Advancing the frontier of experimental physics
Opportunities abound to advance the scientific frontier in experimental physics. We have confidence that work done for its own intrinsic interest is intellectually satisfying and can lead to great benefits to society.
Yet, 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, 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. Further, a researcher recognizing an opportunity to innovate in a related field or in scientific questions that lie in the intersections of sub-disciplines may be rebuffed in their pursuit of support.
It is common for excellent ideas from brilliant people to be left unfunded. The net effect is that precisely at the moment when scientists could be at their most productive, they may experience difficulty in finding the resources necessary to advance their ideas. Creative people often increase the amount of time they spend applying for grants just at the point when they have the skills, team, and ideas to advance the frontier most rapidly.
The goals of the initiative by the end of the eleventh year are:
- The 120 mid-career scientists who have received Moore Foundation funding have distinguished themselves among their peers as having made extraordinary contributions to the field of experimental physics.
- Collaboration among these investigators has led to advances in experimental physics that would not have occurred without Moore Foundation support.
- Supported researchers have fostered an inclusive and supportive community within their research groups and in their academic department.
To achieve its goals, the Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative will employ two connected strategies.
- The first is to select and support outstanding individual investigators to support cutting-edge research in experimental physics and improve scientific understanding of the natural world.
- Second is to host convocations and other interactions among the investigators to unleash creativity through exchanging ideas and fostering collaboration that will lead to insightful experiments and new discoveries while building equitable and inclusive research groups that support student development and scientific excellence that promotes diversity within experimental physics communities.