ICERM wins new grant from Simons Foundation

The funding, totaling nearly $1 million, will expand the institute’s research workshop programming.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With a new grant from the Simons Foundation, Brown’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) will enhance and expand its efforts to bring top scholars to Brown to explore big questions in mathematical research.

“Through this grant program, the Simons Foundation provides support for top science institutes all over the world,” said Brendan Hassett, ICERM’s director. “We’re pleased and honored to be included in the group of international organizations who receive this support.”

The grant, totaling $982,000, will augment ICERM’s primary funding from the National Science Foundation, which was renewed last year with a five-year award of $17.5 million. Hassett says ICERM will use the additional funding to improve financial support for the academic leaders of the institute’s semester-long topical conferences and workshops. Those programs draw mathematicians from all over the world to Brown for intensive research and collaboration.

“The leaders of these programs do a tremendous amount of work in choosing participants, bringing them together and providing direction for each program,” Hassett said. The programs help to create a vibrant intellectual community on campus in which established researchers work with students to make new discoveries in critical fields of mathematical research.  

The grant will also enable ICERM to introduce a new type of workshop focusing on hot topics and emerging discoveries in mathematics.

“The purpose of this is to have quick workshops, maybe just two or three days, that could be scheduled on a relatively short timeline, enabling us to engage with new breakthroughs soon after they happen,” Hassett said. “Our existing process for setting up workshops has its advantages, but speed is not one of them. This new model, made possible under the grant, will help us to be a bit more nimble.”

The funding comes from the Simons Foundation’s Targeted Grants to Institutes program, which is intended to help established institutes in mathematics and physical sciences to strengthen their contacts within the international scientific community. ICERM will receive the maximum amount available under the program.

“I personally see this as a validation of the ICERM model,” Hassett said. “NSF provides our primary funding, and having this kind of support from private sources will strengthen our case for further funding in the future.”