Limited Submission: Simons Investigators in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems

09/12/2013, 5:00 PM

To: Faculty in Mathematics and Physics:

The University of Massachusetts system has been invited to submit to the Simons Investigators in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems. Since this will be drawn from the entire University of Massachusetts system the President’s Office will choose the final nominee. If you are interested please send me your brief bio sketch or CV via email no later than September 12th.

Simons Foundation – Simons Investigators in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems

Program Description:

The Simons Foundation invites nominations for Simons Investigators in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems (MMLS). These Investigators are outstanding scientists, often with mathematics or theoretical physics backgrounds but now engaged in mathematical model-based research in the life sciences who receive long-term support from the Simons Foundation.

Rationale and scope: Mathematical model based approaches are making increasingly important contributions to the life sciences. MMLS aims to support such approaches and to foster a scientific culture of theory-experiment collaboration similar to that prevailing in the physical sciences. To encourage young researchers to pursue this endeavor, MMLS will provide a long-term stable base of support, enabling a focus on model-based approaches to important issues in the life sciences.

A broad spectrum of research areas within the life sciences will be considered, ranging from cellular-level issues of organization, regulation, signaling and dynamics through morphogenesis to the properties of large organisms, as well as neuroscience and evolution, however preference will be given to areas in which modeling approaches are less well established, and for that reason bioinformatics and genomics will fall outside the scope of the program. In all cases preference will be given to work that relates closely to experiment, developing models that can explain data, suggest new classes of experiments and introduce important new concepts.   

Level and Duration of Funding: A Simons Investigator in MMLS is appointed for a period of five years. Appointments will begin August 1, 2014.

An Investigator position may be interrupted and resumed for reasons that would normally justify a leave from a university such as illness, need to care for family members, or national service. Periods of sabbatical or research leave do not interrupt the Investigator position. Support may be withdrawn at any time at the discretion of the foundation, but it is expected that termination of the award at times other than 5 years would occur only rarely.

An Investigator will receive research support in an amount initially set at $100,000 per year. An additional $10,000 per year will be provided to the Investigator’s department. The award is administered through the institution at which the Investigator is appointed, and this institution will receive 20 percent in indirect costs.

Appropriate Expenses: The funding provided to the 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

·         Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for postdoctoral, graduate or undergraduate research assistants

·         Domestic or international travel for the Investigator

·         Short or long-term visitors, including travel, meals, and lodging expenses

·         Research equipment, supplies, and other expenses directly benefiting the research


Expenditures in other expense categories may be possible but must be approved in advance by the foundation. Investigator funds may not be used for sabbatical salary support or teaching relief of any kind.

Funding provided 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. The department is expected to provide appropriate administrative support to the Investigator.

Unspent Funds: The foundation’s intent is that the award be administered to allow the maximum flexibility in pursuit of scientific goals. To this end, unspent funds are automatically carried over from year to year during the period of appointment, allowing for a particularly large expenditure in one year. In exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to pre-spend a portion of the award.

Tentative spending plans will be due by December 1, 2014. Requests for accelerated disbursal will be considered by the foundation, subject to budget availability and joint approval by the Directors of the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Division and the Life Science Division. Investigators may apply for a no–cost extension for funds unexpended at the conclusion of the appointment.

Reporting: A financial report and a brief activity report, summarizing research results achieved, people supported, talks given and papers published, will be required from the Investigator annually, due by October 31 of each year.

At the conclusion of the appointment a final report is required, due within 60 days of the appointment end date. This report should detail the research achieved, people supported, publications produced and a detailed itemization of how the funds were expended. It may reference the annual reports already submitted.

Eligibility: To be an Investigator in MMLS, a scientist must be engaged in research related to the program, must have a primary appointment as a faculty member at a U.S. or Canadian educational institution with a Ph.D. program and not previously have been a Simons Investigator. At the time of appointment an Investigator should be in the early stages of an academic career (within 5 years of the start of the first faculty position) and will typically hold an assistant professor or equivalent position.

The foundation reserves the right to determine eligibility but, typically, a ‘primary appointment’ is defined as one where an Investigator is a full time employee of an academic institution and with a teaching load that is comparable to that of other faculty members in the same department. Investigators may transfer their award to a new educational institution within the U.S. or Canada, subject to approval from the foundation and the old and new institutions. The award will be interrupted or terminated, at the foundation’s discretion, if an Investigator takes up a primary long-term position at a research institute, National Laboratory, non-US/Canadian or for-profit organization or accepts a major administrative responsibility that significantly reduces the time available for research.

Investigators are expected to attend annual meetings at the Simons Foundation (at the foundation’s expense) to discuss their activities.

Basis for Awards: The intent of the program is to help launch the research careers of outstanding junior scientists. Nominees to the program will normally be in the first few years of their first faculty appointment. Nominations will be evaluated on the basis of the nominee’s potential for scientific accomplishment.