Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and Physical Sciences 2020

Updated Information

Deadline date amendment. 


Simons Foundation


Simons Collaboration in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences


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 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. Inter-institutional and international collaborations are allowed.


Eligibility Requirements

Personnel: 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. Please see the foundation’s grant policies for further information regarding requirements and responsibilities of PIs and co-Is.

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. An active PI on a currently funded collaboration project cannot be part of an LOI or proposal. Additionally, active 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.

Funding Availability

A Simons Collaboration in MPS is budgeted at up to $2 million per year for an initial period of four years. This includes up to 20% per year for indirect costs. 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 from $2 million as long as the total four-year budget is no more than $8 million.

The foundation asks that applicants are cognizant of the notification and award start dates when preparing the year-one budget, particularly with regards to the hiring of postdoctoral fellows.

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

Indirect Costs



If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Collaboration directors must submit an LOI through proposalCENTRAL.

Please contact Kristin Gibson ( in the Office of Research Services for the necessary Organization/Institution information that is required for the LOI

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

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by December 1, 2019.

Internal Deadline

For those asked to submit a Full Proposal, please submit a PDF copy of the proposal along with an OR5 form to

External Deadline

Full proposal is due to the Simons Foundation.  After a review of the full proposals, project teams may be invited to come to the foundation to present their research plan.

For Questions, please contact

Contact Info

Office of Research

Kristin Zimmermann, Senior Grants & Contracts Specialist
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x56257

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