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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(Cambridge, MA)
A Fundamental Science Initiative for MIT

Fundamental scientific discoveries are critical to the welfare and advancement of humankind—yet we find ourselves in a time of dwindling funding for these important explorations. MIT has developed a multi-­‐ faceted Fundamental Science Initiative that aims to address this situation:

MIT’s Fundamental Science Investigator Awards support the research of mid-­‐career faculty tackling fundamental questions in math and the basic sciences. The award would provide a funding base that would allow the faculty member to lead a small research program without relying on outside funding; it would also make her/him more competitive in pursuing other funding sources. Faculty receiving such an award would use the funds to support three graduate students and one postdoctoral associate— the minimum group size for an experimental research program. Recipients will be selected by a committee of six department heads from the School of Science, chaired by the school’s Dean.

Gifts to establish Senior and Junior Faculty Chairs will provide discretionary funds to their holders. Chairs given to the School of Science are awarded to faculty members by the Dean with approval of the Provost; chairs given to a department are awarded by the department head with approval of the Dean and the Provost.

Graduate Fellowships are the third aspect of MIT’s Fundamental Science Initiative. It is especially important to support students in the first few years of their graduate careers, when they are taking courses and exploring research areas, a time when it is difficult for faculty members to justify supporting them on research grants. Fellowships given to the School of Science are awarded by the Dean in consultation with the department heads; those given to a department are awarded by the department head.

MIT’s Research Initiation Awards will primarily be used for equipping the laboratories of new and mid-­‐career faculty. At MIT the vast majority of faculty members are hired at the junior level, so most of these funds will support young researchers—but we also seek to re-­‐invest in laboratories of senior faculty so that their research can maintain cutting edge stature. Funds given to the School of Science are awarded by the Dean in consultation with the department head and the Provost.

Finally, Laboratory Renovation Awards will be used to renovate laboratory space for faculty in the areas of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, as well as particle and nuclear physics. Awards will be made by the Dean of Science and are targeted at mid-­‐career faculty.


This initiative supports high-­‐risk discovery research.


Described above.


Described above.


Faculty investigator awards to fund graduate students and postdoctoral associates; named chairs for both senior and junior faculty; fellowships for graduate students; seed funding for innovative fundamental science research at both junior and senior faculty levels; and laboratory renovation funds.

To learn more about the program, view the MIT Full Description