Simons is Recruiting for its Growing Marine Focus

A select group of early career researchers will have a chance to get on board the Simons Foundation’s first forays into the field. Here’s what this huge science funder is looking for as it selects winners of its latest set of research awards.

Simons, perhaps best known for its mathematics, physics, and autism research awards, recently entered the world of marine microbial ecology, and just launched a new set of investigator awards for early career scientists, extending this growing line of grantmaking.

Giving to marine issues began in June with the announcement of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE). The initiative seeks answers on how the basic building blocks of ocean life interact, including their roles in the food web, oxygen production, and even the origins of life on Earth. The program takes a quantitative approach to the topic.

The funder kicked off SCOPE with a $40 million grant to the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, starting with eight investigators already in place, and just recently wrapped up an RFP for more investigators. 

Related: A Major Science Funder Just Did a Cannonball into Ocean Research

Now, the foundation continues to grow its marine efforts with the Simons Early Career Investigators in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution. The awards are separate from, but will work alongside and interact with the SCOPE team, at least to some extent. Up to four investigators will be chosen in this round, landing $180,000 a year for three years. Not a bad gig, but Simons awards bring stiff competition. The funder is looking for a few key traits in this round of awards:

As the name suggests, Simons is looking for young researchers, with the intention of launching their careers and building the strength of this growing field. The awards are reserved for Ph.D. holders in an independent, tenured or tenure-track position for at least three but no more than eight years. 

Related: Simons Foundation: Grants for Marine & River Conservation

Foundation donor Jim Simons is a believer in using quantitative science to unlock the world’s secrets, and this program pursues a similar approach to the issue. Winners will be expected to have significant training in a quantitative field, meaning mathematics, statistics, physics, or computational sciences. 

While this is the first round of these awards, judging from the SCOPE priorities, a few major areas of interest for Simons are how matter and energy are transferred among microbes on different scales, how energy is captured, and how carbon is transferred into the deep sea. 

Also, while winners will pursue their own lines of research, they’ll need to be team players. The nature of Simons’ life sciences work, especially its emerging marine microbial research, encourages collaboration and crossing disciplines. Investigators will need to attend annual meetings with the SCOPE gang, and fly in for other Simons Foundation events (travel paid, obvy). 

To find out how to apply, check out the RFP here