense categories may be possible but must be approved in advance by the foundation.

Please see the foundation’s grant policies on our website for further guidelines. Note that travel expenses are not capped at $4,000 per year per individual for this program.

The collaboration budget must include discretionary funds, amounting to at least 10 percent of the collaboration budget, to be held at the foundation and made available to be used at the discretion of the director for the annual meeting, workshops, the addition of PIs to the collaboration and other related collaboration expenses. Please note that typical annual collaboration meetings hosted at the Simons Foundation with around 60 participants cost $100,000; this includes travel to/from the meeting. Please factor this in when preparing the budget. Costs for meetings and workshops held at the foundation will be paid directly by the foundation from the discretionary funds.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Personnel:
    • The collaboration director must hold a tenured faculty, or equivalent, position at a U.S. or Canadian institution with a Ph.D. program in the director’s department.
    • PIs must hold a tenured or tenure-track faculty, or equivalent, position at an educational institution.
    • There are no restrictions on the department and/or discipline of the director or PIs.
    • PIs and other collaboration participants may be from non-U.S. institutions.
    • 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.
    • A PI on a currently funded collaboration project cannot be part of an LOI or proposal. Additionally, current Math+X Investigators cannot be funded PIs 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.