The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced a new $190.5 million initiative to advance the basic research frontier in experimental physics. The new Moore Investigators in Experimental Physics Initiative will support scientists who are in their fifth- to tenth-year career stage at U.S. universities.
The funding landscape in the United States has serious gaps that limit the rate of discovery for scientists in the physical sciences. Brilliant young scientists are actively recruited by universities and are provided substantial start-up funds to help them get off to a quick start in their work. The assumption is that after a few years (typically five), this focused support will be sufficient for the best young scientists to create a research record and fare well in the competition for research funding. But the brutal truth is that the success rates for research proposals is low, introducing a large element of chance into research careers.
"Our current system forces creative people to spend valuable time repeatedly applying for grants just at the point where they should be sprinting forward,” explained Robert Kirshner, Ph.D., the foundation’s chief program officer for Science.
“We want Moore Investigators to participate in the national funding scene, but with the assurance they can take chances in their research without stalling their career."
Over the next eleven years, the new initiative will select and support outstanding individual investigators, and provide them with access to an instrumentation fund, to support cutting-edge research in experimental physics and improve scientific understanding of the natural world. In addition, the foundation will host convocations and interactions among the investigators to unleash creativity through exchanging ideas, and fostering collaboration that will lead to insightful experiments and new discoveries. The initiative has also been intentionally designed to include incentives for investigators to promote diversity in physics, astrophysics, and geophysics.