University of Southern California


Simons Foundation – Simons Investigators in Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics, and Computer Sciences 2021

Slots:                                                    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.

Internal Deadline:                           July 30, 2021, 5pm PT

External Deadline:                          Nominations must be received by October 20, 2021 via proposalCentral.

Award Information:                        Type: Grant

Anticipated Amount of Awards: In 2021, the foundation expects to appoint up to four Investigators in Mathematics, up to seven in Physics (including up to two in Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences), up to two in Astrophysics and up to three in Theoretical Computer Science.

Anticipated Amount: up to $100,000 per year for 5 years. An additional $10,000 per year will be provided to the Investigator’s department. 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.

Submission Process:                     University officials (e.g. department chair or dean) interested in nominating a Simons candidate must submit their nominations as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Nomination Letter (two-page limit): Written and signed by the nominator (e.g., a relevant university official, whether internal or external to the nominee’s institution, such as a department chair or dean), on letterhead, 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. Cosigned letters are acceptable within the page limit. Please note in this letter which sub-category this nominee belongs to.

Nominee’s Curriculum Vitae (no page limit): The nominee’s curriculum vitae, including, but not limited to: 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. While Simons prefers that Simons candidates not know they are being nominated “whenever possible,” the Office of Research understands that procuring the nominees’ CV while maintaining confidentiality might not be feasible. The PI may be contacted for this if need be.

After nominations are accepted through the Office of Research, nomination applications should be started and submitted on proposalCENTRAL under the account of the institutional representative submitting the nomination in coordination with the appropriate institutional officials and policies. A nominee cannot submit his/her own nomination.

Link to Award:

Eligibility Requirements:                 

To be eligible to be nominated for an Investigator award, a scientist must be engaged in theoretical research in mathematics, physics(or theoretical physics in life sciences), astrophysics or computer science and must not have previously been a Simons Investigator. He/she must be mid-career(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.

The foundation reserves the right to determine eligibility, but generally, a ‘primary appointment’ is defined as one where the scientist is a full-time employee of an academic institution with a teaching load that is comparable to that of other faculty members in the same department. A scientist cannot be nominated if he or she holds a primary long-term position at a research institute, national laboratory or other institution outside the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland or another campus of their current institution that falls outside the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland, or at a for-profit organization or will hold an administrative position at the time of the appointment start date that significantly reduces the time available for research, including departmental chair or institute director.

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 re-nominated.

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, mid-career 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.


The Simons Investigators program aims to provide a stable base of support for outstanding theoretical 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.

Budgetary Requirements: There is no budget required for the nomination application.

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 10-yearperiod will not be considered. Appointments will begin August 1, 2021.

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.

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.

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.