Simons Foundation: Grants for Marine Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Simons Foundation is one of the largest science research funders in the country. In 2014, it launched a program to study the microbial ecosystems of the ocean and better understand the ocean's carbon and energy processes.

IP TAKE: The foundation largely supports early and mid-career researchers working in marine biology. 

PROFILE: Established in 1996 by Jim and Marilyn Simons, the Simons Foundation seeks to "advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences." Past Simons grantmaking has deeply impacted various fields, including autism research. The foundation conducts groundbreaking scientific research, "undertaken in pursuit of understanding the phenomena of our world." The foundation makes grants in four areas: Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, autism research (SFARI) and Outreach. In 2013 the foundation also launched an internal research division, the Flatiron Institute.

The foundation's ocean research program is called Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE). SCOPE seeks to "measure, model and predict the pathways and exchanges (inputs and outputs) of energy and matter within and between specific microbial groups and their environment at relevant spatial and temporal scales, from surface waters to the deep sea (more than 4 km in depth) at Station ALOHA." Based at the University of Hawaii, Station ALOHA refers to a section of the ocean about 60 miles north of Oahu that is representative of a large part of the North Pacific Ocean. 

The Simons Foundation makes several grants, holds open calls for applications, and gives multi-year support for researchers without too many strings attached. With funding well over $100 million annually, it has become one of the most influential research foundations in the world.

While SCOPE already hosts several founding investigators, the collaboration is young and seeks more Simons Investigators, who receive up to $300,000 a year with a substantial amount of leeway. Those selected are funded for three years and may renew at the end of that term. To learn more about the current Investigators and projects, click here.

In order to secure a grant, applicants must be scientists who are on the tenure track, tenured, or are comparably established researchers; however, Simons is most interested in funding early- or mid-career researchers. Other desired traits include high productivity, creativity and risk-taking, as well as a commitment to collaboration and participation at the ALOHA station in the North Pacific. 


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