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Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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Our Funding History

MSRI was founded in 1982 with its initial core support being supplied by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. This grant was awarded on the basis of a competitive proposal involving a consortium of universities and organized by three highly distinguished University of California, Berkeley mathematics professors: Shiing-shen Chern, Calvin Moore, and Isadore Singer. U. C. Berkeley, as part of its support for the new Institute, provided the land and a building.

The NSF grant was an endorsement of the Institute’s commitment to the highest level of mathematics research, without organizational hindrance due to having permanent leadership, permanent faculty, or exclusive ties to any one educational institution. MSRI’s purpose was, and remains, to serve the world’s mathematics community, concentrating its efforts on programmatic excellence.

To carry out its mission, MSRI recruits the highest-level mathematical scientists to serve on its Scientific Advisory Committee. These mathematicians choose the cutting-edge programs and workshops that frame MSRI’s research activities. Top experts in the field of each program or workshop are invited from all over the world to convene in one place for a period of activity, which can range from a few days to an entire year. Postdoctoral candidates compete for appointments to be in residence during these programs, where they establish working relationships with the leaders in their fields. About 2000 mathematicians visit MSRI each year, and 90 educational institutions now sponsor MSRI and participate in its governance and scientific programs.

MSRI continues to compete for and receive awards from the National Science Foundation every five years. Since 1981, numerous grants, gifts and bequests from private sources have significantly enriched the Institute’s programs, endowment, and physical plant. The NSF’s ‘seal of approval’ enables MSRI to secure grants from individuals, foundations, corporations, and organizations. These donors are attracted by the NSF’s reputation for scientific excellence, by its rigorous peer-review process, and by the record of success of MSRI’s programs, members, and cutting-edge research.

In 2002, William R. Hearst, III founded the Archimedes Society, which has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and scholarly support contributed by individuals who share in our goals. MSRI’s Corporate Affiliates support scientific research and mathematics outreach programs for students and the general public. In 2005, James Simons and Roger Strauch chaired a $12 million capital campaign to expand and renovate the Institute’s home, S.-S. Chern Hall. Now, in 2010, Andrew J. Viterbi chairs a $15 million challenge campaign to strengthen MSRI’s endowment.