Proposing Scientific Activity

Scientific activity at IMSI takes four basic forms:

  • Long programs at IMSI bring together interdisciplinary groups of researchers to explore questions relevant to the Institute’s themes.  They generally last 3 months and take place during the autumn or spring quarter, but alternative timing can be considered if there are compelling reasons.  Participants include organizers, long- and short-term research members, graduate students, and workshop attendees.
  • Workshops at IMSI are typically interdisciplinary in character, and up to a week in length. They need not be confined to Institute themes.
  • Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (IRCs) bring small groups of researchers together at IMSI to collaborate on a nascent but promising projects within the scope of Institute themes.  IMSI will provide seed funding to advance such projects.  Selected successful projects will be provided with additional strategic support to target external funding opportunities to develop further.
  • Research Collaboration Workshops (RCWs) involve active collaboration by small teams to advance research projects within the scope of Institute themes. The goal of an RCW is for each team to obtain a new mathematical result via work performed before and during the workshop. Each team will have two senior leaders and two to four junior members. We expect most RCWs will focus on at least one outreach or diversity goal

Further descriptions of each of these forms of activity and the process for proposing them are described in more detail below.

Long programs at IMSI bring together interdisciplinary groups of researchers to explore questions relevant to the Institute’s themes.  They generally last 3 months and take place during the autumn or spring quarter, but alternative timing can be considered if there are compelling reasons.  Participants include organizers, long- and short-term research members, graduate students, and workshop attendees.  The typical structure of a long program includes:

  • an introductory workshop at the beginning of the program which describes the problems to be addressed and opens lines of communication among the various communities represented in the program,
  • a series of 3-4 specialized workshops during the course of the program, and
  • ongoing seminars and collaboration among participants.

Proposals for long programs will be vetted by the Institute’s Directors and Scientific Advisory Community, and will generally develop into their final form through a collaborative process.  The process of developing a full proposal typically begins with a preproposal which addresses, at a minimum the following questions:

  • What is the topic of the program, and why is it timely?
  • How does the program relate to the Institute’s themes?
  • Who are the organizers?  The organizing committee does not need to be fully formed at this stage, but the preproposal should identify a core group of organizers which has the potential to grow into a full-fledged organizing committee.  The preproposal should identify a primary contact within this group.
  • Which research communities would the program draw upon?

Preproposals can be sent to the Director at [email protected].

Full proposals are expected to include the following components:

  • Title of the program
  •  Scientific description: A description of the topic for the workshop, in terms accessible to a general audience of mathematicians and statisticians.  What are the primary problems to be addressed?  What is the history of the subject?  Explicitly address what areas of mathematics and statistics will be drawn upon. What other disciplines will be involved?  How would the program relate to IMSI themes? What is the significance of the topic to society at large?  Are there connections to industry or national labs?
  • Abstract:  A short description of the program’s topic and goals, suitable for advertising the program.
  • Related programs:  Are there programs or workshops, either recent or planned, at IMSI or elsewhere, on similar topics?  Does the program build on previous programs or workshops? Does it complement what has been done elsewhere?
  • Organizing committee:  Who are the organizers?  What commitments can they make about being in residence at IMSI during the program? The proposal should identify one primary and and one secondary contacts among the members of the organizing committee for communication with IMSI.
  • Key participants:  Identify researchers who are important to the success of the program who are not members of the organizing committee.  How willing are they to participate?
  • Workshop plans:  Describe plans for an introductory and a small number (typically 3) specialized workshops over the course of the program.  Plans should include topics, members of organizing committees, and confirmed or invited speakers. In addition, organizers are encouraged to propose a Research Collaboration Workshop in conjunction with their program, and to identify confirmed or invited team leaders.
  • Other planned activity: Describe the activity planned during the program outside the framework of workshops. In addition, describe any plans for activity leading up to the program and/or for follow-up activity.
  • Deliverables: Are there any specific deliverables that can be expected from the program?
  • Human resources plan:  Describe efforts made to diversify the program organizing committee, the list of key participants, and workshop organizing committees and lists of speakers.  Describe plans for recruiting a diverse set of participants.  Diversity has many dimensions, including gender, race, ethnicity, career stage, employment sector, and research area.  We recognize that organizers are unlikely to achieve complete success in recruiting a meaningfully diverse set of participants across all these dimensions, but we do expect proposers to identify the dimensions in which they can realistically expect to be successful.
  • Mentoring Plan: How will early career researchers and students participating in the program be mentored? What kinds of intellectual and professional support will they be offered?
  • Communication plan:  Describe plans for establishing effective communication and collaboration within an intellectually diverse collection of participants at a variety of career stages.  This will likely be intertwined with the human resources and mentoring plans.  Also describe any plans for communicating about program activity and providing access points to broader audiences.  What will the most interesting aspects of the program be for a broader scientific audience?  For the public? Are there connections with industry or policy making that will be explored?
  • Preferred timing:  Propose one or more quarters during which the program could take place. Explain time constraints the organizers and key participants have.  Long programs are typically scheduled two years ahead of time.
  • Additional funding sources:  Are there any other sources of funding that might help support the program?

Proposers are encouraged to discuss plans with members of IMSI’s scientific leadership (the Director, Associate Director, or Scientific Adviser) early in the process of developing a proposal.

Proposals can be sent to the Director at [email protected].

The Director will typically discuss the overall budget for the program and commitments of support for program organizers and key participants once a proposal has been approved.  The remainder of the long and short-term participants will be chosen from a pool of applicants during the academic year before that in which the program will take place.  The selection process is managed through the Institute by the Directors in consultation with the program organizers.

Workshops at IMSI are typically interdisciplinary in character, and up to a week in length.  They need not be within the scope of Institute themes. Workshops are generally scheduled a year in advance, but shorter timelines may be considered if circumstances warrant.  Standalone workshops are most often scheduled during the winter quarter (January-March).  Proposals for workshops should include the following elements:

  • Title of the workshop
  • Scientific description:  A description of the topic for the workshop in terms accessible to a general audience of mathematical scientists.  What are the goals for the workshop, and why is the topic timely?
  • Abstract:  A brief description of the workshop, suitable for advertising it.
  • Organizing committee:  List of the proposed organizers, with a primary contact identified.
  • Proposed speakers:  A list of proposed speakers, including any information available about willingness to participate.  The list does not need to be complete at the time the proposal is considered.
  • Proposed activities: What activities will be involved in the workshop? Possibilities include invited lectures, introductory or survey talks aimed at a broad audience, contributed talks, panel discussions, poster sessions, discussions of open problems and challenges in the field, and social events. What potential do the planned activities have to spark or further collaboration in the area?
  • Access points for broader audiences: In general, we prefer that workshops not confine themselves exclusively to the model of experts speaking to experts. Will there be access points for broader audiences in any of the activities planned for the workshop? Are there connections with industry or policy making that will be explored?
  • Proposed length:  How long should the workshop be?
  • Preferred timing:  What preferences or constraints do the organizers have for scheduling the workshop?
  • Additional funding sources:  Are there additional funding sources that might help support the workshop?

Workshop organizers are expected to work to attract a diverse group of participants, where diversity is measured across a number of dimensions, including gender, race, ethnicity, career stage, employment sector, and research area.  Efforts in this direction generally begin with careful attention to the composition of the organizing committee and the list of proposed speakers.  Proposals which do not reflect such attention are less likely to be approved.

Proposers are encouraged to discuss plans with members of IMSI’s scientific leadership (the Director, Associate Director, or Scientific Adviser) early in the process of developing a proposal.

Workshop proposals can be sent to the Director at [email protected].  Proposals will be considered by the Directors and the Scientific Advisory Committee, and revisions may be requested.  Unless there are compelling reasons, workshop proposals should be approved a year or more in advance. Once proposals are approved, the Director will set the budget.  Registration for workshops is managed through the Institute.

Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (IRCs) bring small groups of researchers together at IMSI to collaborate on a nascent but promising projects within the scope of IMSI themes.  IMSI will provide seed funding to advance such projects.  Selected successful projects will be provided with additional strategic support to target external funding opportunities to develop further.

Proposals for IRCs can be sent to the Director at [email protected].  Proposals should describe the participants, the project, and the financial and infrastructure needs of the project.

IMSI will typically host one or more week-long Research Collaboration Workshops (RCWs) per year devoted to active collaboration by small teams to advance research projects within the scope of Institute themes. The goal of the workshop is for each team to obtain a new mathematical result via work performed before and during the workshop. Each team will have two senior leaders and two to four junior members. During the RCW, the time will be devoted to working within teams, except for short beginning and ending presentations by each team. The presentations are expected to facilitate interactions between the teams during common breaks. After the RCW, each team is expected to publish an article based on their joint research.
Each long program at IMSI will be encouraged to organize an associated RCW with many team leaders likely coming from program participants. Standalone RCW proposals may also be considered.

Team leaders will propose research projects, and IMSI staff will support the application process for junior team members. We expect most RCWs will focus on at least one outreach or diversity goal: for example, broadening participation from underrepresented minority (URM) groups, faculty from primarily undergraduate institutions, or faculty who are dramatically changing their research focus. RCWs should be designed to support collaboration, productivity, and leadership development. These RCWs are modeled after the Research Collaboration Conferences for Women (RCCW) supported by the AWM NSF ADVANCE grant as well as other similar programs. The RCCW Committee may provide support for developing RCW proposals.

Proposals for standalone Research Collaboration Workshops should include the following elements:

  • Title of the workshop
  • Scientific description:  A description of the topic for the workshop in terms accessible to a general audience of mathematical scientists.  What are the goals for the workshop, and why is the topic timely?
  • Abstract:  A brief description of the workshop, suitable for advertising it.
  • Diversity and outreach goals:  In what ways will the workshop broaden participation in the mathematical sciences?
  • Organizing committee:  A list of proposed organizers, identifying a primary contact.
  • Proposed team leaders: A list of proposed team leaders, including any information available about willingness to participate.  The list does not need to be complete at the time the proposal is considered.
  • Proposed length:  How long should the workshop be?
  • Preferred timing:  What preferences or constraints do the organizers have for scheduling the workshop?
  • Support from the Institute:  What forms of support will be needed from the Institute during the period leading up to the workshop?
  • Additional funding sources:  Are there additional funding sources that might help support the workshop?

RCW proposals can be sent to the Director at [email protected].  They will be considered by the Directors and the Scientific Advisory Committee, and revisions may be requested.  Typically, proposals for RCWs typically should be approved a year or more in advance. Once proposals are approved, the Director will set the budget.  Registration for workshops is managed through the Institute.